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Interview with Former Special Assistant to President Trump Marc Lotter; Interview with Democratic Political Strategist and "Hopium Chronicles" Publisher Simon Rosenberg; Biden Holds First Post-Debate Campaign Rally in North Carolina; Interview with The New York Times Reporter Covering Iran and U.N. Bureau Chief Farnaz Fassihi. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired June 28, 2024 - 13:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.

What in the world to make of Trump's falsehoods and Biden's fumbles? We examine that contentious presidential debate with Democratic political

strategist Simon Rosenberg and Trump's former special assistant, Marc Lotter.

Then, Iran decides. As the country heads to the polls, Fred Pleitgen brings us the latest from Tehran. And I'll discuss what's at stake with the New

York Times reporter and Iran expert, Farnaz Fassihi.

Also, ahead --


FRANCIS S. BARRY, AUTHOR, "BACK ROADS AND BETTER ANGELS": We wanted to explore what holds the country together.


AMANPOUR: -- a journey into American democracy at stake in the November election, author Francis S. Barry tells Walter Isaacson about his new book,

inspired by a cross-country road trip via the Lincoln Highway.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

In a televised presidential debate, optics are everything, but the devil is also in the detail. Last night, a fumbling Joe Biden faced a serial liar,

Donald Trump, in the first live debate. Today, Democrats are in damage control mode and Republicans are jubilant.

But speaking to his supporters after at a watch party, President Biden appeared unfazed.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: He's just a liar. Look, folks, what's going to happen over the next couple of days is they're going to be out there fact-

checking all the things he said.


AMANPOUR: And he's right. According to CNN's fact-check, Donald Trump was responsible for more than three times the number of falsehoods than Biden.

So, as the dust settles, and with four and a half months out until the election, what happens next? America now faces a choice, a visibly aging

man who failed to live up to that moment or an authoritarian leaning convicted felon, facing even more courtroom trials ahead.

According to a post-debate CNN SSRS poll, 81 percent of voters said the debate didn't affect their vote choice. Few people are as well placed to

discuss the current moment and the momentum going into this summer's conventions than veteran democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg, and Marc

Lotter, who served as special assistant to President Trump and was director of strategic communications for his 2020 campaign.

Gentlemen, welcome to the program. You were in Atlanta. You are in Atlanta where the CNN Debate was held. You were in the rooms watching to be able to

talk to us afterwards. So, from your perspective, Marc Lotter, how did your candidate do?

MARC LOTTER, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I thought Donald Trump did great. He was talking about the issues that matter to the

American people and offering a vision to fix the problems that have been largely caused by Joe Biden.

I think he showed strength, which is something that the American people have always sought in their presidents, contrasted to Joe Biden, who really

struggled and showed a lot of weakness.

AMANPOUR: So, Simon Rosenberg, you know, because you're there, that the Republicans are very, very happy with the way their candidate did. How

about the Democrats? And you are a-- not just an adviser, you're a key strategist.


who had a very bad night last night. And, you know, how consequential this will be during the course of this long campaign, we'll find out.

But I think the other thing we saw last night, in addition to Joe Biden and being able to make the case for his presidency, which he struggled with a

little bit, no question, is that we also saw in Donald Trump a person who's a bad man, who's a terrible candidate, and would be a disastrous president

for the United States.

I mean, the level of lying and falsehoods last night that we heard from him was shocking, even for somebody in the business who's been following Trump.

Virtually nothing he said was true last night. And so, I don't think it was a great debate for the American people. I don't think they learned very

much that's really going to help them make this decision, as your own polling showed.

But I do think this was a better night for Trump than Biden, and it means that we've got work to do in the coming months.


AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, Marc Lotter, because everybody who was watching and people who take notes and who fact-check basically know that

there was this, as I said, fire hose of falsehoods. This is CNN's particular fact-checker.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: So, Daniel, what stands out to you?

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: What stood out was the staggering number of false claims from Former President Trump. On first count, Erin, I counted

at least 30, 30 false claims.


AMANPOUR: I guess the question, Marc Lotter, is, does it actually matter to your side and to your candidate when he consistently makes these false

claims? And in this case, obviously, the point was not to fact-check in real-time.

LOTTER: Well, ultimately, I think the American people aren't following the gaffes or the misstatements by either candidate. They want someone who's

going to deal with inflation, deal with gas and grocery prices, secure the southern border, and deal with the wars that are raging in Europe and

Middle East all on the watch of Joe Biden.

So, you know, when people remember back to the Trump administration, they remember we had a strong economy, no inflation, a secured border, and all

of the problems they face right now fall at the feet of Joe Biden.

So, I think so many of the voters out there look at these kinds of debates through that prism. And if a candidate on either side makes a misstatement,

like Joe Biden saying no troops died on his watch, despite the fact that 13 Americans were killed in his botched Afghanistan withdrawal, they're

probably going to wash a little bit of that under the rug for both sides because they're unscripted, without a teleprompter, recalling all of this.

The bottom line, who's going to make my life better and the world safer?

