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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Moments Ago: Biden Meets With Dem Govs At WH As Support Among Top Dems Erodes; "It's Over," One Dem Lawmaker Tells CNN; Senior Biden Admin. Official Calls Erosion Of Dem Support "Waves Crashing Into The Shore"; NY Times: Netflix Co-Founder Becomes One Of The Biggest Democratic Donors To Call For Biden To Step Aside; White House Says Biden Absolutely Not Considering Stepping Down; Post-Debate Poll Finds No Clear Leader Between Trump And Biden In Battleground States; Boeing Whistleblower Claims That The Company Knowingly Used Defective Parts In Its Planes; Category 4 Hurricane Beryl Slams Jamaica. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired July 03, 2024 - 20:00   ET



SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: But that essentially the blame for all of this, they say, can't fall solely on her back here. They say, quote, "It's unfair to put the future of the Democratic Party on a spouse," this source tells me. Certainly significant also today, Erica, that she was out on the campaign trail opening a - campaign office in Michigan, and she said Joe Biden will be the nominee.

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Sunlen, appreciate the reporting as always. Thank you.

Thanks to all of you for joining us tonight. I'm Erica Hill. Stay tuned, AC360 starts right now.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, Democratic governors just left a meeting with the President at the White House and now voice their support for him and his fitness for office, even as new CNN reporting from the highest levels of the administration indicates that serious doubt among some is setting in about his candidacy.

Also tonight in our ongoing series, the 53 percent, how President Biden's debate performance affected undecided women in the swing state of Georgia.

Plus, a whistleblower's new allegation that Boeing put parts painted red, that means bad, onto planes that it then delivered to airlines.

Good evening, Jim Sciutto here sitting in for Anderson tonight.

Democratic governors have just emerged from a meeting with the President at the White House, all voicing strong support for him and his candidacy. It's just the latest in a whole string of breaking news at the end of what was another difficult day for President Biden. Six days now since his halting performance on the CNN debate stage in Atlanta. Late today, a Democratic lawmaker told us this about the President's candidacy: "It's over. We were just waiting for the announcement. He," meaning Mr. Biden, "is not there yet. We'll take a bit of time to get there, but it's over." That's the view of one lawmaker. That was followed in rapid succession by word, as we said, of serious doubts setting in within the administration itself.

A senior official characterized the erosion of support among Democrats as, quote, "Waves crashing into the shore." Also breaking tonight, Democratic congressman Seth Moulton went public with his own doubt, saying in a statement that he now has, quote, "grave concerns," unquote, about the President's ability to win in November, which in turn follows Arizona congressman Raul Grijalva today becoming the second lawmaker to call for the President to leave the race.

And two new polls showing him falling further behind the former president. In the words of a Democratic lawmaker, I spoke with today, the campaign is at an acute stage. It is imperative over the next week that the President demonstrably show he has the energy and the ability to win the race and to do the job.

And with all that as a backdrop, that meeting at the White House, which is where we begin tonight with CNN's MJ Lee.

MJ, the meeting just wrapped up and from at least those three governors that we heard from there sounded like full-throated support. Do we know if that was a unanimous view among the governors?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's really hard to know, Jim, right now, because as you say, just a small group of governors came out after a meeting that probably lasted well over an hour. They began the meeting around 6:30. But the one line that at least towards the end of the scrum that the governors kept repeating was in it to win it. These governors made clear that they felt like they needed to have this meeting in person with the President, because they are unified in feeling that they are terrified about the possibility of a second Donald Trump presidency.

And they said, you know, we saw firsthand in the work that we do in our individual states the threat that Donald Trump poses to all of our constituents, to the places that we live in and that they don't want a Trump presidency to come back. And that this discussion was really about making sure that there is a clear path forward to making sure that a Democrat stays in the White House.

And Minnesota governor Tim Walz, who organized this meeting first by convening a phone call with some worried governors and then making sure that this meeting took place in person, described this as having been an honest conversation and that there was a good amount of feedback that was exchanged. And then the group towards the end said that they all pledged their support to the President, that this is a president that had had their backs and that they are now going to, in turn, have his back as well.

I do think we have some sound from the Minnesota governor talking about this dialogue, take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. TIM WALZ (D) MINNESOTA: All of us are trying to figure out and just want to make sure, as governors, we're on the front line of many of these things. We're in states, whether they're swing states or not, where folks care and are giving us feedback. And the feedback was, we are all looking for the path to win. All the governors agree with that. President Biden agrees with that.

He has had our backs through COVID, through all of the recovery, all the things that have happened.


The governors have his back and we're working together just to make very, very clear on that. A path to victory in November in November is the number one priority. And that's the number one priority of the President. So that's what we're trying to get done. The feedback was good. The conversation was honest and open. And the actions that will come out of that, we'll make sure that we're getting that message out.


