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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Tonight or Tomorrow, U.S. will Likely Record an All-Time High Number of New COVID Cases in One Day. Trump Fires Back After Biden Says U.S. Should Transition from Oil; In Final Stretch, What Changes The Race?; Mary Trump On Pres. Trump's Debate Performance; Fareed Zakaria: "I Was Wrong That Trump Would Lose In 2016. I'm Doubling Down In 2020"; Debate Influence on Florida's Early Voting. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 23, 2020 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[20:00:04]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hey, good evening. We are now poised on a precipice. Tonight or tomorrow, we'll likely record an all-time high number of new COVID cases in one day. The previous high was 77,000 new cases in a day. That was back in July.

As of right now, the data people at Johns Hopkins have recorded nearly 72,000 new infections today. Today is the fourth highest toll. But that number will almost certainly grow throughout the evening.

Yesterday, there were more than 71,000 new cases and the trend line is rising and that trend line is followed by increased hospitalizations, of course, and then sadly, increased deaths.

We saw the same thing this summer and it is happening again. It's grim stuff. The President talked about it today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're rounding the corner beautifully. We're going to quickly end this pandemic, this horrible plague that came in from China.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: That's how he talks about it. We're rounding the corner beautifully, he said. That would be accurate if he means that around the corner, there was a cliff or a fast-moving truck heading toward us.

We're on the cusp of breaking the record for cases in the single day. The President was speaking at the giant Florida retirement community, The Villages and here's the President speaking to tens of millions of Americans at last night's debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It will go away and as I say, we're rounding the turn, we're rounding the corner. It's going away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He has now said that or words to that effect dozens of times since the pandemic arrived. This is nothing new. He has been saying it from the very beginning of the pandemic, it's going to magically disappear or gone by Easter.

He said it knowing it wasn't true then, knowing how deadly the virus was. He admitted as much to Bob Woodward back in early February then told Woodward in March that he always preferred to, you know, play the pandemic down.

Well keeping them honest, the pandemic doesn't care about the President's preferences, and even as we speak, the President is at another one of his potential super spreader events. This one in Pensacola, Florida, where as usual, the people behind him will be told to wear masks for the cameras but virtually no one else will be doing that.

Why does it matter? Well, just today, researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation published a new study in "The Journal of Nature Medicine." It says 100,000 lives could be saved in this country by February 28th if mask wearing became widespread across the country.

Now, right now, only about 49 percent of Americans wear masks regularly, which is pretty stunning. If it was 95 percent of us, 100,000 people's lives could be saved by the end of February.

Scientifically, it's that simple. But the President has single handedly made it impossibly complex. He's made mask wearing political, and he has shown in his own behavior, that it's perfectly acceptable to endanger other people by not wearing a mask.

But in reality, it is that simple. If virtually everyone wears a mask in this country, 100,000 more people will live, will survive this pandemic by the end of February. They won't die.

Now, even with near universal mask wearing, the study's death figure is still heartbreaking, 381,000 people, but it could be more than half a million if we just keep doing what we're doing with 49 percent of the country wearing masks, we will see nearly 400,000 people dead according to the latest projection by the end of February.

So given how simple the life-saving answer is, given that it literally costs next to nothing other than saying the right words and modeling the right behavior, what do you suppose the President is doing about it?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: This is Jeff Mason. He's got a mask on. It's a largest mask, I think I have ever seen. So, I don't know if you can hear him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's the President's today mocking a reporter, Jeff Mason for wearing a mask indoors in the Oval Office, not a big space, surrounded by people not wearing masks, all of whom work for the President and they all know the President doesn't like mask wearing, not wearing a mask himself, and he makes fun of someone who is.

If he were the CEO of a public company, mocking someone in the company for wearing a mask, pressuring everyone around him not to wear one, he would be removed as CEO. There would be lawsuits by employees, HR complaints. He wouldn't last long at all as CEO.

But this President, he isn't a CEO. I mean, I know he has a company or had a company, but he is not really a CEO. He is the President and he is Donald Trump. If only he would wear a mask and encourage all of us to wear them as well.

This is a President who said last night if only briefly before quickly shifting the blame elsewhere that yes, he does take responsibility for how this country has handled the pandemic. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: And you say I take no responsibility.

KRISTEN WELKER, MODERATOR: Let me talk about your --

TRUMP: Excuse me, take full -- I take full responsibility. It's not my fault that it came here. It's China's fault. And you know what, it's not Joe's fault that it came here either, it's China's fault.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[20:05:01]

COOPER: OK, so his moment of accountability and self-awareness had the lifespan of a fruit fly last night. "I take full responsibility," of course, it's China's fault. That's Leadership 101.

