tv New Day With John Berman and Brianna Keilar CNN July 9, 2021 5:00am-6:00am PDT
difficult. can democrats stave them off? george conway joins us in a moment. spectators banned from the tokyo games. how disappointing is it for athletes who trained so hard for a shot at glory? olympic medallist ryan lochte joins us live. >> and can you spell history? the first-ever african-american winner of the national spelling bee joins us live. ♪ ♪ good morning to viewers here in the united states and around the world. it is friday, july 9th. tgi friday to you, and there is a cluster of confusion this morning after pfizer says booster shots may be beneficial because there are signs that immunity from its two-dose vaccines is waning over time. but both the cdc and the fda are
saying, hold on, there is no need for a booster shot right now. >> the agency saying the hyper transmissible delta variant is a growing threat, but only to those or mostly to those who are not vaccinated. it is driving cases up in nearly half the country. the states you see there in red or the cases arising the fastest, and they are the same states largely where vaccination rates are the lowest. joining me now, dr. jerome adams, former surgeon general in the trump administration. thank you so much for being with us this morning. so, pfizer and biogeneral, they are applying for -- biontech are applying for emergency use authorization for a booster shot. they say this may be beneficial to americans right now because of waning immunity. that is something i frankly haven't seen before. the cdc and fda saying, wait a minute, americans don't need this now. what is yours reaction to this back and forth? >> well, my first reaction is it is troubling there is such a lack of coordination on
communication between the companies and the federal government. but here's what people need to know. the companies are thinking about where the hockey puck is going to borrow a wayne gretzky analogy. we know immunity does tend to wane over time as we go into winter. we want to make sure we are in the best possible position to protect people in nursing homes. they were the first vaccinated and first at risk for waning immunity in a delta variant. where as the government, fda and cdc, are looking at where the hockey puck is right now. they want to assure americans your best protection still is a vaccine. and you still have great protection, better than for the flu shot in any given year even in the face of variants and waning immunity. >> are you concerned people may look at this and get confused? >> i am absolutely concerned about the confusion. again, i hope they can get on the same page. one of the things we did last year, dr. fauci, dr. collins, myself, we met with the companies weekly to make sure we understood what they were saying
and we could coordinate messaging because this whiplash really is troubling to the american people. but understand, vaccinations are your best bet right now. they're still incredibly effective. and if we have to get a booster, we just have to get a booster. we do that for the flu every single year, so people shouldn't get too worked up about that. >> right. but as of right now, you don't think americans need to run out and get a third shot? >> not at all, not at all. again, the protection even in the face of delta variant and waning immunity is 70%. flu shot is 40 to 60%. we're still way better than the flu shot in any given year. you're still protected. what i'm worried about quite frankly is the pockets that are under vaccinated. i'm worried the fda quite frankly hasn't yet given us an update on full approval of the vaccines which we know is causing hesitancy in many people and which also is causing companies and businesses and schools to delay their decisions about vaccine mandates. >> how concerned are you about the impact of the delta variant?
we're seeing cases, hospitalizations rising in certain places. l.a. county, missouri, other places. what are your concerns there? >> well, i'm very concerned, but i'm concerned because the delta variant is covid's new offense, and our defense is vaccinations, testing and masking. and we're not where we want to be on any of those measures. we really need to continue to improve our ground game on vaccinations. i do want to applaud the biden administration for the announcement this week about increased efforts at the community level. we really need to make sure we're funding and empowering efforts at the community level and work sites, school-based vaccination clinics, and again, putting mobile vaccine sites in communities so people can avail themselves of these great vaccines which are our best protection. otherwise we're going to be forced to rely on masking, on shutdowns. when you look at the uk, when you look at other places that are being overwhelmed. >> i'm glad you brought up the community efforts. one of the things the biden administration announced is
