This is a rush transcript from “Fox News Sunday” February 21, 2021. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I’m Chris Wallace.
Deadly winter storms cripple Texas and devastate that state’s power grid,
prompting a wake-up call in the energy capital of the world.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: What happened this week to our fellow Texans
is absolutely unacceptable.
WALLACE (voice-over): Billions of people struggling to recover from days
of power overages and now facing a shortage of drinking water. The crisis
pitting clean energy advocates against supporters of the oil and gas
RICK PERRY (R), FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: If this Green New Deal goes
forward, then we’ll have more events like we’ve had in Texas, all across
WALLACE: We’ll get the latest on the situation in Texas and sit down with
Bill Gates, who’s invested billions in the development of clean
JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That was a mistake in the
communication. I said opening the majority of schools in K through 8th
grade because they are the easiest to open.
WALLACE: Mixed messages about when more students will return to the
classroom and where do we stand on the distribution of vaccines and their
effectiveness against new variants.
We’ll ask Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy
and Infectious Diseases.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): In hindsight, I wouldn’t have done it.
WALLACE: Critics slam Senator Ted Cruz for fleeing taxes in the midst of
its electrical power frees up for a sunny vacation in Mexico.
We’ll ask our Sunday panel how big a price Cruz will pay.
All, right now, on “FOX News Sunday”.
WALLACE (on camera): And hello again from FOX News in Washington.
A deadly winter storm that first knocked out power has now created a water
emergency for 13 million Texans, half that state’s population. President
Biden has approved a major disaster declaration and is considering a trip
to the state to see the damage and the response.
Meanwhile, the breakdown in the electrical grid has sparked a debate over
the state’s energy policy.
In a moment, we’ll talk with Bill Gates about what happened in Texas and
his ideas for dramatically reshaping how we produce and consume energy.
But, first, Casey Stegall has the latest on the fallout from this week’s
deep freeze in the Lone Star State.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This one is full of ice.
CASEY STEGALL, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A struggle to survive
in Texas this week.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Without water and without like — like electricity
and all that, it’s just bad.
STEGALL: For millions, the power outages lasted for days, days of no heat
left people shivering in their homes.
Then bad problems got worse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We actually noticed a water pipe broke more down that
way near the gym.
STEGALL: So many pipes froze and burst, infrastructure became compromised,
leading to unsafe drinking water for millions with communities issuing boil
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I’ve been to several different stores and no one has
STEGALL: Lines quickly began forming outside stores that were open but
basic supplies were hard to find.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
STEGALL: Which sent thousands to food banks and water distribution
MARK HENRY, GALVESTON COUNTY JUDGE: We would have ordered evacuations. We
warned the vulnerable people that they needed to make other plans.
STEGALL: Many are angry and demanding answers from ERCOT, the private
agency responsible for running the Texas power grid, which is independent
from the rest of the country and not subject to federal regulation.
ABBOTT: I’m taking responsibility for the current status of ERCOT. Again,
I find what’s happened acceptable.
STEGALL: Texas Governor Greg Abbott has ordered an emergency investigation
into what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again.
STEGALL (on camera): All of Texas’ 254 counties have been impacted. The
storm is already to be expected to be more costly than Hurricane Harvey’s
$19 billion worth of insurance claims — Chris.
WALLACE: Casey Stegall reporting from Dallas. Casey, thanks for that.
The deep freeze in Texas and the breakdown in the state’s power grid have
renewed questions about climate change and how we produce the energy we
I sat down earlier with Bill Gates, who is out with a new book, “How to
Avoid a Climate Disaster,” and we began with the troubles in Texas these
last few days.
WALLACE: Bill, welcome back to “FOX News Sunday”.
BILL GATES, CO-FOUNDER, MICROSOFT: Great to talk to you.
WALLACE: Millions of people were affected by the power outages in Texas
this week, and the governor, Greg Abbott, blamed it on alternative energy
Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Well, this shows how the Green New Deal would be
a deadly deal for the United States of America.
If the Biden administration is going to try to eradicate fossil fuels in
the United States, every state is going to constantly have challenges like
what America has seen take place in Texas right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: The governor says that wind turbines, especially, failed and
created this crisis. Your response?
GATES: Well, it’s not at all true. The failure to weatherize some of the
nuclear sensors (ph), the natural gas plants, and even some of the wind are
responsible for their power shortages. And the wind is a tiny part of it.