But just for argument's sake, imagine if he said exactly the same thing last night, merely adding a few words. What if you said, I take responsibility, but it's China's fault, but now that the virus is here, the simplest, cheapest and most effective way of defeating it is to put on a mask and that's what I'm going to do.

But of course, he didn't do that. Because it seems he simply cannot. And today, he made fun of a reporter for wearing a mask. But imagine if the President had said that. Imagine if he decided to say that today because his supporters listen to him. Many of them would listen to him, and the power of him setting the wrong example, that is real, and it is costing real lives.

It will cost 100,000 lives by the end of February.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is one of his staunchest supporters and like him, she too, doesn't want to wear a mask. Here's what she said in a recent op-ed, "If folks want to wear a mask, they should be free to do so. Similarly, those who don't want to wear a mask shouldn't be shamed into wearing one and government should not mandate it."

South Dakota is now second only to North Dakota in cases per 100,000 and today set a new record for daily cases with the positivity rate now approaching 22 percent. Meantime, in North Dakota contact tracing is so overburdened by all the new cases officials are asking the infected to do it themselves.

Let that sink in a moment. You're infected with COVID. Hey, can you do us a solid and trace all the people you came in contact with and call them up? And you know, in between your coughing? All these months into a pandemic and contact tracing still -- it varies state by state. Yes, some states devoted resources to it. Some haven't.

There's no coordinated federal effort at all. A strong message on mask wearing from the President would lighten the load on those contact tracers by lowering the case count. It would save 100,000 lives.

Not only can the President not bring himself to do that simple thing, he still can't even tell the truth about where we stand right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're entering the final turn and approaching the light at the end of the tunnel. That's the way I look at it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He keeps using that phrase. That was a phrase that some generals and others used to describe the Vietnam War in the late 60s, they did it. I think it was 1968 people started talking about oh, yes, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. It turned out to be a very long and very deadly tunnel.

Again, the virus clearly does not care what the President says. It doesn't care that we're all tired of this. It is spreading now at a rate not seen since July, heading toward a third peak higher than the first two. That is what is in this tunnel that we are in right now.

By the end of the weekend, 225,000 Americans will have died in this country in this pandemic. By the end of February, according to the new I.H.M.E. study, 381,000 Americans will be dead; 150,000 more Americans will die in the span of three more months. Almost as many as that have already died. That's how bad it's going to be the next three months.

And that is assuming that we all start wearing masks. If we don't, but if states begin shutting down when death rates exceed a certain level, that number climbs to more than 511,000. If states continue removing social distancing mandates, the new I.H.M.E. study projects about a million people will be dead of COVID by February 28.

That's not rounding the corner, no matter how you describe it.

Joining us now is doctor and I.H.M.E. Director Chris Murray.

Dr. Murray, thanks for being with us. I know and it feels like deja vu, this persistent line though that the President peddles about rounding the corner. Are we in any way rounding a corner?

DR. CHRIS MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: Well, I think we've rounded the wrong corner, Anderson, which is you know, this week, we're really seeing for the first time, as you mentioned, not only cases going up, but deaths going up.

So, we think that the fall-winter surge is kicking off. It's already kicked off about a month ago in Canada, so it should be no surprise it's happening here. And it is, you know, roaring in Europe. And so that's exactly what's going to happen to us. We're going to go into that nearly exponential growth in cases and deaths over the next weeks and months.

COOPER: Your latest projections on fatalities predict more than 385,000 deaths in this country by February 1st. That assumes that some states will re-impose social distancing mandates. Do you have -- do you know which states in particular you think may have to do that? And then I guess the flip side of that is what if they don't, if they don't implement more precautions?

[20:10:16]

MURRAY: Well, it's the ones that are farther along. You talked about North Dakota, South Dakota, some of the states in the Midwest will have to put on the social distancing mandates sooner because the epidemic -- there's more virus out in the community. And as the winter comes in, it's going to spread faster and faster.

And then some of the other states where it's not, you know, growing at the same rate will be a month behind that. But absolutely, we're going to have to see what's happened in Europe, re-imposition of the mandates, to avoid hospitals being overwhelmed, or we're going to face you know, a really large death toll.

COOPER: I noted, the study in mask wearing is to me just astonishing that more than 100,000 lives could be saved. What are you hoping government leaders on the Federal, state and local levels take away from the study? Because the very fact that tonight you can say, oh, yes, in this state and this state, it is likely there are going to be -- you know, you're going to have to institute you know, more, I don't know if lockdown is too severe a word, but more social distancing mandates in some of those states, not so that hospitals aren't overwhelmed.