AMANPOUR: You know what, I actually -- I was going to go on to a little bit more of the optics, because obviously optics and perception are a huge

point of this, but I do want to ask you about the economy, both of you, because that is clearly top of mind, not just for voters in the United

States, bread and butter issues, cost of living, but all over the world.

So, Donald Trump, as you said, Marc, made strong claims. But listen, 16 Nobel prize-winning economists have warned that a second Trump term would

reignite inflation. They say Joe Biden's economic agenda is vastly superior to Donald Trump's.

Also, as you know, Marc, and I'm sure you've been reading these, he, Donald Trump, had a meeting with executives just in the last few days, and they

said remarkably meandering, couldn't keep a straight thought and was all over the map. And it's also been pointed out by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld at Yale

that not a single person among Forbes 100 CEOs has donated to Trump's campaign. So, these are facts. How does that, Marc, make him better on the


LOTTER: Well, the Nobel laureates were wrong when they predicted that he was going to ruin the economy in 2016, 2017. I put their value about the

same as I do with the 51 intelligence officers that lied to cover the Hunter Biden laptop story.

Look, people know that the Trump economic policies worked. They actually lowered people's taxes. Real, hardworking, middle class Americans saw their

taxes go down. They saw the amount of revenue to the federal government go up. We saw jobs coming back. Obviously, we were recovering when the

pandemic -- from the pandemic as the election took place, and we had no inflation.

1.4 percent when the -- when Joe Biden took office. Gas was a little over $2 a gallon. Those are all realities that they can't change. And I get it.

You get a bunch of liberal Ivy -- you know, Ivy Tower elites who want Joe Biden to be president. Many people aren't buying it.

AMANPOUR: Yes. Look, I think you and I both know that most CEOs are not liberal. They might be elite, but there's certainly -- many, many of them

have backed former Republican presidents. This is the first time a Republican candidate has received so little backing from them.

But I want to put that question to you as well, Simon. Truly, American people have been, you know, really suffering, cost of living, inflation,

all the rest of it. Biden said, yes, the economy, you know, was great for rich people during Trump. He lowered rich people and corporate taxes. But

what about his own record? He didn't, in fact, defend his own economic record at all.

ROSENBERG: Yes. I mean, first of all Donald Trump's economic record is among the worst in American history. I mean, he was the first president to

have job loss on his watch since Herbert Hoover. And this idea that he was this -- that the economy performed stellar under him is an unbelievable

falsehood and lie.

The second thing is that Joe -- the economy under Joe Biden were actually going through one of the greatest periods of economic growth in American

history right now. We've had GDP growth over 3 percent. As you know, it's been far higher than any other G7 country in the world. We have the best

job market since the 1960s. Inflation last month was zero, right? Prices did not rise, and it's now down in -- and today's PCE number, it's now down

to the -- basically where the Fed wants it to be, making interest rates far more likely to be cut, you know, this year.

Joe Biden has had a stellar track record on the economy. And I think the question you asked is about, going forward, their proposals. We have a

booming economy now. I mean, the Wall Street Journal literally just had a story a few days ago, saying that according to American economists, the

American economy is the envy of the world today.


What Donald Trump is proposing would raise -- dramatically spike inflation, it would cripple the economy, create massive work shortages in the United

States and be -- and create far larger deficits. I mean, it is -- one of the reasons that CEOs are staying away from him is because they view his

economic plans as being dangerous and reckless in a time when America is booming and we're breaking records in the stock market.

AMANPOUR: I want to play, Simon, and indeed Marc, a video and sound of President Biden after the debate, after he got off the stage. Looked to me

like a different guy.


BIDEN I can't think of one thing he said that was true. No, I'm not being facetious. But look, we're going to beat this guy. We need to beat this

guy. And I need you in order to beat him. You're the people I'm running for.

We're the finest nation in the whole damn world. Nobody is close. And let's keep going. See you at the next one.


AMANPOUR: I guess both of you might think that if that person had turned up on the stage, it would be a different dynamic. But, Simon, where was

that person?

ROSENBERG: Listen, Joe Biden had a bad night. I mean, there's just no way to get around that. I mean, I -- as I said earlier, I think he's been a

very good president. He's got a strong case for his reelection. He didn't do that. He didn't -- wasn't effective last night in making that case.

But it's just one moment in a long campaign. And we've got a long way to go here. We're in the very beginning. Our elections are long here in the

United States. We're in the very beginning stages. This, in many ways, was really the beginning of the general election. But we've got two conventions

coming up. We've got lots of other -- we've got a major moment in the next few weeks, was Donald Trump's sentencing, where he could be sentenced to

prison in the next few weeks.

So, there are going to be a lot of other moments. But we are clearly coming out of this knowing that our job got a little bit harder, and we've got a

lot of work to do ahead of us.

