On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
- Ronna McDaniel, Republican National Committee Chairwoman
- Gov. Kristi Noem, (R-South Dakota)
- Rep. Adam Kinzinger, (R-Illinois)
- Gov. Andy Beshear, (D-Kentucky)
- Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Former FDA Commissioner
Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."
MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm Margaret Brennan in Washington. And this week on FACE THE NATION, the U.S. hits two devastating benchmarks: Half a million dead and one year since the first reported coronavirus death in the U.S. But there is hope on the horizon. Last week began with a sobering tribute to a staggering statistic, five hundred thousand American lives lost due to COVID-19. That's roughly the population of the city of Atlanta.
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We often hear people described as ordinary Americans. There's no such thing. There's nothing ordinary about them. The people we lost were extraordinary.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But as the week ended, there is reason for optimism. Last night, the FDA authorized a third vaccine, this one from Johnson & Johnson. It requires only one dose and is one hundred percent effective in preventing coronavirus hospitalization and death. As the race to vaccinate Americans picks up speed, even scientists concede that we could soon be nearing normal. We'll talk to Doctor Anthony Fauci and former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb. And as the nation prepares to send kids back to school, Kentucky is the state where teachers are first in line for vaccines. We'll talk to its governor, Democrat Andy Beshear. Then, as former President Trump prepares to take center stage at a conservative gathering, is the Republican Party still the party of Trump?
WOMAN: Do you believe President Trump should still be speaking-- former President Trump should be speaking at CPAC this weekend?
REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN MCCARTHY: Yes, he should.
REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: I don't believe that he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.
REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN MCCARTHY: On that high note, thank you all very much.
SENATOR TED CRUZ: Let me tell you this right now, Donald J. Trump ain't going anywhere.
BRET BAIER (Fox News): If the President was the party's nominee, would you support him?
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (Fox News): Oh, the nominee of the party? Absolutely.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, and Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger will all weigh in on the future of the GOP.
It's all just ahead on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We've got a lot of news this morning. And we want to start with our senior national correspondent Mark Strassmann.
MARK STRASSMANN: Shipping all over COVID America this week, nearly four million doses of Johnson & Johnson's new single shot vaccine, approved Saturday by the FDA. This third option boosts hopes for mass vaccination. By the end of March, vaccine makers predict they'll produce two hundred forty million doses enough to fully vaccinate half of all U.S. adults. Success against COVID is a science but also an ongoing struggle.
ROCHELLE WALENSKY (Director, Centers for Disease Control): We may be done with the virus, but clearly the virus is not done with us.
MARK STRASSMANN: Multiple variants spread worry and worse. The so-called U.K. variant alone now accounts for ten percent of U.S. cases. The CDC sees it as the predominant threat within two weeks. And a caveat comes wrapped inside even seemingly good news, new cases and hospitalizations down sharply. Deaths have also dropped over the last four to six weeks.
ROCHELLE WALENSKY: The latest data suggests that these declines may be stalling, potentially leveling off at still a very high number.
MARK STRASSMANN: More than half of Americans say they want the shot, but no one's discovered a vaccine for the politics of COVID.
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: And for God's sake, wear your masks.
MARK STRASSMANN: Fifteen states have no mask mandates, all led by Republican governors.
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM (R-South Dakota): We have to show people how arbitrary these restrictions are, and the coercion, the force, and anti-liberty steps the governments take to enforce them.
MARK STRASSMANN: At the CPAC convention meeting this weekend in Orlando, listen to reaction when conservatives were asked to obey the rules of the hotel.
CARLY PATRICK: You should still be wearing a mask. So if everybody can go ahead, work on that. I know, I know, it's-- it's not the most fun.
MARK STRASSMANN: That's one reason immunologists stay worried as all three vaccine makers ramp up production.
MARK STRASSMANN: Seventy million Americans have had at least one shot, twenty-three million have been fully vaccinated. But demand still dwarf supply. Even with three options, there's still not enough of anything. Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mark, thanks.
We turn now to the President's chief medical adviser, Doctor Anthony Fauci. Good morning to you, doctor.
ANTHONY FAUCI, MD (Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden/Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases): Good morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We had this good news on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine being greenlit overnight. But the COVID response coordinator has said he has been disappointed in the slow pace of manufacturing. How many doses will be available and when will they be available to the public?
ANTHONY FAUCI: As soon as the EUA is essentially formalized, when-- when doses can come out, you're going to see a few million doses, I mean, literally a handful. But by the end of March, there'll be twenty million and then there will be a total of a hundred million as we get probably to June as we get halfway through the year.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is Johnson & Johnson an inferior vaccine, particularly for older Americans?