The fact that, you know, that now, it's not clear that the people who are in charge in those states are listening.

MURRAY: Well, you know, I think what we what we hope is that there will be clear guidance, leadership from governors, from the Federal government to have a mask mandate, to have penalties if you don't wear a mask, and also to start helping hospitals plan for what's coming.

We're really back to March with the onslaught of the cases coming. And we should be better prepared this time. COOPER: How do you know? I mean, how can you say, we know hospitals

are going to be challenged like that and that we are going to see that large numbers of people like it was in March going to the hospital?

MURRAY: So fundamentally, what we've learned, and you know, we've been seeing this in the data for many months, actually, is that COVID is seasonal, and you know, you saw big epidemics in the Southern Hemisphere in the summer.

We are now -- if you just look at a map where COVID is transmitting around the world, all the northern latitudes are, you know, essentially erupting. And it's just, it's the seasonal pattern that we expected to see, and now it's occurring.

You just look at the absolute enormous wave in France and Britain, you know, in Belgium, Italy, Spain, and also in Quebec and Ontario, in Canada, same story. They're well above their April peak. And that's now what's happening in the northern states in the U.S., and it'll sweep through the rest of the country as the winter goes on.

COOPER: Dr. Chris Murray, I appreciate you being with us. Thank you very much. We welcome your expertise, even though the news is grim.

More now in the politics of this, specifically the presidential politics. Joining us is CNN's senior political commentator, former top Obama adviser, David Axelrod. Also, our CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.

David, President Trump obviously continues to lie about the pandemic, rounding the turn, saying, you know, again, today that we're rounding the curve. It is going to end quickly. What does it say?

I mean, he has said repeatedly that when there's a vaccine, it's going to go away. That's going to end the pandemic. That is just not the case. You know, I don't know what we do as a country when the President is just out and out lying about what lies ahead even in the time he will still be in office, even if he is voted out of office.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, you know, last night during the debate, Anderson, he was asked about this and the predictions of scientists about the time it will take for the vaccine to take hold in the country and for us to move through the virus and the President dismissed it, and he said, I know better than they do.

Well, he was the one who said that this was going to be gone by Easter. The Vice President said it would be gone by Memorial Day. They have been consistently wrong, and the scientists have been consistently right, including predicting this fall surge.

So it is disturbing. It's dangerous, because the President continues to believe that he can spin this virus, but people are experiencing it. And this, of course, is his political problem. The reality that people are living in their lives, the reality on the ground is different than the one that he shares with the American people.

COOPER: Dana, it was kind of remarkable, President Trump criticized Vice President Biden today saying all Biden wants to talk about is the pandemic. It's like say, you know, the President likes to call himself or used to like to call himself a Wartime President, it is as if during World War II, you know, you're attacking the President for talking about the war a lot. I mean, this is 23,000 Americans who are dead, and another hundred and fifty or more are going to die -- 150,000 are going to die in the next three months.

[20:15:19]

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And those are the facts, the grim facts, as you put it. He believes that this is something even though, as David said, it is unfortunately something that every American in some way, shape or form is experiencing. But he has not been disabused of the fact that this is not one of the things that he has, through his lifetime been able to spin away to charm away to convince people that they're not seeing and feeling the effects of it before their eyes.

And, you know, I've had Trump advisers say to me, every single time he plays doctor on television, it hurts him. It hurts him more and more and more, but it's crunch time for him. And he understands fundamentally, that the more the discussion is about the coronavirus, and not other things, the worse it is for him because of his leadership of this and because it is a referendum on him, his presidency, but most importantly, on how he has handled what we're all going through right now as a country.

COOPER: Yes. And David, you know, the President continues to say you know that because of his actions, he prevented an estimated two million deaths in this country. That estimate is based on the government doing nothing, as if the government just stood by and watched people die. If the government did nothing, the estimate was two million people would die. That's hardly something to take credit for, you know, two million deaths that if yes, if he had done nothing, yes, you've done better than doing nothing, but 223,000 Americans dead with more than 150,000 dying in the next couple of months. That's -- I mean, it's unthinkable.

AXELROD: Well, and you know, look, the facts are harsh, and they are immutable. The fact is that we have four percent of the world's population, and we've had about 20 percent of the world's deaths and that is a terrible indictment of what we as a country have done.

Other countries -- the whole world is suffering through this, and he is absolutely right about that. But other countries have been much more methodical and guided by science, and they as a result have had a much lower mortality than we have here. And you know, what's interesting about this is the President himself gets the virus and instead of using that as a teaching moment for the country, he is using it to once again do what he did from the beginning, which is to minimize the virus and you know, the country pays a price for his lack of leadership.