AMANPOUR: So, Marc, by contrast then, do you think your job got a little bit easier, even though your candidate does, in fact, have challenges


LOTTER: Yes, well we went into this with the wind at our back to begin with. I mean, there were two polls earlier this week from New York Times,

Siena and Quinnipiac, that both showed Donald Trump leading Joe Biden head- to-head nationally by four percentage points. At no point, by the way, in the 2019 or 2020 years did Donald Trump ever lead Joe Biden, even before

the pandemic last time around. So, it shows you what a challenge they have.

You also have Donald Trump campaigning Friday in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Hasn't been Republican in 20 years. Minnesota's now in play. So,

the swing state map is growing in Donald Trump's favor. The polls are all shifting in Donald Trump's favor. We and Donald Trump have to just keep

talking about the issues that matter to the American people.

Joe Biden last night made his job even more difficult and it was already a Mount Everest sized hill to climb.

AMANPOUR: Simon, I see you, you know, shaking your head, but if you look at columnists across the spectrum, Thomas Friedman, for instance, Joe Biden

is a good man, a good president, he must bow out of the race.

ROSENBERG: Yes, I do want to say that this idea that the polls are shifting towards Trump is not true. I mean, there have been dozens of polls

taken and the majority of polls have the race shifting two to four points to Biden over the last few weeks. And this idea that Virginia and Minnesota

are going to be in play are just absurd.

I mean, it's a -- you know, it's a psychological game that Trump campaign is playing. These are not going to be competitive states in the election.

The election is very close and competitive today. We'll see if this debate has an impact. But neither candidate is at, you know, enough -- isn't -- is

leading in states getting to 270. It's a toss-up race today. But this -- I think this debate is going to have an impact. We'll see what it does. We'll

know soon.

Listen, there's going to be a debate. There is -- there's no question that -- the question that whether, you know, Joe Biden should step down is going

to be debated now. I mean, it's -- we're past that point, given what's happened. You know, I think I -- my view is that he's our nominee and I'm

going to fight like hell every day to make sure he gets elected because whatever his challenges are, he's going to be a far better president than

Donald Trump.

And so, we've got to stay focused as Democrats, put our head down, do the work. It may got a little bit harder, but I still think we're going to win

this election.

AMANPOUR: Marc, Donald Trump's performance was strong, as we've said. However, given what's going on, why is it that you think, for instance,

Mike Pence, one of your former bosses, should say, it's come as no surprise that I will not be endorsing Donald Trump this year. Defense Secretary Mark

Esper, James Mattis, Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, all other highly placed Trump administration veterans are

not backing him. They denounce him as unfit to serve.


You know, why would Mike Pence not endorse him if he was so fit to run? Why would all these people not endorse him after being in the room with him for

four years?

LOTTER: Well, I think all of those people, including a lot of people that I admire and still continue to consider friends, misread what happened in

2016. Misread what's happening right now. The American people are sick and tired of being told who they have to vote for by New York and Washington,

D.C elites. We've seen it time and time again. They want someone who's going to fight for them for the issues.

And yes, Donald Trump says things in a different style than people are used to, but the American people are responding to it because they want a

fighter. And so, that's what you see. That's why you see Donald Trump basically steamrolling the Republican nomination over all of those more

experienced and basically career politicians. That's why you still see so many people out there willing to fight for him.

And right now, that's why you see him winning because people are hurting, they're struggling, they want someone to deal with it. And they know that

Donald Trump is the guy to do it. Not the guy who got us into this problem in Joe Biden. It's his fault in the first place.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about an issue and talking about hurting and struggling. Many, many millions of women in the United States have seen

their fundamental human rights overturned by the Supreme Court. And Donald Trump, he brags about it. He says, look, I put in these three fine

conservative justices, and they overturned Roe vs. Wade. And there's a big dilemma for so many, many women in the United States over this.

I'm going to play the abortion exchange between the two candidates during the debate.

And right on cue, we're going to hear from President Biden himself. He is hosting his first post-debate campaign appearance. It's in Raleigh, North


BIDEN: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you, North Carolina. I'm getting in trouble with my mom looking down in heaven if I don't say,

please excuse my back. I apologize. It's an awful lot of -- it's good knowing you have my back.

Eric (ph), thank you for that introduction. We had a wonderful time spending time with your sons, Kristen and Carter (ph). They're going to

grow up to be incredible young men. You would have been really impressed the way they talked about their dad, how informed they were about what was

going on. I was truly impressed, and I ate two hamburgers.

A special thanks to Roy and Kristin Cooper. Roy, you've been a great governor. Which makes it all the more important that North Carolina elected

a great governor to replace you, Josh Stein.

And when I'm re-elected again with your help, I want you to know that I'm not promising not to take Roy away from North Carolina. Whether they'll

come or not, I don't know. And thanks to all the state and local leaders here today, the great musicians and entertainers who performed earlier.

Folks, let me tell you why I'm here in North Carolina. I'm here for --

CROWD: Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years.

BIDEN: That's OK. That's OK. I'm here in North Carolina for one reason, because I intend to win this state in November. We're going to see that

happen. I think we are. And Roy is right, we win here, we win the election.

And here's how we're going to do it. We're going to stand up for the women of America. We're going to restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land.