ANTHONY FAUCI: No. You know, it-- it's not. You can't say that. We now have, Margaret, clearly three highly efficacious vaccines. They are highly efficacious in many ways, including, importantly, preventing severe or critical disease. If you look at all three of them, they're really very good. The J&J data that just came out and that was just examined by the FDA, when you have advanced critical disease, there were no hospitalizations and no deaths. That's good news, Margaret. So I think rather than parsing out subgroups here, let's just look at the totality of this. We have a really good vaccine.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Supply is increasing, but Americans are still having a hard time getting access to it. There's still some confusion around communication. Listen to how Saturday Night Live captured that challenge.
KATE MCKINNON (SNL/Broadway Video): The vaccine rollout is going strong, but it's also very confusing. Who can get it? How? When? Where is it? Do both doses go in the same arm, or different arms or what? I don't know.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That was you. Well, what-- what's the biggest hurdle? Since I have the real you, what is the biggest hurdle to getting this vaccine out there?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, the hurdles that you're talking about, the logistics of getting into people's arms, Margaret, is really, truly going to get better and better as the days and weeks go by, particularly now where we're putting up over four hundred community vaccine centers. It's going to be-- get to the pharmacies with many more doses into the pharmacies, mobile units getting it to poorly accessible areas, a lot more vaccinators. That's the thing I think people are not fully appreciative of. You got to have people to get those vaccines into the arms of individuals. And we're employing National Guards and others, retired physicians and nurses, et cetera. We're getting the capability literally getting better every single day of making this much more smoothly than it's gone in the past. It's going to get better, I assure you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The CDC director said this week that there is a very concerning shift in the trajectory of the virus. It seemed we'd been doing better. Is it because of these California and New York variants that you're now more worried?
ANTHONY FAUCI: You know, not sure. It-- it-- it certainly could be that because we do have some worrisome variants in California and in New York. If you look at the-- the decline of that slope, Margaret, it was really sharp and very encouraging if you look at the rate as it goes down. But over the last several days, it's kind of stopped at around seventy thousand and lingered there for a day or two. That is concerning because the thing we don't want is to have it plateau at seventy thousand per day. That's exactly the thing that happened during previous surges. As it peaked and started to come down, people withdrew some of the intensity of the public health measures and it kind of stabilized at a very high level. That's very dangerous, particularly given the fact that we have these variants around.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What is your guidance to those Americans who have been lucky enough to get both vaccinations, two doses of the vaccine? Can they still transmit the virus to others?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Theoretically and-- and-- and-- probably in reality, yes. We don't know the exact incidence of that. But let me tell you the reason why we say that. And sometimes it confuses people. The endpoint of efficacy of the vaccine is preventing clinically apparent disease, which means that you could get infected, have nasopharynx virus in your nose and in your mouth. But because you are vaccinated, you could feel perfectly well and the issue is now, can you then transmit it to others? So until we prove that that's not the case, that's the reason why we're recommending that when people are vaccinated and are in the presence of unvaccinated people to put a mask on to prevent them from infecting others.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you, Doctor Fauci, about something one of our upcoming guests said. Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota delivered a speech to a conservative conference yesterday and she touted her decisions. She got a standing ovation when she said she ignored the medical advice of experts and specifically you.
KRISTI NOEM: We never focused on the case numbers. Instead, we kept our eye on hospital capacity. Now, Doctor Fauci, he told me that on my worst day I'd have ten thousand patients in the hospital. On our worst day, we had a little over six hundred. Now--
KRISTI NOEM: I don't know if you agree with me, but Doctor Fauci is wrong a lot.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How much of an impediment is sentiment like that to the nation's recovery?
ANTHONY FAUCI: You know, it's-- it's unfortunate, but it is-- it is not really helpful because sometimes you think things are going well and just take a look at the numbers. They don't lie. We see, Margaret, what happens when you pull back prematurely. Now, you're going to have individual instances of situations where people may not have and didn't see a rebound right away. But you've really got to be careful, particularly now that we have variants in this country that seem to spread more efficiently and maybe even are more dangerous with regard to pathogenicity. So I'm sure that, you know, you can get a standing ovation by saying I'm wrong. But the fact-- if you look at the scientific facts and follow what we need to do as these cases are coming down, the thing we don't want is for them to do this and start plateauing at a level that'll give us a lot of trouble. Go back and look historically at what happened when we tried to open up the economy and open up the country. And we saw a variable degree of adherence to the public health measures by different governors and different mayors. And what did happen? It went like this and then went right back up when we had yet again another surge. We just don't want to see that. We don't want to continue to prevent people from doing what they want to do. But let's get down to a good level. Let's get many, many more people vaccinated. And then you could pull back on those types of public health measures. But right now, as we're going down and plateauing is not the time to declare victory because we're not victorious yet. We will be, Margaret, I can assure you, but we're not there yet, particularly with the variants that are circulating in various parts of the country, such as in California and in New York.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Doctor Fauci, thank you for your time this morning.
