Return to Transcripts main page


Panel on Trump's Handling of Racial Tensions; Outbreaks at College and Universities; Remembering John Thompson. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 1, 2020 - 08:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The violence is happening right now in cities since the -- the social unrest is happening right now. How would re-electing President Trump, who is the president right now, how would that change anything?

JILL RAHRIG, VOTED FOR TRUMP IN 2016, VOTING FOR TRUMP IN NOVEMBER, MICHIGAN VOTER: He would support the local community's policemen.


RAHRIG: He would support the governments in that -- in those communities to make those neighborhoods safe first so businesses could come in there.

LORI MCCAMMON, VOTED FOR TRUMP IN 2016, VOTING FOR BIDEN IN NOVEMBER, WISCONSIN VOTER: No president has ruined this country like he has. The -- the unrest and the riots in the streets, we haven't seen since the 1960s. He took this job and he's not taking it seriously. He watches TV. He is on Twitter. And he goes and he golfs.

MICHELE MORROW, VOTED FOR TRUMP IN 2016, VOTING FOR TRUMP IN NOVEMBER, NORTH CAROLINA VOTER: See, it is not the federal government's job to run individual cities. President -- the -- the -- that comes from the mayors, it comes from city councils, it comes from the police chiefs.

CAMEROTA: Do you think that President Trump's Twitter feed is helping the situation?

ANN KUPITZ, VOTED FOR TRUMP IN 2016, VOTING FOR BIDEN IN NOVEMBER, ARIZONA VOTER: Oh, no. He re-tweeted white lives matter and he re- tweeted Black Lives Matter is a symbol of hate.

CAMEROTA: Do you think that those -- that the fact that he's re- tweeting support for the 17-year-old who's been charged with double homicide, the fact that he's re-tweeting support at times for white supremacist, do you think that that helps the unrest?

MCCAMMON: I think it's gotten worse. I -- I -- I think -- and I go back to when -- when he said there were fine people on both sides. I -- I just -- so basically he was saying that white supremacists were fine people.

L.A. KEY, VOTED FOR TRUMP IN 2016, VOTING FOR TRUMP IN NOVEMBER: If you think Donald Trump is a racist, you're not paying attention. And I'll just give you one thing to go look up. Look up The First Step Act, if you don't already know what that is. And what it has done for the black community that were incarcerated under Joe Biden's and Barack Obama's legislation.

MORROW: The left wants to defund the police and they want to take away our guns.

CAMEROTA: Well, that's not what Joe Biden wants.

MORROW: What does that do? It only emboldens criminals.

CAMEROTA: I mean, as you know, Joe Biden said he doesn't want to defund the police.

MORROW: It only emboldens criminals.

JESSICA FREEMAN, VOTED FOR TRUMP IN 2016, VOTING FOR BIDEN IN NOVEMBER: No, no. And I'm tired of the lie that, oh, Democrats want to take your guns away. No, they don't. I know plenty of gun-carrying Democrats. I have a house full of them. They're not going to come take them away. What they want is a more structured gun ownership plan, besides everybody running around and it being the wild, wild west.

MCCAMMON: All of us on this panel are white. So none of us understand what it's like to be a black person, to be told by your mom, you'd better make sure that you have a receipt for that 25-cent candy bar when you leave the store so they don't think that you stole it. And President Trump is just making it worse. He -- he doesn't have a plan. He's not -- he needs to get in front of that camera and tell everybody, stop. Stop with this rioting and bring people together.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So just to reiterate, all of those women voted for Donald Trump in 2016?

CAMEROTA: Yes, they all voted for Donald Trump. Most of them consider themselves swing voters. They sometimes vote for Democrats. They sometimes vote for Republicans. They vote on the person. And so many of them said they were relieved that he wasn't a politician. That appealed to them. They liked that he wasn't a standard politician. But the three on the bottom now regret it, as we said, and tomorrow you'll hear why. Here's a hint, it -- it has a lot to do with coronavirus. That was one of the tipping points.