LEE: So you heard there the Governor speaking on behalf of the large group of governors saying that they are all-in. I think this is a space that we're going to have to watch. Really make sure, if that is the case, that every single governor that attended this meeting with the President came away that convinced that they are going to fully continue having his back.

SCIUTTO: It's a great point. That's three governors there, full- throated support. We'll see if that is a widespread view.

MJ Lee at the White House, thanks so much.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more breaking news this evening. In his case, on the President's sudden and very apparent embrace of Vice President Harris, Jeff joins us now.

Notable, that public embrace, of course she is his vice president, but what are you hearing about what that means about his own decision- making regarding his candidacy?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORREPONDENT: Jim, it's clear that President Biden was intentionally trying to keep Vice President Harris close by his side today, inviting her to join that Democratic governors meeting that we've just been talking about, as well as a lunch, as well as a campaign phone call. One adviser described it to me as simply sending the message that he's with her.

However, as questions mount here in Washington about the future of the Biden candidacy, I am learning tonight that several Democratic advisers and party officials across the party are discussing contingency plans, that should he decide to not run, what would happen. And the plans, according to these Democrats, would be that he would throw his support behind Harris and urge other party leaders to do the same in hopes of avoiding a contentious Democratic convention fight.

Now, all of that is hypothetical if President Biden does not make a decision to not run. He, of course, he says he is running. But Jim, all of this simply is raising a spotlight on Vice President Harris, who finds herself in a historic holding pattern.



KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The stakes of this race could not be higher.


ZELENY (voice over): It turns out perhaps they could be, particularly for Vice President Kamala Harris.


CROWD: Four more years.

HARRIS: That's right.

CROWD: Four more years.

HARRIS: That's right.


ZELENY (voice over): Those chants of four more years suddenly ringing a bit differently for a vice president at the center of a crisis, consuming the White House and President Biden's re-election campaign. As the Democratic chorus grows louder for Biden to step aside a week after his fumbling debate performance, Harris is at the center of it all, playing the role of loyal running mate.


HARRIS: Joe Biden is our nominee. We beat Trump once and we're going to beat him again, period.


ZELENY (voice over): Even as she privately considers whether she'll soon have to pick one of her own if Biden passes the Democratic torch four months before Election Day. But that remains a big if, with signs of a Biden-Harris ticket suddenly not so obvious after all.

Harris is in something of a historic holding pattern, leading the charge in defending the President moments after the debate to Anderson.


HARRIS: I got the point that you're making about a one and a half hour debate tonight. I'm talking about three and a half years of performance in work that has been historic.


ZELENY (voice over): A careful balancing act of proving loyalty, yet trying to maintain credibility. Her future is at the heart of a conversation among Democrats, where respect may run deeper than consensus over the party's next steps.


REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX): I think she's a talented woman and someone who should be in the mix. But this is not a matter of just passing the mantle to her.


ZELENY (voice over): If Biden makes the decision to step aside, senior Democratic advisers tell CNN, he is expected to immediately throw his support behind Harris and ask delegates to do the same. Former presidents and party leaders will be asked to follow suit in hopes of avoiding a contentious fight. A more open race, advisers hope, would be for Harris' running mate, with a focus on leading Democratic governors.

Harris has long taken a leading role in prosecuting the case against Donald Trump.


HARRIS: Let us be very clear about who is responsible. Former President Trump handpicked - handpicked three Supreme Court justices because he intended for them to overturn Roe.


ZELENY (voice over): A new CNN poll finds Harris within striking distance of Trump in a hypothetical matchup, 47- to 45 percent, a race within the margin of error with no clear leader. Harris' stronger showing against Trump is built upon her standing with women. Fifty percent of female voters back Harris over Trump, compared to 44 percent for Biden against Trump. And among Independents, 43 percent backing Harris, just 34 percent for Biden.

As we talk to voters like Maureen Glynn in Wisconsin, Harris' name often comes up when Democrats express concern about Biden's age.



MAUREEN GLYNN, WISCONSIN VOTER: Even if something were to happen to Biden, I have every faith in Kamala Harris. And I think that Biden or Kamala Harris has a sense to follow a qualified and good cabinet of leaders and as a team that they can run the country well.


SCIUTTO: Jeff, is Vice President Harris herself involved in this possible succession plan?

ZELENY (on camera): Jim, she's not. She's busy being the vice president. She, of course, is at the White House throughout the day. But look, these are conversations going on. One Democratic adviser explained it to me, it'd be malpractice not to sort of plan for a contingency here because the election is four months from Friday. But we did just get a new statement from the Biden campaign saying this, that the vice president is - will remain - I'm sorry, it says this, the President is and will remain our party's nominee. And Vice President Harris is proud to be his running mate.

