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One-on-One Interview with Democratic V.P. Nominee, Sen. Kamala Harris; Dr. Robert Finberg Discusses Vaccine Developers Preparing Joint Safety Pledge As Campaign Calendar Adds Pressure; Record-Setting Heat Fuels Dangerous Wildfires in California. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired September 7, 2020 - 11:30   ET




SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: And that's how we're going to earn those votes.


HARRIS: You're welcome.


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get some perspective now from our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.

I took notes during the conversation, Dana, when it aired yesterday first and then again there. The word "caution" is in my notes several times.

Joe Biden tweeted he wanted a national mask mandate. Senator Harris says a standard enforced by leadership, not by punishment.

She also seemed to be trying to find the sweet spot between supporting the protesters out there against police, Black Lives Matter, but trying to also understand you need police, you need strong security.

Is the that caution her or is it them? Meaning, when she was a candidate for president, that was the knock on her from some people that she was too caution, that she was being too careful.

I'm struck now at this big moment where they are rolling her out, she's starting to campaign more. They feel they wanted her to sit down for an extended interview, to give that a test run.

Where is the caution from? Senator Harris or the campaign?

BASH: My sense is both. First of all, she -- you're exactly right. That was kind of her reputation when she ran on her own for president during the primary. And, of course, she dropped out before a vote was cast during the primaries. But now the stakes are incredibly high. And it -- I mean, you know this. You've covered a lot of vice-presidential running mates. They are not the top dog, so to speak.

And they have to try to kind of fit in the -- the narrative and the policy prescriptions and the messaging that the whole team stands for. And it is set by Joe Biden in this case. So it is tough.

And you're right. I mean, even if I were sitting with Joe Biden, some of the questions on the very delicate issues that have to answer, from how you actually govern if they do get that chance on masks. They are not real clear on how they are -- how they would do that, as you said.

How you would actually govern when it comes to rioting/protesting, which are very, very different, versus dealing with police.

And so she's just -- it was an opening gambit. She's going to Wisconsin today. I was told that she is going to campaign at a regular clip as much as they can, COVID permitting. And so we'll see.

There's been a lot of clamoring for people that she should be out there more. I think we're going to see that.

KING: Beginning this week, we will see that. It's an interesting test, a fascinating conversation.

Dana Bash, appreciate the insights very much.

BASH: Thank you.

KING: Coming up for us, back to the coronavirus, three companies, working right now to create a COVID vaccine, are making a safety pledge as some worry the campaign calendar could add pressure to hurry.



KING: Companies that are rivals in the coronavirus vaccine race are coming together to promise science, not presidential politics will guide their timeline for bringing shots to market.

"The Wall Street Journal" reporting the joint safety pledge will come from Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer. The newspaper says to expect that promise to be made public this week.

Most experts suggest December or January is the earliest a vaccine might be past the necessary clinical trial hurdles. But President Trump, including today, keeps saying maybe sooner and maybe before the November election.

Some experts worry his public pressure to hurry might damage consumer trust of any vaccine that is clear for public use.

Let's discuss with Dr. Robert Finberg. He's part of a Pfizer vaccine trial currently with 70 participants. Dr. Finberg is a professor and the chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Doctor, it's good to see you this morning.

The president tweeting again today that this should happen soon, a vaccine should be available soon.

Listen here, the perspective, more cautious approach. This is Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of FDA.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: I think the likelihood that we'll have a vaccine for widespread use in 2020 is extremely low. I think we need to think of that as largely a 2021 event.

And if we do have a vaccine available in 2020, it will likely be used in a much more targeted fashion, almost in a therapeutic sense to protect very high-risk populations.


KING: You're deeply involved in this work, part of the trial there at UMass Worcester. What's the right answer? When will it be available, do you think?

DR. ROBERT FINBERG, PROFESSOR & CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE, UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS MEDICAL SCHOOL: When the data are compelling. I think that there have been missteps in the past and that we need to make sure that we have the right data.

I would agree with Doctor -- with Senator Harris that the data is what we should go with. And we should engage people.

Scientists in this crisis have been releasing their data. Blemishes are not blemishes. I believe that that will continue to happen.

And that the politicians should engage a diversity of opinion and listen to what the data says before they make a decision.

KING: So how important is it? The reason I like to bring in experts like yourself because you do have a doubt out there right now.

This is from a new poll, a CBS/UGov poll. If there was a vaccine this year, would you think it would be a scientific achievement? Only a third of Americans, 35 percent, say that. Two-third, 65 percent, say they believe it would be rushed through.

That's a problem, isn't it, in terms of building consumer trust to take a vaccine once it's ready?


FINBERG: That's a problem. I think there's a history of governments rushing to judgment. And I think the 1976 decision to vaccinate everyone for the pandemic that didn't come was a problem.

However, I think there's a failure of governments to act. And actually, the failure to protect the blood supply in the 1980s was also a problem.

I think we are a great nation with a diverse population, with diverse backgrounds and diverse opinions. And what's necessary is to engage those people and to hear the opinions. And then we'll come to the best decision.