BERMAN: But they were speaking -- the language they were using was the language of three months ago post-George Floyd, as if they looked at questions of race differently now than they had before.

Obviously, look, we have no way of knowing if this is an exact one for one sample of the electorate, but if there are those voters who voted for Donald Trump, who do feel that way now, that's something that he's got to battle back against.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. I mean that's why we check in with the pulse of the people, to see how they're feeling today. Things may change. But tune in tomorrow because, again, you'll hear the moment for them that -- that made them -- that they say opened their eyes and was the tipping point for why they no longer support him.

BERMAN: L.A., who was sitting in the upper right, she was wearing a Roger Stone t-shirt?

CAMEROTA: I don't know. I couldn't exactly read what she was -- she had a lot of festunary (ph) happening.


CAMEROTA: I couldn't exactly read the one on her shirt. But she was holding her Constitution, her pocket Constitution.

BERMAN: I don't think she was a gettable voter. She may not be a gettable voter for Joe Biden. We'll see about that.

CAMEROTA: You may be right about that.

All right, some of the coronavirus outbreaks this morning traced to college parties, but shaming students for that could backfire. We explain how, next.



BERMAN: More than 20,000 cases of coronavirus being reported at colleges and universities in 36 states, some schools have big outbreaks. Others, though, are keeping the virus in check. How are they doing that?

Joining us now is CNN contributor Erin Bromage. He's a biology professor at UMass Dartmouth.

Professor, thanks so much for being with us.

Let's talk about the bad first, 20,000 cases at colleges around the country, including large outbreaks. Here's just a sampling of that. Thirteen hundred at the University of Alabama, 900 at the University of Tennessee and Illinois state, you've got 700 at Dayton, NC State and University of Central Florida.

What's going wrong in those places?

ERIN BROMAGE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the universities just are a reflection of the communities that they're drawing from. So when places like University of Alabama decided to open and open in person, drawing a lot from the local region, the local state, you just expect to see the same infection rate in the students as you do there.

Then you put them in high-density housing, you bring them close together, you give them the opportunity to mix and interact and you just start amplifying those infections. So it's not surprising when you've got that level of community transmission locally to then see it in the population of students that gather at that university.

CAMEROTA: OK, now let's talk about the schools that you think are doing it right.


You say that there are some examples, like St. Lawrence University, a small school where they are getting it right. So what does that look like?

BROMAGE: Well, again, it's the population you draw from. So we're in upstate New York. We're seeing a lot of the universities in Vermont doing the same thing, you know, doing really well with their opening. But they also had a really strong plan on how to reopen safely. Quarantine before you arrive, a negative test for everybody before they come, testing soon after. So if you can get your population to look different than where you're drawing from, so making sure that you're excluding people that are infected, then you start off the academic year in a much better situation to be able to control it going forward.

BERMAN: How important is testing? How much testing do you think you need to do in order to keep a college safe?

BROMAGE: Yes, and that's one of the toughest questions. When you start testing three times a week, you can really catch infections and get ahead of them and control them on campus, but three times a week is financially really tough for most universities to accomplish. When you go to once a week, it's impossible to actually catch and, you know, catch up to those infections.

So it's a really tough question. Some of the universities are actually taking a random sampling approach to have a look at what the infection rate is campus wide based on a small sample size. And at least that lets you know what's going on in your community and whether you need to increase mitigation or you can let -- relax it a little -- sorry, relax it a little.

CAMEROTA: How about waste water? Aren't some schools and some -- John -- I've gotten John's attention now this morning over breakfast over waste water -- that that -- that that --

BERMAN: Well, if I had a nickel for every time you asked me that. You know, I'd (INAUDIBLE).

CAMEROTA: How is your waste water? Are -- isn't that a way to identify if there's an outbreak or not?