Reports suggesting they or the campaign are considering alternative scenarios are patently false. Jim, the bottom line here is this shows one thing, Democrats in Washington and indeed across the country in the party are concerned about the fight with Donald Trump. Many think time is being wasted here. That's why they are talking about these contingency plans. But again, as of now, as of tonight, President Biden says he's all in, Jim.

SCIUTTO: And quite publicly, he's saying that ...

ZELENY: He did (ph).

SCIUTTO: ... as are some of those Democratic governors a short time ago.

Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

ZELENY: You bet.

SCIUTTO: All right. Some perspective now, Howard Dean, former Vermont governor, former DNC chair, former Democratic presidential candidate; Ashley Etienne who served as communications director for Vice President Harris; and two CNN Political Commentators, Adam Kinzinger, Van Jones.

It's great to have all of you here, depth of experience on this. So I look forward to hearing your views on where you see this going.

Governor, if I could begin with you, you hear the support the President is getting from these Democratic governors tonight, at least the three who came out from the White House to speak about it. But you are hearing lawmakers, Democratic lawmakers who put their name to it, saying he should leave the race and others raising serious questions. Do you sense a direction as to where this is leaning right now? Because the President's own statements and the White House's own statements have been steadfast that he's staying in.

HOWARD DEAN, (D) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you have to take him at his word. The President has a great record for the last four years, including supplying a whole lot of jobs to red states that are not going to vote for him because he's the President of the united - of all Americans, not just the few. And I think he's decided to run.

And that's - if he runs, decides to run, he's going to run because that's the way the Democratic apparatus works. I do think some things have emerged out of this that I find to be very encouraging. One is, should he not run, Harris actually looks very, very good. If she should become the nominee, I would suggest Roy Cooper or Josh Shapiro as a running mate.

But I think Biden's going to run. And this is Biden's nomination. He's won it. He's done a great job for four years. And he also has the benefit of not being a convicted felon. So you can make - take your choice. I think this is up to Joe Biden and it sounds to me like he's made his decision to stay in.

SCIUTTO: And, I mean, the trouble is, Ashley, that even prior to the debate, despite those facts, no, he is not a convicted felon, Donald Trump is. Yes, you can make an argument that he's had legislative successes, bipartisan legislative successes with bipartisan support, infrastructure bill, CHIPS Act, et cetera.

But he was behind before the debate and new polling from The New York Times shows that since the debate, Trump has now increased his lead over President Biden. Should he stay in? Should Biden be the nominee? Is he the best nominee to beat Donald Trump?


DEAN: All we know for sure. Oh, so I'm sorry (INAUDIBLE) ...

SCIUTTO: Let me go to Ashley first. I do want to hear your thoughts, Howard.

DEAN: Okay, sorry.

SCIUTTO: But let me go to Ashley first.

DEAN: Okay, sorry.

ETIENNE: Excuse me, Governor.


ETIENNE: No, I think he actually is in the best position to beat Donald Trump. Today's meeting was very important with the governors. You know, the President has to do two things. One, he has to stop the bleeding immediately. This meeting actually did that. You don't want any dissension from the governors.

The second thing that the campaign has to do is they need to pivot. They need to get on offense. It's - the, you know, the story about his strength in this campaign is in the numbers. You just pointed out The New York Times poll. If you dig deep into that poll, Joe Biden's actually shrinking and increasing his margin with independent voters. He outraised Trump in June. He outraised Trump the night of the campaign. He's outraised Trump since the actual election. And here's the other thing that I think is most important, and that is, Trump doesn't have a strategy to grow beyond his base. There's very few indications that he's growing beyond his MAGA base. And, you know, what's clear from those Nikki Haley voters and those independent voters we saw in the push polls is that the more they see of Donald Trump, the more they're reminded of why they actually don't like him.


So I think the President is in a strong position, but the campaign has to convince the people of that. They need to shift onto the offense and stop being in the defensive posture.

SCIUTTO: But the President has to convince the people of that. The candidate ...

ETIENNE: Absolutely, yes.

SCIUTTO: ... has to be able to articulate those positions with strength and clarity and the fact is that the debate, he certainly did not do that.

And Van Jones, I wonder what your thoughts are, because I've heard that message for months, right? That look at the record and if he just articulates the record, that will show in the numbers. But it hasn't. It hasn't shown in the numbers. And those numbers are getting worse. And he didn't show an ability to make that case aggressively in the debate. So I wonder where that leaves us, in your view.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I'm just going to be honest. I mean, everybody comes on the air and says all this great stuff. But behind the scenes, it's a full-scale panic. People are passing around legal memos. PDFs are flying back and forth on WhatsApp, trying to figure out what are the options, how can you replace Biden, how do you get him to do it in a way where he feels respected as he should be respected, who should Kamala Harris' vice president be. The conversation on air and the conversation off air are completely different.