sending people door to door to educate people on vaccinations, not compel, not force, but to educate people on vaccinations. the reaction to it has been extraordinary and dishonest. you had marjorie taylor greene calling it people in brown shirts which is absurd. governor mike parsons in missouri which has seen a rise in hospitalizations. he went nuts. i'm directing the health department to let the federal government know that sending agents door to door to compel vaccinations will not be a welcome strategy in missouri. what's going on? >> john, you and i talked about this frequently. and one of the things that i lament is just how politicized this conversation has become. your viewers need to know the authority lies at the state and local level for public health. and that's where these decisions should be made. and there's always been a distrust of government, particularly federal government in certain parts of the country. people are concerned when they hear or think that the federal
government is going to be knocking on their doors. that is not the case. what we want are for local community groups, institutions that people trust to be able to help engage, empower, answer questions. it's okay to have questions. i've long said it's not okay to let misinformation lead you to make a bad decision for your health. we want to give you answers to your questions, access to these life-saving vaccines. >> i want to ask you one question about senator rand paul who said he's going to submit legislation to force airlines to stop having a mask requirement when people fly. he says, when the senate returns in session, i will be introducing an immediate repeal of the mask mandate on airplanes. enough. time to stop this farce and let people travel in peace. again, delta variant working its way through a lot of unvaccinated people. your thoughts. >> john, i'm wearing my periodic table shirt and science forever pen. what i would say to anyone in
congress, i hope you let science lead the way. we know we're fighting against a new emerging delta variant wreaking havoc on the globe. we know our defense is vaccinations, masking and other mitigation efforts. and i hope that we don't run away from these defensive protective measures if we see cases continuing to go up. so i hope we let science lead the way. >> by the way, people should know that everything matches with the periodic table shirt, really. it's very useful. dr. jerome adams, thanks so much for being with us. >> thank you, john. republican lawmakers in texas now launching a second effort to pass sweeping voting restrictions at a special session called by the governor. texas democrats blocked republicans' first attempt in may by staging that dramatic walkout. the republicans there did concede two of the most controversial provisions, limits to early sunday voting hours and language that would make it easier for courts to overturn election results. measures that make casting mail-in ballots harder, banning drive-thru voting centers and
partisan poll watchers all still in the proposal they're talking about in this special session. joining us now, attorney and contributing columnist at the washington post, george conway. >> hi. >> nice to see you here. >> thanks. >> what's going on in texas? inevitable governor abbott would call this special session to push this through. the courts in georgia and other places have said, we're not going to touch this right now. i mean, will we see this march through the country? >> i think that's what we are seeing. we are seeing that lots of states are doing this. it's unclear to me, at least, to what extent this will have a negative effect on voting. some of them -- some of the provisions are bad. some of the provisions are so-so. the things that concern me, though, are the provisions that try to restrict or put limitations or change how votes are counted and how votes are tabulated, and the rules about challenging the results. because that's -- that to me is where the rubber meets the road.
i think at the end of the day, people who want to vote are going to vote. but the provisions that are designed to overturn potentially have partisan officials overturning results are the ones most disturbing to me. and it's hard to gauge because you have to know the exact structure of each state's voting rules and election commissions. but it just strikes me that none of that can be good. >> george, i wanted to get your take on a fascinating vignette from a new book out by michael bender at the wall street journal. it talks about this encounter between then president trump and then vice president mike pence, and it says this was actually something that happened after pence's political committee had hired corey lewandowski who was the president's adviser. he writes this. he, menning trump, crumpled the article and threw it at his vice president. so disloyal, mr. trump said. mr. pence lost it. mr. pence picked up the art company and threw it back at mr. trump.