It was mostly the thermal generators that went offline, because they
haven’t been weatherized.
Obviously, wind works in North Dakota, it works in Alaska. We know how to
weatherize wind turbines.
The wind does come and go, but what was shut down, the vast majority, is
thermal plants here.
So, you know, there is a reliability issue that we’ll have to design the
system, including more transmission.
You know, Texas over time, will want to connect up, so that when it does
get shortages, it’s able to draw on other parts of the country.
WALLACE: As you know, a lot of people here at FOX News that watch the —
watch us question whether climate change is real and how much of it is
manmade, and they also question that — whether it’s heat or freezing cold,
whether it’s floods or drought, that it’s all climate change.
So, make your best case to the folks who, this past week, have been
freezing in Texas.
GATES: Well, the change in the wind patterns is allowing those cold fronts
to come down from Canada more often. There’s a pattern of wind that, as you
— as it gets warmer, that breaks down.
There’s no doubt that we’re putting CO2 into the atmosphere. There’s no
doubt that that increases temperatures and that affects the weather.
And so, the ill effects, whether it’s, you know, farming in Texas being
changed or wildfires or coral reefs dying off, there’s super hard evidence
of the ocean rising.
I do think it’s fair that people have different views on the tactics to
deal with climate change. In fact, you know, having both parties thinking
about that is going to be very important as we go forward.
But this is a real challenge, and it’s great to see that particularly young
Republicans are joining in and saying that this is something they care
about, beyond their own individual success, morally preserving these
ecosystems, allowing a livable planet, they care about that.
WALLACE: But critics say, you know, it’s easy to talk about getting off
fossil fuel, it’s easy to talk about going to a plant-based diet, but the
reality is that hundreds of thousands of people will lose their jobs —
that the coalminers in West Virginia or the livestock ranchers in Nebraska
will be wiped out.
GATES: Well, it’s very important, as we solve this problem, that we not
cause those community dislocations.
We have a 30-year transition period. The skill sets involved, whether it’s
making clean hydrogen, sequestering CO2, the engineering skill sets, the
things that those workers do will be important.
In fact, we’re going to have to almost triple the size of the electric grid
and build all that transmission. And so, it’s not like there’s going to be
a shortage of jobs overall, it’s just balancing to make sure that each
community gets into the plan.
WALLACE: Let’s talk about your book. You say that we have to go from the
51 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions that we generate in this
country every year — from 51 billion tons to zero — zero by the year
2050, and that anything less than that will precipitate a catastrophe.
GATES: Well, yes. The CO2 stays in the atmosphere for thousands of years,
and that’s what forces the temperatures to go up.
And so, it’s really the sum of all those emissions starting in the
industrial age that’s causing this temperature forcing with all of its ill
You know, there’s no magic date that, it’s all great until then, and it’s
terrible once you cross that threshold. It’s pretty linear as far as we
2050 happens to be the soonest realistic date for the world to change all
of these source emissions — which are actually quite broader than most
people are aware of, because it’s got things like steel and cement, not
just cars and electricity.
WALLACE: I want to pick up on that because you say in your book, don’t
fool yourselves, this is going to be hard. And you have a chart that I want
to put up in your book of how much greenhouse gas is emitted by what we do.
Making things – cement, steel, plastic 31 percent of all emissions,
plugging in electricity 27 percent, growing things 19 percent, getting
around transportation 16 percent, and keeping warm and cool 7 percent.
You say a lot of the things that we’re focused on now like electric
vehicles are important, but that’s the easy part.
GATES: Exactly. If all you had to do was a 30 percent reduction, then you
should take the easiest 30 percent.
Because the goal is to get to zero, you’ve got to work in parallel, not
just on the easy stuff, but also on the very hard stuff. You’ve got to
increase R&D budgets. You’ve got to have lots of risk capital to make these
products in a new way, and hopefully create companies that not only build
jobs but export these green approaches to the entire world.
WALLACE: You admit at the very start of your book in the opening pages
that you are an imperfect messenger though all this — you admit, you
acknowledge you live in big houses, you fly around in private jets and have
a big carbon footprint.
So, how do you answer people who say, well, who’s Bill Gates to preach to
GATES: That’s absolutely right.
I am offsetting my carbon emissions by buying clean aviation fuel and
funding carbon capture and funding low-cost housing projects to use
electricity instead of a natural gas.
