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America's Choice 2024; Deadly Mistake; March Madness; TikTok Tension. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 11, 2024 - 08:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Voters in Georgia are heading to the polls tomorrow, 100% guaranteed to be a critical battleground state in the general election. And very clearly Joe Biden and Donald Trump are aware of that. Both campaigned in the state this weekend presenting quite the split screen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We all know that Donald Trump sees a different American, an American story of resentment, revenge and retribution. That's not me, that's not you.

DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Two nights ago we all heard crooked Joe's angry, dark, hate-filled rant of a State of the Union Address, wasn't it -- didn't it bring us together and merge the border, bring the country to -- to -- together?



BOLDUAN: Joining us right now is CNN political commentator Jonah Goldberg of The Dispatch, and former press adviser to then Speaker of the House John Boehner and most recently, Adam Kinzinger, Maura Gillespie. It's good to see you guys more.

Maura, if that's the start of the general election, does this confirm -- is this everyone's fears confirmed that this general election is going to be is absolutely rough as humanly possible? Is there any way to avoid it?

MAURA GILLESPIE, FOUNDER & PRINCIPAL, BLUESTACK STRATEGIES: I don't see how we could avoid it given that Donald Trump will continue to use this childish attacks and mocking Joe Biden. I don't disagree with the fact that there were times where Joe Biden was yelling at us to agree with him on how great the economy is. I don't think that's really how you win over voters, is by yelling at them to agree with you.

But the childish antics and the back and forth to the -- mostly American people who, again, you know, we've seen those polls, where steady percent of the people don't want this rematch, it's exhausting. It's exhausting to have to watch this back and forth. And it's not really inspiring anyone to want to jump on either side or go out and vote which is a real problem for us.

BOLDUAN: Jonah, you have Biden coming out swinging at, you know, kind of this general election kickoff campaign event, I'm going to call it, no longer calling him my predecessor as we saw in the State of the Union, now naming and blaming when speaking to voters. You have that kind of outreach. And then you also have this, I want to play for you, from Donald Trump, in terms of outreach to voters. Let me play this.


TRUMP: To all Americans, whether you are a Republican and Independent, or a disillusioned Democrat of which there are many, all you had to do is watch that horrible State of the Union. That was the worst president in history, making the worst State of the Union speech in history.


BOLDUAN: What stuck out to me there, Jonah, is the call out to disillusioned Democrats in the applause afterward. To me it felt like kind of like the first direct appeal to the middle of this cycle. What did you think of all that?

JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean, there's a weird irony here, though, is that a big chunk of the Trump -- existing Trump coalition, the one that turned out in primaries, were actually, particularly in southern states, former Democrats, right? He's won over that part of the FDR coalition that was the sort of working class whites, you know, the sort of Dixiecrat-ish whites. They're already part of the Trump coalition.

And so, some of the people that he's talking to aren't the sort of moderates, the middle, all that kind of stuff. They're sort of the radicalized, very online people that have been moving over anyway. I think this is all weird strategy. At the end of the day, every pollster you talk to, who's honest about this stuff, says that this is going to boil down to what they increasingly call the double haters, people who dislike both of them.

And while Biden is not reassuring for a lot of people, and a lot of people don't like him for legitimate reasons. When you compare Trump's approach, which is to make fun of Biden stuttering and to be your childhood stuttering, and to be a jerk about it, that feels to me like it pushes a more doubleheaders away than it attracts. And I'm not sure it's going to be a winning strategy.

BOLDUAN: Jonah, could there be a more perfect label for exactly -- for like a statement of the politics of now, is like the people would decide or the double haters like that is just such a statement of the here and now of just kind of everyone hates everything, and is the double haters who are going to decide this thing. I mean, I don't think it's a perfect encapsulation of, sadly, why we ended up here. GOLDBERG: It's the haters who go to 11 who run our politics now. It's very weird. And I kind of feel like I want to get a Double H brand from some cattle ranch to sort of say where I come down on a lot of this too. But yes, it's a weird moment. No one wants this election. And it's going to be a very, very, very, very long summer.

BOLDUAN: And you're excited about it, Jonah, I can hear it and see it. I can hear your voice and seeing your face.

Maura, Biden's campaign released its first ad of kind of the big post State of the Union campaign blitz, if you will, confronting the concerns about his age. Let me play this for everybody.


