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Biden Struggled at the Debate; Joe Walsh is Interviewed about Biden; Discussion on Last Night's Debate. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired June 28, 2024 - 09:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- did Democrats. In fact, Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman, a few moments ago, said the Democrats should, "chill the f out." That's a direct quote. I just spilled my coffee. He also says, "I refuse to join for the Democratic vultures on Biden's shoulder after the debate. No one knows more than me that a rough debate is not the sum total of the person and their record."

Now, on the subject of Pennsylvania, just moments ago we spoke to the governor of that commonwealth, Josh Shapiro. Listen to what he told us.


GOV. JOSH SHAPIRO (D-PA): Here's the bottom line. Joe Biden had a bad debate night. But Donald Trump was a bad president.

I think we have a responsibility right now to ask ourselves what kind of nation we want to be. I think the answer is clear on that. And then we've got to stop worrying and start working.


BERMAN: All right, a lot of questions for the Biden campaign. Let's get right on the ground where President Biden is today in Raleigh, North Carolina. That's where CNN's senior White House correspondent Kayla Tausche is.

What are you hearing from the Biden team, Kayla?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the Biden team, as of this moment, plans to pack up what few wins they had on the debate stage last night, you've already seen some of those packaged and posted on social media, and to move on and focus on what's coming down the pike.

There are no plans, I'm told, for the president to drop out of the race. And even further, I'm told that the president is still committed to a second debate in September, which is currently scheduled for September 10th and hosted by ABC News, much along the lines of the rules of the debate that was hosted last night.

Now, the adviser that I spoke with said that they're not putting too much stock in that conversation last night and that many of the staffers on the campaign and in the White House also worked on President Obama's reelection in 2012. And they tried to draw the parallel to that first debate that was a very low performance for President Obama. Even he would call it a stinker. And they said, if you had believed the pundits in the wake of that debate, Mitt Romney would be president - would have been president after that.

But the - of course the big differences is, in the wake of that debate, no one in Obama's own party was calling for him to resign the office of president. And that is the moment that Democrats find themselves in right now. The mood that I'm hearing from Democrats who are texting this morning is described as fatalistic behind the scenes. And while we've seen some of these public pronouncements from members of the president's own party, there is still so much consternation about what happens next and whether the performance aspect of last night can even be fixed going forward because, if not, that September debate is likely just to be a repeat of what we saw on stage last night, putting Democrats in the same position they're in right now, even closer to election day.

That being said, Biden himself did not seem to be fazed by it. He was asked at a Waffle House following the debate how he viewed his performance and whether he had any concerns about it. Here's how the president responded then.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any concerns about your performance?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I think - it's hard to - hard to debate a liar. "The New York Times" pointed out he made - lied 26 times. Big lies. (INAUDIBLE).


TAUSCHE: Of course the Biden camp wanting to focus on the falsehoods of Donald Trump to try to change the narrative about what should be taken away from what happened on stage. But it just raises the stakes of today's rally here in North Carolina, which version of President Biden shows up. Certainly he tried to course correct last night by staying on the tarmac for 30 minutes, greeting hundreds of supporters, flashing thumbs up. But we'll see what his message is today.


BERMAN: And you will be there. Kayla Tausche, great to have you there in North Carolina. Thanks so much.

BOLDUAN: So, as many Biden surrogates and Democratic supporters insists there is no need to panic over presidents - President Biden's debate performance, a different take from a never Trump Republican who has promised to support and vote for Joe Biden. I'm talking about former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh, saying this now after the debate. "Yes, I'll still vote for Biden even after his disaster last night because I'll vote for whoever the Democrats nominate. But the point is, most people won't. Trump must never be in the White House again. Democrats need another nominee." Joining us right now is Joe Walsh.

It's good to see you. Thanks for coming in.

Why do you say this?

JOE WALSH (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Kate, good to be with you.

Look, this isn't bedwetting, and this isn't panic. Our democracy is on the line. I don't want to raise my voice and shout and scream. And I'll - so I'll lower it a little bit. But, Kate, our democracy is on the line. Our country, I believe, and I think a lot of Democrats and Americans believe, cannot survive another four years of Donald Trump in the White House. Nothing else matters but keeping Trump out of the White House.

The problem is, Joe Biden, last night, I think conclusively showed that he can't defeat Trump. Nothing else matters. So, if I'm a Democrat right now, I've got to find somebody who can beat Trump.


BOLDUAN: Congressman, let me play for you, because we just got this in, from the Democratic leader of the House. Talk about a top Democrat. Hakeem Jeffries, he was just asked about President Biden and his performance and whether he should step down after his performance last night. Let's listen to this together.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Step down after the debate performance last night?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should he step aside?

Were you OK with how he did?


BOLDUAN: One word answer, and that's all the Jeffries was going to say right then. He says, no.