And so it's the same thing what you saw with the Trump situation, where people would come on air and defend Trump. And then you talk to people, and then we've got a crazy candidate. We don't have a crazy candidate. We have a great candidate. We have a beautiful man. We have someone who loves this country. We have someone who has given his all. I mean, his all to the last drop for this country, but he may not be able to get across the finish line. And a mature party has to take that into account, and that is what's happening.

And so, look, I understand people want to, you know, defend him and protect him and give him their space and the dignity to make his own choice. But there is a big conversation happening right now about how this happens, not whether.

SCIUTTO: Congressman Kinzinger, you're a Republican, of course. You have endorsed President Biden over Donald Trump because of the threat that you believe Donald Trump poses to the country, to America's national security interests, to democracy, et cetera. There's a view that Trump would actually prefer Biden to stay in the race, that he's stronger against him. From your perspective, just on that narrow point, who would be better to beat Trump? Would it be better for Biden to stay in or for the Democrats to find another candidate?

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, this I can't answer because, again, it would be better if it was Biden, but with the caveat that they have got to pivot immediately. And like you said, and like everybody's been saying, make an aggressive case. He has to go take press questions in a live press conference. He has to not just do kind of preplanned speeches, but go out there and show that energy.

One of my disappointments, I'll be honest, in the debate, was when Donald Trump made up the whole thing about the January 6th Committee deleting evidence. We've never deleted evidence. All you have to do is Google it and it's all over the Internet. But that should be a time when you make the case in response to that.

So Democrats can make their decision. The only thing I'll say is this, is no matter what decision that is, and obviously Joe Biden makes a decision, make sure you're putting your best foot and best message forward to defeat this uniquely unqualified, uniquely weak and uniquely dangerous candidate in Donald Trump that he never attains the Oval Office again.

SCIUTTO: Howard Dean, joining The New York Times, The Boston Globe Editorial Board, they wrote today that President Biden should step aside. And in their statement, they went on to make the case that having an open, not primary really, convention at this point would be damn exciting for the Democratic Party. That once you get over what would be an extremely difficult moment, certainly for Biden and his family decision, that it might actually be energizing and I wonder if you think that there's any substance to that.

DEAN: No, I don't read those editorials. In all due respect, there are very smart people that are writing them who have no experience in what it's like to be an elected official. So the hell with the editorials, learned people, but they might as well be teaching philosophy someplace.

So what I - there's not going to be chaos at the convention. If Biden doesn't run, and this is totally his decision, it's going to be Harris. And that's just the way it is. Turns out she polls better than everybody else anyway, so it's just as well. But there's not going to be a big fight at the convention. There will be a few people, like Dean Phillips, who put his name in and got what he deserves. But it's going to be cooked.

Harris - there's some financial reasons for this. Harris is a signatory to the Biden-Harris campaign, so the money can go to her. It can't willy-nilly go to whoever else might end up - but there's just not going to be a bloodbath. There's not enough time for there to be a bloodbath.

[20:20:00] There isn't a single candidate other than Harris who can muster the organizational ability to run a presidential campaign, because she's already got that ability because she's been running this campaign or running in this campaign for months.

SCIUTTO: Well, we'll see if we get that - to that point. Everyone, please do stay there, because there is more breaking news.

Next, a major Democratic fundraiser is now calling for the President to step aside. Also, what happens to the governor's point, to the Biden campaign cash, if the name Biden is not at the top of the ticket?

And later, how undecided women voters in Georgia were affected by what they saw on the debate stage Thursday night and everything they've been seeing since. Has any of it changed the way they plan to vote? Key questions. We'll have the answers just ahead.



SCIUTTO: In addition to all the other grim headlines the Biden campaign is facing, there is now this one just out in The New York Times, "Netflix Co-founder Becomes One of the Biggest Democratic Donors to Call for Biden to Step Aside." That would be Reed Hastings telling The Times, quote, "Biden needs to step aside to allow a vigorous Democratic leader to beat Trump and keep us safe and prosperous."


The campaign, by the way, took in $127 million last month. CNN Senior Data Reporter Harry Enten joins us now with more on the money front, namely who that money belongs to if not the President. So if the President were to decide, by the way, this is a major if ...


SCIUTTO: ... to leave the race, who exactly would have access to his cash and would that be only one candidate or could it be others?

ENTEN: Yes, if there is one candidate who isn't Joe Biden who would have access to that cash, it would be the Vice President of the United States. She's on those FEC forms with her - with him. She, according to law, she has access to it.

Any other candidate, if the Democrats decide to nominate any other candidate, they could not access that cash, those - that's 10s of millions of dollars, I think, cash on hand (INAUDIBLE) ...

SCIUTTO: Under no circumstances or could Harris say I'm opening this up?

ENTEN: She herself can have it, but no, it cannot go to the other candidates. It cannot go to them. SCIUTTO: Okay. So would Biden have any input on to how that money is spent if he were to say ...

ENTEN: Right.