COOPER: Yes. Dana and David, stay with us. I want to get your take on the rest of the bigger campaign picture. John King joins us as well. The maps break down that will be driving these final days of the election.

Later, Mary Trump on what she saw in her uncle's behavior on the debate stage last night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:21:52]

COOPER: The President sounding pleased about his debate performance last night. He is also seizing on what he sees as a gaffe by Joe Biden, though he was not quite accurate in how he characterized it. To be accurate, Biden said he quote, "Would transition from the oil industry" unquote, to cleaner sources of energy. In any case, here was the President today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: One of the most stunning moments last night was when Joe Biden admitted that he wants to abolish the oil industry. That wasn't too good.

Did you see him this morning? This morning? I didn't really mean that. I didn't mean that. That was the last question. They talked about that. I said, whoa, this is the big point of the evening. Remember, I said well, you want to get rid of oil and gas. Is that -- yes, well, we want to phase it out. I said, thank you. Texas, are you watching? Pennsylvania? Oklahoma? Ohio, are you watching?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: These of course are all key states; with more Ohio and Pennsylvania are swing states. The question tonight has it or anything materially changed the direction of this race. For that we turn to CNN chief national correspondent, John King -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, now, we wait. We wait to see if the voters have the same view of the debate as the two campaigns do. The Biden campaign thinks nothing big changed. They think the map stays like this. They have the advantage. They have money. They have momentum heading into the final days.

The Trump campaign thinks something different, especially on the issue of energy and fracking. They think the Vice President made a mistake. Mr. Biden made a mistake in the debate. Trump campaign says that's going to help in Pennsylvania. That's going to help in Ohio. That's going to help in Texas. The President said so himself during the debate.

If that were the case, it's in if, but if it were the case that would help the President get back into play. If he could get Pennsylvania, and if he could return Ohio to the Republican fold that would get him back into play. But he would still have a ton more to do.

So, let's switch maps as we get into the challenges of the final week. Who knows if that's the case, polling will tell us in a few days? But now we watch because the campaigns know. They have polling, they have data, they have interactions with their voters. So, let's watch this.

How will this play out in the final days? Number one watch the ad spending. Not just where they are spending, but if the ad rotation changes. If the message in those ads change, if the strategy changes. Right now, the former Vice President is spending more money than the current President.

Joe Biden's big spending is in Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Texas, Michigan, and Wisconsin, all states carried by the President four years ago. The President, look here, Minnesota, New Hampshire, he did not win those four years ago. He knows the map is not as good to him, he is trying to find some new opportunities; so far, it hasn't turned up. Watch if this strategy holds. That's one way to look at it.

Another way to look at it is even if the Biden campaign did have some missteps in the debate, it doesn't believe it did. But even if the numbers turn up that way, look at the advantage Joe Biden has heading in to the final 10 days of this campaign $162 million in his campaign coffers, compared to $43.6 million for the President. This is to the F.E.C. some more money will come in, but that is lopsided.

So is if you add up Biden and his friendly committees, the President and his friendly committees, the Democrats have money not only to put up more ads, but to try to expand the map even if the candidates don't go there.

One more thing to watch. Again, the candidates see the data before we see the data. So where do they go? That tells you a lot about what they think.

Right now. Joe Biden: Delaware and Pennsylvania, two stops in Pennsylvania on the weekend. The fracking debate. Let's see how he handles it in that state and then watch what he does next week.

[20:25:14]

KING: Senator Harris: Georgia, Ohio, Michigan, again, trying to change the map in Georgia, trying to get the Midwest back in the Democratic fold. The Vice President and the President they know they're trailing. They're more busy.

Watch where they go. Florida twice for the President, but he is going to New Hampshire. Again, that's a steady loss. The Vice President is supposed to go to Minnesota, a state they lost four years ago.

So watch the money, watch the candidates. By early next week, we'll get to watch the polling to have any idea whether the debate puts the map something like this or if it still stays lopsided in Joe Biden's favor -- Anderson.

COOPER: John, thanks very much. We are back with CNN's David Axelrod and Dana Bash. David, do you think the Vice President's comments in oil and gas and fracking going to hurt him in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas? AXELROD: You know, I'm sure that he has supporters in those states and

organizers in those states who may have winced with the way he answered that question. But the position that he has taken is very clear. It's in his platform, and that is to phase out fossil fuel fuels over the next 30 years. He could have worded it more artfully.

And yes, in western Pennsylvania, there are tens of thousands of people who are employed in the fracking industry, and they were potentially listening and certainly the President may turn this into ads very quickly.

