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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Trump Appeals To Black Conservatives On Eve Of South Carolina Primary; Trump Says, Black Conservatives Are Biden's Worst Nightmare; Trump To Black Voters, My Indictments Like Racial Discrimination; Trump Headlines Republicans Against IVF Ban In Alabama; Abby Phillip Interviews Seven Of Nation's Female Democratic Governors. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired February 23, 2024 - 22:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Probably about something scary, or mysterious, or weird, or all of the above and the latest, I'd say, would fall into the mysterious and weird categories.


Fighter jets spotted a small balloon that is floating 44,000 feet above the mountain west and drifting east. And where did it come from? Well, who knows, we just don't know yet. But, U.S. officials stress it is far smaller than that Chinese spy balloon that the U.S. shot down last year. Those American officials say this balloon does not pose a threat but they're tracking its movement in the air.

Thank you so much for joining us. CNN NEWSNIGHT with Abby Phillips starts now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump calls Joe Biden a racist. That's tonight on NEWSNIGHT.

Good evening. I'm Abby Phillip in Washington.

And just moments ago in South Carolina, Donald Trump accused the sitting president of the United States of hating black people.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: It's the only thing he's really been good at his entire career. You know what that is? Being a racist, because he's a racist.

Biden spent years palling around with notorious segregationists.


PHILLIP: Donald Trump made that remark in South Carolina while making a pitch to the core of the Biden coalition, black voters.

Now, Donald Trump failed to mention a few important things there. He was the guy who played footsie with white nationalists after Charlottesville. Donald Trump was the guy who had to be asked over and over again to distance himself from David Duke, the literal grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. And the actual Trump sales pitch to black voters was even simpler than that, Biden bad, Trump good.


TRUMP: And I'm thrilled to be here tonight with crooked Joe Biden's absolutely worst nightmare, hundreds of proud black conservative American patriots.

You shouldn't be doing well because honestly, they've done a lousy job for you. They've done a lousy job for you. They've been done a lousy job for everybody. But for black Americans, they have done a very poor job.

If you want strong borders, safe neighborhoods, rising wages, good jobs, great education, and the return of the American dream, then, congratulations, you are a Republican. It's pretty simple.


PHILLIP: Trump says that he's not going to take the black vote for granted. He says, under the last four years of his presidency, he achieved the lowest African-American unemployment rate ever recorded, but it turns out that's not true. The all-time low for black unemployment was set by, you guessed it, Joe Biden in April of 2023 at 4.8 percentage points.

And Trump also added this.


TRUMP: Unlike racist Joe Biden, I've spent my entire life working hand in hand with black Americans to create jobs, build buildings, invest in our communities.

I want to tell you, a black worker is a great worker.


PHILLIP: All right. Well, let's put aside trading black people like a monolith, which he did over and over again. Donald Trump's career has been marked by a detailed history of racism. He was sued in the 1970s for housing discrimination based on race. He settled that suit. And Trump also gave a pretty stunning reason for why he says black voters like him now.


TRUMP: I got indicted for nothing, for something that is nothing.

And a lot of people said that that's why the black people like because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against.


PHILLIP: I want to start with Republican Strategist Shermichael Singleton, along with former Communications Director for Vice President Harris and former Senior Adviser to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Ashley Etienne.

I am going to start with you, Ashley, because --


ASHLEY ETIENNE, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: I think he needs to defend his party and the head of his party.

PHILLIP: The idea that Trump being indicted multiple times makes him simpatico with black people in this country is what?

ETIENNE: I mean, here's the thing, I couldn't be more -- and I'm going to take the privilege of speaking for all the black people. I couldn't be more offended by that statement. And I just find it very rich.

And here's the other thing, I just -- him saying black the way that he did, it just felt mocking in some sense. But here's the --

PHILLIP: There's an added emphasis there.

ETIENNE: Yes, I mean, just the emphasis on the B. But here's the real reality is, Trump can try to pander to black folks while insulting us at the same time and the same breath.


But black folks aren't like any other voter, and voters really want to know at the end of the day, what have you done for me lately.

And if you, and that's where Joe Biden actually has the advantage, to your point, 4 percent unemployment among African Americans, 14 percent when Trump was president. Joe Biden created 15 million jobs, you know, just canceled $1 billion in student loan debts, which really is going to set up a lot of black folks to create generational wealth. And that's what it boils down to.