SCIUTTO: ... let me write a proviso here, right?

ENTEN: Yes. So Biden himself could form a PAC, right, and he could decide, you know what, I'm going to do an independent expenditure and I can spend it. But here's the deal. It is written in the law that candidates have better money - their money goes further on television advertisements. They get a discount if they're candidates - a PAC does not get those discounts. So his money wouldn't necessarily go as far.

More than that, he can't really coordinate with the campaign. If let's say it's not Harris and let's say he decides to form this PAC, he can't coordinate with him.

SCIUTTO: Communication, yes (INAUDIBLE) ...

ENTEN: Exactly right. It would be very, very difficult for them to understand, okay, this is where I necessarily want that money to be spent.

SCIUTTO: Because our campaign finance laws are so rigorous as we know.

ENTEN: Of course.

SCIUTTO: What other options are there then for the war chest?

ENTEN: Yes. Another thing that he could do is he could give it over to the Democratic National Committee and they could try and spend it. But they would run into very similar issues that he would run into if he himself formed his own PAC. One other option is he could refund the money and then potentially go out there and ask the donors, hey, you should donate to this new person.


ENTEN: But there's no guarantee that that would necessarily happen. I think the bottom line here, Jim, is really simple. If Harris is the Presidential nominee, it's very easy to get the money to her. If it's not her, then it's a whole big ball of a mess.

SCIUTTO: All right. Harry Enten, thanks so much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: So let's go back to the panel now.

Let me ask you, Ashley. The governor said it's got to be Harris. In effect, you, of course, worked for the Vice President. Do you agree? Does it have to be Harris? Are there no circumstances where the party could say, well, you know, this is a team effort here? We got to open it up and see who's the best candidate. ETIENNE: Well, Jim, I hate to disappoint. I don't know the inner workings of the party that much, but I've been told by the campaign that that is the case, that the money would be transferred to Harris. But here's the reality is, is, you know, big donor money, it matters, you know, because it does signal to other big donors, you know, where they should put - should they continue to invest in the campaign.

But what matters most, it's not the end all be all, but what matters most is what we just saw at the end of the - this past weekend after the debate, which is that the President raised $33 million and that was from small donors, everyday Americans writing checks. And there's one thing I know having worked on four presidential campaigns, is you don't write a check to a campaign that you think is actually failing.

So the fact that they've raised the most money that they ever had - have among grassroots everyday Americans over the past week is impressive and that says a lot. And that says that the American people have some level of confidence in this president and in this campaign. So we're in, you know, Reed stepping down, that what matters most and is a bigger indication of momentum and strength is these small dollar donors and they're there for the President.

SCIUTTO: Fair point. I mean, as big donors go, I mean, I've seen big donors change their minds, certainly when it comes to, say, a Donald Trump on the Republican side.

Van Jones, if what you're saying is true, and by the way, it's CNN's reporting as well, that inside the party there is far more panic than is leaking out into public commentary there. What is your view of opening it up as opposed to the President saying, I'm stepping down if he does, by the way, that's a big if, I'm stepping down and it's got to be Harris. Is there actually another realistic option to consider more candidates?

JONES: No. Well, I mean, there is and Clyburn has suggested that perhaps there should be a way - he's calling a mini primary where, you know ...


JONES: ... at least among the delegates there would be an opportunity for people to raise their hand. But I do think that all things being equal, it's hard to imagine leapfrogging Kamala Harris. If everybody basically has the same basic shot at Trump, then you should go with your vice president.

Now, if it turns out that she's seven points down as somebody else who's clearly a favorite, then you - I think you have that conversation. But let me just say one more thing, which is that it's exactly correct. There is a rallying to Biden happening. You can see it in two places. You can see it in the fundraising with a small dollar donors and you can really see it online today.


The Biden-Harris hashtag was outperforming 4th of July, Independence Day, so there is a rallying, similar to when Donald Trump got in trouble, there was a rallying to him. The problem is, even though you have that as one current, the bigger current is a current of fear. This campaign is like a paper bag that somebody put on a wet counter, that wet counter is the debate performance. If you pick up that paper bag, it is going to fall out. And so what is happening is, yes, there is a countercurrent of people who are rallying to him, but there are a lot more people who are beginning to fall away. That's what is happening.

SCIUTTO: Yeah. I like that that image, that metaphor. Adam Kinzinger, when Trump was convicted, there was a bit of a drop in his polling numbers. But, of course, you did not see Republican lawmakers, newspapers, et cetera, calling for him to withdraw. Is the panic threshold different for Democrats than Republicans?

KINZINGER: Yeah, because the Democrats aren't a cult yet. I mean, look, we -- if you look back eight years and basically up until the last couple of years, they've always been people speaking out against Donald Trump. And actually to be honest with you, I don't think it is unhealthy for the Democrats to have this conversation, we are were still a few months away. But what's happened is all opposition, all free thought, all independent thinking has been quashed in the Republican Party. So don't take, and I see this online too, some of the chatter.

