Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on January 16, 2022

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On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:

Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of VirginiaJake Sullivan, national security adviserGovernor Larry Hogan, Republican of MarylandKansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton LucasDr. 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, we will mark President Biden's first full year in office and see if he can rebound from a week of setbacks.

2022 is not exactly off to a good start for the Biden administration. One news organization characterized last week as filled with miscues, missteps and miscalculations. Inflation continues at a 40-year high. The Supreme Court blocked Mr. Biden's vaccine mandate for businesses. And his attempt at pushing fellow Democrat Senators Manchin and Sinema to support rules changes to pass the voting rights bill is all but certain to fail.

(Begin VT)

SENATOR KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-Arizona): And while I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: The president even concedes his effort is likely doomed.

(Begin VT)

JOE BIDEN (President of the United States): The honest-to-God answer is, I don't know whether we can get this done.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Given the enormous challenges facing Mr. Biden, is the fight a good use of precious political capital? We will ask Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine.

Plus, a CBS News poll out this morning shows many Americans think Mr. Biden has misplaced priorities, and where they think he should focus.

Then: As the threat of a Russian invasion into Ukraine intensifies, we will talk with White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. And, as Omicron's bullseye moves West, cases in the Northeast are peaking. But health care systems are still in crisis mode, and the warnings are getting more dire.

(Begin VT)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI (Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden): Omicron, with its extraordinary, unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility, will ultimately find just about everybody.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, and former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb will all be here. It's all just ahead on Face the Nation.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. Thursday will mark the first full year since President Biden took office, and a new CBS News poll shows Americans think he's not focused enough on key issues like the economy and inflation. Forty-four percent of Americans approve of the job he's doing overall, with a split on his handling of the coronavirus. When it comes to Mr. Biden's efforts on the economy just over a third, 38% approve. His handling of inflation is worse; 7 in 10 Americans disapprove. We turn now to CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto. Good morning to you, Anthony. What is weighing on the president's approval rating the most?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Good morning, MARGARET, let's start with COVID, now part of this is just expectations at the start of his term; people thought COVID would get better, but right now most people don't think the effort against the pandemic is going well. Part of a president's ratings always carry some of that general feeling. You look back at the start of his term, he got very strong approval ratings for handling the pandemic that carried into the summer; a two-thirds approval. That started to dip a little bit as cases got a little bit worse, some vaccine controversies, down to where it is now. Now, let's be clear, it's not that people blame a president for all of this. When you look at why people might think he's not doing a good job, the thing that stands out is information, people feel it's been confusing – that stands out. In fact, overall, people in the nation say that that guidance has been increasingly confusing and that does accrue to a president. We know that the science is always trying to get a hold on this. But in the public mind, they do look for that clarity, MARGARET.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, when it comes to the issues that we say matter here, the economy and inflation, what exactly is hurting the president?

SALVANTO: Yeah, the economy story, the inflation story are stories about focus, and here's how you start with a majority of people saying that the administration is not focused enough on the economy, on inflation, and these are their most important issues. Sometimes politics is really simple. You've got to be seen attacking the problems that people think are paramount. Now, when you look at how that plays out in his ratings on the economy, well, what's the blame for it? It's a mixture of things. Again, some of it, yes, people blame his policies. There's also the pandemic. There are supply chain issues that people see in the mix. But when they don't think he's focused, they're more likely to disapprove overall. And then that goes to a broader sense of emotions about his first year. We see a lot of folks describing that as making them feel frustrated or disappointed. He's got to be seen looking at those problems that people think are paramount and that is inflation, MARGARET.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, this is the lowest point in his presidency when it comes to approval of how he's handling COVID, not approval of the economy and how he's handling inflation. Do people just think he's wasting his time here?

SALVANTO: Well, let's take a look, because we asked people, well, if you don't approve of the president, what might change your mind? And what really stood out is if he gets inflation down, people say they might improve their opinion, and that's a lot higher, I should add, then if he passes the Build Back Better Act. It's really about inflation, not legislation at this point. In fact, even for Democrats, even within his own party, when they rate him on the issues, they're toughest on him about being focused on inflation, MARGARET.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The things that people actually experience. I know, Anthony, you've been tracking this for some time. It was back in the summer with the withdrawal from Afghanistan that we saw the president's approval rating really begin to decline. Has there been any recovery along the way? Is that still an overhang?

