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Despite Mounting Worries About His Age, Biden Celebrates His 81st Birthday; According to Polls, Biden May Face Difficulties Against Trump; Sam Altman Joins Microsoft days After Being Sacked by OpenAI; 500+ Staff at OpenAI Threaten to Resign, Calling on Board to Step Down; Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Makes Surprise Visit to Kyiv; Russia's War on Ukraine. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 20, 2023 - 10:30   ET




OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This morning, President Joe Biden is celebrating his 81st birthday, and I'm sure he would wish for different polling on his birthday. New polling suggests voters aren't pleased with his handling of the Israel-Hamas war. The president is also struggling with a critical block of voters, at least as far as polls show. And that's why we've got CNN's Harry Enten who joins us now.

Look, it appears he's struggling based on the polling. But what is the polling at this point? What is the scope of what we're talking about here?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATE REPORTER: Yes, it is young voters. You know, young voters have traditionally been such an important part of the Democratic bloc. So, these are voters under the age of 35. And take a look at the 2020 result. Biden won these voters by 21 points. Look at a recent average of polling. Biden's still ahead, but just by three points, Omar. The last time a Democratic candidate did this poorly amongst voters under the age of 35 was before either of us were actually registered or possibly registered to vote back in 2004, when John Kerry did win younger voters, but not by a very wide margin over George W. Bush.

And this translates into something else that, of course, we've been talking a lot about, right? So, this is approval of Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas war. We see amongst all voters, it's only 37 percent.


But take a look amongst younger voters again under the age of 35.

JIMENEZ: It's even lower.

ENTEN: Even lower.

JIMENEZ: Yes. ENTEN: Look at that 32 percent. Look at age 18 to 34 Democrats. So, these are Democrats. These are Democrats. Here, it's just 24 percent. There is a massive age divide within the Democratic Party on this issue with voters over the age of 65 overwhelmingly approving of Biden's handling of the war, while those voters, Democrats under the age of 35, very much do not.

JIMENEZ: Now, look, we are still about a year out to the election, and sometimes polls at this point aren't necessarily predictive of what we will see on election day.

ENTEN: Sure.

JIMENEZ: But obviously this is not the trend that you would want to see at this point. Now, it's not just young voters, though, that we're seeing tougher than usual numbers for the president.

ENTEN: Yes, you're right. You know, look, there are plenty of examples of incumbents who are not polling particularly strongly at this point who went on to win re-election. But take a look at the Biden versus Trump margin among likely registered voters. If you were to just take one of these poll numbers, they're all within the margin of error.

But put them together and you get a real clear picture. "Fox News", Trump ahead by four. "NBC News", Trump ahead by two. Quinnipiac University, Trump ahead by two. Marquette University, Trump ahead by two. There are, in fact, only two incumbents. Two incumbents, historically speaking, who have trailed for re-election at this point over the last 80 years.

One of them was Donald Trump in 2020. He didn't go on to win re- election. Joe Biden is the only other one who trailed for re-election at this point. The average incumbent, Omar, leads by about a little bit more than 10 percentage points. So, the fact that you have all of these polls showing Biden behind, that is a very poor sign as we head into Biden's re-election year next year.

JIMENEZ: And again, it is next year, at this point, when you lay all of them out. That's not what the president would want to see for his birthday, today. Is there -- just before we go, just lay it out a little bit for us, how much can change over the course of a year here?

ENTEN: Yes, I mean, think about Ronald Reagan at this point, right? Ronald Reagan versus Walter Mondale. Ronald Reagan held the lead in the polls, but it was maybe, you know, maybe two or five percentage points. He went on to win re-election by nearly 20 percentage points.