BIDEN: Look, I'm not a young guy. That's no secret. But here's the deal, I understand how to get things done for the American people. I lead the country through the COVID crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we do one more take?

BIDEN: Look, I'm very young, energetic and handsome. What am I doing this for?


BOLDUAN: The Trump campaign jumped on that immediately, and turning it and putting their -- putting out of their own digital ad highlighting his age as well. Our concerns over President Biden's age going to be settled kind of in ad wars, do you think?

GILLESPIE: No, but I do think it's smart of the Biden campaign to get ahead of it. I kind of think they should have done it a little sooner. But I do think it's a smart way of doing it, making it more appealing, light-hearted but also, you know, not being blind to it, right?


I mean -- and they didn't use the opportunity, then they could have to say, my, you know, opponents also not too far behind me, you know? They didn't do that, which I think was a smart move to just focus on what Biden is doing or what Biden has done, or what he wants to do. But I do think that we're going to continue to hear the age question again, as both men stumble through speeches.

They're 77 and 80 years old, and they're talking in front of thousands of people. These are high pressure situations and their ability to get through it is --


GILLESPIE: The longer the general election, the more the more exhausting it is for everyone and -- everyone.

BOLDUAN: (Inaudible) or not.

GILLESPIE: For everyone.

BOLDUAN: Jonah, Biden drawing this red line with Israel's war against Hamas. I've really -- I want to get your take on this. Let me play this from the interview from this weekend first, for everyone. Then I'll ask about it afterward.


BIDEN: Israel -- I'm never going to leave Israel. The defense of Israel is still critical. So there's no red line, I'm going to cut off all weapons so they don't have the Iron Dome to protect them. They don't have -- but there's red lines that if you crosses in the -- they cannot have 30,000 more Palestinians dead as a consequence of going after something --


BOLDUAN: Jonah, my immediate thought was, he must remember how badly it went when Obama drew a red line in Syria, different circumstances. But still, he was VP then. I mean, it was a horrible low point for them then created real problems in both policy and politics.

GOLDBERG: Yes. This is one of these very small examples that actually can lead to bigger problems of the sort of cognitive age issue, is that if you don't have this -- that immediate recall that like Bill Clinton had in terms of his incredibly good retail politics skills, you don't connect those dots. And you just sort of go with the little bombs that reporters put in interviews that you don't pick up on and you run with. And I think that's sort of a problem.

He had a similar problem when he used the word illegal in the State of the Union Address, because he just -- he forgot the connections that that has with members of his base. His larger problem is, I think that he thinks, and we saw this in the State of the Union, he thinks his political problems can be summed up with his problems with the most passionate parts of his base. And I just don't think that's true.

You look at John Fetterman, who's more left wing on a lot of economic issues than Joe Biden. He's been throwing haymakers at the sort of pro-Palestinian left. And he's way more popular than Joe Biden is, according to polls. I think that Biden is being told by people in his cocoon that all of his problems will be solved if he could just convince all of the people on this very hardcore left wing base to his to like him again. And I don't think that's in the cards and I don't think that those are the people he needs.

BOLDUAN: It's really good to have you guys here on a Monday. Thanks to run through it with me. Sara?

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We have new details this morning concerning the death of billionaire shipping CEO Angela Chao, who was pulled from her submerged Tesla. Chao is the sister in law of Senator Mitch McConnell, and she died after mistakenly backing her Tesla into a pond last month in Texas.

According to the Wall Street Journal, she made a frantic call to a friend in her final moments as her car was sinking. CNN's Lucy Kafanov is joining us with more on this. What more are you learning about this case, Lucy?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Sara. It's a tragic and also deeply disturbing story. Her death at age 50 near Austin, Texas last month was initially described as a car crash. But according to new reporting from both the Wall Street Journal and the Austin American Statesman, it revealed that she drowned in a pond at her Texas ranch after she accidentally put her Tesla in reverse.

Now, she was spending a holiday weekend in mid February with some girlfriends from the Harvard Business School. They had just finished dinner at this guest house. And just before midnight, she got into her car to make the four minute drive back to the main house where her three-year-old son was sleeping. She then apparently mistakenly reversed the car, sent it flying over an embankment and into a pond where it started to sink.

Now, she managed to call for help. The reports then describe several desperate hours of failed rescue attempts. Emergency workers could not initially reach that submerged vehicle because it was in the center of the pond. Once they did, according to an incident report from a Blanco County First Responder, the two deputies who were in the water standing on top of the submerged vehicle. They requested tools to help break the window to do a possible rescue. That couldn't happen.