he leaned forward toward the president and pointed a finger a few inches from his chest. "we walk you through every detail of this," mr. pence snarled. with he did this for you as a favor and this is how you respond. you need to get your facts straight. i just wonder what you think about this because obviously this challenges the very public face that pence put on where he was so complimentary and so differential to trump. >> well, i think the moral of the story is you can only take so much, even mike pence. i can only say, though, that i wish that we had seen a little more of that mike pence publicly and not heard it after everything was over when people are trying to rehabilitate their reputations. i mean, the fact of the matter is there should have been more pushback on the president and more pushback publicly on the president when president trump -- when he did outrageous things. i just wish we had seen more of
that from mike pence. >> the book also suggests that after the election, the former president wanted to replace bill barr as attorney general with john ratcliffe. what do you think of that? >> what i find most interesting about that is radcliffe had the smarts not to take the job. you know, again, it just shows you that you can only -- you can never please the man. bill barr did so much to humor donald trump, and yet it wasn't enough. i mean, it wasn't enough, because as described in i think jonathan karl's excerpt which covers some of the same material, it wasn't enough for trump because trump -- barr didn't, at the end of the day, engage in litigation on behalf of the fake election fraud claims. he didn't indict hunter biden. he didn't issue the durham report. he didn't indict jim comey. nothing was ever enough for donald trump. and the reason why it got so out
of hand was, you know, people didn't push back at the interim steps. they acceded to some of his desires and wishes in certain ways, and barr was the biggest -- one of the biggest people humoring trump. and it just gets worse and worse and worse. and that's what happened. that's why i said just a moment ago, i wish mike pence had pushed back a little more. but then again, you know, he wouldn't be renominated in 2020, and that's the risk he was pushing. and with barr, he runs the risk of being fired. that was sort of the moral of the story in a lot of ways about the trump administration, is that people were more concerned about their jobs than about principle and about pushing back on the president, about doing the right thing. and that's one of the reasons why we are where we are today. >> so, i wonder what you think about mike pompeo's portrayal here. he certainly would fit into the category. this book reveals he warned colleagues, quote, the crazies have taken over as trump's fraud
conspiracy theories were growing after the election. >> that's really nice that he thought that and he said that privately. why didn't he go -- come here, go onto fox and say that? why? and we're all hearing it now. oh, the crazies were there. there was nobody there to push back. it's terrible. look, it's rudy giuliani's fault. well, you could have said something at the time, all these folks. and they didn't. and that's the most outrageous thing about it. they knew better. we're just going to say privately, he lost the election. shhh. they didn't do it publicly. they needed to do it publicly. at least i could give barr some credit and mcconnell who put barr up to it, give him some credit for saying we didn't see enough fraud. but that was basically the extent of it. everybody else just kept their mouth shut. oh, it will just run its course. he'll -- sooner or later he'll
accept the results. no, he won't. that's not who he is. >> do you think we'll ever get answers, george, here? i imagine it will take years, but do you think we will ever get answers from people who are in these positions to do this and will reflect on this years from now in a historical way and answer that question? why didn't you stand up? >> i'd like to hear that. i really would. i'd like to hear that because a lot of people knew better. look, it's lingering. it's the same thing connected to where we are today. >> it's the same connection to republicans in office who were afraid of losing their jobs. >> right. it goes to the same reason why you see just minor pushback against marjorie taylor greene as it was reported last hour. oh, could you do this little show on tv just to make up for it? they don't punish her for saying outrageous things. yet, on the other hand, you've got liz cheney, who loses her
leadership position because she simply told the truth. it's the same thing. nobody -- people are not willing to basically tell, not just trump, but the republican base generally that here's the truth, and we have to accept that truth. and we have to accept the truth that donald trump lost, we have to -- and here are the reasons why. and, you know, it's not -- it's not brown shirt tactics to make people or to urge people to take the vaccine. donald trump brags about having created -- doesn't even make any sense. and yet there's not that pushback. there is not that leadership because people are more concerned about their individual political careers. mccarthy becoming speaker -- than they are about doing the right thing for their own constituents, and for their own party. and it's just -- it's self-destructive. it's the reason why they lost the presidency and the house and the senate, and it's not going
to get them anywhere good in the future. >> it's not going to change any time soon, that is clear. george, if you could stick around for us for just a moment. coming up, what could be the real reason for former president trump suing facebook, twitter and youtube? plus, did trump and his allies try to meddle with the 2020 election in arizona? a 12-time olympian tells us what he thinks the summer games will be like without fans. usaa is made for the safe pilots. like mac. who can come to a stop with barely a bobble. with usaa safepilot, when you drive safe... ...you can save up to 30% on your auto insurance. usaa. what you're made of, we're made for. get a quote today. your cloud... it isn't just a cloud. it's everything flowing through it. and it's more distributed than ever. one company takes you inside. giving you visibility and insight...to take action. one company... securely connects it all...