We're going to stand up for the right to vote. We're going to stand up for Medicare and Social Security. We're going to fight for child care, paid

leave, and elder care. We're going to keep lowering the cost of prescription drugs, not just for seniors, but for every single American.


We're going to keep protecting the Affordable Care Act, which is why more than 40 million Americans have health insurance today. We're going to

protect our children and get the weapons of war off our streets. We're going to provide clean drinking water, affordable high-speed internet,

quality education for every child in America. We're going to secure our border and protect legal immigration.

And unlike the other guy, we're going to stand up to dictators like Putin. Because America bows to no one. No one. No one. Ever. Folks, and we're

going to keep dealing with the climate crisis.

CROWD: Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years.

BIDEN: Look, more than anything, we're going to preserve, protect, and defend our democracy. It was more than anything else, that is what is at

stake in America this election. Your freedom, your democracy. America itself is at stake.

Now, folks, I don't know what you did last night, but I spent 90 minutes on the stage debating the guy who has the morals of an alley cat.

Did you see Trump last night? My guess, he said, I mean it sincerely, a new record for the most lies told in a single debate. He lied about the great

economy he created. He lied about the pandemic. He botched killing millions of people. He closed businesses. He closed schools, losing their homes,

people all over this country. America was flat on his back.

So, I told Trump that it was just one of two presidents of American history who left office with fewer jobs than he started. Herbert Hoover was the

other one. That's why I call him Donald Herbert Hoover Trump.

And then he lied about how great he was for veterans. But then, I told him how he had called a veteran who had given their lives in the country in

World War I and refused to go to the grave sites. He called them suckers and losers. He tried to deny it.

But let me ask you, are you going to believe a four-star marine general, his own former chief of staff, John Kelly, who said he said that or

disgraced, defeated and lying Donald Trump?

My son was one of those people. Not a war -- folks, look, how about the fact that 44 --

CROWD: Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years.

BIDEN: How about the fact -- that's OK. How about the fact that 40 out of his 44 top advisers, including the vice president, aren't supporting him

this time around? The people who know him best, 40 of them, said I will not support the man I work for this time around. It tells you a lot about the

person who knows him.

Look, he lied about how great he was on crime. I had to remind him that he oversaw a record increase in murder rates in 2020. On my watch, violent

crime has hit a 50-year low. There's more to do with this, 50-year low.

And then, I pointed out that the only convicted criminal on the stage last night was Donald Trump. When I thought about his 34 felony convictions, his

sexual assault on a woman in a public place, is being fined $400 million for a business fraud, I thought to myself, Donald Trump isn't just a

convicted felon, Donald Trump is a one-man crime wave.

And he's got more trials. He's got more trials coming up

CROWD: Lock him up. Lock him up. Lock him up. Lock him up. Lock him up.


BIDEN: Well, a time for that. Look, the thing that bothers me maybe most about him, he has no respect for women or the law. He doesn't. And then,

his biggest lie, he lied about how he had nothing to do with the insurrection of January 6th. We all saw it with our own eyes.

We watch it on television. We saw thousands, in his direction, attack the Capitol. We saw police being attacked. The Capitol being ransacked. The mob

hunting for Speaker Pelosi. Gallows literally set up for Mike Pence. And then, he told them as he sat in the dining room, one private dining room,

one door off my Oval Office, he sat there for three hours watching the TV, he did not a single thing to stop it. Nothing, nothing at all. And now, he

wants to pardon all those convicted and criminals.

But folks, for all his lies, we did learn some -- we learned some important truths about Donald Trump last night, we learned he's still proud of being

the person who killed Roe v. Wade. We learned -- you know, we learned he's still proud about the pain and cruelties inflicted on America's women. We

learned he still believes that politicians, not doctors and women, should make decisions about a woman's health. We learned that if he's elected

again and the MAGA Republicans pass a national ban on abortion, he will sign it.

Donald Trump says he thinks overturning Roe v. Wade was a beautiful thing. I think it was a nightmare. No, I really mean it, a nightmare. And I made

it clear again last night that if you elect me and Kamala, you give us a Democratic Congress, we will make Roe v. Wade the law of the land again.

He continued to lie. He said, I quadruple taxes. Where the hell has he been? Which is a simple lie. I didn't raise a tax on anyone in America that

made less than $400,000 a year. And I won't on my second term either.

We learned that Trump who had the largest deficit in any president in four years because of the $2 trillion tax cuts to the super wealthy, we learned

that Trump wants to give another giant tax cut for the very wealthy and the biggest corporations. This time, $5 trillion. Not a joke, $5 trillion. To

pay for it, he's going to cut Medicare and Social Security. He'll cut health care, do it all with millions of working middle class Americans all

pay for another tax cut for the very wealthy.

Then, to add insult to injury, he wants to raise taxes on the average family $2,500 a year. What amounts to a new 10 percent tail tax on all

products imported into America, that's his new plan, for food, coffee, candy bars and so much more. It's going to raise a tax on the average

family $2,500 a year.