We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we're back with the governor of South Dakota, Kristi Noem. She's attending the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. Good morning to you, Governor.
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM (R-South Dakota/@govkristinoem): Good morning, Margaret. Thank you for having me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We just heard from Doctor Fauci, who said it is too early to peel back health restrictions and do things like not have mask mandates. And I know you don't have one in your state. How do you want to respond to him?
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: Well, I'd like to respond to something that you said. You indicated that I ignored medical advice, I didn't listen to my health experts and I most certainly did. In South Dakota, we took this virus very seriously. What I did, though, was tell my people the truth. I gave them personal responsibility over decisions for their families' public health, but also gave them the flexibility they needed to keep their businesses open, take care of their employees and their customers. So, you know, I really do believe that as this virus has spread throughout the country, that people needed that flexibility and South Dakota's doing well. We've had some tragic situations, but I know that-- that respecting them in my role, in the authority that I have as governor, has been incredibly helpful to get our state get through this challenging time.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we played that clip from your speech. And in that speech, you also said you never instituted a mask order, shut any churches or businesses or even defined what an essential business is. As of today, the CDC says your state has the eighth highest death rate per capita in the U.S. That's a rate of deaths per a hundred thousand residents. Don't you think your decisions as an executive contributed?
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: You know, South Dakota's infection rate peaked earlier than a lot of other places in the country, so we're definitely on the downward trend and earlier-- and peaked earlier than what you're seeing happen across the country as well. You know, you can talk about masks. We can talk about mitigation measures, all of that. What I'm against is--
MARGARET BRENNAN: These were CDC numbers as of today. And it was the death rate.
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: --mandates. What I'm against is mandates that would tell people that-- what they have to do. I want people to make those decisions for themselves. And we've seen the CDC change recommendations over and over and over again. In fact, we've seen them do it just based on political pressure. We follow the science, the data and the facts in South Dakota to make our decisions. And it's been incredibly helpful to make sure that we're taking care of people who need it when they get sick.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I was asking you about the death rate as of today, according to the CDC, not the infection rate, which you're talking about. But one of your fellow Republicans, West Virginia's Governor Jim Justice, held up your state as an example of what not to do when it comes to his decision to institute a mask mandate. He said, I don't want to be South Dakota. Why do you think your state got hit so hard?
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: Our state peaked earlier than other states, than his state, than New York, than California. They certainly are seeing much higher infection rates, much higher hospitalization rates and much higher deaths today than-- than we are. And that's really how we've seen this virus spread across the country. What I'd like to know, Margaret, is why are-- are you asking Cuomo these questions? Are you talking to Newsom about these questions, and how their mitigation measures--
MARGARET BRENNAN: When both of those governors accept an invitation to come on this program--
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: --of shutting down businesses-- how did--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --and I hope they do, Madam. I really hope they say yes. And I really appreciate that you did to our invitation.
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: Absolutely.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So that's why I'm asking about your state. They have not said yes. So for your state, you have, if you look at starting in July, which was after that spring peak, you have the highest death rate in cumulative COVID deaths per million in the country. The CDC says you have the eighth highest death rate per capita now. I'm not talking about infection rates. I know you're a conservative and you care about the sanctity of life. So how can you justify making decisions that put the health of your constituents at risk?
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: And those are questions that you should be asking every other governor in this country as well. The region that--
MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm asking you today, Madam. You're our--
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: --South Dakota's in--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --you're facing the nation.
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: I'm answering you, Margaret. I'm answering you. Regionally, we have seen the virus hit the country very differently and it hit the Midwest earlier than it did the South and now the East Coast and the West Coast. So we are still dealing with this virus in this country. South Dakota went through our highest rate of infections and im-- implications earlier. The rest of the country is dealing with a-- much higher numbers today. And that's really what this means. What we should be looking at is did the mitigation measures help. Did mandating different actions in each of these states make a difference? Because what we're seeing is that the mandates aren't necessarily what's working. It's that people have the ability, the flexibility to not just look at this virus and then how it hits their health, but also how does it impact their well-being--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: --their-- their economic well-being, their ability to keep their kids in school, their ability to keep their businesses open--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, let's talk about that.
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: --pay their bills. That's been incredibly challenging.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Let's talk about that, because there is a twelve-billion-dollar price tag that has been pegged to the impact of and fallout from that Sturgis Motorcycle Rally that you hosted in your state in August. It is blamed for seeding the entire Midwest outbreak that hit on that late summer through the fall. Do you take personal responsibility for that?
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: Well, that is completely false information. That is not true--
MARGARET BRENNAN: This is a San Diego State University study.