KING: You mentioned diversity. Diversity is also an issue in the work you're doing right now, trying to get volunteers for these clinical trials that are representative of America. Not just by census data but by what we see in the coronavirus, disproportionately hitting brown and black communities.

Listen here to this expert who says, listen, we need to do a better job.


DR. ESTHER CHOO, PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, OREGON HEALTH & SCIENCE UNIVERSITY: We need to actually oversample those populations. Of course, we historically don't have trust in those communities. And so the outreach takes a little bit longer.

And that is simply what we need to do so that we know that the vaccine, and actually every drug that we're making for this -- for this pandemic, is appropriate to the population who needs it.



KING: How is it going on your end, Dr. Finberg, there at UMass Medical School? Are you getting the volunteers that you need to make it a diverse study as well as a larger study?

FINBERG: We are. And we're reaching out to those communities to try to get more and more people from diverse communities and also diverse age groups. We need to reach out to older people as well.

KING: Dr. Robert Finberg, is part of one of these Pfizer studies.

Sir, we wish you the best of luck. You're on the front lines. You're trying to answer a question every American and everybody around the world is waiting for the answer. Best of luck, sir, in the days ahead.

FINBERG: Thank you very much. It's an important question, and we're all working to answer it correctly.

KING: We appreciate your time and perspective. Data-driven perspective, that's what we want here.

Thank you, sir.

Still ahead for us, record-setting heat in California is fueling massive record-breaking wildfires.



KING: California is setting records for heat and for wildfire devastation. Late Sunday, the governor, Gavin Newsom, declaring a state of emergency in five counties hardest hit by wildfires statewide.

Statewide now, almost 15,000 firefighters are battling -- get this -- more than 20 major wildfires and lightening complexes across the states. So far, more than two million acres, two million acres have burned.

Chad Myers is tracking all of this in the CNN Weather Center.

Chad, these are the record you do not want to set.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Not early in September, John. It's not even wind season yet. It's not even fire season yet. Two million acres surpassing the 1.8 that we had in 2018.

And you talk about California, there are 38 wildfires burning across the entire west, so Colorado, Wyoming, parts of Montana all in it.

This is what the fire -- this is the Creek Fire that blew up over the weekend. Just tremendous heat, lots of wind and just was consuming acres and acres and acres very, very quickly.

It will be 120 degrees in Palm Springs today. Not quite as hot in L.A. near the shore but it's still an inland empire, very hot.

And then we have a storm system that will do a couple of things. Make significant wind. And what you don't want wind, especially dry air, wind, and hot, especially over wildfire.

Look what it looks like tomorrow. So 79-mile-per-hour gusts forecast for Salt Lake City. This is a computer forecast. But they are within 10 percent. And even down to the south in Vegas, it will be 20 to 40 miles per hour.

And over the fire areas here in California, 25, 55 in Portland, 37 in Reading. And 25 miles per hour over a wildfire that has no containment will put it completely again, out of control, and maybe in different directions this time.

Very critical today. Another day critical tomorrow. Portland, you're in it, all the way down even to southern California for tomorrow.

Look at these warnings. Heat warning, red flag warning because of wind and dry. Also, high winds and a winter storm coming to the Rockies. All with one storm that's coming down from the north.

There it is. It's hot right now. But this will dive on down through Colorado, through Wyoming, and all the way down even to New Mexico. And there will be snow. And there will be a lot of snow.

We work your way all the way to 8:00 tonight, already beginning to snow in Montana, all the way through the Wind River Range in Wyoming, the Tetons.

And then into Colorado by morning. Temperatures in Denver today are going to be 94. That will be the high in Denver, Colorado today.

There's the snow. Some spots in the higher elevations. Two feet of new snow on top of this.

When there are significant wildfires burning right now in Colorado, you go from Denver at 94 today, 37 with snow tomorrow. Lots more snow in the front range.

But can you imagine that type of whiplash? A 47-degree difference for highs, not even including the morning lows -- John?

KING: Whiplash is an understatement there.

Chad Myers, appreciate you tracking the fires and that extreme weather. We'll stay in touch throughout the days ahead. That looks pretty dicey.


Coming up for us, the top-rated tennis player, Novak Djokovic, booted from the U.S. Open. What he did and why he's apologizing. That's next.


KING: We are seeing a major boost in air travel this Labor Day weekend. The TSA said it screened nearly one million passengers last Friday and another 669,000 on Saturday.

Friday's tally marks the most air travelers since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. But important footnote, it is still down by more than half over the Friday before Labor Day last year.

To sports now, Novak Djokovic's infamous temper, well sidelined him at the U.S. Open. The world's number-one tennis player was defaulted -- you see the pictures here -- after hitting a lines woman in the throat with a ball.

It happened when he angrily hit the ball toward the back fence without really looking. The ball hit the woman sending her down for several minutes.

Not the first time in a match that Djokovic has slammed a ball in anger.


Afterwards, he apologized on social media to the lines woman and to the U.S. Open. And said, quote, "I need to go back within and work on my disappointment and turn this all into a lesson for my growth and evolution as a player and as a human being."

Still ahead for us, will this be holiday weekend deja vu? Meaning, Americans celebrate and then coronavirus cases spike?