So, this, to me, is just, you know, it's pandering, it's, you know, at its worst, but it's not going to have a major impact.

PHILLIP: Shermichael, you know the person who started this organization that Trump was speaking at. Is this what he had in mind when he created a space? And let's be honest, there are black conservatives. There needs to be black conservatives, but is this what he had in mind when he created this space?

SINGLETON: I mean, look, I think that African-Americans do have some dislikes about the current iteration of things, politically speaking. Trump mentioned immigration issue. We've all seen videos and clips out of Chicago, out of New York City. I just talked about that on Jake's show a couple of days ago. So, there are some points of contention there.

I do also think that there some points of contention with black men in particular. And Democrats have actually acknowledged this that they recognize they need to work harder with black men. Now, am I saying that we're going to see a plethora of black men all of a sudden voting for Donald Trump beyond the 12 percent he received in 2020? That's not what I'm saying. But what I am saying is that any decrease in black men in key states like Georgia, perhaps Pennsylvania, these are key battleground states that President Biden won by very slim margins in 2020, that decrease could somehow give Trump some level of a mathematical advantage.

PHILLIP: But, I mean, there's all of that, and then there's what Trump said and did tonight.

I want to play just one more bit of what Trump said tonight.


TRUMP: These lights are so bright in my eyes that I can't see too many people out there. But I can only see the black ones. I can't see any white ones, you see? That's how far I've come. That's how far I've come. That's a long -- that's a long way, isn't it? These eyes -- we've come a long way together.


SINGLETON: I don't even know what that means.

PHILLIP: What does that even mean?

ETIENNE: I was waiting for him to throw gold sneakers into the audience.

PHILLIP: Speaking of the gold sneakers, I mean, this is part of the conversation here. This from Trump, you know, I saw conservatives complaining about Biden going and doing that video with black voters and eating a meal with them. The kids were eating fried chicken. They called that pandering. Any of this, all of this pandering, is this the right way to reach black voters in general?

ETIENNE: Well, I mean, there's no doubt that there's a clear problem. The Democratic Party us having a problem with the enthusiasm gap among black male voters in particular. There's a New York Times article not too long ago, poll, that showed that Donald Trump's polling at 22 percent with black male voters, well, black voters. And that set off alarms, obviously, within the party.

But here is what I am seeing. I've met with the party. We sort of had a debrief about what lessons learned from 2020. I was in the war room and we were bleeding black male voters 30 days out from the election. Part of what we saw then I don't think the party is quite yet ready to confront in any sort of robust way. I mean, the strategy is quite antiquated. They're putting $25 million on television in these ads with the president sitting down having dinner. That's an antiquated strategy.

The issue really is that disinformation is disproportionately targeted to black voters as well as youth voters. And that's what we saw dating all the way back to the 2016 election. U.S. intelligence agencies are saying it's going to only get worse this cycle. A.I. is only going to compound the situation with these deep fakes.

So, the concern is that the party -- for me, is that the party's not really ready to deal with this issue. You can try to address it on the margins with these types of these dinners and ads and $25 million on television. But the reality is the problem is in our feeds. It's the corrosion within our feeds that we're not ready yet to address.

PHILLIP: A quick last word to you.

SINGLETON: Yes. I mean, look, I think that black men have legitimate concerns. They have concerns about the state of the economy. They have concerns about economic leverage. And they don't see those answers coming from Democrats. And so Trump is making the message.

Again, it doesn't mean that we're going to see 30 percent of black men all of a sudden becoming Republicans. But what it does mean is that Donald Trump is tapping into something that I don't think we can ignore.

PHILLIP: Well, we'll see how it works out for him. Shermichael Singleton, Ashley Etienne, thank you both very much.


And also tonight, it's Joe Biden unplugged, but you won't see Scranton Joe unfiltered unless you have fistfuls of cash to finance his campaign. Now, this Biden fundraiser Joe is a lot more raw than the president that you see every day. Gone are those carefully choreographed moments and they're replaced with unscripted, unfiltered, and sometimes unwisely timed comments that give his advisers heartburn.

Now, Wednesday required a whole lot of antacid over at the White House. Biden was in San Francisco. He went on multiple rifts during some fundraisers on Putin. Biden called him, quote, a crazy SOB. It's a comment for which the Kremlin wants a grand gesture of apology.