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: --and we need to tell the-- and it is not based on facts. We tracked the people that came to the rally, had states report back to us cases that came from that rally. It was less than one hundred cases that we could track to that. And we did testing in that community and throughout the area for weeks after. Listen, what we did was allow people to make decisions for themselves. We gave them all the information on this virus, how to protect their health, and then we allowed them to make decisions on what they would do. My question is, if we had mandated that people had to stay home, if we had mandated that businesses had to be closed, would that have made a difference? And I would argue that it wouldn't have, that we allowed people to make these decisions that would best--
MARGARET BRENNAN: President Trump's COVID czar, Doctor Birx, said if those people who had attended Sturgis-- if they'd gone home wearing masks, that it would have actually saved lives. She said that on this program. But how do you justify the death of-- of your constituents, though? And when you talk about personal responsibility, which I know is a value you talk a lot about, when your personal choices put others at risk, isn't that the opposite of responsible?
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: It's been an incredibly challenging year for so many people and-- and everyone across this country has-- knows someone who we have lost to this virus. I think we need to examine the actions that we've taken and see if it has allowed people to make decisions and honored our rights and our freedoms in this country in a way that respects what makes America special. Making decisions in one state, Doctor Fauci just said, might be very different than what another state should be doing. That's how I looked at my state. I have one community that may need to make a different decision on what they'd like to do than another community that may be of a different size, be in a different area or at a different infection rate or hospitalization rate. So that's why I gave them that flexibility. We took this virus very seriously, but I also let them look locally at what was the best actions to take to protect their health, but also keep their businesses open and protect the economy that they were dealing with.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Ronna McDaniel's coming up on this program shortly. She's the chairwoman of your party. She said the former President did not meet the moment with his words on January 6th, the siege of the Capitol. Do you agree with her?
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: You know, I think that we were all just heartbroken at what happened on January 6th, and it was a tragic situation. Going forward, I'm hoping that we can focus on facts, ways to unify this country and bring us together and really make sure that we're pursuing--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Was it avoidable if the President had met the moment?
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: --opening up new opportunities for our kids and grandkids. You know, I think there's always times that-- that we don't like different words that have been chosen. But I worked with this President when he was in office to do some big things for the American people, and he did some things that I certainly appreciated that were beneficial for my state.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you see him as your party's nominee for president in 2024? Will you support him?
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: You know, I think that as we go into the coming years that we certainly will see who decides to jump into that race. But I'm focused on South Dakota, what's best for our state, and letting our people make the best decisions for their future.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor, thank you for coming on the program today and taking questions.
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Appreciate it.
We'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back with the Head of the Republican Party, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel. She's in Northville, Michigan. Good morning to you.
RONNA MCDANIEL (Chairwoman, Republican National Committee/@GOPChairwoman): Good morning, Margaret. Great to be with you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Good to have you here. We know there's a lot of eyes on what's going to happen when President Trump takes that main stage later today. Republicans are in the minority in the House. They're in the minority in the Senate. You lost the White House. Why are you doubling down on Donald Trump as the future of the party?
RONNA MCDANIEL: Well, it's up to the voters, and the voters are saying overwhelmingly they agree with what President Trump did in office. As you see Joe Biden strip away energy independence and cancel the Keystone pipeline, as you see Joe Biden say, I'm going to prioritize opening our borders over opening our schools, opening our economies, when you see the vaccine rollout that started under Operation Warp Speed in less than a year. These are the types of things that voters are saying they saw happen in the Trump administration and now they're seeing the Biden administration strip those things away.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So it sounds like you think the unity is in the opposition rather than within the party. I mean, if I look at what's happening inside your party, state parties in Arizona and Wyoming and Illinois, they're censuring other Republicans for insufficient loyalty to President Trump. I mean, it looks like your party is getting cut into thinner and thinner strips here.
RONNA MCDANIEL: You know, we can have division within our party, and you can have state parties say, I disagree with that vote and I disagree with what you did there. But overwhelmingly our party agrees with each other on more than we disagree with each other on. And we want to see our schools open. You know, you hear Democrats use this mantra over and over again, follow the science. Well, mental health rates are skyrocketing-- skyrocketing with young kids that are concerned. You're seeing suicide rates up. Schools need to be open. And Republican governors that are leading across the country are following the science, keeping the kids safe and healthy, but getting them back into school. These are the things that our party stands for, opening up our economy, opening up our schools.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We have a-- a Democratic governor ahead who's going to talk about how he's opening schools this week. And we'll dig into that more in depth later on in the program. But we do need to take a short break here and continue our conversation with Ronna McDaniel in just a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel and a lot more, coming up on FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We want to pick up where we left off with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.
Chairwoman, you met with the former President this week in Florida. Do you think he's going to run again in 2024?