And so, I’ve — I have been able to eliminate it, and it was amazing to me
how expensive that was. We’ve — that cost of being green, the green
premium, we’ve got to drive that down.
But, to me, my experience in innovation and thinking about the right
metrics, I felt like, if we have this idealistic generation and this
wonderful goal, we need a plan and that my experience could help contribute
to that plan.
WALLACE: Then there are the critics on the left who say you are behind the
curve, and that, in fact, you should be supporting the Green New Deal and
going for zero net emissions, not in 2050, but in 2030.
GATES: Yes, it’s completely unrealistic to think we could eliminate
emissions by 2030.
And not seeing that this problem is hard is — will be part of the
difficulty of getting engaged into it.
So, where I come out, and I’ll try to have great debates with people, is
that it’s very hard. We’re going to have to use all 30 years, but it’s not
WALLACE: And what happens if we don’t make it, if we don’t get to zero net
emissions by 2050? What — how will our daily lives be different?
GATES: Well, the migration that we saw out of Syria for their civil war,
which was somewhat (ph) weather dependent, we’re going to have 10 times as
much migration because the equatorial areas will become unlivable. You
won’t be able to farm or go outside during the summer.
The wildfires, the — even the farming productivity in the south of the
U.S., the droughts will reduce productivity very dramatically.
And, you know, it’s all a matter of degree. If we wait 10 more years, it’s
not as bad as if we wait 20 or you wait 30, because the temperature just
keeps going up, and it’s going up more rapidly than it has in natural
But the instability overall will be five times as many deaths at the peak
of the pandemic and going up every year.
WALLACE: In the time we have left, I want to ask you about a couple of
You have come on “FOX News Sunday” a couple of times in the last year to
talk about the pandemic. How do you think we’re doing right now, in terms
of vaccine manufacturing and distributing, in terms of reopening schools
and our general economy?
GATES: We’ll have the five vaccines that all work very well. Somewhat less
against the variants, and so we may need a third shot for some people. But
this is giving us light at the end of the tunnel.
We do need to get the logistics right, and then we’ll be limited by the
demand. You know, in minority communities, had (ph) people who are trusted
spoken out about the benefits of getting the vaccine.
But I am hopeful that, you know, we’re going to get more schools reopened,
we’ll — by the time we get to the fall, we should avoid a wave there
because the level of vaccination will be very high.
WALLACE: Finally, Twitter has banned Donald Trump permanently, and
Facebook is considering doing to the same. What do you think of that?
GATES: Well, I’m, you know, just one citizen on this issue. The — I think
he said a lot of things about the illegitimacy of the election that are
corrosive, but the idea that that’s — you end up with a lifetime ban, you
know, that — it seems like we should discuss, you know — we don’t to
partition and have, you know, a social network for one party and another
social network. We want to have a common base where we’re exchanging ideas
So, I think these are early days on how we keep the good parts of social
media, and yet not spread violence or, you know, vaccine denial, Holocaust
There’s got to be some way that, between the government and the well-
meaning actors, we draw the line so we keep the open debate without the
WALLACE: Bill Gates, the name of the book, “How to Avoid a Climate
Disaster”. Thanks so much for talking with us again.
GATES: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: Up next, vaccines, variants and continuing questions about
reopening America’s schools.
Dr. Anthony Fauci returns to “FOX News Sunday” when we come right back.
WALLACE: Cases are down, vaccinations are up. But there is still no end in
sight for the COVID pandemic.
Joining us now to answer some questions we all have, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the
White House chief medical adviser.
And, Doctor, welcome back to “FOX News Sunday.”
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS
DISEASES: Thank you, Chris. It’s good to be with you.
WALLACE: We have seen a five-week decline in the number of COVID cases,
down 69 percent over that time period. Between vaccines and measures like
mask-wearing, does that mean that we’re beating the virus or is there still
a chance that we’re going to have yet another wave?
FAUCI: Well, we — great question, and I’m glad you gave me the
opportunity to answer that. We really need to keep our guard up because we
have variants out there that are circulating that have a greater degree of
capability of transmitting from person to person. I refer specifically to
the U.K. variant, the 117 that we talk about.
The slope of downward trajectory, Chris, is really very good and very
impressive. It’s very sharp if you look at it. The one thing we don’t want
to do is to get complacent that it’s coming down so sharply that now we’re
out of the woods, because we are still at a baseline of daily infections
that’s quite troublesome.