So, we're looking right now at a case in time, right? We are not at the election. Donald Trump, at this point, trailed Joe Biden by about 10 percentage points in the polls. He only lost by about four and a half. So, the fact that we see these polls right here, it's a slim margin. It's within the margin of error of one particular poll. Altogether, I have very little doubt that Donald Trump is leading Joe Biden. But we're a year out. A lot can change, Omar. JIMENEZ: And I think hitting that moment in time, the particular moment we're in, we're seeing crises on multiple fronts, including overseas, where the president has had to walk a very fine line here as multiple groups have been pressuring him for a solution here. Can't wait for you to come back. We're going to see how these numbers change potentially, but also as we get towards 2024. Lots to talk about.

ENTEN: A lot of talk about.

JIMENEZ: Harry Enten, thank you so much.

ENTEN: Thank you.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: Coming up for us, former OpenAI CEO, Sam Altman lost his job and just as quickly got a new one. Now 500 OpenAI employees have threatened to quit their jobs over what happened and how that played out. What the creator of ChatGPT is saying now.



BOLDUAN: This morning, it's really a blockbuster shakeup happening in the tech world, and one that is going to have big implications far beyond Silicon Valley when it comes to the future of artificial intelligence. Sam Altman, the creator of ChatGPT, is now joining Microsoft just after he was pushed out from OpenAI, which he co- founded. Also new in this, now more than 500 OpenAI staffers are threatening to quit themselves over how this whole thing was handled.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich and Clare Duffy are here with more on this. It's great to have you guys here. So, Vanessa, first, Sam Altman is synonymous with artificial intelligence, synonymous with ChatGPT. How is this rattling the world of A.I. and Silicon Valley?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: We were chatting about this and Sam Altman is to artificial intelligence and AI what Mark Zuckerberg is to social media.

BOLDUAN: That's a great point.

YURKEVICH: That's really the power that he holds. And now with the -- with this hiring of Altman to Microsoft, they now become the world leader in artificial intelligence. They had previously invested $13 billion into OpenAI. They own 40 percent of that company. But now they have Altman and potentially hundreds of his former -- of former staffers at OpenAI to now go over to Microsoft and to work with artificial intelligence at that capacity.

Microsoft, from the get go, was on a mission to beat Google in the AI race. This open letter from more than 500 employees from OpenAI basically says, if the board at OpenAI does not resign and you do not bring Altman back and his co-founder back that they will all resign. BOLDUAN: It seems like that train has left the station, though.

YURKEVICH: It has. It has.

BOLDUAN: Even though -- and it's also still -- I mean, they said it's because he wasn't being transparent, but it's also unclear how -- what really was going on down there?

YURKEVICH: Basically, what was going on is there was a discrepancy on how far and how fast to move the technology. Altman wanted to put his foot on the gas, and the board thought that they should slow down. And essentially, really, what we're seeing is the power of Sam Altman here. This move to Microsoft is huge.

Microsoft stock just hit an all-time high today, this morning, because of Sam Altman's move there. It just really shows the power of this CEO and the loss now to OpenAI.


BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Look, it's huge in the tech industry. It's huge in Silicon Valley, and anyone who's -- has an interest in AI. But this also has real significance for everyone else, people far beyond Silicon Valley, in terms of what this means for artificial intelligence, which is impacting and will impact everyone's live -- lives, right, Clare?

CLARE DUFFY, CNN BUSINESS WRITER: Yes, Kate. I mean, I think if you take a step back, this technology is, this is like the next huge wave of technology. AI is poised to change how we work, how we communicate, how we shop, really everything about the world over the next couple of years.

BOLDUAN: Medicine, how we get our health, everything.

DUFFY: And so, I think there's this fundamental question, as Vanessa hinted at, that, you know, how quickly do we move to bring the benefits of this technology to people to commercialize this technology so that it gets out in the world, while also balancing the potential risks of this technology, which are also really great.

And so, I think you see Microsoft bringing on Sam Altman as an indication that they are ready to move forward pretty quickly with this technology. Of course, they're going to say they're doing it in a responsible way, but they want to move quickly here. I think the other big question I have right now is there are many, many third-party companies that were building on top of OpenAI's technology. They were building out AI applications. That work is probably now all on pause because is OpenAI going to continue to exist as a company?