RONNA MCDANIEL: You know, I don't know. That's going to be a decision he's going to have to make down the road. I do know he's committed to helping us win back majorities in 2022, which is, of course, what I'm focused on right now. We are a handful of seats away from taking back the House, we picked up fifteen this last election, and one seat away from taking back the Senate. And as I said, as we're seeing the Trump administration and their legacy being stripped away by Joe Biden, who said he was going to run in a-- in a bipartisan way, work with Republicans, he hasn't done that on anything, including this recent boondoggle of a stimulus bill of two mill-- two trillion dollars of grab bags for Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. You're seeing more and more Republicans recognize we need to unite around how do we win back these majorities and stop Biden in his tracks.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How damaging were the events of January 6th to your party?
RONNA MCDANIEL: They were damaging to our country. I think it was horrific what happened January 6th. There is no American, Republican or Democrat, who looks at that and sees our Capitol attacked and feels good. And I think there's a lot of self-reflection that has to go on across the whole country. We are--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Has the President done some self-reflection?
RONNA MCDANIEL: I'm going to talk about me because I'm not going to speak for somebody else. But I will say as a party we have been--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you said he didn't make the moment previously.
MCDANIEL: Well, what I will say from an RNC perspective is we've been more vocal in denouncing groups like QAnon. We know that anarchists came to Washington that day. There was a bomb placed outside of my building, outside of the Republican National Committee. We have a deeply divided nation. I will do that. I will denounce extreme elements that pretend to be Republican and say we do not want you in our party. I would like Democrats to do the same with antifa and groups that are anti-Semitic that masquerade as Democrats and say you are not welcome in our party--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
RONNA MCDANIEL: --as they burned down cities this past summer. I would ask the media to be more fair and how you report things. Don't report-- suppress reports on Hunter Biden and on Democrats like what's happening with Andrew Cuomo and the immense failures that he had as governor, and then highlight things like you just did with Governor Noem. Andrew Cuomo, what he has done, his policies killed people--
MARGARET BRENNAN: When he agrees to come on this program, trust me, I-- he won't like some of my questions--
RONNA MCDANIEL: He deserves that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --like many of our guests don't like my questions. I want to ask you--
RONNA MCDANIEL: I hope so, but the media as a whole has ignored Andrew Cuomo.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --I want to ask you about, Congresswoman, to your point you were just raising, though, about being more vocal in speaking out. Congresswoman Liz Cheney said this week that the Trump-- the Trump supporters who violently sieged the Capitol on January 6th, she raised this particular issue.
REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY (Zoom Video/Reagan Institute): It's very important, especially for us as Republicans, to make clear that we-- we aren't the party of-- of white supremacy.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Will you make that clear now?
RONNA MCDANIEL: A hundred percent. We passed a resolution unanimously from the RNC members three years ago saying we condemn white supremacy, anti-Semitism, KKK, and I'm going to add QAnon to that. They are not welcome in our party. I have not seen Democrats do that with Louis Farrakhan, who calls the Jewish people termites. I have not seen them do that with antifa, who last night committed violence again in Portland.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The people who sieged the Capitol were carrying Trump flags. That is why Liz Cheney was talking about it. It is why she voted to impeach the President.
RONNA MCDANIEL: But it's--- but you know what, the Democrats have created a safe haven for antifa. They have not denounced them. Nancy Pelosi said as cities were being ripped apart, people will do what they do. You can't hold Republicans to one standard-- standard and not Democrats, and that creates unrest as well.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, when it comes to Republicans, I know you have focused on recruiting women back to the party. Is Marjorie Taylor Green, who was a QAnon supporter, who was described by Mitch McConnell cancer on the Republican Party, is she representative of the kind of Republican woman you want?
RONNA MCDANIEL: Well, you know, I was-- I've been very vocal about her comments. She apologized for them. I'm glad to see that she did and her district will decide that. But we have increased women. We're now thirty-eight women in Congress in the Republican Party. That's the highest we've ever had. And here's the other thing. Women are suffering--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
RONNA MCDANIEL: --under the Biden administration. 2.4 million women have lost their jobs because of daycare issues.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
RONNA MCDANIEL: A hundred and forty thousand last month. Women are going through a she-cession. Women are struggling because our kids are not back at school. I'm not saying this as a Republican. I'm saying this is a mother with two kids in public school watching this rip apart my community as kids are suffering. So get it done. Get our kids back in school. And that's what the Republican stands-- Republican Party stands for. It's Florida versus New York.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right.
RONNA MCDANIEL: Our kids can go back to school safely. Our businesses can be open. And that's how we'll get women back in our party when they see us fighting for their kids and for them and not standing up for unions.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Ronna McDaniel, thank you for your time today.
Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger broke with his party and voted to impeach President Trump back in January, and he joins us this morning from Capitol Hill. Good morning to you, Congressman.