On Trump, Biden railed on his rival's attempts to turn Alexei Navalny's death into a campaign rallying cry, quote, he's comparing himself to Navalmy and saying that because our country has become a communist country, he was persecuted, just like Navalny was persecuted. Where the hell does this come from? If I stood here 10 to 15 years ago and said all of this, you'd all think I should be committed.

And on the Republicans, he has to work within Congress. He was pretty unsparing. I've served with real racists, he said. I served with Strom Thurmond. These guys are worse.

And tonight was no exception. Biden was again behind closed doors. This time, he was with donors in Silicon Valley and he gave an unvarnished take on this migrant mess. The border is in chaos, is what he said. On the Republicans in Congress, he added, Republican senators have come and told him that they can't work with him because they'll all be primary. Now, if you're wondering why you don't hear this Joe Biden every day, it's a good question, especially because Biden has a pattern of saying what he really means when it's an audience of the rich and kind of famous and when there are no cameras allowed, by the way.

So, as an example, back in December, he said he wasn't sure he'd be running if Donald Trump wasn't running, or in October in 2022, when he casually warned of Armageddon with Russia, or in June when he fueled an international rift by calling China's president a dictator.

Now, that very same month at a different fundraiser, Biden said Roe v. Wade got it right, but added, quote, I'm not big on abortion, or in August 2022, when he likened MAGA philosophy to semi-fascism.

Its comments like that. Last one, that can run Biden straight into trouble. Just ask Hillary Clinton. In 2016, Clinton learned the hard way that there's no cone of silence at these fundraisers, when she called Trump supporters deplorable while raising cash over in New York.

Mitt Romney also knows the pain of believing that you're in a safe space and discovering suddenly that you are not.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): There are 47 percent of the people who are involved with the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are depended upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believed the government has the responsibility to care for them, who believes that they are entitled to health care, to food, the housing, you name it.


PHILLIP: Joining me now, Michael Moore. He's an Oscar-winning filmmaker and author and host of the podcast, Rumble with Michael Moore. He was also born, raised, and still lives in the state of Michigan. Michael, thanks for staying up with us tonight.

Now, there are obviously pros and cons of being unfiltered in these fundraisers, but do you think that Biden needs to be more honest, more Scranton, you could say, in public?

MICHAEL MOORE, OSCAR AWARD-WINNING FILMMAKER: I think most people appreciate his honesty. I remember the first time I met him was at the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston and I cannot repeat on this kind of network the things he said, but only because he spoke like you speak when you're from a Flint, or Detroit, or Scranton. And it was so refreshing to meet him for the first time, to hear him speak that way.

So, no, I think when people are dictators, and he calls them dictators when they're SOBs, they are SOBs he says it, that's great.

The honesty part that I wish that I'm really feeling it, and I know your producer, so we might talk about this a little bit in a few minutes, but the honesty part really has to be to his conscience and to himself, and what's going on with Gaza and the funding of Netanyahu and hugging them and all this, you know, as a -- I guess I'm a recovering Catholic at this point, Joe Biden is -- he's one of the few presidents in my lifetime that actually, when they went to church, like he means it.

You know, Jimmy Carter was like that. I think, you know but very few presidents, I think, and I think he does mean it.


And I'm just, if I had a chance to talk to Joe Biden, the first thing I want to ask him is, what -- do you still go to mass? I mean, what's going on here? Why are you participating in something that's killing civilians and children and 30,000 now dead? It just --

PHILLIP: But let me ask you about that, Michael. I do want to talk exactly about this issue because, you know, we have seen Michigan voters, where you're from, say that they're not going to vote for Biden because of how he's handled this war. I mean, they want to see change from Biden, but Biden is dealing with a foreign policy issue that is beyond this next election.

Do you think that this dissatisfaction is going to hurt Biden significantly come November? Or will these voters change their mind when it's Biden against Donald Trump?

MOORE: Well, I don't think anybody who, and nobody I know certainly voted for Biden three years ago, almost four years ago, has changed their mind and believed that they made a mistake and they're going to vote for Donald Trump. That's not going to happen.

What's going to happen possibly, and the danger to Biden here, is that people, and remember 70 percent of the electorate now is either women, people of color, or young people between the ages of 18 and 35. That's 70 percent of the voters. And to offend and upset group that supported you back in 2020, especially young people, I mean, you know, I've been saying this month that he's going to cost himself the election. He's going to -- you know, if Trump has any chance, it's the decision that he's made to embrace slaughter, carpet bombing, babies in incubators dead because they cut off the electricity, on and on and on.