He's had a steady lead there, Biden. He is from the neighboring state. He's a native of Scranton. They are relatively confident about that state. But this, you know, is potentially a little bit of turbulence that they don't watch. Overall, I think he feels good about where he is.

COOPER: Dana, it wasn't clear, I mean, whether or not -- sorry, go ahead, Dana.

BASH: No, I just want to add one sort of anecdote about western Pennsylvania. I was just there a couple of weeks ago, in the very part of the state that Republicans that the Trump campaign, they're hoping to get even more voters on their side than they did four years ago.

For example, Westmoreland County is where we were. Donald Trump got more than 16,000 more votes in that county alone than Mitt Romney did four years before him. That was about a third of the overall number of votes that he won Pennsylvania by. And so that is why Democrats -- I also was communicating with some of the Democrats I met there last night. They more than winced in hearing how the former Vice President phrased his position.

And it's not so much because they thought it was different or bad, but it's because they are completely ready for it to be used against Biden in ads that may not be entirely accurate, but it will probably be political fair game.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, it's one thing to say, well, you know, it's in his policy platform and stuff, but to hear him emphasize and as David said, Dana, you know, the way he said it, it was clearly a gift to President Trump.

BASH: That's certainly -- I mean, if you look at the way that the President reacted immediately, real time, he heard it. He knew exactly what Joe Biden said, and the fact that before the debate was over the Trump campaign, they were already, you know, putting out videos of what Joe Biden had said not just during the debate, but before that, absolutely.

But the key is, is that the Democrats do have a lot of energy, as David said, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. So if they, you know, get the numbers up in cities like Philadelphia and the suburbs, then it might not matter in other parts of the state, which is a crucial part of the puzzle for Joe Biden and his path to 270 electoral votes.

COOPER: David, if you were part of the Biden campaign, where would you be focusing your time and your resources in the candidate?

AXELROD: Well, look, the Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin are the -- you know, they used to call it the blue wall for Democrats. They're trying to reconstruct the blue wall. One of the appeals of Biden as a candidate for the Democrats is that he is particularly -- has particular kinship to the states, his profile, his history is good for those states.

And I think they want to defend those states. But they see, obviously Florida is a huge battleground, they could end this race on Election Night if Florida comes in for Biden, and they see some opportunities in states like Georgia, North Carolina and Arizona in particular, 60 percent of the state is one big suburban area in the Maricopa County there around Phoenix, very promising for them. Those are the places that I'd be concentrating on right now.

COOPER: Dana, I mean, compared to previous elections, you know, more than 50 million people have already voted. Do we know how that affects things one way or another?

BASH: Not really, Anderson. These are unchartered waters that we're in right now. In some key states, what they are seeing right now with regard to early voting absentee is maybe more than half of the overall vote that they saw in 2016. We don't know how that is going to add up when we see the final votes counted.

[20:30:09]

I mean, the Republicans absolutely assume for lots of reasons that most of their voters are going to go out and vote on Election Day. First of all, because that's kind of their tradition, it's cultural. But second of all, because the guy at the top of the ticket has been talking down the notion of early voting much to the chagrin of many Republican operatives I've talked to.

So, we really don't know which is -- what makes election night, election day, election week, whatever you're going to call it. Really interesting, exciting and nail biting, to say the least.

COOPER: Yes. Dana -- yes --

AXELROD: One of the questions about the Election Day is if this coronavirus peaks in the next 10 days, as we're hearing from some of the scientists. What effect does that have on those voters who were planning to vote on Election Day?

COOPER: Yes, that's another good point. David Axelrod. Thank you, Dana Bash, as well.

We're going to continue the conversation I had with someone who knows the president very well. Can tell us how long he can keep this change of tone he debuted last night. His niece Mary Trump joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:35:37] COOPER: Temporarily new tone President Trump debuted for last night's debate extended at least through this afternoon. Praise today for debate moderator Kristen Welker, whom days ago he called, quote, terrible and unfair. Substantively, however, nothing has changed. The President has continued to lie today as we mentioned earlier about rounding the corner on the coronavirus. Doubts tonight the President can dial back his more abrasive nature for at least 11 more days.

Perspective now, from the President's niece who has broken very publicly with him. She's the author of the bestseller Too Much and Never Enough. How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man.

Mary, first of all, thanks for being with us. What do you make of the President's performance last night?

MARY TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S NIECE: Well, I actually disagree with the assessments that it was a pivot or a change in tone. He came out in the first debate with a very specific tactic. And it was to be rude and interrupting to avoid all policy discussions, because he knew that that would be to his disadvantage. And he knew coming into the second debate that that wasn't going to be tolerated. The debate commission made it very clear that they were going to have a mute button, and that it would look bad if he tried the same thing not that he didn't look bad the first time around, but he would look better and wouldn't accomplish anything.