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this week former president trump announced he is suing facebook, twitter and youtube for suspending him from their platforms. it is clearly a fund-raising ploy because they sent out fund-raising messages the minute the lawsuit was filed. most legal experts say this is questionable as well. now trump is defending the legal action in a new op-ed in the washington journal. one of the greatest threats to our democracy is powerful companies that have teamed up to censor the free speech of the american people. this is not only wrong but unconstitutional. george conway is back with us. george, you said this lawsuit is as stupid as you think it is. what do you mean by that? >> it is every bit, when you actually read the complaint, it is every bit as illogical and irrational as you would think it would be, because the essential thrust of the claim is that the social media companies are
violating the first amendment by deplatforming trump. and the first amendment doesn't apply to these social media companies. in other words, you don't have a right against these companies the way you have the right against the government not to have them cut you off. and, for example, i mean here, cnn, if i say something that somebody doesn't like and they say, he's a terrible guest, it's cnn's first amendment right to take me off the air because cnn is not the government. if the government said, no, you can't have conway on the air, that would violate the first amendment. and there is a doctrine that distinguishes between public actors and private actors called the state action doctrine, and it's a very important doctrine, particularly with regard to the first amendment. and it says that the only way that a private actor can be treated like the governmental actor is that if they are performing an exclusive and traditional government function. if the action by the private
entity is coerced or if they're acting in cahoots jointly with the government. none of that happened here. and the allegations are essentially particularly ridiculous because in claiming that twitter and facebook were acting as the government on january 6 or january 7, whenever it was when trump was deplatformed, acting as the united states government and coerced by the united states government and acting jointly with the united states government, guess who was president of the united states? donald trump. the story makes no sense in any number of levels. it's not going to be -- it's not going to last very long in court. the defendant should make a motion to dismiss, maybe even a motion for monetary sanctions for having to defend such a frivolous lawsuit, and it will get this message very quickly. >> constitutionally, we all have the freedom to say what we want to say, but you don't have that freedom actually right now if you are in -- i mean, in politics in general, but especially in the republican party, we're seeing that when you look at this ohio senate
race, candidate j.d. vance has apologized, george, because he criticized trump as reprehensible in tweets that he has now deleted. what do you think about this? >> i think it's absurd. he deserved credit for -- he did more than i did. i actually supported trump. he didn't because he saw bad things in trump. and i don't know how after watching trump, even after one, or one and a half or two years you could conclude that, oh, he was better than i thought he would be. he was worse than everybody thought he would be. he was worse than j.d. vance thought he was going to be and this is all about political ambition. because today the litmus test for being a republican is not whether you're for less regulation. it's not for whether you're for a free market economy. it's not whether you're for the constitution and so on. it's about whether you are fealty to donald trump. and that's just an ongoing
problem with the republican party, and it's getting -- it seems to be getting worse, notwithstanding the fact that he has been removed from office and he's been deplatt formed. it's just getting worse. and i think, you know, on the edges of the republican party it's going to cause republicans to bleed more support and lose more elections like they did in georgia where there are people convinced their votes didn't matter because the president was saying that the elections were fraudulent. and it's just going to get worse for the republicans and it's a downward spiral. it's very sad. >> it's a test, but there's certainly only one answer there. george, it's great to have you with us this morning. george conway, thank you. >> thanks for having me. cnn sitting down with first lady dr. jill biden about her efforts to boost the country's vaccination rates and whether she's still planning to go to the tokyo olympics. plus, the first black american to win the national spelling bee. wait until you see what else she can do. she joins us live.
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new this morning, arizona secretary of state katy hobbs wants the state attorney general to investigate whether allies of former president trump violated state laws by conducting a pressure campaign against county officials in the wake of the 2020 election. this is happening as we learn that the arizona senate is planning to recount every single one of the nearly 2.1 million votes cast in maricopa county, the most populous county in arizona in last fall's election. let's talk about this now with the former attorney general of arizona, grant woods. he is also the former chief of staff to the late senator john mccain. grant, thanks for coming on this morning. first i just want to get your reaction to this investigation that secretary hobbs is seeking into trump and his allies. >> i think it's a great idea. i mean, if i was attorney general, i would investigate it. so we'll see what happens here. i've been calling for the justice department to step in here for a long time.
i think they need to step into this ridiculous fraud-it that's been going on for months and months and months. now we see that much like in georgia, we had the president trying to call in and influence folks. we had rudy giuliani trying to influence elected officials here as to how they did their job. and we had the chairman of the republican party in arizona. now, her we have on tape, and she's saying, you need to stop the count. you need to stop counting votes right now. you know, that needs to be investigated, and that could be a potential crime for sure. >> arizona senate is conducting its own recount of the total number of maricopa county ballots cast in last fall's election. so, this is something that just keeps happening and happening, even after this fraud-it that the senate had already pushed. do you worry about the security of future elections in arizona?