SALVANTO: That's correct. He started out strong when it declined in the summer, right around Afghanistan, other characteristics of him took a hit too. He got declines in ratings on effectiveness, on competence that have not recovered, those things have continued to be lower. And as it's gone down, that's been correlated with these views that he's not paying enough attention to inflation and to the economy. Now, when you look at this in context, presidents in their first year, he is a little higher than Trump was, lower than Obama was. But you want to look at the era, because of late the last 10, 20 years or so. We've seen more polarization. We've seen more- more partisanship that tends to put both a ceiling and a floor on presidents because the other party won't give them any credit. And their own party tends to bolster their approval. But I would add this about Joe Biden, he still gets positive marks for people liking him personally, that's something that's carried through even since the presidential campaign. That helps underpin him as well. It's just about whether he's seen focusing on things like the economy and inflation right now. MARGARET.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Anthony Salvanto, thank you so much for your perspective.  We go now to Sen Tim Kaine. He joins us from Richmond. Good morning to you, senator.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): Good morning, MARGARET. So, you just heard that CBS poll, which shows 65% of the country, doesn't think the president is focused enough on inflation, which is that a 40 year high of 7%. Why do you think the White House appears so out of touch with the public?

SEN. KAINE: Well, look, I think it's a tough time right now, and MARGARET, as you know, the White House's focus, significant energy on the economy in the first year, record job growth in the first year of the White House, 3.9% unemployment rate and very strong growth in wages. But the inflation issue is real, we've got to tackle it. Some of the inflation is- is related to the continuing pandemic, which has disrupted supply chains. But President Biden and Congress are also working on initiatives in the Build Back Better legislation that will reduce cost health care, prescription drugs, education. People hear the title of the bill, and they don't know what it might do for them. But if we can get it passed, some of it deals with cost drivers that bedevil most families and we can show them we're paying attention.

MARGARET BRENNNA: Even the White House economist is using the past tense when referring to Build Back Better. It's dead. You don't have the votes in the Senate.

SEN. KAINE: Yeah, I don't agree with you, MARGARET, you're right that it's dead, the- the most recent version of it is not going to happen, but if you look at the core of the bill, I think the core is education and workforce and things like reduced child care and education expenses, workforce training and then support for the workforce in areas like health care. There are other pieces of the bill that are more controversial. I still believe we're going to find a core of this bill, whatever we call it, we're going to find the core of the bill and pass it, and it will deal directly with some of these inflation concerns.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Democratic strategist James Carville was on another network this morning, and he said Democrats whine too much. He said- you're not talking- he said you're not talking enough about the infrastructure bill you just passed. You're talking about things that have failed, and you have a vote scheduled this week that will also fail on voting rights. Why do you think that is an effective strategy to have high profile failures rather than talk about the things that people are saying do matter to them on the economy and inflation?

SEN. KAINE: Well, MARGARET, I do think we- we are talking a lot about the infrastructure bill. Certainly, I am, in Virginia and whether it's broadband road, rail, bridges, ports, airports, electricity grid, it's going to mean a lot of good for every zip code in the country. With respect to voting rights, look, whatever the pundits say, you know, makes political sense. It is- it is such an existential issue. Those of us who survived the attack on the Capitol Jan. 6 and are witnessing wholesale efforts around the country to make it harder for people to vote and to undermine the integrity of elections, we have to do this. We all have to be recorded at this moment in time about where are we in protecting the right to vote. Right now, it doesn't look like it has the votes to pass, but we're going to cancel our Martin Luther King Day recess and be there this week because we think it's so important for the country. And we will be voting, both on the bills, but also on if we can't get Republican support for the bills- we have uniform Democratic support, could we find a path to make some rules, adjustments to pass them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you don't have the votes to suspend that 60-vote threshold. So, what- what kind of mechanism are you envisioning here that is somehow going to get this through?

SEN. KAINE: As of right now, MARGARET, we don't have all 50 Democrats on board with rules changes, but there are a couple of different paths. Some involve rules changes like a carve out to the filibuster. But there's other paths that we could take where we just- the 60-vote threshold is only if you want to limit debate, we could do longer debate and then in the debate and have a simple majority. But we will have a vote on the bills, and we will have a vote on a rules path to get there because it's so important for the country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The- the president, as you know, gave this very high-profile speech this week- this past week in Georgia. He's called the local law there "Jim Crow 2.0." In that speech that he gave, he- he compared his opponents to Bull Connor, Jefferson Davis, which Republican leader Mitch McConnell said was akin to saying, "agree with me or you are a bigot." How does characterizing opponents like that actually win over any kind of Republican support? Isn't the president hobbling himself?