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER (R-Illinois/@RepKinzinger): Yeah, good morning. Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So we just-- we're-- we're spending a lot of time talking about your party today, which I know you're spending a lot of time thinking about the future. When the former President takes the stage at-- at CPAC, he is expected to say, according to excerpts of the speech that's been released, that the Republican Party is united. Is the Republican Party united?
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: No, I think there's-- I mean, we may be united in some areas. You know, we don't have to agree with everything the Biden administration is doing. So there will be opposition. So unity in some of that. But I think in terms of what is our vision for the future, certainly not united. I think we are a party that's been for too long pedaling in fear, using fear as a compelling way to get votes. And fear does motivate. But after a while, fear can destroy a country, can destroy narratives, and it can destroy a democracy. And we have to quit peddling that. And I think what you're going to hear from the President at CPAC today is self-congratulations. Not-- no ability to recognize the fact that we have lost the House, the Senate and the presidency because of Donald Trump. And you're going to see a lot of fear.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You just heard the chairwoman of your party, though, say that she met with the former President to-- with the intention of having him help win back the House and the Senate. So she's believing that he's a force to bring people to the Republican Party.
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: Well, I think he is. I mean, I think certainly he's got, you know, a number of people that follow him and are motivated by him and compelled by him because there's been no competing alternative vision. You know, to win a narrative in a party, you have to present a con-- competing alternative narrative. When you only hear from Donald Trump and when people walk around in fear of his tweets or his comments or they use his fear to peddle-- win reelection, of course, he's going to motivate people. But that's where, when I launched Country1st.com with a "1st," that's all about fighting for the narrative in the Republican Party for an optimistic, brighter future again, one we can be proud of--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: --and one, where when we talk about things, we actually teach young people how to do politics in a way that we used to remember and appreciate.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You're talking there about the political action committee that you have founded. So that's part of what I was talking about earlier with-- with some infighting. I mean, how are you going to pick candidates? Is there anyone you see, for instance, in the Senate right now? We know-- we know leader-- Minority Leader McConnell said there are at least four senators he has that are going to run for President. Any of them have the kind of vision you're calling for?
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: Not that I've seen. I don't know who these senators are that are going to run. There are a few that I really do appreciate in the Senate. You think of like Ben Sasse, of course, Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, those that voted to remove the President, particularly because I think they did it at great personal cost. That shows leadership. There are people in the House, of course, Liz Cheney, you know, with her strength and ability to stand up in front of a tough crowd and tell the truth. That's what America needs more of. They need more of truth-telling. They need more of-- out of fear and-- and presenting light into darkness. And we have to start with our own party. We can point fingers at the Democrats, sure. But it's not going to do any good. Every party, but now, especially the Republican Party, has to look inside after January 6th and say, what have we become? What's our great history and how do we go forward from here? And I'll tell you, reaching out to Donald Trump and more of the same is not going to do that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You spend some time thinking about foreign policy, so I want to ask you as well, are you disappointed that just like President Trump, President Biden did not take direct action against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his role in approving the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi?
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: So I don't want to say I'm disappointed he didn't take direct action. I think, you know, he needs to be held accountable. I think publicly talking about this is very important because the-- the Saudi Crown Prince responds to public shaming. And I think there has to be some behind-the-scenes accountability. But keep in mind, once we start basically pushing and picking sides and all this, it's a very complicated area. We have to show deep moral clarity, but be very careful in how we go forward because especially in the Middle East, things are really complicated.
MARGARET BRENNAN: They are. But, you know, this is a person who was a U.S. resident. Should you expect more from a U.S. President in forcing consequences for murder and dis-- dismemberment?
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: Yeah. And, look, I don't think that this chapter's done. I think, you know, public accountability is important. And I think there will be some things that we might find out later. It's not going to be like military action or anything, but other areas, whether it's economics or targeted sanctions, stuff like that, that will come out either publicly or behind the scenes in the future. I don't think this chapter is written yet.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Like the halt on-- that's being considered on offensive weapon sales. You would support that?
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: Yeah, I think I'd have to look at all the details of it, but I think certainly there has to be accountability for this.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Congressman Kinzinger, thank you for your time today.
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: You bet.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to take a closer look now at one state's efforts to get teachers vaccinated and get children back to in-person learning. Kentucky Democratic Governor Andy Beshear joins us this morning from Frankfurt. Good morning to you.
GOVERNOR ANDY BESHEAR (D-Kentucky/@AndyBeshearKY): Good morning. Thanks for having me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I know you set March 1st as the recommended deadline for schools to reopen. And those teachers who haven't gotten their second dose might be able to wait a little longer. But you have pushed them to the front of the line ahead of other essential workers so that they could get those shots. How politically difficult was it to do that?