So, you know, Donald is quite capable of changing tactics when it serves him. And, I think the problem isn't that he did that. The problem is that the bar is now so low, that if he doesn't throw a temper tantrum for 90 minutes, he's praised for somehow being restrained, and presidential. So, we need to look at the fact that his behavior may have been more muted, but he lied, almost constantly. And he spotted conspiracy theories that have absolutely no basis in reality.

COOPER: He actually according to a factor of Daniel Dell actually lied more than he had in the previous debate, though, as you said, more mutedly, because there actually was a mute button. So he abided actually, by that for those first two minutes. What do you think of -- I mean, the next 11 days, clearly this person does have, you know, keen sort of senses of his own survival. I don't know if their political sensors or just senses of his preservation that he has used. What do you foresee these 11 days being like?

TRUMP: I think it depends on what gets through to him in terms of polling, I think his team does a pretty good job of protecting him from the worst news, you know, they use their own internal polls, to put the best face on things because he doesn't handle bad news very well. Also, though, I would suggest that it doesn't matter. He's going to behave, how he behaves. What I gleaned from the last debate and obviously from the last few years is the things that we need to focus on aren't the optics, it's the substance.

This is a man who's an unrepentant racist, who, whose rhetoric and failure to deal with white supremacy in this country is putting African Americans in danger every day. This is a man who, through his own willful inaction, has allowed in excess of 210,000 people to die from the COVID virus who did not need to. And this is a man who has essentially made cruelty, federal policy, because we still have children at the borders, who were kidnapped from their parents, placed in concentration camps, and who apparently can no longer be reunited with their parents because the federal government doesn't care.

COOPER: Yes. And the -- and handle it so badly, they can't even locate with the parents. That's how well executed this policy was. The President's response about that last night. What I thought was really kind of fascinating him saying, just how, you know, well taken care of they are and how nice the places that they are being cared for is almost implying like the fact that they're separated from their parents is not really that big a deal for children. I mean for child this is the single biggest nightmare you can imagine being separated from your parents.

[20:40:13]

TRUMP: Well, I don't think most of us can begin to understand the extent of the trauma, both to the children and to the parents. And imagine for a moment there are children so young, that if they ever are reunited with their parents, they will not remember them. These are scars that are going to last for the rest of their lives.

COOPER: It just to me, though, says a lot about, what you know about, it says a lot about the President's childhood and the way he views a family structure, the fact that it didn't just instinctively he didn't just say, you know, being separated from your parents is the worst thing possible imaginable. You know, it's psychically scarring, you know.

TRUMP: Right.

COOPER: But I, you know, I think it just says a lot about his background.

TRUMP: Well, not only that, you know, you're right, as long as the cages gilded, who cares. But the problem is, first of all, that's insane. Secondly, it's also not true. These children had been living in horrific conditions, absolutely horrific conditions. And if some Americans don't care, because they happen to be brown, then that is a shame this country will never recover from, we need to understand that this will not change if this administration is allowed to continue.

COOPER: You know, Tony Schwartz has said for a long time that what the President attacks people, the words he uses, the attacks he waged against other people are really things that are true about himself. And when you start to look through that prism, it's really fascinating. And there is a pattern of this. I mean, the President now attacking Joe Biden for allegedly being corrupt. You know, his family being an organized crime family. It is kind of amazing how much projection there is and I don't know if that's the term but his in his attacks.

TRUMP: Yes, it is a term. And, you know, I've gotten to the point, it's gotten to the point where I've started to think that Donald is actually desperate to tell people the truth about who he really is, but he just can't quite get over the line. So, he projects, and I had that sense last night when he said he took responsibility, but it was all China's fault. You know, it couldn't quite get there.

COOPER: Yes. And I think I said at the top of broadcasts, that his acceptance, responsibility lasted as long as the lifetime of her fruit fly, which is, you know --

TRUMP: Pretty much.

COOPER: -- (INAUDIBLE). Mary Trump, thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.

A lot more ahead tonight, John King mentioned polls in the money in the race for the White House greatly favored Joe Biden. But memories of 2016 have certainly chasing many, many Democrats all but our next guest, Fareed Zakaria says he is doubling down when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:46:40]

COOPER: John King noted earlier Joe Biden is not just ahead, he appears comfortably ahead of fact confirmed by polls in the race for campaign cash. Yet few Democrats or analysts appear willing to make definitive predictions about the race just 11 days out for the ones when he made four years ago.