And this is -- and I think Joe Biden somewhere confused the fact that, of course, the majority of Americans will do anything to protect our Jewish brothers and sisters, no matter where they're at. And I would say a majority of Americans support Israel. And I would say practically all of us want those hostages released right now.

So, he somehow conflated that with Bibi Netanyahu is some friend of mine, I'm here for you, I'm going to fly on the plane right away, come over there, give you a big hug, give you the thumbs up, do what you got to do, and it has caused a slaughter like nothing that we have seen, and its --

PHILLIP: Michael, would you describe -- I mean, what you're saying there. I mean, would you describe Israel's campaign in Gaza is a genocide? MOORE: Well, you know, that word means different things to different people. I would say that anytime you single out a group of people and you have what's called a mass -- a guilt that you impose on them simply because they are, in this case, Palestinian and now you're just going to randomly, and to use another quote from one of Biden's fundraisers that got out that he said privately, he said this is indiscriminate bombing that's going on, indiscriminate bombing. That's right. That is exactly right.

So, when you indiscriminately bomb a group of people simply because of the color of their skin, because of their religion, because of their heritage or whatever, that is a form of genocide.

And it's -- you know, it pains me, and I think a lot of people even have to use that because we grew up in the years right after World War II. I was born eight years plus after the holocaust, after the last camps were liberated. So, that's was in our heads as little kids. And I think we all grew up with this understanding that this must never happen again and we must stand for the Jewish people.

For that to be turned and used by people who are in Netanyahu's case, like Trump awaiting trial on various indictments, felonious indictments, fraud, bribery, et cetera, and then Netanyahu uses this as a way to avoid the criminality of his administration, it's so disgusting and so sick.


And, look, most Israelis know this anyways. You've seen the polls, 82 percent of Israelis want Netanyahu gone, you know, he did not protect them. That was his one most important job, protect the people, pull the army back from the Gazan border, send them off to the Lebanese border, send them off to the West Bank.

And how many people in their homes, in their safe rooms, shuttered, losing their minds because they're going to be killed any minute by the Hamas attackers? And some people, as you've reported here, have been -- were in there for 14 hours, 16 hours, waiting for help. Where was the help? I mean --

PHILLIP: I mean, it was certainly -- I mean, there's so many questions about, I mean, obviously what you're raising there. And as you point out, and we've pointed out on this show, it's clear, as most people know, that Netanyahu, while this war is going on, won't face accountability for that.

But, Michael, we have a lot more to talk to you about. I want you to stand by for us. I do want to ask you about the breaking news tonight, that's someone who you're particularly familiar with, the former head of the NRA, has been found guilty of corruption.

Plus, more Republicans, including Donald Trump, are speaking out against a ban on IVF. I will speak with seven of the nation's eight female Democratic senators about all of that, and -- or Democratic Governors, I should say.

And does the evidence contradict what Fani Willis said in her testimony, and would it actually jeopardize her case against Trump?




PHILLIP: We're back now with Michael Moore.

Michael, tonight, a jury found that the former NRA chief, Wayne LaPierre, he's guilty of using the group's funds to finance a high- flying lifestyle and other corrupt practices. It's grift at the highest level. What's your reaction to what this means for the future of this organization?

MOORE: Well, I think they've been on the slope downhill now for some time. This is -- you know, when think about the blood in the hands of the NRA and their support over the years for allowing anybody, to buy any gun, at any time anywhere and to buy as many of them as they want, that -- where the majority of Americans don't agree with that.

The whole country has changed their minds about this, about the Second Amendment, they know that we the people are not going to tolerate this anymore. 72 percent of Americans do not own a gun, don't want to own the gun. You know, people in other countries, I think they know they think we're a nation of gun nuts, but the truth is we are not. It's just a few, and it's a real small percentage that own majority of those guns.

So, what Wayne and his people did for so many years was to make sure every time there was a school shooting, a Sandy Hook, Parkland, whatever, that they came right out and doubled and tripled down in their support of you being able to carry any weapon you want anywhere.

And I'm telling you, those days are over. It's only a matter of time. And I think myself and others who are continuing to work on this issue are going to see good results in the years ahead.

There's -- let me add something to it. The way you began the show tonight with Trump's comments tonight, about Biden being a racist, I just want to point out, especially to younger people who might be listening to this, in 1973, the Justice Department brought charges against Fred Trump, Trump's father, and Trump himself, who was 26, 27 years old at the time, working for his dad. His Dad was getting ready to turn the business over.