GOVERNOR ANDY BESHEAR: Well, in Kentucky, we determined that we needed to prioritize both our present-- those that were suffering the most and most likely to die from COVID as well as our future, getting our children back in school. Now, I'm not just a governor. I'm also a dad of a middle schooler and an elementary school student. And so I've-- I've seen the impact that this had. So we pushed our teachers to the front of the line, moving them up faster than the CDC or other states had. And we're about to be the first state to fully vaccinate all of our educators. We have all but about seven school districts already back in some form of in-person. Those districts are going to expand. And now we have a commitment from all our remaining districts to get that done too. It's important we do it in a safe way that also builds confidence within our educators themselves.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I ask you how politically difficult it was because I often hear from governors that they can't prioritize teachers over other essential workers. The allegation often is having to do with fear of unions. Did the fact that you are a right to work state, one where union membership is not compulsory-- compulsory, did that make a difference?
GOVERNOR ANDY BESHEAR: No, I don't think so. We have strong associations for our teachers, but the way we look at this is everything's difficult in COVID, even the concept of what's an essential worker, is one person more essential than another. For us, this was a workforce issue. It was development for our children scholastically, emotionally and-- and socially. And it was about getting back to some form of normal while we are still very careful. We made this call early on.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
GOVERNOR ANDY BESHEAR: We stuck to it. And no matter what you decide during COVID, some are-- are going to oppose it. But it's about trying to do the right thing, the best thing for your people, and then to let the consequences be what they'll be.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Kentucky ranks twenty-ninth among states on vaccine rollout, according to the CDC. That's for your general population. Why are you lagging? And will the Johnson & Johnson supply make a difference?
GOVERNOR ANDY BESHEAR: Well, we don't think that we're lagging. There are different--
MARGARET BRENNAN: This is the CDC.
GOVERNOR ANDY BESHEAR: --ways that people look-- I understand. There are different ways that-- that you judge the numbers. That's first and second dose together. We believe that we have to be as fast as possible with the first dose to get people some level of immunity. And as of last week, we had to used 98.5 percent of all the first doses provided. But we think differently on the second dose. That is meant for a very specific person. And so we made the decision that if it takes a little longer to get it to them, then we were going to make sure it gets to them. But what I can say is that all around the country we see capacity and efficiency picking up every day. Johnson & Johnson is going to be a game changer. The fact that we can fully vaccinate everyone in just one shot--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
GOVERNOR ANDY BESHEAR: --that it basically eliminates death and serious illness, and that we're going to get tens of thousands of additional vaccines per week per state, it's just going to get us to the finish line that much faster. We're really excited about it here in Kentucky. The more vaccine you can send us, the better.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You are a Democrat. And since we've heard from a number of Republicans about the infighting within their party, I need to ask you about the infighting within yours. West Virginia's Senator Joe Manchin, who is a Democratic-- a Democrat in a red state, told us after the election that, quote, "The radical part of the Democratic Party scared the bejesus out of rural voters in 2020." Do you believe that the progressive wing of your party is out of touch?
ANDY BESHEAR: Oh, I believe our party, like-- like others, have lots of different people with lots of different views, but-- but the ability to discuss those in a way where we don't make enemies out of one another is what's so important inside our party or for our country at large. And people are passionate-- are passionate about the views they have. But we also have to be respectful of one another--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
ANDY BESHEAR: --to make sure that what brings us together isn't who we dislike, but it's what we stand for. And so when those debates are occurring, if they're actually on issues, then we're moving in the right direction even if there is disagreement on those issues. I'm highly concerned that what is bringing too many people together in our country is who they dislike and not what they actually stand for.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, from your state criticized this COVID relief bill that President Biden is putting together and which just passed the House. He's called it deliberately partisan, actively harmful to America's recovery. How much do you need this money, and is it a mistake for President Biden to muscle this through with only Democratic support?
ANDY BESHEAR: I can tell you that every county judge executive and every mayor across Kentucky, whether Democrat, Republican or Independent, they'll tell you they desperately need this assistance, that COVID has hit especially our localities in-- in deeply impactful ways, and that this gives us the ability to make up for some of that harm. On the state level, this gives us an opportunity to stimulate our economy while not having to borrow and go into debt. It's what every economist, at least on the state level, would tell you is exactly where we should be. Let's use the dollars to create jobs, to provide relief and to shorten this recession. And right now, we've got a decision to make.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
ANDY BESHEAR: Are we going to be FDR or are we going to be Herbert Hoover? Do we want to make the decisions to get us out of this recession more quickly, which benefits every family, Democrat or Republican?
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
ANDY BESHEAR: But you've got to be bold to do that. And you can't worry about credit whether it happens--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well--
ANDY BESHEAR: --under a Democratic president or a Republican president.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right.