Our next guest is the exceptions. CNN's Fareed Zakaria the headline of his new piece in The Washington Post, I was wrong that Trump would lose in 2016. I'm doubling down in 2020. He writes, quote, I will take my chances and once again predict that Trump will lose this election. Humbled as I am, after these four years, I would still rather bet on and believe in the best in America.

Joining me now is Fareed Zakaria, host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" here on CNN. He's written the new book Ten Lessons For A Post-Pandemic World.

So, Fareed, why do you think that the President is going to lose this election? If you look at polls in, you know, key battleground states? Hillary Clinton, actually, you know, is about where Joe Biden is now in many of those states? Or was that at this time in the race?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Look, Anderson, you can -- you can argue it many different ways, right? There's no question. It's a tight race. We're a divided country, I guess I refer to imagine an alternative narrative, which is borne out by a lot of data. Donald Trump has never been popular. He has always had a majority of the country against him disapproving of him. He has the lowest approval rating of any president in recorded history. In 2016, he happened to run against the second most unpopular candidate in modern presidential history. And in three states with 70,000 votes, he was able to pull off an Electoral College victory. I'm betting that that doesn't happen again.

Obviously, I don't know. But part of it is, you know, as an immigrant, as somebody who came to this country and felt like it was magical and was welcomed to hear Trump and his, you know, what is frankly, just naked racism and racial appeals. I want to believe that's not America, I want to believe and I want to bet on the America I know, and I'm going to do it, and maybe I'll be wrong, but I'm willing to put myself out on the line.

COOPER: If the person does win a second term. What do you think that means for the United States at home and abroad?

ZAKARIA: Well, you know, I talk a lot about this in my new book, which is the, you know, the part of the problem has become, this is very different from any experience America has had in the past. Because this is not about what America does. It's about who we are. You know, in the past, people have criticized American foreign policy, the Iraq War, the Vietnam War, but that was about what America did. What Trump has represented for a lot of the world, for most of the world, is the idea that America is not what it -- what they had imagined it to be the shining beacon of, of democracy, of pluralism, of diversity. You know, at some fundamental level, what everybody admires about America around the world is we're somehow able to bring all these people from all over the world together and make this first universal nation.

Well, Trump is stands in fundamental opposition to that. He begins his political career with birtherism, he begins his campaign calling Mexicans rapists he announces to during the campaign, the Muslim ban to you as I remember Anderson. That is something so different and so alien from the America that everybody around the world admires. So, I think it would be probably an irreparable loss.

[20:50:14]

COOPER: I spoke to Tom Friedman of the times, a couple of weeks ago. And I mean, he was really concerned about the potential of civil conflict in the United States that a that our he believes that our democracy is in terrible danger, more danger than has been in since the Civil War, more danger than after Pearl Harbor, of Cuban missile crisis. Do you agree with that?

ZAKARIA: Well, I think that one of the dangers of Donald Trump is that he seems to recognize no limits, right? He's willing to do things that nobody else has ever done. And so, it's really that fear that like, if you face this danger, what happens? What happens if the President of the United States, simply, you know, challenges 20 different state elections? What happens if he asked the army to do things?

I am fundamentally more optimistic than Tom Friedman is. And one of the points I try to make in my book is, look at the end of the day --

COOPER: Yes.

ZAKARIA: -- the United States is always a mixed, messy country. But it has incredible dynamism. And it has this incredible value, that it places on diversity. As I say, I'm going to bet on the America I know, not on the other side of America.

COOPER: I want to talk about your book, because despite the President saying that we're rounding the corners, it's nowhere near over cases are obviously rising, the U.S. and Europe. In your new book you write this ugly pandemic has opened up a path to a new world. What do you mean by that?

ZAKARIA: So, there's no question that you're right. This is this is the biggest pandemic in a century, this is the most consequential event in -- you know, in our lifetimes Anderson, it has affected every single human being on the on the planet. In a way that 911 didn't, in a way the global financial crisis didn't. But in doing that, it's dislocated everything. So, as a result change is possible. Think about how much we've all changed in our lives, right? We've, we've agreed to isolate ourselves, we've agreed to spend hours, you know, having deep personal conversations with our laptops, we have been willing to change if politicians lead us and tell us in this moment of enormous change, here's the way forward. I think we would -- we would get to a better place. But we need leaders who are willing to embrace that positive change.

COOPER: Fareed, I appreciate. The new book, Ten Lessons For A Post- Pandemic World. I'm going to read it this weekend. Still to Come. Thanks very much Fareed, appreciate it.