We’re not at that very high level of 300,000 to 400,000 cases per day, but
we are at a level that’s still, if you look at the big picture of things,
is a lot of cases per day. Because we want that baseline to get very, very
low. We had the same problem months and months ago when we had peaked in
certain areas of the country and were coming down, and then all of a sudden
we got to a baseline that was unacceptably high. And then, bingo, it went
right back up as soon as things happened like people got a little bit loose
with their mitigation measures.
So bottom line message, I want to keep going on with the —
FAUCI: Yes, sorry, go ahead.
WALLACE: No, no, I’m sorry. Don’t — people want to hear you more than me.
Let me ask you a couple of questions about vaccines. The country is now
vaccinating an average of 1.7 million people a day. Will that number keep
going higher? And the question that we all keep asking, which is, when will
we have enough supply so that anyone who wants the vaccine can get it?
FAUCI: Yes, when you start seeing, well, we have enough supply to have it,
how many vaccines would you have? The president said that and it’s
absolutely correct. By July we will have enough. We will have the 600
million doses that we contracted for from two companies.
It is very likely that before then we are going to start vaccinating people
who are outside of the priority groups and essentially represent anyone and
everyone. But the number that the president gave, or the month that the
president gave was absolutely correct. By July, we will have in-hand enough
vaccine to be able to vaccinate virtually anybody and everybody. It will be
600 million doses for 300 million people.
WALLACE: Meanwhile, as you pointed out, the virus keeps mutating and
there’s been some recent troublesome, worrisome news that the vaccines, the
Pfizer and the Moderna, are considerably less effective against the 351
South African variant. What are the chances that, even if you get
vaccinated, that you have the two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, that at some
point, you’re going to need — they’re going to have to develop and we’re
going to have to get a booster shot to deal with this or other mutations?
FAUCI: Chris, that’s going to depend completely on what the penetrance and
the prevalence of this mutation is. Let me give you some examples that I
think could explain it.
Right now, the 117 variant, namely the one from the U.K., is really
becoming more prevalent in this country. And the modelists predict that by
the time you get to the end of March, it might be the dominant one in this
country. The good news about that, despite the fact that that is
concerning, the good news is that both vaccines, the Pfizer and the
Moderna, that we are distributing now are very good in protecting against
that particular variant.
But as you suggest correctly, the situation is not the case with the South
African variant. Fortunately, that’s not dominant at all in this country.
However, the fact is that it does not protect — the vaccines do not
protect as well against the acquisition of clinically apparent disease with
the South African.
It looks like it will be pretty good in preventing severe disease leading
to hospitalization and death, but it’s only approximately about 50 percent
effective in getting the prevention from any disease at all.
But the right answer to your question, if in fact this becomes more
dominant, we may have to get a version of the vaccine that is directed
specifically against the South African isolate. And in fact, we are already
doing preliminary and early experiments to develop such a variant of the
vaccine to address that particular mutation.
WALLACE: President Biden came in saying that they were going to run things
more smoothly, that they were going to follow the science. But in the last
couple of weeks there have been some garbled messages coming out of this
administration and I want to ask you about that.
Last Sunday, on this program, the CDC director said that teachers do not
have to have — it’s preferable, but they do not have to have the vaccine
in order for schools to reopen. But this week, we got a somewhat different
message from Vice President Harris.
Take a look, sir.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Teachers should be a
priority. In terms of vaccination —
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: But if they’re not vaccinated, is it
safe for them?
HARRIS: Well, I think that we have to decide if we can put in place safe
GUTHRIE: The CDC has said they don’t have to be vaccinated to go back to
school. Of course, it’s a priority.
HARRIS: We think this they should be the priority. We think they should –
– we think they should be a priority.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: That sounds like Vice-President Harris was following the teachers
unions, not the science.
FAUCI: No, I — Chris, I mean, if you want to parse words, I was listening
very carefully. What Vice President Harris said it should be a priority.
She did not say it’s a sine qua non that unless you get vaccinated you
cannot come into the school and teach.
So what we’re saying — and let me state it clearly because I believe
strongly that it is completely compatible with both — with what Dr.
Walensky said and what the vice president said is that clearly we want to
make the vaccination of teachers a high priority. They all within the
essential personnel in society and we want that priority to be high.