SEN. KAINE: You know, MARGARET, I read those comments differently. Joe Biden was tough in his words, but I think what he said is in the 1960s, say the Voting Rights Act of 1965, people, including people of goodwill, had to decide were they going to stand on the side of Bull Connor or stand on the side of John Lewis. It was the same point that Martin Luther King made in his famous letter from the Birmingham Jail and said, I'm writing to people of goodwill. You may not be bigots and you may not be pro discrimination, but this is a moment in time where you have to decide which side, you're going to stand with in these efforts to hobble minority votes and put up stunts and schemes and people's way, all people of goodwill have to decide where they're going to stand.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you disagree with Sen. Dick Durbin, who said the president may have gone too far there. I mean, is there any outreach to Republicans here who have- some have signaled some willingness on the Electoral Count Act or other measures?

SEN. KAINE: MARGARET, I've been engaged in outreach to Republicans on voting rights since July and have found zero support with the exception of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who was a co-sponsor of the John Lewis bill. We can get no co-sponsors despite repeated efforts when we put the bill up on the floor to proceed to it, they vote against even debating the bill, knowing that they could block its passage. They don't even want to talk about it. So, I thank Sen. Murkowski for being a supporter of restoring the preclearance provisions in the John Lewis bill, but thus far she's been the only one who has been willing to put her name to support for any of these provisions.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah, you were with us back in Nov. when a Republican won the governorship in your home state. You blame that Democratic loss on congressional Democrats, who you said, "just blew the timing of infrastructure, workforce and education. Congressional Democrats have majorities in both houses, and the American public expects us to deliver." Clock is ticking here ahead of those midterm races. What do Democrats need to deliver on in order to hold on to any kind of majority?

SEN. KAINE: You're right, MARGARET, I think we could have won that race had we done infrastructure a month earlier. Now we have delivered on the far-reaching American Rescue Plan. We have delivered on a once in a generation infrastructure investment, although a month too late, I think we have to go into that Build Back Better bill and do the core provisions that reduce costs for Americans in these key areas. If we do that will speak to their inflation concern, we will help people out in every zip code in this country; I think we've got to do that. And it is my hope that we will find a path, although the Vegas odds may not be great. We need to find a path to protect democracy from an assault that is being led by President Trump and his followers all over this country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, thank you for your time this morning.

SEN. KAINE: Absolutely.

MARGARET BRENNAN: FACE THE NATION will be back in one minute with national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Good morning to you, Jake. I want to start by asking you about what happened overnight in Texas with this synagogue and the hostage situation there. I know a British man who took the hostages is now dead, the others were released. Any indication that this is part of any kind of broader extremist threat?

WH NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JAKE SULLIVAN: Well, MARGARET, it's too soon to tell at this point what the full parameters of this act of terrorism, this act of anti-Semitism were. We have the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and law enforcement and intelligence agencies working intensively to get a full picture of what this person's motives were and whether or not there are any further connections. So, I will leave it to the professionals to continue the work today, and as we have more information, we will share it. But I do think we should all take a moment today to pay tribute to the local, state and federal law enforcement officers who acted bravely, professionally and effectively to rescue those hostages and bring the situation to a safe conclusion. They are heroes and they deserve our support, and we then all should also raise our vigilance against acts of terrorism, acts of antisemitism, particularly at synagogues and places of worship in this country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Noted. Thank you, Jake. I want to ask you about what I believe is eating up a lot of your time right now, and this is this active threat from Russia. Microsoft last night said they discovered all sorts of highly destructive malware in computer networks in Ukraine. Ukraine was hit by a cyberattack earlier in the week as well. Is Russia using this to prepare the battlefield and will a cyber-strike draw U.S. sanctions?

SULLIVAN: We've been warning for weeks and months, both publicly and privately, that cyber-attacks could be part of a broad-based Russian effort to escalate in Ukraine. We've been working closely with Ukrainians to harden their defenses and we will continue to do so in the days ahead. We're also coordinating with the private sector companies like Microsoft, both in Ukraine and here in the United States, in case there are potential cyber-attacks that unfold in the coming months here. Of course, it's possible that Russia could- could conduct a series of cyber-attacks. That's part of their playbook. They've done it in the past in other contexts. We have not specifically attributed this attack yet. Neither we nor some of the key private sector firms have attributed it. But we're working hard on attribution, and we will do everything we can to defend and protect networks against the type of destructive malware that Microsoft flagged in their blog post last night.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the Ukrainians are saying it looks like it has some Russian fingerprints on it. Why wouldn't this draw US sanctions? Why are you waiting for Vladimir Putin to go further and actually cross the border? Aren't we already in the middle of a conflict?