BROMAGE: Yes, I'm not sure if that's a job that I'd really want to have, but you can actually look in the waste water and you can pick up the virus much earlier than -- rather than sampling hundreds of thousands of students, you can just sample the waste water coming out. And because we release that in our daily toilet activities, the virus in the daily toilet activities, we can actually pick up the virus early and see if it's in that population. So then you can start testing more aggressively in a focused way and try to contain those infections.

BERMAN: So I think Alisyn will agree with you on this, you don't think that we should stigmatize these students who are going back to campus and can't seem to stay apart from each other. You think it will backfire. Why?

BROMAGE: Well, it's going to backfire. But it's also -- it's not on the students. Administrators had the choice of designing a plan of how they delivered education and they had all of summer to do this. And, again, if you're drawing from a state that has a 5 percent test positivity and you're going to then put students in high-density housing, in dorms or sororities, you just know what is going to happen. There is no way that you can actually control it in those situations. So it really lies on the choice of those universities to reopen -- when they reopened to put the kids in those situations.

But more to the point, if we start stigmatizing them and we start forcing them to go underground in regards to their social activities, that makes it even harder to control. We need to be looking at ways to understand what the students want to do. They want to congregate. They want to be together. They want to socialize. But we need to help them do that in a safer way.

And so it's really not an enforcement issue, it's really understanding what they want to do and sort of facilitate a better way at doing that, a safer way at doing that so we don't drive up infections.

CAMEROTA: Yes, campus coronavirus police may not work, but having this open communication will.


CAMEROTA: Professor Bromage, thank you. Always great to talk to you.

BROMAGE: Thank you.

BERMAN: What about waste water?

A boy from Cleveland is a hero to law enforcement. Brady Nakofski (ph) has raised more than $350,000 for bulletproof vests for police dogs. Brady's K-9 funded -- a GoFundMe page have helped get vests for nearly 260 dogs in the U.S. and Canada. He also supplied vest for military dogs in Afghanistan.

Good for him.

All right, legendary Georgetown Coach John Thompson stood up for minority students, called out injustice when he saw it. Up next, one of the players he was closest to, one of the persons whose lives he may have changed more than anyone else, Patrick Ewing joins us and remembers him.


BERMAN: This morning, the basketball world, the education community, mourning the loss of a legend. Georgetown's John Thompson was the first black coach to win the NCAA championship. He was a trail blazer who defied expectations on and off the court.

Joining me now is Patrick Ewing, the Hall of Famer and former NBA all- star and the current head coach at Georgetown.

Patrick, thank you so much for being with us. I really appreciate it.

I know this has got to be a hard time for you because John Thompson was just so much more than a coach to you.

What did he mean for you?

PATRICK EWING, HEAD COACH, GEORGETOWN MEN'S BASKETBALL: Yes, you're absolutely right. He meant a great deal to me. Not only me, but most of the guys that he coached.


He was a role model. He was a father figure. He was a friend. He was someone who our relationship grew over the years from when I -- when I was a player at Georgetown to my times in the NBA. And as a matter of fact, if it wasn't for him, I would not be here coaching at Georgetown.

He's the one that called me after his son got let go and told me I need to try to get an interview for this job. And he's always been there for me. He's a person that I could always pick up the phone and call no matter what, daytime or year, just pick it up and he always was there to give me advice on anything that was going on in my life.

BERMAN: What was it about him or what was it about his advice that made such a difference to you and all the other young men that were influenced by him over the years?

EWING: Well, just like being a parent, you're not going to always agree with whatever advice that you're given. But it's always great to have someone to sounding -- to sound things off. And he was that for me and many others. You know, he was -- his humor, his insight, his knowledge, everything that he -- that -- that was all about him, was always someone that -- it was something that he could help.