The Trump family owned thousands of apartments in New York City. The Justice Department focused on 3,700 apartments, they took one swath of Brooklyn or Queens or wherever it was, and they discovered that of the 3,700 apartment in Brooklyn and Queens, only seven black families did they rent an apartment to, 7 out of 3,700.

Now, how did they figure out, how to do that? Because the people in their office, when you went there to rent an apartment in New York City, if you were black, they'd let you fill out the form and when they left, the person in the office put a big C on top standing for a term that they used to use for black Americans. And that's how they were able to know, don't rent to this family.

How the seven got through, the seven families that did get an apartment, you know, my feeling has always been their name must have been, you, know Pitney Van Buren (ph) or something where the Trump family just said, oh, no, they're not, they are not a solid name like that, a good German name, a good British name.

Now, they got away with this. And they had been this way the entire time. They are the O.G.s of a modern New York City style of racism that you can go all the way back into Trump's years. I'm so glad that you brought part of your show of this.

PHILLIP: There is for Trump himself, as we pointed out, quite a long history. You could go all way to 1970 or you could back, you know, seven months. Whichever one you choose, there's a lot there.

Michael Moore, thank you for your time tonight. We appreciate it.

MOORE: Thanks for having me. And everybody get out in vote, the Michigan primary is Tuesday. I'm voting. I am part of a group called Listen to Michigan. We're trying to send a message to Biden and we're voting uncommitted in the primary only. But just to send that message vote uncommitted.

And for the people in California, Barbara Lee is an American hero, the only member of Congress that voted against the invasion of Afghanistan. That's the end of my sermon. Thank you so much for having me.

PHILLIP: Thank you, Michael. We appreciate it.


And coming up next for us, many Republicans are now joining Donald Trump in condemning that IVF ruling in Alabama.

Plus, I sat down with seven of America's eight female Democratic governors about why they think this issue could end up winning Democrats the election. Don't miss this exclusive conversation coming up.


PHILLIP: An interesting twist tonight as the number of Republicans against an IVF ban in Alabama is growing. After our interview last night with staunch Republican Matt Gaetz, who said that the state needs to protect embryo treatments, the party's leader now agrees.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I strongly support the availability of IVF for couples who are trying to have a precious, little, beautiful baby.

(APPLAUSE) I support it. And today, I'm calling on the Alabama legislature to act quickly to find an immediate solution to preserve the availability of IVF in Alabama, and I'm sure they're going to do that.


PHILLIP: This issue, suddenly a flashpoint in this election season. And I sat down with seven of the nation's eight Democratic female governors for a wide-ranging conversation on everything, from abortion to concerns about President Biden's age. Watch.


PHILLIP: Governors, great to see you all here. Obviously, we've got an election. Give me one word that tells me what you think is going to be the defining issue of this election.

GOV. LAURA KELLY (D-KS): On the national level, I have no doubt that it's going to be women's reproductive rights.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Yes.

KELLY: Uh, it was going to be that, you know, before this week. But now, with the ruling in Alabama on IVF, uh, I think it has just expanded people's concerns about, you know, this is real, this is really hitting home, uh, for so many people.

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): This is Republicans trying to weaponize women's rights again.

GOV. JANET MILLS (D-ME): Republican women --

HOCHUL: And we saw this in the election, the special election in New York just a week and a half ago, that republican seat was won by a Democrat because the candidate, Tom Suozzi, leaned hard into abortion.

Even a state like New York, people took it for granted. When I ran for office two years ago, people said, why is she talking about abortion? Because it's going to be safe. This is a blue state. But guess what? When you have someone running for president talking about a national ban, and now we know that they're not going after just medication abortions but also IVF, there's no stopping them.

So, you're absolutely right, that when it comes to taking back Congress and the presidential election, this is something that's going to mobilize women like you've never seen before.

PHILLIP: Donald Trump is talking about, according to "The New York Times," being in favor of a 16-week ban on abortion. What are Democrats prepared to do?

GOV. TINA KOTEK (D-OR): Well, first of all, we need to protect our right at the state level to have what we need, right? And that was, I don't like where we are nationally, but we all were told the states get to define this. That is changing daily, right? So, we need to stand up in our states, whether it's, you know, stockpiling Mifepristone or making sure we have the providers we need.