The most dangerous thing, though, we learned that Donald Trump will not respect this year's election outcome. He's still not rejecting the last

time out. Well, think about it, every court in Newnan ruled that it was a fair election. He's still denying it. Still telling lies.

Three times Trump was asked last night by the moderators, would he respect the election results if he lost this time? Three times he refused to

answer. Three times. Folks, Donald Trump refused to accept the results in 2020. We all saw what happened on January the 6th. It's a direct

consequence of that. It was an international embarrassment.

By the way, as I go to these international meetings, I know every major world leader, literally, because I've been around, as you might have

noticed. But they asked me, did he really mean this? Is that what -- was this real? It caused the constitutional crisis and international

embarrassment. Now, Trump is making it clear that if he doesn't win this time, there will be, in his words, bloodshed.

But no president has ever said anything like that. No president. His words, not mine. We're going to let Donald Trump attack our democracy again? I

don't think so.


CROWD: Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years.

BIDEN: Folks, we've come a long way. We've come a long way from the mess of Donald Trump left us. We came out of the pandemic. We're a long way from

where Donald Trump telling us inject bleach in our skin. That COVID is not that dangerous.

Today, we have the strongest economy in the world, without exception. 15 million new jobs, 800,000 manufacturing jobs. Unemployment under 4 percent

for a record two years in a row. Historic black and Hispanic unemployment down. Historic creation of small business in black and all communities

across the nation, particularly in rural areas. Historic economic growth. Inflation has dropped from 9 percent to 3 and is still going down.

I know we have more to do to get prices down. We have to take on corporate greed. They're making twice the profit they were before the pandemic. We

got to make housing more affordable. Provide childcare. Make the tax code fair. Sixteen Nobel winners of the economic Nobel Prize have looked at my

economy -- economic plan this week.

They've sent -- they issued a report. And a Trump's plan. Here's what they concluded. They said that my plan would continue to grow the economy and

bring down inflation. 16 Nobel laureates. And that Trump's plan would send the nation into recession and inflation soaring through the roof. It won't

take my word for it.

Folks, let me close with this. I know I'm not a young man, to state the obvious. Well, I know. Well, I don't -- Folks, I don't walk as easy as I

used to. I don't speak as smoothly as I used to. I don't debate as well as I used to. But I know what I do know, I know how to tell the truth. I know

right from wrong. And I know how to do this job. I know how to get things done. And I know like millions of Americans know, when you get knocked

down, you get back up.

I know the truth to take our economy in the depths of pandemic to where it is today, the strongest economy in the world. I know it will take to bring

this economy to everybody. I know what it will take to rally the world to stand up against Putin and defend freedom, not yield in. And I know what it

will take to keep the world safe and free for the years ahead.

Folks, I give you my words of Biden, I would not be running again if I didn't believe with all my heart and soul, I can do this job. Because quite

frankly, the stakes are too high. The stakes are too high.

CROWD: Yes, you can. Yes, you can. Yes, you can. Yes, you can.

BIDEN: Donald Trump is a genuine threat to this nation. He's a threat to our freedom. He's a threat to our democracy. He's literally a threat for

everything America stands for.


BIDEN: Look, he doesn't understand what I think all of you do, America is the finest, the most unique nation in the world. We're the only nation in

the world, and I mean this sincerely, it's a fact statement, not a hyperbolic statement. It's fact. We're the only nation in the world built

on an idea. All the nations built on ethnicity, geography, and other religion, but we're built on an idea. That we're all created equal. They

deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives. We've never fully lived up, but I'll be damned in the year 2024, just two years before the 250th

anniversary of our Declaration of Independence that I'll let Donald Trump down walk away from it.


I give you my word, I give my word as a Biden, we're still a nation. I believe we're still a nation that believes in honesty, in decency, and

treating people with respect. I still believe we're a nation that gives everyone a fair shot and leaves nobody behind. We're still nice to gives

hate no safe harbor. And we're still the beacon to the world. We could never give up what makes America America.

Donald Trump is motivated by revenge and retribution. Well, revenge and retribution never built a damn thing.

You and I, we Americans are a nation of hope, optimism and possibilities. That's what always build America. And that's going to continue to build

America today. The choice of this election is simple. Donald Trump will destroy democracy, I will defend it.

So, folks, are you with me?


BIDEN: Donald Trump is the first president I've heard of that stood up there and running for president having been one term saying America is a

failing nation. Where the hell does he think he is? I'm serious. Failing -- I don't know a president wouldn't trade places with America in a heartbeat.

He's dead wrong. America is not a losing nation. America is winning.

As I stand here today, I can honestly say I've never been more optimistic about America's future in my whole career. We just have to remember who we

are. We're the United States of America. There is nothing, nothing beyond our capacity, nothing, when we act together.


BIDEN: You've got it. So, may God bless you all and may God protect our troops. Let's go get him, North Carolina.

AMANPOUR: That is what you call rallying the troops. That is a redo. After last night's campaign performance, which was roundly panned, President

Biden speaking for about 20 minutes in the tone and the volume and the strength of voice with all the facts that he probably wishes he had laid

out last night in the debate.