You see newer vehicles like what she was driving had this laminated glass which is, you know, great in a car crash. It prevents you from going flying through the window potentially. But in her situation, it was just impossible to break it under water, effectively turning that car into a sinking tube.


The reports go on to say that emergency workers requested a dive team, that wasn't available. A tow truck arrived but it didn't have the cable long enough to reach the car. And the Wall Street Journal even reports that at least one tow driver was afraid of being electrocuted because it was an electric vehicle. Now, PSA, that's not an actual valid safety concern.

Chao, as you pointed out, is part of a prominent family. It has dealings with -- business dealings with China also political dealings. Her sister, as you pointed out is Elaine Chao. She's married to Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell actually referenced this death when announcing his resignation. But the death in its mysterious circumstances also sparked a lot of conspiracy theories online, which weren't helped by the fact that officials released so little information about this death. Sara?

SIDNER: It's awful listening to all the things that happened up until her death when they just simply couldn't get in that car. Lucy Kafanov, thank you so much for that reporting. John?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. This morning, hundreds of people in California and may have been exposed to measles after a child was treated for the virus at Sacramento hospital -- at a Sacramento hospital last week. The nationwide outbreak continues to grow with at least 45 cases reported across 17 states, CNN Health reporter Jacqueline Howard is with us with the latest. Jacqueline, what are you learning?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: So, John, what we're learning is that health officials in Sacramento say that about 300 people could have been exposed to the measles virus. These are people who may have been at UC Davis Medical Centers Emergency Department the afternoon of Tuesday, March 5th. And if someone was unvaccinated, they were exposed to the virus, they could develop symptoms within a window of 7 to 21 days. These are symptoms like fever, sore throat, dry, cough, runny nose, but most importantly, that signature measles rash. That's what you have to look out for.

And the reason why health officials are so concerned about this, the measles virus, it's very contagious. If an infected person coughs or sneezes, the virus can linger in the air for up to two hours. And if someone is unvaccinated, and they're exposed, 90% of the time they will get sick. But we know that if you've been vaccinated, the vaccine is 97% effective, so vaccinated people there's no need to panic here.

But the reason why health officials are also watching this closely, this one case in Sacramento is one of 45 total across the country so far this year. Many of these cases are either travel-related or they're in pockets of communities that are unvaccinated. But last year, they were total 58 It's just the month of March, John, and we're at 45. So this is something health officials are watching very closely.

BERMAN: Yes, an unnecessary trend to say the least. Jacqueline Howard, thank you very much for that. Kate?

BOLDUAN: An airline called it a technical event, and now at least 50 people are injured in one flight. A passenger saying people went flying and broke the ceiling of the plane. And it was a messy start to March Madness, a bench clearing brawl between two of the top women's college basketball teams. We'll be back.



BERMAN: This morning, E. Jean Carroll has until 11:00 this morning to object to the $91 million bond posted by Donald Trump. A federal jury awarded Carroll more than $83 million in damages as a result of Trump's defamatory statements denying that he raped her. If she opposes the term, the judge has ordered that she and Trump appear in court at 3:00 this afternoon.

More than 16 million people from Maine to North Carolina are under high wind alerts this morning. Wind gusts up to 55 miles per hour could cause travel delays and power outages.

And new this morning, the Princess of Wales is apologizing after a photo she posted was pulled from several major news outlets over concerns the photo was manipulated -- there we go. Agencies pointed out multiple inconsistencies. In a tweet this morning, the princess says she edited the picture. The images is the first we have seen of the princess since her abdominal surgery two months ago. Kate?

BOLDUAN: South Carolina are SEC champions this morning beating LSU for the women's title but not without a messy bench clearing brawl to put a kind of a cap on it. CNN's Carolyn Manno joins me now for more on this. What happened?

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This was ugly, Kate. I mean, this was a very highly anticipated rematch between two elite teams. Undefeated South Carolina, the defending national champs, LSU, they are rivals, so you expect that physicality, both squads very confident.

But things went way too far with South Carolina's best player possibly suspended for the first game of the NCAA tournament now. I mean, this was chaos in the final minutes of fight breaking out near midcourt. So basically what happened here was the ball was stolen off of LSU guard, Flau'jae Johnson, then she shoved South Carolina's Ashlyn Watkins, which prompted South Carolina star forward Kamilla Cardoso to push Johnson to the ground.