People saying, well, the Republicans have so much more discipline than the Democrats. No, that's not true. The Republicans are officially a cult with a platform that is simply, 'we support Donald Trump and no issues.' Don't become like them because, trust me, it doesn't work out for this country or for the party in the long run.

SCIUTTO: And (inaudible), for comparison, you have Democratic lawmakers coming out to say the president should step down, we need a stronger candidate. You don't have, as you had with Trump or have with Trump, people who served president Trump who say he is a danger to the nation, right? Which is a John Bolton or Mark Esper, or yourself, you didn't serve his administration, but you're Republican who served at the time, so we should be clear those are apples and oranges in terms of comparison there.

Governor, when you look at this race, would you say the next few days are critical, because even from inside the Biden White House, there was some CNN reporting saying that he is watching the numbers, right? That he and his team are looking for a plummeting of polls and that if the polls were to plummet, which they haven't yet, they've come down, but they haven't plummeted, that he might reconsider. Would you say the next few days are going to make the decision for him?

DEAN: And Former Governor Of Vermont: Well, my prediction after I saw the bad debate was, this is going to go away in ten days. So I'd say the next few days are critical because ten days aren't up yet, and the attention of the media and the attention of the American people is about ten days long, every time something like this blows up, and the next thing we'll be talking about Putin doing something awful, or the elections in the U.K. which will send Labour back to the government, and maybe we will switch the subject because, right now, we have got a guy who is 81-years-old who made some mistakes in a debate, so what?

He has got four years of really incredible service, especially, I truly believe and I teach this -- I teach foreign policy. I believe that Biden has the best domestic foreign policy record -- I mean, domestic policy record of any president since Lyndon Johnson. Now, that's pretty extraordinary. And once people start focusing on that again, I think some of this is going to go away, but I could be wrong. I have been wrong before; I just don't remember when.


SCIUTTO: To your point, I did say to my team after the Trump felony conviction that within a few days, we'll be talking about something else and, you know, it happened.

DEAN: And we were.

SCIUTTO: And we were and it happens. Actually, you been involved inside the room, as it were, the room where it happened, what do you believe is going on behind the scenes in the Biden camp tonight?

ETIENNE: Well, I think they're trying to fortify. I think they're rallying around the president. They are obviously, meeting with surrogates, talking to governors, talking to elected officials. They are -- as I said earlier, they're trying to stop the bleeding, but I think what they really need to do is to get on positive footing. I mean, to the governor's point, the president has an incredible story. If you look at the numbers and the metrics that matter in the campaign right now, from the infrastructure he is building on the ground to the fundraising, he is in a strong position. They've got to stop, to use the Congressman's phrase, we've got to stop bed-wetting as Democrats were prone to doing that. We've got to get fortified and get focused and be very clear about not just what's at stake, but why Joe Biden is the best candidate to bring this -- to continue us down this path of progress.

SCIUTTO: But Van, you're hearing from inside the White House, there are many -- just quickly, who don't think this is just bed-wetting. They think it is a real reason to reconsider.

JONES: Hey, I am wearing the pampers, huggies and the pins (ph).


JONES: (Inaudible) you can call me a bed-wetter all you want to. I am concerned; I am scared that the whole enchilada is on the table for American democracy and the Democratic Party has to put forth the best person.


No but -- let me just say one thing about Joe Biden. Every single person (inaudible) his name says they love him. They don't say they respect him, they do. They don't say they admire him, they do. They say they love Joe Biden. This -- we are not talking about somebody that we don't love and admire. We just want to get across this finish line and if it is the right thing to do, I know he will let us do it with somebody else.

SCIUTTO: Howard Dean, Ashley Etienne, Kinzinger, Jones, thanks so much to all of you. Happy Fourth to you and your families.

Coming up next, our Randi Kaye heads back to Georgia to gage the impact of last week's debate on a group of initially undecided women voters, all part of our continuing series, "The 53 Percent."


SCIUTTO: As President Biden tries to reassure his party that he is and should be staying in the race until the end, post-debate panic continues to grow among some Democratic Party officials about the future of his campaign and the 2024 race.


Ultimately though, the election will come down to a handful of key swing states, as it always does. And a new CBS News/YouGov poll found that Trump now leads Biden by just three points across seven battleground states. We should note that, of course, falls within the poll's margin of error, indicating there is statistically no clear leader. Our Randi Kaye went back to the battleground state of Georgia as part of our election year series on women voters, "The 53 Percent."

She sat down with a group of women who were initially undecided to see if last week's debate changed their minds.


EMILY AMOS, UNDECIDED GEORGIA VOTER: The debate was a mess, it was a mess.

KAY BELIVEAU, GEORGIA VOTER: Less than ten minutes in, I was thinking, what in the name of presidential debates are were watching. This is just unbelievable.