What I have said and I’ll say it again today, it should not be sine qua
non. In other words, you cannot go into the school unless you’re
vaccinated. We’re not saying that. We’re saying we’re doing whatever we can
to protect the safety of the children and the teachers, but it is not a
requirement. It’s a priority, but it’s not a requirement for the teachers
to get back into school.
WALLACE: I think the only point I was making is she refused to say it’s
not a requirement when she was asked by Savannah several times.
Let me ask you about another one. There’s been some confusion about when
schools will be fully reopened five days a week, and look at this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Teaching at least one day a week
in the majority of schools by day 100.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, that’s not true. That’s
what was reported, that’s not true. And it was a mistake in the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: The president there was contradicting his own press secretary.
Is it a mistake frankly for politicians and even for public health experts
like yourself to do too much projective?
FAUCI: Well, you know, it’s very interesting that you say that, because at
the very end of the president’s press briefing following his visit to
Michigan, to the Pfizer plant, he said exactly that, that we’ve got to be
careful that when you get asked to make a projection, you have to respond,
but you’ve got to make sure that people understand that it’s merely a
projection. And a lot of mitigating circumstances can occur that would
So, I mean, the president himself has said exactly that when he was asked
about the precision of these types of projections. We’ve just been through,
Chris, a similar situation when an unexpected, you know, phenomenon of
nature, a very terrible ice storm, delayed 6 million doses of the vaccine
Now, we’re going to overcome that by working double time to get back to
where we should be by the middle of the week, but that was a completely
unanticipated glitch. That is going to continue to occur as we go on and
So, that’s what the president was talking about. You make a projection, but
you’ve got to be careful because those things can change.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: And, of course, we reporters keep asking you
to make the projections.
I got about two minutes, I want to squeeze two questions in, Doctor.
The administration talks a lot about getting kids in grades K-8 back to
school, but does much less talk about kids in high school. And I want to
ask you about them.
Take a look at these numbers. Forty-seven percent of students in K-8 are
now going to school full time, but only 33 percent of students in grades 9-
12 are going to school full time.
Doctor, we’re talking about the kids that are more at risk of getting the
disease and also spreading the disease. But at the same time, they’re not
able to get the vaccines. The lowest cutoff age is 16 for Pfizer, I think
it’s 18 for Moderna.
So what happens to these kids? They seem like they’re kind of caught in a
FAUCI: Well, you know, in some respects, they’re in that zone. That’s the
reason why we are hoping that we will be able to — in fact, all of the
studies right now from at least two companies are trying to get those
individuals, those youngsters who are in that high school group, that
hopefully by the time we get to the full term, that they will be
vaccinated. And that’s why we’re pushing on those studies to get them
That will likely occur in the fall. I can’t say it’s going to be on day one
of when the school starts in the fall term. On the other hand, when you
have younger children, it likely will not be before the beginning of the
first quarter of 2022.
WALLACE: Finally, and I’ve got about a minute left, Vice President Harris
talked recently about how this administration basically had to start from
scratch when it came to vaccine distribution. And on Friday President Biden
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My predecessor, as my mother
would say, God love him, failed to order enough vaccines, failed to
mobilize the effort to administer the shots, failed to set up vaccine
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Doctor, is that true?
FAUCI: Well, again, a lot of things were said just there. The one thing
that we can say is that the — the — the infrastructure and the capability
and the planning of getting the vaccines distributed into the arms of
people was really quite vague, as I’ve said before.
I mean, obviously, there’s — it wasn’t that nothing was done because we
developed a vaccine, we got them manufactured, and they were shipped. But,
you know, as I’ve said before, you know, you have to give the vice
president a break. She didn’t mean from scratch that nothing. I mean,
obviously, we had vaccines that we were giving to people even before the
end of the year.
So what she was referring to, and I — and I’m sure you can ask her again
and she’ll say it, was the process of smoothly getting it into people’s
arms, which was a difficulty very — very early on. We’re just getting over
that right now. And that’s what the president is doing with regard to
getting community vaccine centers, getting the vaccine into pharmacy,
getting mobile units —
FAUCI: And getting vaccinators, as the president says, people who are
actually putting it into people’s arms.
I believe the vice president was referring to the fact that if you’re
talking about those things that I just mentioned, they were not in place
when the president came in as — following the inauguration.
WALLACE: Dr. Fauci, thank you. Thanks for your time this weekend. It’s
always good to talk with you, sir.
FAUCI: Same here. Thank you very much, sir.