SULLIVAN: Well, first, MARGARET, as I said before, we need to work through attribution, and again, as I said, this is part of the Russian playbook, so it would not surprise me one bit if it ends up being attributed to Russia. But let's do first things first, let's get attribution and then make a determination about what we do next. In terms of sanctions, what we have laid out is a very clear message to the Russians, and we've done so in concert and in unison with our allies that if they do further invade Ukraine, there will be severe economic consequences and a price to pay. And yes, of course, if it turns out that Russia is pummeling Ukraine with cyberattacks, and if that continues over the period ahead, we will work with our allies on the appropriate response.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Russia has been moving, tanks have been moving military equipment, their top diplomat said Friday, "their patience is running out, diplomacy is not working." Are- are you planning to get President Putin, President Biden and President Zelensky of Ukraine all on the phone together, like the Ukrainians are asking?

SULLIVAN: Well, we're in close touch with our allies and partners, including the Ukrainians. I speak to my counterpart in Ukraine, the national security adviser, regularly. We've spoken seven times just in the past month, so we're coordinating closely our next steps. And we'll have more to share in terms of the next steps into diplomacy early next week. But the key point here, MARGARET, is that we're ready either way, if Russia wants to move forward with diplomacy. We are absolutely ready to do that in lockstep with our allies and partners. If Russia wants to go down the path of invasion and escalation, we're ready for that too, with a robust response that will cut off their strategic position. So, from our perspective, we are pursuing simultaneously deterrence and diplomacy, and we've been clear and steadfast in that again, fully united with the transatlantic community.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Russia's been pretty clear in just charging ahead with this. Mike Morrell, who I know, you know, the former acting director of the CIA, said this comes down to a matter of American credibility, which will be lost if Vladimir Putin defies President Biden when- when the White House has set out these clear lines, that's what is- what is at stake here, Jake. I mean, we've been talking about the president's approval ratings being on the decline since that chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. This is a risk not just to foreign policy, but to the president's ability to set bright lines for adversaries.

SULLIVAN: Look, I'll leave the political analysis to you and others. Here's what I'm focused on. Will the United States and NATO and our allies emerge from this- whatever happens in a stronger strategic position, and will Russia emerge in a weaker strategic position? That's the test. And that test doesn't get passed tomorrow or the next day or the day after that test gets passed over weeks and months and years. And if Russia does move, we will take measures that go at their economy that go at their strategic position in Europe that strengthen the solidarity of NATO. And what we just saw this past week in Brussels at the NATO headquarters was 30 allies speaking as one after years under the previous administration, where NATO was fractured and beginning to- to lose focus. So, we actually believe that we have made strides in shoring up and strengthening our alliances and in putting the United States in a position whatever happens here to defend our interests, defend our friends and support the Ukrainian people as we have been doing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Jake quickly on Iran. The Secretary of State says we are very, very, very short on time. Iran is getting very close here to the ability to produce a weapon. Are they just playing for time?

SULLIVAN: Well, I would say two things on this front. Number one, our policy is straightforward, we are determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Number two, we believe that diplomacy is the best way to do that. But as you said and as the secretary of state has said, time is running short, and I was in Israel at the end of last month–

MARGARET BRENNAN: – Yeah.--

SULLIVAN –coordinating on the possibility that diplomacy does not proceed.

MARGARET BRENNAN: – Yeah.--

SULLIVAN: We are working closely with our European allies and partners on this as well, and we will find a way forward. But MARGARET,--

MARGARET BRENNAN: – OK.--

SULLIVAN: – a critical point here–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Jake I have to wrap you right now, I'm sorry.

SULLIVAN: The reason we are in the situation we're in right now is because the previous administration pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, and we were paying the wages of that catastrophic mistake.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. Jake Sullivan, thank you. Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We turn now to Covid-19, where the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths are still rising. On the economic front, inflation is also climbing. Here's Mark Strassmann.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARK STRASSMANN (voice over): Confirming America's case of omicron jitters has no test and needs none. We're undeniably anxious.

WOMAN: This is not a game. It's for real.

MARK STRASSMANN: And with good reason.

WOMAN: We are in the midst of another Covid-19 tsunami.

MARK STRASSMANN: Omicron has exploded Covid nationally like never before, with new cases rising in 46 states. America's averaging more than 750,000 new cases a day, a record. More than 20,000 daily hospitalizations, up 25 percent, and almost 2,000 daily deaths, up 37 percent.