Players from both teams leaving the bench to join the fray, that of course is not allowed, and then a man from the stands who the broadcast identified as Johnson's brother actually jumping over the scorer's table onto the court before being detained by security. And after about a 20 minute delay, officials ended up ejecting Cardoso, five other players. And Cardoso is the team's leading scorer and rebounder, so she might not be available for the next game for the Gamecocks which is in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, looking likely that she might face a game suspension for fighting.


South Carolina did end up winning by seven to capture its eighth SEC tournament crown in 10 years. But afterwards, coaches from both of these teams addressed the melee.


KIM MULKEY, LSU HEAD COACH: No one wants to see that ugliness. But I'm telling you this, I wish she would have pushed Angel Reese. Don't push a kid -- if you 6'8", don't push somebody that little. That was uncalled for, in my opinion.

DAWN STALEY, SOUTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH: I our league things get heated. No bad intentions. They just tried to -- their emotions got so far ahead of them that sometimes these things happens. I want to apologize for us playing a part in that because that's not who we are and that's not what we're about.


MANNO: And Caitlin Clark adding another chapter to her legendary career on Sunday, Kate. Clark and her Iowa Hawkeye is facing Nebraska for the Big 10 Tournament title. Huskers held an 11 point lead at halftime before Clark went to work. She scored 30 of her 34 in the second half. She's a little cold from the three point line at the first step but she rallied her team to force overtime. Trilled by one with under a minute left, and then who else but Clark to nail the three to give the Hawkeyes hot guys the lead for good. Iowa claiming its third straight Big 10 championship.

LSU's Kim Mulkey facing a little bit of criticism, Kate, for not condemning that brawl outright. You heard Dawn Staley say that she knew that start to finish that's not what you want to see. But tensions running high at this time of the year, no doubt about it, but a bit of an ugly scene there between two powerhouses in South Carolina and LSU.

BOLDUAN: Yes, no doubt. It's good to see you, Carolyn. Thank you so much. Sara?

SIDNER: All right. This week, House lawmakers are moving forward with the possibility of banning Tiktok within the United States. The White House says President Joe Biden is ready to sign the bill. Democratic Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell joining us now from Washington, DC. Thank you so much for coming and talking to us this morning.

I just want to start off with this, why do you think that TikTok is dangerous enough to merit this kind of a bill?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): Well, good morning. It's good to be with you.

Look, this bill is really difficult and tough. I didn't know how I was going to vote on Thursday until almost the minute that I did vote, quite frankly. There are two different issues here. Freedom of speech matter, but let's be very clear, no one in that room that voted for that bill was voting to ban TikTok. What they were voting to do is to separate TikTok from the People's Republic of China, which is controlling that data and using it in ways that could be dangerous to the national security of the United States, nor do people understand how they're controlling the algorithms (ph).

We've had classified briefings, I thought long and hard, and quite frankly what TikTok did on Thursday, flooding my office and other offices with calls with kids who didn't know why they were calling us, shows the kind of control that they have. I want TikTok to continue. I don't want the People's Republic of China controlling the data, the access to the data, and manipulating the data that they are doing. It is a threat to our national security.

SIDNER: So I just want to make sure that, you know, that we understand this correctly. So this is about ByteDance. And if ByteDance does not separate itself from TikTok in the United States that -- does that mean that you will no longer be able to access if this -- if this bill passes?

DINGELL: Well, I think you already see that there are American companies that want to buy. They're trying to put together a group of people now that would buy TikTok. What people need to understand and what I probably understood far better after our classified hearing and briefing is how much the People's Republic of China is controlling by ByteDance and the data that TikTok is collecting.

I think everybody should have access to these apps. And by the way, I'm not happy that Republicans aren't doing something about privacy in a (inaudible) way. They have no idea how much information they're giving away about themselves, or how it is being used, and like it not, it's all not being used in a good way. And that's a threat to our national security as well.

SIDNER: It does beg the question, why is this the first real legislation aimed at a social media company, knowing what we all now know about social media's effect on young people, the taking of data and using it in nefarious ways, and having an impact on our own elections?

DINGELL: So this -- I think that's a very good question for you to ask. And the Democrats in the committee on Thursday said, why are we not doing the further privacy legislation that we have bipartisan agreement on in our committee? My understanding is we may be moving that forward in the Energy and Commerce Committee as well.