WALLACE: Up next, we’ll bring in our Sunday group to discuss the furor over
Ted Cruz and his decision to head to sunny Cancun while folks back in his
home state of Texas were shivering.
WALLACE: Coming up, Senator Ted Cruz gets blistered for skipping town
during his state’s power outages.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I certainly regret that this has become a distraction
at a time when so many Texans are hurting and frustrated and mad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: We’ll ask our Sunday panel what it means for the senator’s
political future, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Yesterday my daughters asked if they could take a
trip with some friends. And Heidi and I agreed. So I flew down with them
last night. I dropped them off here and then I’m headed back to Texas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Well, that was Ted Cruz’s original story as he headed back home
after the world learned he’d left freezing Texas this week for a trip to
sunny, 80-degree Mexico. But that was not the end of it.
And it’s time now for our Sunday group. Senator Mitch McConnell’s former
chief of staff, Josh Holmes, pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson and Mo
Elleithee of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public
So, Josh, part of the problem — I guess the biggest part of the problem
was the fact that Ted Cruz thought he should go down to Mexico in the
middle of this freeze up in the first place, but compounding that was the
fact that his story kept changing.
As we say, first he was just dropping his family often and coming back the
next day. Then it turned out that his wife Heidi was inviting friends to
come join them through the weekend.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I was trying to be a dad. And — and all of us have
made decisions. When you’ve got two girls who have been cold for two — two
days and haven’t had heat or power —
And I’d initially planned to stay through the weekend and to work remotely
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Josh, how damaging — and — and why is it that — that Cruz, who
once called your former boss Mitch McConnell a liar on the Senate floor,
why is he so unpopular with senators of both parties?
JOSH HOLMES, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDING PARTNER, CAVALRY, AND FORMER CHIEF OF
STAFF TO SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL: Well, look, I think Senator Cruz made a
mistake. It’s as — it’s as simple as that. And I actually found a lot of
humanity in his response. Obviously, this was all unfolding while he was in
the air on the way to Cancun and — and — and trying to get his family out
of Texas, which, you know, as a senator, was a mistake. He should not have
done it. He apologized. He was right to do so.
But I think the other piece of this, and the reason it’s ultimately not
going to hurt him politically is, the media distortion of how Republicans
are treated versus how Democrats are treated. There have been 35 — 35
separate news stories in “The Washington Post” alone on Senator Cruz and
Cancun. Noting, by the way, there is no actual difference that has happened
here as a result of his trip. Nothing had been done or not done as a result
of his trip.
“Nightly News” broadcast dedicated two and three times the amount of
coverage to Senator Cruz than they did Andrew Cuomo and the nursing home
So, I mean, the message that that sends to — to conservatives across the
country is, you know — and if you’re putting — if you’re a Democrat and
you put nursing home policies in place that contribute to the deaths of
perhaps thousands of people, you get an Emmy. But if you take an ill-timed
beach vacation, like Senator Cruz did, you — you’re run out of house and
Ultimately, until we start grappling with the differences of how these
things are — are covered by the national media, I think we’re going to be
really disappointed by what motivates voters across this country.
WALLACE: Well, let me say, that we’re going to cover Andrew Cuomo in a
moment, but I just want to ask you, Kristen, about this.
I think part of the problem also is that this is exactly the kind of thing
that Ted Cruz — the kind of mistake that Ted Cruz would jump on if it
happened to somebody else. And it has happened to some other people.
In December, Cruz attacked the mayor of Austin for going to Mexico during
the pandemic with this, hypocrites, complete and utter hypocrites. And he
also takes on his own party. In 2017 he attacked Republican Governor Chris
Christie for visiting a closed beach when the New Jersey state government
was shut down.
Kristen, is this the kind of thing that voters will remember?
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, ECHELON INSIGHTS AND FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think
voters will remember how you make them feel. And if you make them feel like
you don’t care about them, they do or member that sort of thing. That’s why
some politicians thrive. They — they persuade voters that they understand
what they’re going through. I think for a lot of voters they didn’t have
the opportunity to fly to Cancun to escape the cold from Texas.
But I think the thing that is even more frustrating about the — the whole
discourse around Texas, as you mentioned earlier in the show, fights over
things like, well, do we need any wind farms, do we need any clean energy,
there’s a lot of really important conversations to be had about the need to
make our infrastructure in this country more resilient. And I just worry
that we’ve spent more time worrying about Ted Cruz trying to get a
margarita than what I think is the most important thing, which is making
sure that our country can be more resilient against all kinds of threats,
including more extreme weather.