MARK STRASSMANN (on camera): Here in Boston, new cases have almost doubled in Massachusetts over the last two weeks. Hospitalizations have almost doubled. And omicron's siege goes on. Local health experts expect those numbers to keep soaring for the rest of January.

MARK STRASSMANN (voice over): In short supply, hospital staff, hospital beds. Pennsylvania is one of 49 states where service members reinforce the front lines of the Covid response. Also scarce, home tests. Starting Wednesday at covidtests.com, you can register with the federal government for free rapid tests. A limit of four per household.

But America's supply chain issues include high-quality masks in high demand.

WOMAN: I feel safer in these than I do around people with the regular masks.

MARK STRASSMANN: She should. After months of dithering by the CDC, the agency now concedes that masks like N95s, KN95s, and surgical once protect better than cloth masks.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CDC: The CDC continues to recommend that any mask is better than no mask.

MARK STRASSMANN: But while Covid's endless dynamics have fractured America, everyone agrees the economy needs help. A 7 percent rate of inflation, the highest in nearly 40 years, from gas to groceries.

WOMAN: Prices are off the charts, off the charts, for a middle class family to eat.

WOMAN: As you can see, the shelves are empty.

MARK STRASSMANN: And continuing supply chain issues. Pharmacies really should have aspirin.

WOMAN: And there's only three bottles on the shelf, and thank goodness I could get one bottle.

MARK STRASSMANN: If there's good news, it's this, in certain cities like New York and Washington, D.C., the early hotspots, omicron's breathtaking spread seems to be flattening.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who joins us from Annapolis. Good morning to you, governor.

MARYLAND GOV. LARRY HOGAN: Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Eighty percent of hospital beds are occupied in your state, Omicron is really hitting hard. There are comparisons right now to where we were in 2020. Have you seen a real change in the ability of the federal government to respond to states like yours?

GOV. HOGAN: Well, so we have been impacted really hard over the past couple of weeks, and we reached a higher point than we ever did during the rest of the nearly two years of this crisis. We've got a little bit of positive news and- in that it's not quite a trend, but over the past four or five days, we've seen fairly dramatic decreases in both hospitalizations, positivity rate and case rate. And so it's hopeful, and we're- we're going to keep an eye on that over the next 10 days to see if we continue. But we're still in a pretty tough spot, and that's why I declared a state of emergency. We- we did a lot of things to try to help increase the capacity of our hospital systems. Sent in a thousand members of the National Guard. And you know, we're taking a lot of actions directly and we're- we're trying to get as much help as we can from the federal government. But, you know, quite frankly, they're fallen short in a couple of ways.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How- what do you need?

GOV. LARRY HOGAN: Well, we've been pushing for quite some time, you know, the president announced nearly a month ago before Christmas that he was going to distribute these half a billion rapid test out across the country. And so far we haven't seen any. We were acquiring our own, you know, the states have been on the front lines throughout this crisis. And now it appears as if, rather than producing more of these rapid tests, the federal government is just purchasing the ones that we had already contracted for. You know, so now we're sort of hijacking the tests that we already had plans for, and we're now getting some of those providers to tell us they no longer have the mat-Masks- the rapid tests. On masks, you know, I announced last week that we were- we were delivering free of charge 20 million N95 and can KN95 masks across the state. And I think the federal government is following behind trying to do the same thing in other places.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. The president is expected to announce something in detail this week on that front.

GOV. HOGAN: I hope so.

MARGARET BRENNAN:  And I understand- I understand the CDC just changed their guidance or adapted their guidance on Friday regarding masks. But other states were out there, like Connecticut distributing and N95s earlier. Why did you wait until this point?

GOV. HOGAN: Well, we've been distributing them throughout the crisis. I mean, from the beginning, but the 20 million is a pretty huge number. So we've had unlimited mass for the schools, for, you know, more than a year already. We've got them out of health departments and hospitals. But now we're- we're having even bigger reach because we realize that these masks are much more protective and that we've got a much more contagious variant that's spreading not only across our state but across the country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. In nearby West Virginia, their governor, also Republican Jim Justice, has asked the CDC to authorize a fourth booster for the most vulnerable in his state. Are you going to do the same? Are you interested in that?

GOV. HOGAN: Well, five or six months ago, we did move forward on the third booster ahead of the federal government because we- we had done our own antibody study in our nursing homes, which were some of our most vulnerable patients that we were very concerned about. The CDC was taking their time, and so we were now doing another very similar antibody study in our nursing homes to see if we should move forward with a four fourth dose, at least for our most vulnerable patients that are at risk.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you're working on that. When it comes to–

GOV. HOGAN: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What's happening in schools right now, and I understand that this is district by district and the decisions are different, but Prince George's County, as you know a District of Columbia suburb, went virtual right around Christmas. They're going back to school in person this coming week. You will pose that. You wanted kids in person.