>> well, i worry here like in other places around the country, when we have republican legislatures trying to change the rules so that maybe they could have jurisdiction and they could step in and subvert the will of the people, that's the problem going forward. that's why the congress needs and the senate in particular needs to pass serious voter protection here to overcome that, because clearly what's going on in arizona shows that anything can happen. i mean, the chimp over at the phoenix zoo counts faster than these people. they've been going on four or five months. the ballots are 100% insecure, they traveled somehow to a cabin in montana now they're going to come back and try to count them all again. brianna, one of the reasons they're count being them is they have no idea how many they have
apparently. when i was a.g., i did get a supervisor recount once because the secretary of state was involved in the election. he was on the ballot. and, boy, you do these things in meticulous fashion. you follow all the rules. you make sure that every t is crossed and i is dotted. these people have no clue what they're doing. this is not serious. it's a political stunt, and we'll see the results of it, what they're going to say is, you know, that there was some sort of miscount or whatever and trump and the rest will run with that. so it's part of the big lie just continues on. >> yeah, it is a zoo. it's a circus, right, as we're watching this. i want to talk to you about quite the interview that you had recently about your former boss and friend the late john mccain, and how he felt about former president trump. you said he called it as he saw it, and he thought trump was an
idiot. what else did the late senator privately -- i think we sort of got an impression, right? it's not as if he completely, you know, kept those cards close to his vest. but tell us about what he thought about him. >> yeah, yeah, i don't know that it's really -- i know you guys love breaking news, i don't know it's breaking news john mccain thought trump was an act hole, but he did. the interesting thing to me was, like many, i would be outraged daily by trump's antics and the things that he did as a candidate, and then as president. mccain was interesting. john kind of took it all in stride. he really spent very little time thinking about trump, talking about trump, or worrying about trump. i mean, john mccain was at a certain point in his life with what he had done with his
military career, with his governmental career, and he looked at trump as an aberration and someone who was not a serious person. someone who we had to deal with because ultimately he was elected. and i think when he started taking him more and more seriously is when he saw the demagoguery get out of control, when he saw the autocratic tendencies come to the surface. and, of course, when we saw him early on knocking the p.o.w.s and challenging them, and then ultimately a great disrespect to the military, that cut to the heart of john mccain and his life. and i did mention there i talked to john three times on the day that trump said, mccain is not a hero because he was shot down, and p.o.w.s then weren't heroes.
i will tell you, it did not bother him in the least. he just like, okay, whatever. this guy -- until he started talking to and thinking about his fellow p.o.w.s. and when he thought about them, it's one thing for john mccain to be able to brush this aside, but these are people now who they were up in years, and you were going right at their identity. they were heroes. they are heroes. and they had never heard anyone, anyone anywhere say they weren't heroes until this. now all of a sudden when you're 80 years old you have to defend your actions when you were serving your country? in john's case, 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war. you know, it was a clue to the character of the man. but again, mccain, he shook it off. it didn't really bother him, except as to how it affected others. >> it reflects how he served as well when he was a p.o.w.,
relating to himself and relating to those around him as well. grant, thank you so much for being with us. former arizona attorney general. we appreciate it. >> thanks, brianna. no fans in the stands at the summer games. how big of a letdown is that for athletes who have trained a lifetime for olympic glory? gold medallist ryan lochte will join us next. another champion joins us. the national spelling bee winner. wait until you hear about everything that she can do. [ applause ] (struggling vehicle sounds) think premium can't be capable? think again. ♪ (energetic music) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ introducing the first ever at4 lineup. premium and capable.
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the official kickoff to the summer olympics in tokyo exactly two weeks from today, but in most venues, there won't be a single spectator in the stands to cheer on the athletes. tokyo is entering its fourth state of emergency as coronavirus cases rapidly rise there. and just 15% of the country is fully vaccinated. joining me now is 12-time olympic medallist, the second most decorated male olympian ever, ryan lochte.
thank you so much for joining us this morning. and i know this is the first olympics in a long time you're not going to. what's it going to be like? what's it going to be like for the athletes there to compete with no fans? >> you know, it's definitely going to be different. that's for sure. you know, all the -- all my races i've ever swam, all the world records that i've had, i've had the crowd. i had the fans, like the atmosphere, the crowd roaring, and that gives you like a boost. so it's definitely going to be interesting to see what happens with the athletes, but i mean, the olympics are still going on and the most important thing is everyone is being safe. >> how concerned are you and your fellow athletes about coronavirus heading into these games?