He addressed everything. He addressed the age head on. He addressed democracy. He addressed, you know, Ukraine and Putin. He addressed the

economy. He addressed women's rights. Let's just go to Jim Sciutto now, right now. Because, you know, clearly, Jim, the question on everybody's

mind, who is on the Biden camp is, can he make up for what happened last night? This looks like a pretty good start out of the gate.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: He's trying to -- you know, the line that stuck out to me was this one, Christiane, he said -- acknowledging last night's

failure, he said, I don't debate as well as I used to, but I know how to tell the truth, I know right from wrong, I know how to do this job. Drawing

the sharp contrast he attempted to do last night with Donald Trump and doing it here with a bit of a self-deprecatory, you know, I wasn't great

last night. I mean, he seemed to be acknowledging that.

The trouble is, Christiane, much smaller audience, right, than we saw last night, tens of millions of Americans tuning in. And not, crucially, that

split screen with Donald Trump. He had a chance there to draw that distinction before American voters' eyes of how he talked versus how the

former president talked. And that's not to minimize Donald Trump's many lies yesterday, but in terms of energy and focus and clarity, I mean, it's

a tale of two different Bidens, isn't it, what we saw there and what we saw last night.

AMANPOUR: It is indeed a tale of two different Bidens. And even after the debate, you know, Jim that he went to a post -- you know, post watch party,

and even there, he was more vigorous. But here's the interesting thing, because, yes, it's a smaller audience, obviously, but it's also going to go

all over social media, online, you know, it's going to go, viral bits of it are, and I was fascinated by this roundup of actually the reviews from last


They say, yes, it was a nightmare and a debacle for Biden on Twitter. But this thing called CrowdTangle said -- Instagram and TikTok and most of

those performances there was there, was -- there was a universal vibe that both candidates, not just Biden, were less than ideal for the moment.

So, actually, on the social media digital sort of ecosystem, it was a very different result than we heard on television and in the printed press.


SCIUTTO: It's a great point, Christiane, because so often our bubbles -- these bubbles we occupy today are impregnable and how -- well, the cable

news audience, the newspaper editorial writer's audience, how it absorbs events like that and versus how most Americans or indeed most viewers and

listeners around the world absorb and interpret events are often vastly different, right? We have to acknowledge that.

And listen, Trump -- Biden's going to have a lot of rallies in the coming days and weeks, and I'm sure he'll try to hit that point. And by the way,

there is a format difference as well, right? I mean, it did look that the president was reading from a teleprompter there, much as he was the State

of the Union night when he performed so well, by all accounts. Is that the difference going forward? We'll see.

But certainly, the debate format last night did not serve those interests. That said, to your point, people absorb an event like the debate in a lot

different ways than they used to.

AMANPOUR: Jim, you know, there's this complete meltdown in the Democratic circles where everybody was saying, and all the columnists just about on

that side, were saying that, you know, he -- there's -- he's got to pull out. That did not look like a gentleman who wants to pull out of a race.

SCIUTTO: No, no.

AMANPOUR: And actually, I spoke to a key Democratic strategist. You probably know him well, Simon Rosenberg, who said look, yes, it was a bad

night, as Biden said himself, but we are going to keep fighting and I still think we can do it. Although, we're starting, you know, at this point, it's

going to be more difficult.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and listen, Biden did not look like a candidate who was considering dropping out of the race, nor did his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, as

she gave that spirited introduction to him there. And I, like you, I'm sure have been pinging a lot of folks I know inside the White House who advised

the president to see if there's an inkling from them that he might drop out or that they would encourage him to do so. And in general, I'm hearing no,

for now, right?

That could change. They're certainly going to be looking at numbers. They poll a lot. They'll see what those polls indicate. But for now, and boy

from that performance just there, does not seem like that's under consideration.

AMANPOUR: It's really fascinating because they had to do something without letting too much time pass if they were going to even try to. But

certainly, the Republicans were jubilant. Trump, they said, had a very good night in his performance, even though it was a firehose of falsehoods, he

was energetically incoherent and lying. But, you know, the optics were very much in his favor last night.


AMANPOUR: Jim Sciutto, thank you so much indeed.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Now, of course, America's adversaries as well as its allies are taking stock of last night's presidential debate or at least the American

election, because it matters to the rest of the world as well, including to Iran, where today is election day there. The regime has urged people to

vote as a way of legitimizing its rule.

Now, in this snap poll, which comes just a month after the hardline President Raisi died in a helicopter crash, four candidates who are

remaining on the ballot, all were men, millions of Iranians, though, have been expected to boycott the election.

Disillusionment with violent crackdowns on protests and women's rights, and their own dire economic situation are forefront. And for more analysis,

let's bring in the New York Times reporter, Farnaz Fassihi, who has covered Iran for decades. She's an Iran expert and joins me from New York.

Farnaz Fassihi, let me just start by asking you, because I know the Trump debate and Biden debate went around the world. And the Iranians do -- I'm

not even talking about the people, but the regime is constantly trying to figure out who's going to be president and what they should do in terms of

their policies in the light of it.