BELIVEAU: It was horrible.


KAYE (voice-over): When we first met these five voters in Macon, Georgia last month, they were all undecided. So we came back to see if the CNN debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump changed that.

AMOS: Trump came with his gloves on, and Biden, you know, Biden was still trying to put his own.

BELIVEAU: I was shocked though, and Biden, he just -- he was so frail and so impossible to understand. It was sad. I couldn't believe that his wife and his supporters, his team allowed him to come out in that condition.

KAYE: Which candidate would you say appeared stronger? BRITNEY DANIELS, UNDECIDED GEORGIA VOTER: I mean, Trump had the confidence.

AMOS: Absolutely, of course. But clearly --


AMOS: Was the stronger one, you know.

DANIELS: But as far as like his choice of words, they were horrible.

AMOS: Right.

BELIVEAU: Yes, I agree.

DANIELS: And showed for one, racism.

AMOS: Yeah.

DANIELS: And just a lot of -- a lot of hatred.

COOKE: It was the lack of decorum.

DANIELS: Yeah, yeah.

KAYE: Where did you see racism from Trump?

DANIELS: I mean, the main thing in this look out to me, which was his reference to the Blacks and Hispanics jobs in my --

COOKE: The Black jobs, yeah.

DANIELS: What do you consider a Black job or Hispanic job?



KAYE: Absolutely.

DANIELS: Why would you put that cap on (inaudible).

BELIVEAU: Why not just job?


COOKE: Yeah, you know, just a job.

KAYE: Who do you think was more truthful?

KAYE HLAVATY, GEORGIA VOTER: (Inaudible) That was absolutely Biden.


AMOS: Biden.

DANIELS: I think Biden was more truthful.


BELIVEAU: I had hard time understanding what he was saying, so I couldn't say if Biden was truthful or not.

AMOS: It was over 30 lies.


AMOS: -- that Trump said. And I realize that I think he just continues to spit rhetoric just to keep you discombobulated.

KAYE: After the debate, who do you trust more to run this country?

AMOS: I mean, if I had to choose a person just strictly based off the debate, then of course it would be Biden.


AMOS: Simply because --

HLAVATY: (Inaudible).

AMOS: I just-- you know it was just too much for me.

DANIELS: There was a lot of lack of care for the American people from Trump. I feel like if you're going to be our president again, you have to represent all of us and be inclusive as well. And that was not there.

HLAVATY: But I think as America, we need other countries to look at us and respect us, fear us.

AMOS: Yes.

HLAVATY: And realize that we could step in and make a change or difference and whatever else is happening in the world. And I'm afraid they are not going to see that with Biden.

BELIVEAU: I know Trump is far from perfect, far from perfect. But I feel like he is stronger than Biden. I just I feel like Biden is too weak.

COOKE: I don't think that Trump has been a great example of leadership in business or in just human decency.

KAYE: Do you all think this was one bad night for Biden or is this beyond repair?

BELIVEAU: Time will tell.

AMOS: I don't think it is beyond repair for Biden.

KAYE: So, do any of you think Biden should drop out?

COOKE: I don't think he should drop out because he is just a better human being than any other option that we have.

AMOS: At this point, you know, drop out and replace him with who? And he has momentum going. And if Biden drops out at this point, I think it is just a loss for the entire party.

KAYE: Because last we spoke, you said I am going to watch this debate and I think that's going to help me.


KAYE: Did it help you get any closer to deciding on a candidate?

DANIELS: I mean, it helped me to ex out one a bit more.

KAYE: And who would that be?

DANIELS: That will be Trump. I just -- I -- being an African American woman,. I cannot support someone who is not inclusive.

AMOS: I am still just as confused as I was--


AMOS: -- before the debate. Now, I'm --

DANIELS: Still undecided.

AMOS: -- completely undecided. I mean, it is no lie. It is literally worse than it was before.

KAYE: You are still looking third party?

AMOS: I'm definitely leaning -- yeah -- more towards a third party, further away from Trump for sure, further away.

COOKE: I would love to say that I was looking at a third party.


I think that the option is a pretty decent option. And problem is I don't want to ever feel like my vote is wasted.

KAYE: Have any of you decided on a candidate? If so, raise your hand.

BELIVEAU: No, for me.

KAYE: Oh, who have you decided on?

BELIVEAU: Well, I am going to vote for Donald Trump and that may not, here amongst some, be a popular answer, but I just feel that the country would be in better hands with him in spite of his personality. I have to just overlook that, you know.

HLAVATY: I think I've decided and I've decided on Trump. As much as I don't like a lot of the points you all brought up, things he said, but where we surprised and we sort of expect that. But what I didn't expect was the week showing from Joe Biden and that's what really shocked me.