GOV. HOGAN: I don't oppose them going back to school.

MARGARET BRENNAN: No, but you oppose them going virtual and in other- other parts of the state where they did go back in person, you had some lower attendance rates because people were sick. So why not allow for a little bit of flexibility there? Is there a time when virtual remote school actually is the best choice?

GOV. HOGAN: Well, there is flexibility with local school systems, but what we ought to do and what the state policy actually is, if there's an outbreak in a particular classroom or a particular school, then they have certain protocols that they, you know, they should take, but shutting down entire school systems to punish a million kids. Look, we have- we currently have 34 people in the hospital–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well they went remote–

GOV. HOGAN: 30 of them are children, 30 of them are children, and half of them are in for another reason in the hospital. We're now filling our pediatric empty pediatric beds with adults because children have not been that big of a problem. Our school systems have not been overrun. And you know, we started vaccinating teachers more than a year ago as a priority. That was what they asked for. We provided the masks. We provided hundreds of millions of dollars for filtration systems to try to keep our kids safe. And you know, I understand people being concerned about kids. We all are. But we missed a year of learning in some cases, and it's absolutely not the way to go to keep the entire school system shut down.

MARGARET BRENNAN: understood, but remote is somewhere in between. But I want to ask you about some politics here because as you know, there's been a lot of talk among some high level Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader who's trying to recruit you to run for Senate. You said you don't have a burning desire to serve in the Senate. You got a February 22nd filing deadline. If you don't want to tell me you're running or not today, can you at least tell me if a Republican can win a statewide federal election in Maryland?

GOV. HOGAN: Well, most Republicans couldn't, but both The Washington Post and the Senate leadership did two polls showing me beating Chris Van Hollen by 12 points, so I think it is possible it's the same- same- same number that I was reelected by in 2018 against Ben Jealous as governor. But look what I said, I've been saying all along. It's not something I aspire to, but I also have said that I-I care very much about the-the country and where we are and the divisive rhetoric that the divisiveness and dysfunction in Washington. And so, you know, people are calling on my kind of more patriotic duty to say, even if it's not the job that you want, maybe we need you to run anyway. And so that's where we are. I've never expressed an interest in it, and I still haven't taken any steps in that direction.

MARGARET BRENNAN: February 22nd Are you going to run or are you going to file?

GOV. HOGAN: February 22nd is like a month away, and right now we're just focused on the day job as governor and focused on this Omicron crisis and our legislative session, and that's where my focus is going to stay.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, well, we will stay on top of you and then we'll start asking you if you're going to run in 2024, which you've been asked and said, you won't comment on either. Governor, thank you very much for your time today and good luck with the hospitalizations. We'll be right back with the mayor of Kansas City, Missouri.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to the mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, Quinton Lucas. He joins us from our CBS affiliate KCTV. Good morning to you, Mr. Mayor.

MAYOR QUINTON LUCAS (D), KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI: Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Omicron is surging. Hospitalizations in your city up 25 percent in the last week. Are hospitals having to postponed surgeries? Are they at risk of being overwhelmed?

QUINTON LUCAS: They are overwhelmed right now in Kansas City. Really since the Christmas season, we have seen incredible challenges in our health care network. Even getting employees that are working in our EMS services, fire department and in public safety. It is a substantial concern. It's why we have brought back a number of different requirements, including a mask requirement in our schools, to a great level of controversy, to make sure that governments can continue to function, schools can stay open, our hospitals can stay open, and we're doing all we can from a local government level to respond to our choices.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You've said you'd consider a citywide mask mandate if deaths and hospitalizations reached a certain point. Do you have a threshold there? What's holding you back?

QUINTON LUCAS: Right now what's holding us back is, in some ways, the political challenge that we receive from the state of Missouri. There have been numerous lawsuits filed by the attorney general of Missouri, who is running for United States Senate, a Republican, who has sought mask mandates and called them things that are challenges to freedom. He's called them challenges in tyranny, those sorts of things, that we face every time we issue a new mask requirement. The Missouri state treasurer has gotten into the act. But what we're really trying to focus on is more vaccination. What we're seeing is even though omicron is spreading, 80 to 90 percent of people that are in our ICUs are those that have not been vaccinated. We're facing challenges because there is a substantial amount of misinformation out in the public about if vaccination is important, if it's good, if it's free, what it does to you. So we're really fighting, I think, a battle on two different fronts. One is from my political right, and those that are trying to say that this just isn't that big of a deal, and then always trying to fight the information side to make sure that we get people vaccinated and safe.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But to that point, we have new CBS polling out today that really faults the administration itself for confusing messaging around Covid. The president's approval rating for his handling is at the lowest point. Two-thirds of those polled cited confusion about Covid information and guidance. Is the federal government response here two confusing? Is it too slow?