PHILLIP: It's not just the courts that are saying this. Are you worried that at the national level, there will be an attempt to enshrine some of this stuff as well?

GOV. MAURA HEALEY (D-MA): There's a concern, obviously, about this rhetoric and what it means. Alabama Supreme Court this week essentially taking away IVF in its state. It's a dangerous moment when there are those kinds of rulings from courts and also those kinds of pronouncements from people running for office.

MILLS: Republican women don't agree with the Dobbs decision. Many Republican women I know, independent women don't agree with the Dobbs decision. But he made that happen. And now, we're living with the consequences.

GOV. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM (D-NM): And we're on the front lines of protecting women from other states. I mean --


-- New Mexico is leaning in to making sure women in Oklahoma and Texas and Nevada have safe harbor in our state for comprehensive. We're talking about basic health care in reproductive rights and abortion care and aftercare. It's outrageous.

And the longer it takes for women to get to states where we're the last bastion of their freedoms and their health care choices, the more damaging and dangerous this rhetoric. I agree with you about any ban or any context that limits your individual right.

HOCHUL: You know, I talked to my team about our laws, and I said, are we allowed to use our shield laws, which we enacted after Dobbs to protect anyone from prosecution who may be involved in an abortion in another state? Can they come -- can women who want to have birth by and pregnancy by in vitro come to New York state or bring the embryos with them?

And we say, yes. Yes, you'll be -- your rights will be protected in a state like New York. But, my God, women who don't have a lot of money, the cost of the traveling to get an abortion, to get in vitro fertilization, this should not be a nation of haves and have nots for the women, depending on the geographic boundaries of your state.

PHILLIP: Governor Kelly, I want to give you the last word on this topic. In your state, a red state, your constituents voted to protect abortion rights. What should we understand about how this issue of IVF, for example, how that is being interpreted by people who live in a state like yours?

KELLY: Well, we came out, what, two years ago very strong, 60% of the folks protecting a woman's right to choose after our Supreme Court had said it is constitutional in the state of Kansas. I wasn't the least bit surprised, quite honestly. I mean, I've been elected in this state now twice and it's because, you know, Kansans are very normal, thoughtful, like everybody else people. And, you know, when something so extreme is presented, you know, they're going to show themselves for who they are.

PHILLIP: The economy is the top issue --


PHILLIP: -- for voters out there. Inflation is coming down. It's the longest streak of a decrease in the unemployment rate since the 1960s. However, Monmouth University poll says a third of Americans say that they are benefiting from this economy. Why is it that, you know, Governor Hobbs, the president is not able to convince voters that this is a good economy and that they are benefiting?

GOV. KATIE HOBBS (D-AZ): I think it's up to us to help convince, to make that case to voters in our state.


I mean, Arizona has been hit pretty hard by inflation, largely driven by our housing costs, and we're taking direct action to work to bring those housing costs down so Arizonans aren't priced out of their homes.

PHILLIP: Governor Lujan Grisham, 60% of independent voters disagree with President Biden's handling of the economy. What's going on there?

LUJAN GRISHAM: Well, I think a lot of it is we're in a republican primary. And so, all of the noise and all of the media is really focused on that primary. And so, they're hammering every day that this is a bad economy and it's false. And when you hear something once, twice, three times, it becomes normalized for you. And I think that you're going to see a huge shift in the way the country is feeling. I mean, we're seeing record wage growth in the country.

PHILLIP: I want to get to one of the elephants in the room here in this election. I guess maybe it's not an elephant anymore because people are talking about it. That's the president's age. Sixty seven percent of registered voters, 46% of Democrats say President Biden is too old to effectively serve another four years, according to a Quinnipiac poll. He will be 86 by the end of his second term.

So, what should President Biden be doing, Governor Kelly, for example, to convince voters that this should not be something that is top of mind for them? Just as a data point, President Biden has done fewer news conferences than his predecessors at this point in his presidency. Should that change? Should he be doing more?

KELLY: Well, I don't know that news conferences is going to change people's perceptions. I mean, I think what we've got to do is get people to recognize the accomplishments of the administration. And, you know, it's not all Joe Biden. You know, it's the team Joe Biden has put around him. And that's for all of us. You know, none of us can do all of this alone. And Joe Biden recognizes that.

HOCHUL: I'll take Joe Biden at 80 over a Donald Trump at 25 or 30 any day of the week. It's the policies.