WALLACE: All right, let’s turn to New York Governor — Democratic Governor
Andrew Cuomo, who’s in much more serious problem for his handling of — of
COVID deaths inside nursing homes.
Mo, the FBI is investigating and it looks like the Democratic-controlled
legislature will vote this week to strip Cuomo of his emergency powers to
handle the pandemic.
Here was the governor this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I was not aggressive enough in knocking down the
falsity. We were busy. We were doing our job. We were trying to save lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Mo, can Andrew Cuomo tough this one out?
MO ELLEITHEE, GEORGETOWN INSTITUTE OF POLITICS AND PUBLIC SERVICE, FORMER
DNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR AND FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, Andrew
Cuomo has shown his ability to be pretty resilient in New York politics.
But this is — this is a pretty serious moment for him. And I think he’s
got to recalibrate a little bit how — how he deals with things moving
You know, there’s two underlying issues here. There’s the policy of how he
handled the nursing homes in the early days of the pandemic, and then
there’s the — the reporting of the data. I think the second one is what’s
really catching up with him right now.
Now, I do think — I agree with the governor that there is a lot of bad
information that’s out there about what was reported and what wasn’t. But,
at the end of the day, I do think, and he even admitted, they did not do a
good job of reporting the data. They did not do a good job of reporting the
number of deaths. They made some unfortunate comments about that and people
are freaked out. People in New York are freaked out. Too many people died.
And I don’t know how he’s going to turn the corner on this when there does
seem to be a tremendous amount of bipartisan anger towards him right now.
WALLACE: Josh, I just want to finish this up — this segment, with you.
You know, it isn’t just the reporting and it isn’t just the communication.
There was also the original decision to say that people who were sick,
elderly people who were sick and — at a time when there was concern
hospitals were overwhelmed, should go back to nursing homes. And that,
obviously, seems to have been a bad decision and everything else flowed
But to go to Mo’s point, this is bipartisan. The most damning report so far
has come from the Democratic attorney general of New York and you’re
getting an awful lot of criticism from Democratic members of the state
legislature who are now calling for stripping Governor Cuomo of his
HOLMES: Yes, no, that’s absolutely right. And hats off to the
bipartisanship in that regard.
I think the — the most disappointing part about an awful lot of this is
these decisions were made at the outset, right? The nursing home decisions
that ultimately cost thousands of lives potentially were made at the outset
and available and everyone knew about it for months and months and months
and yet everybody was sort of obsessive with his daily press conferences,
the jokes, the candor, his daughters, all of that, and now it’s all
beginning to catch up to him.
I think in some ways he’s going to begin to get a worse political situation
because of the levity that he had during the crisis itself. I’m not sure
that Andrew Cuomo is going to survive this one.
WALLACE: Survive meaning that he will have to resign and not serve his full
HOLMES: Yes. Politically speaking, this is extremely damaging. Now, whether
he can hold out, we’ll see. But they’re already talking about taking away
his emergency powers in regards to COVID and — and basically rendering him
impotent as governor of New York, which, you know, of course is an amazing
thing to consider when you consider his — his — where he was three months
Politics is a tough business. I’m glad we’re all in TV news. It’s a — it’s
a cakewalk by comparison.
Panel, we have to take a break here, but up next, the Trump-McConnell feud
and the growing divide inside the GOP.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): There’s no question done (ph) that President
Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: That was Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on the day
Donald Trump was acquitted by the Senate.
But the former president wasted no time firing back with this statement.
Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican
senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again.
And we’re back now with the panel.
Kristen, where is the Republican Party right now? How much sway does former
President Trump still have with Republican voters and thus with Republican
ANDERSON: Right now this is a party that is very divided. About half of the
party is with Donald Trump. They want him to run for president again, they
would choose him in a primary and think of themselves more as Trump
supporter’s then as Republicans first.
But then there’s the other half of the party. They’re interested in looking
at folks from Ted Cruz to Ron DeSantis down in Florida, to Nikki Haley,
even Mike Pence. And they’re interested in seeing the party do what’s next.
I think until a leader really emerges that can both satisfy the desires of
Trump voters to have someone whose going to be a fighter for them with a
populist agenda, but who can also be someone to speak to those more
disaffected Republicans who is different than Donald Trump in that way,
until you have a leader that can unify the party, I think things are going
to be pretty tough for the GOP.