QUINTON LUCAS: You know, I think that those polls reflect a moment of frustration in America, certainly frustration in Kansas City. Time and again, and everybody in America knows this, every few months we thought that this would be over. I think what we recognize is now that Covid will be with us for some time, that we may continue to see new variants. But I do think that there is a role, not just for the federal government, but for state governments, to actually be helpful, right? We have seen in a number of different states, mine included at times, where there has not been the level of assistance, when we're looking for that intermediate step, who can actually deliver that testing to us in the cities, small towns as well? Who can actually make sure that schools stay open? I don't think that those are federal concerns and those aren't at the feet of the president. I think much of that is, how can our entire government system, from local government up to the federal side, make sure that we're responding in an active way. I just think the president's face is on any number of things, and so he'll continued to be blamed. But, look, what I want in Kansas City are more nurses, more hospital workers, more staff, and more tests. I don't care where they come from. Whether they come from our state capitals, whether they come from federal government, I think that's what the people of America want on the ground.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You mentioned one of the people who is challenging your mandates is someone running for Senate in your state. I want to ask you, I know you're running for re-election as mayor, but you are rumored to also be considering a Senate run. What are national Democrats missing on the ground in states like yours? Do you think a Democrat could actually win a statewide federal election in Missouri?

QUINTON LUCAS: I absolutely think a Democrat could win a statewide election in Missouri. I think, first of all, because what you see right now is that we're trying to respond to a crisis of the moment. We're trying to make sure we're answering Covid issues, trying to make sure that people are getting back into jobs, and talking about things that are responsible and reasonable. Not looking back over the last four years, not trying to push what I think is false information, whether it be related to Covid or whether it be related to the economy or anything under the sun. I do think, of course, there's a communication challenge that we face. The Democratic Party is a very big tent. And I do certainly think that more national voices that are saying, look, Democrats are doing things that make basic sense now, trying to address supply chain issues, trying to make sure people have Covid testing, and fundamentally making sure that we're looking out for the people of Kansas City in America. You know, a few weeks back my family came down with Covid and then the toughest part, I have a nine-month-old baby, with seeing him sick. I don't think that there's any American who wants to see that harm to their young children, to their babies, to their families. That's what I see a lot of mayors looking to, Democrats, moderate Republicans, and others, and that's why I think the public would be receptive to messages from folks that are on the political left.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You'd have to file by the end of March. Are you going to run?

QUINTON LUCAS: I -- I have already said that I'll be running for mayor of Kansas City again.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

QUINTON LUCAS: I'm excited to be mayor.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Mayor, thank you for your time. Good luck with the surge. We'll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to check in now with former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who also serves on the board of Pfizer. Good morning to you, Dr..

DOCTOR SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The acting FDA commissioner told Congress most people are going to get COVID, Dr. Fauci said most people will be exposed to it at some point. I mean, these statements make people at home go, what am I doing here? Why am I trying to protect myself? At this point, what can you do?

DR. GOTTLIEB: Well, look, I think the reality is most people are going to get COVID in their lifetime, I don't think most people need to get COVID within the next month and anything we can do to try to protect ourselves to extent that there are people who haven't been exposed to this virus yet, who've gone out and gotten vaccinated, been able to protect themselves. You know, if they can keep themselves protected for the next several weeks, we will probably be through this Omicron wave. And then we'll have to deal with this probably next fall when we have better tools available to us. I would much rather have my reckoning with COVID after I've been vaccinated a number of times after there are orally available drugs widely accessible to treat this infection. After there's monoclonal antibodies, widely accessible to treat it. After diagnostic testing is stockpiled in my house and those- those realities will be truth come this fall, certainly come this summer, so I think people will be in a much better position to grapple with this next fall. I think we should remain vigilant for the next several weeks, try to avoid this infection if you can.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So hold strong for the next few weeks. Pfizer CEO,  I know you served on the board of the company, said a vaccine that targets Omicron could be ready in March. Does that mean everyone needs to start planning to go out and get another dose?