Give us a little bit of how much the American presidency matters, even in a place like Iran.


me. So, the U.S. presidential election factored pretty largely in the Iranian presidential (INAUDIBLE). Most of the candidates, when they were

speaking at rallies (INAUDIBLE) each other on television, kept saying that the next president of the U.S. is going to be Trump and I'm the best person

to deal with him.

So, there was kind of a rivalry and a foregone conclusion in their minds that Trump is going to be the next president, and Iran needs to have sort

of a strong conservative or -- on the reformist side, a reformist president. So, you know, President Trump was really -- had a presence in

the Iranian debates and election rallies.

AMANPOUR: And what about the actual domestic situation in Iran? You know, it was interesting to see that -- according to the way that they're

reporting it from there, there was one reform candidate who was approved. The rest were conservatives. But the reform candidate was considered to the

front runner. Do you buy that?


FASSIHI: Well, right now you know, voting started this morning in Iran. It's in 7:00, 8:00 in the evening right now. And the low -- their estimates

is that the turnout is about 25 percent. So, really low. Even though there's a reformist candidate, as you mentioned, when you were giving the

summary of the situation in Iran, there's widespread voter apathy.

I think that the government qualified a reformist candidate this time to make the election appear more competitive, to bring in the reform faction,

which had boycotted the parliament elections and try to incite people to come out and vote. But in practice, we're seeing that the majority of

Iranians, if we just go by what the turnout has been, are saying no to the Islamic Republic.

And the -- you know, there's a lot, of sort, of disillusionment that really change can come through the ballot box. Iranians have gone through many

presidential elections. You and I have been on the ground in previous elections where they had hope for change, they came out and voted, nothing

really happened. And we're seeing that reflection in the polls today, that even the reformist candidate hasn't been able to really rally the crowds.

AMANPOUR: And you know, because back in -- was it in March, when they went to the local elections, there was a record low, it was 41 percent. If your

figure of 25 percent holds now, that is catastrophic. And the -- you know, the supreme leader urged them to vote, urged, you know, them to show that

the republic has legitimacy.

I'm going to just tell you -- ask you to stand by, Farnaz, for a second, because we now have our correspondent in Iran, who is Fred Pleitgen. I'm

going to ask him about the state of play at the at the ballot box.

Fred, so tell me what you've been seeing. You're still out there. Is voting still going on?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Christiane. Yes, we are still out here. We are actually in a polling

station that's inside a very famous shrine in the north of Tehran. I can show it to you right there. The Imamzadeh Saleh Shrine on Tajrish Square,

of course, as you know, you've been here so many times.

And there is a polling station out here. You're absolutely right. And as you can see, at that polling station, there are actually still fairly

decent lines that we can see here. We can see a lot of people still here lining up. This is the men's section. There's a women's section that's also

next door.

To us, it seems as though, Christiane, many people are coming out and voting a little bit later then maybe they did, for instance, in the

parliamentary election that was held earlier in the year, because it was extremely hot today throughout the course of the day. So, I think many

people waited for things to cool down.

We are now, of course, past 9:00 p.m., going on to 10:00 p.m. here, local time in Tehran. The local authorities have already said that they have

extended the voting until at least 10:00 p.m. They might extend it a little bit further after that.

What we've seen -- and we've been at three polling stations here in Tehran, in various places, in the center of Tehran, a little bit in the north of

Tehran as well. I think from what we saw the participation to us from the small sample that we had looked as though there might have been a little

more people actually going to the polls than, for instance, in the parliamentary election a couple of months ago.

There was interestingly one gentleman that we spoke to, spoke very good English, and he told us that he was a young voter, he was 28 years old, and

he believed that because there was a moderate on the ballot that he was coming to vote. And he'd actually brought his friend as well. And he said

that because there's a moderate now on the ballot that he wanted to also come and cast his ballot as well.

Again, these are very small sample sizes. There is also absolutely no doubt -- and we've been around Tehran the past couple of days, since Monday, and

certainly, there were a lot of people who told us that they, frankly, we're not going to come out and vote at all.

However, the fact that there are, sort of, at least two different political streams to choose from now may have mobilized, at least, a few people to

come to the ballot boxes. Of course, we're going to see that tomorrow when we find out what exactly the turnout has been. And of course, also the

results as well, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Fred, before I let you go, just tell me, because you've been there for a few days, what are people saying about -- you know, about their

sense of dissatisfaction or satisfaction? What are they saying are the main issues?

PLEITGEN: Yes. Well -- so the main issues, I would sum up into two main issues, and they're intertwined, and it's something that we, of course,

have seen in Iran in the past couple of years. One of them is economic and the other one is foreign policy, where people believe that that is

obviously a very important issue for them.