KAYE (on camera): So if you're keeping track, Jim, two of the five women in our group have decided they are voting for Donald Trump. Now, these are both Republican women. The two Democrats in our group told us that they have decided not to vote for Donald Trump. They are considering a third-party candidate, but they haven't ruled out voting for Joe Biden yet. And the one independent in our group told us that she is more confused than ever, though she says she is moving further and further away from Donald Trump. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Randi Kaye, thanks so much. Some nuanced answers there for sure. Coming up next, CNN sits down for the first TV interview with a Boeing whistleblower who claims the company knowingly used defective parts in its planes.



SCIUTTO: Two fatal crashes of Boeing jetliners in 2018 and 2019, plus an incident earlier this year when a door plug detached mid-air from one of their planes have now led Congressional investigations of Boeing and its leadership. It has also led to allegations from whistleblowers about the company's safety oversight. And now, CNN's Pete Muntean sat down with the latest whistleblower for that whistleblower's first TV interview, alleging the company knowingly used defective parts in its planes. Here's his report.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If Everett, Washington is a Boeing company town, then Merle Meyers was a company man. A 30- year veteran of Boeing, Meyers says his job as a quality control manager put his kids through college. It is a family tradition. His late mother was a Boeing inspector, able to unilaterally decide if a new airplane just off the factory line was fit to fly.

MUNTEAN: What would she think about what is happening at Boeing?

MERLE MEYERS, BOEING WHISTLEBLOWER: She'd be absolutely livid.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Meyers new allegations detailed an elaborate off-the-books practice centering on parts deemed not safe to put in new airplanes. He is the latest whistleblower to come forward with claims of quality control lapses at Boeing. This is his first TV interview inspired by the January 5th door plug blowout on an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9. Spray painted red, bad parts deemed not up to Boeing's standards are taken from Boeing's Everett plant and sent to its scrap facility in Auburn.

But then one day in 2015, Meyers says a crate of bad parts were improperly sent back from Auburn to Boeing's Everett factory. Meyers alleges the practice continued for years, telling that more than 50,000 parts escaped Boeing quality control. MUNTEAN: 50,000 parts?

MEYERS: That's what we counted at the time.

MUNTEAN: It seems like a heck of a lot.

MEYERS: It is a heck of a lot indeed.

MUNTEAN: What does that say to you?

MEYERS: Well, that says it puts people's lives at risk, not just passengers, but flight crews. And a lot of these are flight critical parts, that made it back into the production system.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Company emails show Meyers repeatedly flagged the issue to Boeing's corporate investigations team, pointing out what he says were repeat violations of Boeing's safety rules. But Meyers insists investigators routinely failed to enforce those rules. In a 2022 email, he wrote that Boeing investigators ignored eyewitness observations and the hard work done to ensure the safety of future passengers and crew.

MUNTEAN: Why would they do this?

MEYERS: Schedule, the schedule. To get planes out the door, to make money. Yeah.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Meyers believes he was forced out of Boeing last year and is concerned there are still problems at the company.

MEYERS: Well, I think they need to punish. They need to fire people that blatantly violate the process and endanger the flying public. That's a huge problem. And a core requirement of a quality system is to keep bad parts and good parts apart.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): In a statement, Boeing says it encourages employees to speak up and that to ensure the safety, quality, and conformance of our products, we investigate all allegations of improper behavior such as unauthorized movement of parts or mishandling of documents. We then work diligently to address them and make improvements.

Meyers says he is coming forward now because of the pride he has in Boeing. He goes so far as to call it a wonderful company, one he says has been going astray and is in desperate need of change.

MEYERS: But you have to care, leadership has to care to do that. But if you can't even keep parts segregated from good parts, what else aren't you doing right?


SCIUTTO: Leadership has to care. Pete Muntean joins me now. So Pete, what do we know about these 50,000 parts, often painted red, that are now apparently missing?

MUNTEAN (on camera): Jim, the mystery here is that we did not have an exact accounting of where these parts are.


They range from the superficial like fasteners to the critical wing flaps used for landing. If these parts weren't returned to the scrap yard, our whistleblower is worried that they ended up on new planes delivered to airlines and other customers in the last decade or so. You might ask how big a deal is that? Also hard to know, since we don't know exactly how or where they were used. But there is no question that these scrap parts should not have been put on planes. That's why are whistleblower spoke to me and our Producer Gregg Wallace about it.

Gregg's last day at CNN is Friday. He was the driving force behind the story, countless others we have done together over the last as five years. Gregg, I thank you and our viewers around the world do too. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Kind words to Gregg. We thank them as well. Pete Muntean, thanks for joining us tonight.

Coming up, we have a live report on deteriorating conditions in Jamaica from Hurricane Beryl, which is now a Category 4 storm.


SCIUTTO: New images coming into us from Jamaica where Hurricane Beryl is hammering the island nation with heavy rains, sustained winds of about 130 miles per hour --