BERMAN: I don't want to give people the sense that he was necessarily always easy to get along with. I know I never had a chance to meet him, but from what I've read -- see, you're laughing there -- he's a guy who liked to mix it up. People say that he wasn't happy unless he was being contrarian, right? Why are you smiling about this?

EWING: Well, you know, people from the outside always thought that. When you're on the inside, you know, when you're -- you're in the battle with him, you know most -- everything about him. You know, people on the outside thought he was rough, abrasive, but he was a great man. He was a person that sometimes we would go into the locker room getting ready, he comes in and starts dancing with us. You know, he -- he was light -- he was lighthearted. He -- you know, he worked very hard and extremely hard at his job to get to where he was able to get to and he was proud of that.

BERMAN: He was 6'10", 300 pounds. I would like to see that dancing before a game, as you're -- as you're all getting ready.

One thing that I think exemplifies how he felt about issues and justice in his position is, when you all won the national championship, he was the first African-American coach to win a men's national title. But he almost didn't want to hear it. He almost bristled with that mantle.

Why do you think that was?

EWING: Well, he just wanted to make sure everybody knew that he was given an opportunity. There was a lot of people who came before him who was not. And you referenced John McClinton. He was a black man who was not given an opportunity to coach at a -- at a huge university. Well, even though he was able to -- to be successful where he was at, he was just not given or afforded the opportunity to do a lot of the things that Coach Thompson was able to do.

BERMAN: This is, obviously, such a moment in our national and cultural history with questions of racial justice. And I can't help but think, as the first African-American to coach a national championship team, and he was often criticized, which is inexplicable at this point, for fielding an all-black team at Georgetown.

How do you think he would address the issues that are facing the country right now with his team?

EWING: I think he would have addressed it the same way he addressed it -- back then. You know, he, as a black man, of course, was -- was faced with racism. When he first got the job at Georgetown, you know, no one wanted him there. Georgetown is an historic white school, you know. It's a predominantly white school. So here you have a black man and his team was predominantly black. A lot of people -- it rubbed a lot of people wrong. But he was able to be successful in that environment. And Georgetown is even -- even though it's still a predominantly white school, it has changed. Our president, Jack DeGioia, has done an outstanding job of making everyone feel -- feel welcome. But he would be -- he would fight everything within -- the same way that he fought everything back then, with his heart, with his soul, with his courage. He would just -- he would be on the front line with his voice and using his platform to invoke change.

BERMAN: So I know your team -- I don't think your team is practicing yet, obviously, because of coronavirus and that is still going to be determined. I also know that you had your own personally battle with Covid-19. You were hospitalized. What was that like and how are you feeling now?

EWING: Right. I'm feeling much better. I'm feeling fine. And everyone knows that -- that I was, you know, infected. It was -- it was rough. I was in the hospital for five days. You know, fever, body ache.


I had a blood clot. And it not only affects you physically, it also affects you mentally.

So, you know, you have to do the best job you can to stay safe. And if you get it, do the best job that you can to not spread it. And that was one of the things. Once I found out I had it, I self-quarantined. When I couldn't handle it anymore, I went to the hospital. The nurses and the doctors at Georgetown Hospital did an outstanding job of making sure that I was safe and I was able to come through it.

BERMAN: Patrick Ewing, I can't tell you what an honor it is to speak to you and get a chance to talk about John Thompson, the coach and the man you knew. I really appreciate you being with us.

I watched you playing high school basketball when you were at Cambridge Rindge and Latin. So this is a real pleasure for me.

Thank you so much.

EWING: No, thank you very much. And, you know, one of the things I just wanted to say is, even though our heart is heavy and he's a man that we will definitely miss, it's also -- it's all about celebrating his life. He's done an outstanding job -- or did an outstanding job, not only as a basketball coach, but also as a -- as a man.

BERMAN: You are a walking celebration of his life.

EWING: Thank you.

BERMAN: Patrick Ewing, thank you very much.

EWING: Thank you.

BERMAN: CNN's coverage continues after this.