>> i mean, i'm always going to be concerned of my fellow athletes. i mean, i love them. they are like a family to me. but i know that united states swimming and, you know, everyone across the world, they're all making sure, like, they're being safe and taking the right precautions, so i know that they're in good hands. >> how many, because you were just racing with them at the nationals. how many of your fellow swimmers were vaccinated? are you vaccinated? >> that's a personal question, but i know that there's a bunch of athletes that were vaccinated. and i know there's a bunch that aren't. so, i mean, i guess it's a personal preference. >> for the unvaccinated athletes, do you think there is greater risk for them? >> i mean, they could be, yes,
but i know that the united states swimming association, they're taking great precautions, so i know that they're quarantining certain athletes for a couple days, especially now that they're out in hawaii for their training camp. so they're making sure everyone's safe. >> so, sha'carri richardson who may be the fastest american woman now with the 100 meter, she won't be going to the olympic games because of marijuana use before the national trials. do you think that's fair? >> you know, every athlete, especially when you get to the olympic trial stage or the olympics, we all have rules, you know. we saw the united states anti-doping agency, wada, the world antidoping agency, we all have rules and we have to obey by them. i know that what she took was
not an enhancement drug, and i know personally because the same kind of the same situation happened with me taking something that was not an enhancement drug, but getting banned for it, or suspended. but, i mean, rules are rules. i just hope that, you know, the rules are -- start changing as like times are changing. and hopefully in the next olympics, this won't happen. >> ryan lochte, as we said, we thank you for being with us this morning. i know you wish you were going. i knew you wish you were competing, but you'll be watching along with the rest of us, cheering everyone and who knows, maybe four years from now you'll be back. >> yeah, i hope so. >> thanks so much. does first lady jill biden still plan to go to tokyo for the games? that and more from a new cnn
interview next. and the first african-american to win the national spelling bee. it turns out it is not her first time in the spotlight. and she'll be here. there's a world where every one of us is connected. everyone. everywhere. where everyone is included. where everyone has access to information, education, opportunity. ♪ ♪ ♪ when everyone and everything is connected. that's really beautiful. anything is possible. good morning. cisco. the bridge to possible.
that's why we'll stop at nothing to deliver our technology as-a-service. ♪ 14-year-old zaila avant-garde of new orleans is the scripps spelling bee winner, beating out 200 other contestants. watch how the moment unfolded. >> the word is murraya. it's a genus of australian trees having leaves and flowers with in vercana pet always. murray a.
>> is that -- >> i don't see that here. >> bill murray made the spelling bee. >> murraya. m -- wait. what is the name of georgia? >> it's formed in latin from a swedish name. >> murraya. m-u-r-r-a-y-a. >> that is correct. [ cheers and applause ] >> all right. i love the spin after victory. i love the bill murray reference. joining us now is the national spelling bee winner, zaila avant-garde. congratulations. that was phenomenal. and i have to say, did you only start this whole spelling bee thing a couple years ago?
zaila, can you keep on trying to speak? all right, we're having problems with the audio here. we're going to fix it. you know what, can we talk while women get the microphone fix? she will probably be able to fix the microphone. there is almost nothing on earth she can't do. >> i know. >> in addition to being a world champion speller, she holds several guinness world records in basketball like dribbling. do we have video we can show people? ♪ ♪ >> she is so amazing and funny, too. we're going to take a quick break. stick around. you want to hear from zaila avant-garde. we'll be back in a moment.