Coming up, did the debate leave an impact with early voters in the polls today in the must win state of Florida? What with Randi Kaye find out? Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:55:42]

COOPER: We started out in the crucial battleground state of Florida and that's where we end the hour. President Trump's rally in Pensacola is still going on. He's been campaigning in the state all day. It's a must win for the President and Joe Biden. The question is did their final debate last night influence any early voting there today?

Randi Kaye spoke with some of those early voters and joins us now from Lake Worth in Palm Beach County. What did you find out Randi?

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the polls here closed a couple of hours ago. But we were out here earlier when the sun was out. It was pretty hot. And there was a line wrapped all the way around this building. Floridians very determined to vote today and cast their ballots. We wanted to know what they thought about the debate last night. Did it move the needle for them? Did it change their vote at all in terms of who they were casting a ballot for today? We spoke to voters here both supporters of Donald Trump and supporters of Joe Biden. And here's some of what they told us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAYE (on-camera): What was it about Biden at the debate that that assured you that you were voting the right way (INAUDIBLE)?

JULIE STERN, BIDEN SUPPORTER: It just slight just demeanor. I felt like he came off more presidential, which kind of helped me believe that he's the one who can bring this country back together. LANITA SANDERS, BIDEN SUPPORTER: I guess I was trying to see if Trump was acting the same way he did from the first one.

KAYE (on-camera): Were you considering voting for him?

SANDERS: Oh, never. No.

KAYE (on-camera): Your mind was made up before the debate and if they didn't change anything?

SANDERS: Oh, yes, no. Nothing would change my mind. I'm looking for who I think will support all people. And, in this country, we know that, you know, African Americans have suffered for hundreds of years and I want someone who's going to help turn that around.

KAYE (on-camera): So, when Trump said that he's the least racist person in the room, that didn't get you. He didn't get your vote.

SANDERS: He must have been in the room by himself.

KAYE (on-camera): Were you sold on Joe Biden before the debate or?

RODNEY ELLIS, BIDEN SUPPORTER: Yes, I will.

KAYE (on-camera): OK, so it didn't change your mind?

ELLIS: No.

KAYE (on-camera): Donald Trump went after Joe Biden on the 1994 crime bill. Joe Biden said it was a mistake. Was that something that was an issue for you or not?

ELLIS: Listen, honestly, I was a law enforcement officer. Joe Biden didn't put anybody in prison. When you commit crimes, you go to jail. He did what politicians do. He said it was a mistake. I believe him. I'm not going to fault him for what he did over 20 years ago.

KAYE (on-camera): What do you think of Trump's performance at the debate?

THERESA HOFFMAN, TRUMP SUPPORTER: He was honest. He behaved himself.

KAYE (on-camera): Why didn't the debate change your mind about voting for Trump?

HOFFMAN: Because I know about Trump. I believe he's a businessperson, not a politician. And go Trump.

KAYE (on-camera): Did you watch the debate?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

KAYE (on-camera): You were impressed with Trump's performance at the debate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very impressed. I love him. He's a great president.

KAYE (on-camera): Did you hear any plans from Trump for what he plans to do for a second term?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I did. I did.

KAYE (on-camera): Did you hear health care plan?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pardon?

KAYE (on-camera): Did you hear a health care plan?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I did.

KAYE (on-camera): You did?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I heard that. He'll protect, he'll protect us.

KAYE (on-camera): But how?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because he's going to get -- he's going to protect us. He's, he has a plan and everything.

KAYE (on-camera): But he's been promising a plan for years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry, I don't want to chat.

KAYE (on-camera): I'm just --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: I guess she just kind of ended the interview.

KAYE: Yes, she sure did. Anderson, as soon as I started to tell her and press her and the fact that the President still has not delivered a health care plan, despite all his promises, still isn't saying how he's going to protect those people with pre-existing conditions. She had had enough she was out she didn't want to talk to me anymore. And that's the thing. People here are so dug in, just like they are elsewhere that once you challenge them about the candidate, they don't want to talk to you anymore.

And among the 25 or 30 people that I spoke to out here, not a single one of them Anderson said that that debate changed their mind at all. In fact, many of them said that they didn't care about all the talk about the candidates' business dealings about China and the Ukraine. That didn't matter to them. And when you talk to the Trump supporters, they're quick to point out they think Biden is a career politician. And when you talk to the Biden supporters, they call Trump a monster and a liar. Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: All right, Randi, appreciate it. Thanks very much. Randi's been traveling all over Florida talking to voters see how one state can be so divided about this election. What that indicates to the rest of the nation. Don't miss her special report, "DIVIDED WE STAND INSIDE AMERICA'S ANGER," tomorrow night 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

The news continues tonight, want to hand it over Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME". Chris.

[21:00:05]

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Have a good weekend my friend. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Primetime."