ANDY BESHEAR: In the midst of a pandemic, can't we put that aside for just a little bit--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well--
ANDY BESHEAR: --and help all our families out there? I hope so.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well-- yeah. Well, the last few were bipartisan. That's kind of the argument this time around. But, governor, we have to leave it there. Thank you for joining us. For more of the challenges teaching during this pandemic, listen to our latest edition of Facing Forward. I spoke with Khan Academy founder Sal-- Sal Khan. You can listen and subscribe on Apple podcast or your favorite podcast platform.
We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb, who's on the board of Pfizer, as well as Illumina, and he joins us from Westport, Connecticut. Good morning. Doctor Gottlieb, you heard--
SCOTT GOTTLIEB, MD (Former FDA Commissioner/@ScottGottliebMD): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --Doctor Fauci say a few million doses of this new J&J vaccine should be available. Would you take it?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I would. I think this is a good vaccine. They'll ship about four million doses this week. The vaccine was very effective at preventing severe disease, eighty-five percent effective at preventing severe and critical disease. Also, interestingly, if you look at the clinical data, it was seventy-four percent effective at prevent-- preventing asymptomatic infection, which is a suggestion that is preventing transmission as well, which is really what all the vaccines are starting to demonstrate in the data that's being accrued. There is more and more evidence that these vaccines are preventing transmission of infection, which makes them an even more important public health tool. But the data was quite strong with the J&J vaccine. I think people should be confident about taking it. It will be in the market this week.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Doctor Fauci said there are worrisome variants in New York and California and said that may be partly why they're seeing some stalling happening with this trajectory that had otherwise been headed downward. What do you think? Are we being set back?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, I think the stalling could be explained by just increased mobility. If you look at Google mobility data, people are moving around more. I don't think that the New York variant, which is called 1.526, is really having much of an impact yet. It represents about nine percent of the infections in New York City. So it's still small. It's going to increase. This strain actually started to become prevalent as early as this summer. It was first introduced into the summer. So it really probably didn't explain the surge that we've seen. There's two different lineages of this variant. So two different forms of the variant. One of them has the same mutation that's in the South African variant. That's the one we're more concerned about. That represents about five percent of infections in New York. So we're more worried about the New York strain because it may pierce prior immunity and vaccines may be less effective against that and still very speculative. With respect to the Los Angeles variant, people are a little less concerned about that. It may be more transmissible, but it doesn't seem to have that 484K mutation, that mutation that we found in the South African variant that seems to make vaccines a little less effective and seems to allow people who've been infected before to get reinfected. So we're more concerned about the New York variant. But again, I don't think these variants are explaining what we're seeing right now, with the exception maybe of South Florida and Southern California, where 1.1.7 is becoming prevalent. And that may be causing a backup in Florida and Southern California right now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: When should we expect booster shots?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I think we're going to get boosters in the fall and, you know, there's studies right now underway by Moderna and Pfizer, the company I'm on the board of, looking at a third booster of the existing vaccines. And they'll also be looking at new variant vaccines that they're going to put into development and see which are more effective. I think the reality is that we have time to get a better toolbox for the fall to take care of these--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: --variants that we're seeing emerge and develop vaccines that can cover them. But, you know, you will probably get-- be getting boosters in the fall for people who are getting vaccinated right now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about Governor Noem who spoke on this program saying she never focused-- she told CPAC she never focused on case numbers, she focused on hospital capacity. And she rejected the premise that the motorcycle rally that she held in her state in August was responsible for seeding the Midwest outbreak. What do you make of-- of her defense?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, look, I think it is important to look at the vulnerable population and hospital capacity and how many people are being hospitalized and dying from the infection as an important metric. But you also have to look at prevalence. Certainly back when we were having the first and the second and even the third wave of infection, prevalence was an important predictor of overall morbidity from the infection before we had a vaccine. If you look at post-July 1st, and the reason why I picked July 1st is because July-- before July 1st, we really didn't know how to treat COVID. We were treating it literally with Pepcid and hydroxychloroquine. But after July 1st, we had the data from the U.K. study, the recovery trial that told us that dexamethasone, the steroid, was very effective at cutting mortality. We started to use blood thinners on patients. We were intubating less aggressively. So practice of medicine dramatically improved after or around that time period. If you look at post July 1st in terms of deaths per capita by state, South Dakota is the last, Arizona is second to last, Mississippi, Alabama and North Dakota. Those are the states that come in last in the nation in terms of deaths per capita. So, you know, I think that the states that didn't implement as stringent measures, they did pay a price for it. And I don't think that you can-- you can explain that away. I think it's just a fact. And, you know, they-- they will argue that they maybe didn't take the same economic hit--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: --as states that imposed restrictions, but they did pay a price for it in terms of--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: --higher death rates.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Doctor Gottlieb, thank you for your perspective, as always.
We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.
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