we're back now with zaila avant-garde who is the scripps national spelling bee champion. zaila, we are so excited to have you on this morning for what was just a joyous win of yours yesterday. tell us a little bit about how it felt. >> first, can you hear me? >> yes, we can hear you. can you hear us? >> yes. okay. so, it felt really good to win because i have been working on it for like two years. so to actually win the whole thing was like a dream come true. and i don't know, i felt like in
the moment i snapped a severe dream, i had been walking and like the whole time i had been there in orlando. i felt like i'm kind of back in it now. >> i say you've been working on it two years. when you say that to me, it sounds like only two years. you just started the spelling competition two years ago. that's not very long to now be the best speller on earth. >> yeah, some people work way longer than that. one of the people had been working ten hours a day since they were 5. so it's not that long really in spelling bee terms. so the fact that i won after two years is really impressive in that case. >> it is exemplary. i wonder, so we heard that word, i had never heard that word in my life murraya, a tree or leaves. you knew clearly from the beginning what it was. was that the hardest word you had to spell? if not, what was the toughest
word in the competition for you? >> yeah, i knew murraya because i kind of implied -- i always connected it with bill murray. the hardest wordy spelled in the competition was nepita. which is a wordy always get wrong. i know what it is. i knew the definition, it was a genus of mints. a lot of spellers get the words, you know it, you know all about it, but you don't really know how to spell it. and so it was really bad if i hadn't got that one. i would have been kicking myself because i knew everything about the word except exactly how to spell it. >> i never experienced anything like what you just described. with any of those words which i had never heard before in my entire life. and don't expect to ever again after this discussion. zaila, i guess my question to you, is there anything that you're not good at? and i ask that because we've seen videos of you playing
basketball and you own, you know, guinness world records for your dribbling, which is incredible, too, which i also can't do. and i can't do that. you know, are you good at just everything? >> well, just about anything i do i'm good at. >> that's what i figured, right? i figured that was the case. what's your favorite thing to do? >> my favorite thing is i guess since spelling is over, now my favorite thing to do is, um, yeah, i guess play basketball and especially the juggling stuff. i guess that's my new favorite thing to do now. i'll find something else to do. trust me. >> i have no doubt that that is the case. what are your plans here for the future, zaila? we want to know where you're going to end up, where you want to end up. >> um, i have a variety of
things i'm interested in. i'm definitely interested in playing basketball at harvard, and maybe then there are options, i'm thinking nba basketball coach, working for nasa or going into some tree diseases and stuff to help with neuroscience, or finally, ever since i learned a little bit about it, i like nobel prizes for gene editing. i've been looking into that, too. >> i'm going with option e, all of the above. >> zaila, it's amazing to hear you say all of those things, and i will tell you, it's not often that you hear a 14-year-old say that, and that you think she's going to be able to do all of this. what a beautiful win that you brought us. thank you so much for bringing us joy along with the joy you brought yourself with that win. zaila avant-garde, thanks. >> you're welcome.
first lady jill biden has been at the forefront of the push to vaccinate americans. she spoke with cnn about that effort and the challenge that vaccine hesitancy poses. and cnn's kate bennett is with us. what did she say, kate? wasn't she amazing or what? >> she's great. actually, jill biden was there last night at the spelling bee. >> wonderful. >> this is just part of what the first lady is doing. she's continuing, even though it's past july 4th, past the deadline, she's going to the states in the south predominantly. vaccine hesitancy has really hit a wall. she's trying to tell people it's still important to get vaccinated. these are places where people are not necessarily showing unto get vaccine. she's pushing through, she's going to continue this fight. she told me yesterday that she's more worried about the people. hey, it's not going to happen to me and then it happens and it's too late. clearly for the first lady, even more so than the president's travel, she is keeping up the schedule of going around the country saying, don't give up,
people, we still have to get vaccinated. don't have malaise, don't get vaccine fatigue. do it. >> sounds like she's going places that's not biden country. and you know the vaccine has become politicized. does she have any idea about how to combat that? >> it's part of the reason that she's going. dr. fauci has been sort of polarized politically. the president is busy. these are red states. they're not lines. i travel with her. there are not lines around the block. there's no one out there cheering her on. she's definitely not in biden turf, per se, all the time. but clearly this is a mission that the white house is asking her to do. she told me yesterday, i'm going to keep doing it as long as they ask me and they're asking her to go to the to specifically states like yesterday was georgia, tennessee, mississippi, texas, places where the hesitancy is overwhelming. and as the delta variant spreads, they really still have a job to do. and this could be a challenge for her, but they think her message, her messaging is the most effective of anyone in the white house to try and get it
out. >> such important work. final note here, kate bennett and john berman, i think we do have to go back to that amazing appearance by zaila avant-garde. >> spectacular. >> was she something or what, john berman? >> i think she's fantastic and the fact she wants to do all those things and as you say, i have every confidence frankly that she will. >> harvard basketball. i bet she'll do it, too. kate bennett, thank you so much. >> thank you. >> cnn's coverage continues right now. ♪ very good friday morning to you. i'm jim sciutto. poppy has the week off. a big question this morning, will we need covid booster shots as new dangerous strains of the virus, including the highly contagious delta variant, spread around the country? much like annual flu shots, just hours after drug maker pfizer announced that a third dose of its vaccine could greatly increase protection against the virus and it will seek