And so, what does that mean for all of these third-party developers that we're building AI technology, using OpenAI's infrastructure? I think we could see a real slowdown in this industry in the next couple of months.

BOLDUAN: Look, and the last we all had this big discussion about it, this was over concerns raised which is like how dangerous AI --

YURKEVICH: Stealing our jobs.

BOLDUAN: -- is stealing our jobs, but also how dangerous it is in terms of just like geopolitical structure. What -- how dangerous AI can be for world order? And also, what is Congress and Capitol Hill, what's the legislative branch point to do about it? None of that has changed in terms -- that still all remains. It just is now, I'm really interested to see what Sam Altman's first move is in this new role, if and when we're going to see it.

DUFFY: I think, in many ways, he's potentially even more powerful at Microsoft because he has all of the resources of this massive big tech company. He has the direct backing of CEO who's just hired him. And so, I think he could move this technology even faster at Microsoft than he did at OpenAI.

YURKEVICH: And he very much was a key player in terms of his relationship with the Biden administration. He testified in AI regulation hearings.


YURKEVICH: He's met with President Biden several times, including many, many world leaders. I think that he probably -- it felt nice for him to be at OpenAI offices over the weekend when they were trying to court him back. But ultimately, this is probably a strategic move for him and a move really that sets him up for the future and for the development of AI in the future. Microsoft is now, as of today, I think the leader in this.

BOLDUAN: If you can look back and who knows the time period considering how AI -- fast AI development is happening is this is like a fundamental pivot point when it comes to this technology with this big move for him. It's really, really quite a wild weekend. It's good to have you guys.

YURKEVICH: Wild 72 hours.

BOLDUAN: Yes, exactly. Buckle up. Who knows what happens next? Thanks, guys.

Coming up still for us, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, he makes a surprise visit to Kyiv. His message that he brought with him with this unexpected trip, that's next.



JIMENEZ: Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is in Kyiv, Ukraine today where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Austin traveled there to reinforce the United States support in Ukraine's ongoing war with Russia and underscore the continued commitment to provide military equipment. The U.S. has provided tens of billions of dollars in security aid for Ukraine and has pledged to back the country against Russian aggression for as long as it takes. However, recent opposition from hardline Republican lawmakers has raised doubts on the future of U.S. assistance.

So, CNN's Anna Coren is in Kyiv for us. Anna, what does the Secretary hope to accomplish with this visit?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, he's certainly given the Ukrainians a shot in the arm. They were feeling very neglected with what was happening in the Middle East and the West's attention squarely on the war in Israel.

So, Secretary Austin coming here today in this surprise visit, his second visit since Russia invaded Ukraine in February of last year, really is a morale booster. And whilst he was meeting with President Zelensky today, he said, you know, the U.S. is with you. We are here for the long haul, and that what matters here matters to the entire world. He commended the Ukrainians for their grit, their ingenuity, and their courage.

Now, as far as President Zelenskyy is concerned, the U.S. funding bill, that is causing great anxiety. You know, the war is at a difficult point. 21 months in, this is now a war of attrition, a slugfest between Russia and Ukraine. There is a brutal and bloody fight happening on the eastern and southern front. And really, they need to know that the world has their back. That sure, the United States, which makes up the most funding, is telling it that it's in there for the long haul, but there are 50 nations, that help fund Ukraine. And there needs to be that, that long term commitment.

We know the headwinds that President Biden's, funding bill, that $61 billion is facing in Congress. How deeply divided the GOP is, but President Zelenskyy obviously reassured by Lloyd Austin coming to Kyiv today.


JIMENEZ: And of course, that funding that, at one point, for U.S. lawmakers would have been a default move that over time has evolved into a fight that we've seen play out on Capitol Hill here in the United States. Anna Coren in Kiev, thank you so much.

Coming up, lawyers for Donald Trump are in court, ready to fight over the gag order in the federal election criminal case. We're live with the latest.