As far as the economy is concerned, we know that inflation is high. We know that unemployment is very high, prices have been rising. It's been very

difficult for the government of Ebrahim Raisi to come to terms with that, and any government to come to terms with that. So, that's what voters tell

us for them is by far the most important issue, to have a chance on the job market, to be able to get jobs, especially for young people, to get well

paid jobs. And then, of course, also for things to become more affordable, for goods to become more affordable.


Now, of course, all of that, as you know, is very much intertwined with the foreign policy situation, where, of course, sanctions that have been levied

by the U.S. and its allies are a big issue for the economy here in Iran. The moderate candidate, Masoud Pezeshkian, he has said that he wants better

relations with other countries. But conservatives say they don't believe in that. They want to continue the hardline policies of Ebrahim Raisi.


PLEITGEN: They have both said, both -- the two frontrunners. And so, those are the two main issues that are really on people's minds here in this

election, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Fred, thank you so much. Glad we reached you in Tehran. And I'm going to put some of that to Farnaz Fassihi right now.

So, Farnaz, the issue, I mean, it was great to get that report from the ground, and really go -- yes, it goes to what we're talking about here. You

know, some people will say, do elections in Iran even matter? And on the issue of the foreign policy, you know, the support for militants in the

Middle East, the -- you know, the nuclear brinkmanship that now it seems to be continued. What's your analysis on that?

FASSIHI: I think that, as you know, key state policies such as the nuclear program, whatever concessions Iran makes, the issue of the regional

policies regarding Israel and the sort of forward defense that Iran has created for itself by supporting and arming and funding these militant

groups around the region, these are all sort of state policies, right? They are mostly determined by Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader, and by the

Revolutionary Guards when it comes to these regional militant groups.

However, we've seen in -- you know, precedent shows us that different administrations in Iran make a little bit of a difference. They set the

domestic agenda and they do have influence over some foreign policy issues. We saw that, you know, the government of President Rouhani managed to

negotiate and sign a nuclear deal with western powers and had more of an open approach, and social things were a little bit eased up, including, you

know, enforcement of hijab.

And then, when President Raisi came or when President Ahmadinejad was that we saw when conservative government comes, there's more of a defiant

attitude, there's more this attitude that -- you know, that President Raisi sort of turned away from the west and pivoted Iran to what Russia and China

and really strengthen those ties, selling drones to Russia for the war in Ukraine, selling oil at a discounted rate to China.

So, there are differences in the way that the administration really, you know, take some things forward --


FASSIHI: -- you know, to some extent.

AMANPOUR: Yes. So, now, let's talk about the all-important issue domestically of the actual people and their rights and their frustration

and their hardship. And what about the women's vote? It was interesting that the candidates, whether they meant it or not, felt forced to put

women's issues at the forefront. Is that going to make a blind bit of difference?

FASSIHI: Well, I think these are, you know, campaign issues. I think the women of Iran have very courageously been defying the rule of mandatory

hijab. The women who don't believe in mandatory hijab have been -- you know, since they've been fighting this and struggling to sort of define

their own terms for the past 45 years, but post the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of Morality Police and the Women, Life, Freedom Movement, that

uprising that sprang in 2022, women have been taking off their hijab. They've been wearing, you know, whatever clothes that they want in the

street. And the government's been cracking down on them.

And this issue really surfaced to one of the top issues of the debates where even the conservative candidates were forced or we're saying that we

don't agree with the heavy-handed crackdowns. We don't agree with violence against women. And I think that women rights activists that I spoke to in

Iran said this shows that our movement has been successful because they can't ignore us anymore.

Now, whether this rhetoric is going to translate into any change of policy, we have to see. It's unlikely. But at least they acknowledge that the

women's struggle is real, that the women movement is too big to ignore and that, you know, Iranian women are not going to stand down. And that was

very interesting to see playing out throughout the course of the campaign these past couple of weeks.


AMANPOUR: And in our final minute, Farnaz, back to foreign policy, and partly following up on some of what you just said. There is a sort of an

anti-American, anti-western axis that has developed over the last several years. It's Russia, it's China, it's North Korea, and it's Iran.

How do you see that? You're a U.N. correspondent as well. You're right there you know, reporting from all the world leaders and their

representatives. How do you see that playing out?

FASSIHI: I think in terms of where Iran stands, they really thought that after President Trump exited the nuclear deal and sort of the European

countries weren't able to sort of, stand -- you know, give Iran what it wants -- its terms, sanctions and whatnot, I think the policy in Iran was

that we can't really trust the west, we can't trust the U.S., and we can't trust Europe. So, we're going to go to more -- what they think are more

reliable partners, Russia and China.

With Russia, they forged very close security and military ties. And with China, economic ties. You know, Iran was invited to be a member of BRICS,

the BRICS alliance. So, they're really seeing their role more in the camp, in the global camp that is standing against the west, and they think that's

a safer place for them to be for survival and for -- you know, for their own interests.

AMANPOUR: Farnaz Fassihi, New York Times, thank you so much. I wish we had time for more.

FASSIHI: Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: Always fascinating. Thanks for your insight.

And that is it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after this on our podcast and, of course, online, on our

website, or over social media.

Thanks for watching. Goodbye from London.