WALLACE: Josh, your former boss, Mitch McConnell, set off quite a battle
with Donald Trump this week. Is McConnell going to wrestle Donald Trump for
control of the party? And what happens if Trump, and he says he’s going to
do this, starts putting up his own candidates to take on Republican
incumbents in GOP primaries in 2022?
HOLMES: Well, look, Chris, this isn’t a binary choice between Trump and
something else. I mean basically the disagreement here is about the former
president not appreciating the fact that Senator McConnell spoke out and
spoke the truth about January 6th. That’s it. It’s nothing to do with
policy, it has nothing to do with candidates, it has nothing to do with
anything beyond that.
You know, I noticed that letter that you read, the statement or whatever
you call it, you know, is pretty rife with inaccuracies. But the — the —
the most glaring to me was that somehow the former president was teaching
Senator McConnell how to win. I mean this is somebody who I think even his
critics regard as the most significant Senate leader since LBJ. He’s won
re-election seven times and eight times as — as leader of his conference.
So he’s leading the party.
The party is actually in a pretty strong place. President Trump and his
supporters have a massive, massive part of that going forward. But we’re
talking about a very even divided Congress. Not anything like where they
found themselves ten years ago when they were out of power and at the — at
the brink of irrelevance.
WALLACE: Mo, are Democrats just sitting back and enjoying the fight inside
ELLEITHEE: Yes. I mean, look, it is not — this is not the heyday of the
Look, I think there’s something that Senator Lindsey Graham said the other
day that I — that I thought was really telling, where he said something to
the effect of, Donald Trump was — was really good for conservative ideals.
I don’t think we can get done what we want to get done. I don’t think we
can accomplish our goals without him.
And I think that speaks to a real danger within the Republican Party that
if this whole party gets wrapped around him, gets wrapped around any
singular person, that’s a problem for them. It’s not about the ideals, it’s
not about the ideology, it’s about the singular person.
So I think what Kristen said a few minutes ago was really important.
Someone else needs to step up, or multiple people need to step up and start
to try to make the — what the conservative argument to Republicans that —
that appreciated some of Trump’s populism but also believe in that — in
that center-right ideology that’s defined the party for so long. Someone
else needs to make that compelling case because right now it feels like too
many Republican leaders are just kind of falling into that Lindsey Graham
space of, we just got to wrap her hopes around this one guy and — and
cater to him and his supporters or else we’re done.
WALLACE: All right.
Then there’s President Biden, who emerged on the virtual world stage this
week with this declaration.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America is back. The
Transatlantic Alliance is back. And we are not looking backward. We are
looking forward together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Kristen, the president talked about re-engaging with our allies,
he talked about confronting China especially, but also Russia, and he
talked about re-engaging with Iran on the nuclear deal.
How effective do you think as policy and how effective as politics?
ANDERSON: Well, politics is — is an easier thing to answer because for
many voters they’re much more focused at this point on domestic concerns,
things like the economy and the handling of COVID-19.
But in terms of the policy itself, I think, you know, tackling the threat
of China has to be the major focus of this administration. And being able
to demonstrate that they’re willing to be — to be tough. That’s a big
thing that former President Trump did that sort of rallied his supporters
and was in some ways a very correct diagnosis of the way that our politics
internationally have been shifting as China has emerged stronger and
stronger, posing a greater and greater threat. So it will — it will be
important to see what kinds of actions this administration tries to put
behind talking tough about China. But that’s certainly a good direction if
it’s really where they go.
WALLACE: Josh, 30 seconds, do you see any Republican buy-in to the Biden
HOLMES: It — it feels exactly the same as the Obama foreign policy, Chris.
And — and the thing is, you’re already seeing the repercussions of some of
that. You saw Iran now discussing ejecting some of — some of the
monitoring of nuclear sites, it beginning to sort of try to push the
buttons of the Biden administration again to see how far that they can go.
Look, politically-speaking, this is not very popular and I think from a
policy standpoint it’s even worse.
WALLACE: All right, thank you, panel, see you next Sunday.
And we’ll be right back with a final word.
WALLACE: Before we go, we want to tell you about this program note.
Be sure to tune in to Fox News Channel tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern for an
interesting special, “Rush Limbaugh: His Words.” It’s an up-close look at
his life and his impact on America.
And that’s it for today. Have a great week and we’ll see you next FOX NEWS
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