MILLS: Pope Francis is 87 years old. Nobody is calling on him to quit that I know of. I'm going to go see the Rolling Stones in another month or so down Foxborough. Mick Jagger is 80 years old. He's dancing like a fool, singing like a crazy man. Still, Bob Dylan is what, 82 or 83? I'll go see him. I'm not asking him to quit. Paul McCartney. Age brings a little bit of experience that is very valuable to the position of presidency. Come on.


PHILLIP: And we have more from our panel of governors, including what do the border state governors think the Biden administration could do to improve the migrant crisis and what's going on in their group chat.




PHILLIP: More now of my exclusive conversation with seven of the nation's eight female Democratic senators -- governors, including the border crisis and their secret group chat.


PHILLIP: Governor Lujan Grisham, there's some reporting that President Biden is considering some pretty stringent immigration changes that would restrict who can claim asylum if they come into the country illegally. Would you support something like that?

LUJAN GRISHAM: I support getting something done about immigration and the fact that I was leading immigration reform work as the chair of the Hispanic Caucus in Congress.

PHILLIP: Preventing --

LUJAN GRISHAM: It's outrageous that Congress won't get it done. So, it's going to have to be a compromise. I want to see that we've got work opportunities for people who are seeking a better life under the constitutional protections. We've got a lot of folks who were saying no, who don't live at the border and have no idea about these issues.

PHILLIP: Well, Governor Hobbs, I mean, as a border state governor, you've sent the National Guard down to the border.

HOBBS: Uh-hmm. Yeah.

PHILLIP: When you hear that President Biden might prevent people who cross the border illegally from seeking asylum in an effort to reduce the flow, is that what you're looking for? HOBBS: We need something, and we are dealing with decades of inaction from both republican and democratic administrations and now certainly Congress refusing to pass this bipartisan legislation that was presented. Americans want sanity and an end to the lawlessness at the border.

PHILLIP: There are eight Democratic female governors. Seven are seated in front of me. I have to say Governor Whitmer would have been here, but she's with the vice president in her home state. I think it was -- Governor Healy, you called this a sorority. What is it like? What's the group chat like?

GOV. MAURA HEALY (D-MA): Well, it's a dream team.

MILLS: No, don't tell, don't tell.

HEALY: It's fantastic. You know, at the end of the day, we're on the front lines in our state delivering for families, growing our economies, doing the work, and to be able to have conversations with one another in this country.

PHILLIP: So, is the group chat top secret?

MILLS: What group chat?


LUJAN GRISHAM: I mean, I think it is incredible to be able to have perspective from a different state and then think about how it would apply or be the same or different in your own state. I mean, I think COVID did a lot to bring a lot of governors together because we were having to do it on our own.


LUJAN GRISHAM: There was no help from the federal government initially.

UNKNOWN: Initially, yeah.

LUJAN GRISHAM: And so, we were going to talk about being on the front lines.

MILLS: We could be talking about, after the Lewiston shooting last October, I got more help and commiseration, if not full support, from these ladies who didn't wait for me to call but immediately texted or emailed and called and said, what can I do to help?



KOTEK: We know when someone is having a really hard day, and we reach out to each other. And having folks who are in their second term for us in our first terms, you know, their experience has been super helpful for us. PHILLIP: Governors, it was great to have you all here. Thank you very much for your time.

UNKNOWN: Thank you.

UNKNOWN: Thank you, Abby.

UNKNOWN: Thank you, Abby.


PHILLIP: And next, a sobering reminder of two years of that brutal invasion and war in Ukraine.



PHILLIP: Two years ago tonight in this very hour, Russia began its attack on Ukraine's capital.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh! I tell you what, I just heard a big bang right here behind me. I thought we shouldn't have done the live shot here. There are big explosions taking place in Kiev right now. Um, I can't see where they're taking place from this vantage point here on top of the roof of the hotel in central Kiev. And I can't explain what they are, but I heard four or five explosions a few moments ago.


PHILLIP: Now, two years later, tens of thousands are dead, millions of Ukrainians on the run from their homes, and Russia is making new gains in the east as Ukraine's military suffers from a dwindling supply of weapons and manpower.

Next week is going to be a big one for the fate of this war as the House returns from its recess and Republicans are still refusing to budge on aid to Ukraine and to Israel. A grim outlook on this grim milestone.

And thank you for watching NEWSNIGHT. "LAURA COATES LIVE" starts next.