DR. GOTTLIEB: Look, I think the reality is that this is going to become an annual vaccination, at least for a period of time. We don't know what the epidemiology of this infection is going to be over the long run, but certainly over the next couple of years, you can envision boosters becoming an annual affair, at least for some portion of the population; people who are more vulnerable. It could be the case that if we have an Omicron on specific vaccine or Delta specific vaccine, it is still unclear what the most prevalent strain of this infection is going to be on the back end of this Omicron wave. I think most people presume it will be Omicron, but if you can fashion a vaccine that's specific to the variant that's circulating. You probably have the potential to restore a lot of the original promise of the vaccine. And by that, I mean the ability to actually prevent transmission to reduce infection. Right now, the vaccines are very effective at preventing serious disease and preventing hospitalization. They are also preventing symptomatic illness. But the prevention of transmission has been dramatically reduced in a setting of Omicron. If you could fashion a vaccine that is specific to Omicron, you can restore the ability of the vaccine potentially to prevent transmission, and it once- once again becomes a public health tool for actually controlling spread.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You heard Governor Hogan, a Republican, say the federal government is falling short on its response right now. Our polling has shown even confusion among Democrats, I mean this isn't necessarily a partisan issue on frustration with pandemic response. That gets laid at the foot of the president, is that his fault? Is that the CDC falling short? Is that the FDA, where we still do not have a confirmed commissioner? Where does that blame actually lie?

DR. GOTTLIEB: Well, look, I think I think it lies in a lot of places, I think a lot of the confusion emanates from CDC and the mixed guidance that they've- they've issued. Look, the administration, I think, has done an admirable job with certain aspects of this response. They put a big emphasis on rolling out the vaccines. They've done a good job at that 85% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine. We have to think about the counterfactual: what if we didn't have that much vaccination as a country? What situation would we be facing right now? I think the administration made some mistakes at a macro level. The first was buying into this prevailing narrative when they took office that a lot of the problems, if not all the problems at CDC and from the federal public health agencies owed to the Trump's administration and their mishandling of those agencies. Now, notwithstanding what the Trump administration did, it didn't do to try to reform those agencies and interfere in their operations. The reality is those agencies had deep flaws and it made it hard to reform the agencies once you bought into that- that macro narrative. The- the second challenge I think that they bought for themselves was federalizing this in ways that they didn't have to, particularly with respect to the vaccine mandates. I think once the federal government, the Biden administration, stepped in and federalized aspects of this response, they owned it and created a perception that they alone could fix it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Governor Hogan said they were having a hard time at the state level, getting a hold of tests. According to the White House, those will start- they'll take orders starting in Jan, but HHS said you might not receive those tests for weeks afterward. Is the strategy here just to have Americans stockpile tests for the future because it's not coming in time for Omicron?

DR. GOTTLIEB: Well, look, I think that's what Americans ought to be doing and the administration steps to try to provide tests directly to consumers and try to provide payment for those tests is an important step in that direction. They've also in the last week extended the expiration dates in the popular BinaxNOW test and I expect they're going to extend the expiration dates on other tests so that it makes it more feasible to stockpile these tests. The reality is the tests are available. They're not cheap. But if you go to Amazon right now, you can buy 10 or more tests. I tested it before- before we got on this show this morning, so they are available. I think that they're difficult to get for bulk purchase, for purchases for municipalities and states, but consumers can get access to them. And now, with the federal government, you know, providing reimbursement, most consumers can reach into the market and buy these tests. Unfortunately, they weren't available when we had peak demand, and that was when Omicron hit up against Christmas break, when a lot of people went out, wanted access to tests and the store shelves had run out.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. Well, failure to plan around the holiday in the largest gatherings of the year, but bigger strategy. You've said there should have been in Operation Warp Speed for drug treatments, not just the vaccine. Do you think the administration is over emphasizing vaccination and not talking about things like masks and ventilation?

DR. GOTTLIEB: Look, I think they've talked about masks, there's only so much the federal government can do to try to get consumers to wear masks, this really has to be done at the state and the local level. I think the administration should have earlier revised the guidance on the quality of the mask, recognizing that higher quality masks were going to be important against variants that spread primarily through airborne transmission, like the Delta variant, like the Omicron variant. There has been an emphasis on vaccines. I think that there could have been more emphasis on trying to get capacity in place over the summer for the production of not just the orally available drugs like the one manufactured by Pfizer. Pfizer put up a billion dollars to advance manufacture of that product, but also the monoclonal antibodies, especially the drugs that could be used as a prophylaxis and treatment.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, Dr. Gottlieb, always good to talk to you. We'll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

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