WALSH: And, Kate, another way to look at it is this. Donald Trump, for 90 minutes, lied last night. Every time Trump opened his mouth, he lied. And yet all we're talking about is Joe Biden and Donald Trump still won that debate last night going away. So, what does that say about Biden?

Look, this is really difficult, and this doesn't happen a lot. Joe Biden had one job to do, Kate. He had one job, show the American people he's not too old and he's up to the job. He failed at that. He failed at that.

What's our - what's our biggest rap (ph) against Donald Trump? My biggest rap (ph)? He's humanly incapable of putting the country's interests before his own. Joe Biden has to demonstrate now, I think, that he's capable of putting the country's interests first in putting someone in there who can beat Trump.

BOLDUAN: We just heard a little bit from John's interview with the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro saying very clearly, he says Biden had a bad debate but that doesn't change the fact that he says Trump was a terrible president. And in summary Josh Shapiro said essentially to all of those worrying, freaking out, basically, to you, Joe Walsh, not specifically, but I will just say in this way, he says, stop worrying, start working.

Why can't that - can that overcome this? Why, in your view, can hard work not overcome what happened?

WALSH: No, and I love Josh Shapiro and I wish Josh Shapiro where the Democratic nominee. I'm sorry, I'm always a little offended by this stop worrying. I'm someone who literally believes the country wouldn't survive another four years of Trump in the White House. So, this is not worrying, this is real, real concern.

And I think Josh Shapiro, and all these good, loyal Democrats are missing the boat right now because a lot of Americans tuned in last night. A lot of undecided Americans. And I think there are a lot more undecided Americans in this race than people know. And they know Trump is an asshole but they're worried about how old Trump is. And they to - how old Biden is. And they tuned in last night and, oh my God, Biden is too old. Undecided voters all came to that conclusion last night. And they'll vote for the bad guy over the old guy I think more times than not. That's the real, real concern.

It wasn't just a bad night. This confirmed everybody's greatest fear about Joe Biden.

BOLDUAN: You know, in thinking about, as we just heard together, Hakeem Jeffries and his initial reaction, one thing you know as a former member of Congress is, you know how the top of the ticket can be very important. What - do you worry more - more about the White House? Do you all - do you worry about the impact that this debate performance will have on the bottom of the ticket? What impact do you think it will have?

WALSH: Running for re-election, as I did, in a very tough district, I always worried about who was at the top of the ticket. If I'm a Democrat running for a House seat or I'm a Democrat trying to protect a Senate seat right now in a tough district and tough battleground state, I am - I am panicking. I am panicking with Joe Biden at the top of the ticket right now because this is going to have real trickle- down effects.

I don't mean to beat up on Joe Biden. I - if Joe Biden is the nominee, Kate, if he stays in, I'm going to run through a wall to help get Biden elected. It's not me that Joe Biden and Hakeem Jeffries and other Democrats have to worry about. It's all of the people in the middle who don't like Trump put worry that Biden's too old.

Last night moved most of them to Trump. And I don't think Biden can walk that back. And, yes, the way things stand right now, if Biden is at the top of the ticket, it's going to impact Democrats' chances in the Senate and the House.

BOLDUAN: So, as we've heard some Democrats saying it's just not practical that Joe Biden bow out, release his delegates.


That's some of what we're hearing from Democrats today. If he's not dropping out, no indication that he is, what do you - he's back on the campaign trail today. What do you need to hear that will change your opinion and how you're feeling this morning?

WALSH: If I - if - Kate, if I were Joe Biden's closest advisor, I'd have him with you right now for an hour. No, no, no rules, no nothing, and I'd be taking all questions. I would get Joe Biden out there right now. And I would get Joe Biden out there in a free-flowing town hall press conference environment right now. And I'd let Joe Biden say, I mucked up last night. I didn't feel well. I know I came across as old. I had a bad night.

The only way Biden can save this is if he's out in front of the American people, in front of you, Kate, in front of the media taking questions and demonstrating immediately that last night was a bit of an aberration. But I don't think he'll do that.

BOLDUAN: Joe Walsh, thanks for jumping on real quick this morning.

WALSH: Thank you.


SIDNER: We are also getting reaction this morning from voters who watched the debate and new polling about whether it will impact their vote.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From Trump, all I really heard was, I've done this and it was the best ever, but I never heard what it was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Biden seems to be very tired. Actually, I'm tired of both of them.


SIDNER: All right.

And Donald Trump made more than 30 false claims last night compared to nine from Biden. We will dig into that.



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": Anybody can f-up talking. How did Biden do not talking?

DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How close the police? Are they - almost every police group in the nation, from every state.

And everybody wanted to get it back to the states. Everybody.

And China, nothing. And Russia, nothing. And India, nothing.

I will have that reporter out. He should've had him out a long time ago.

I didn't have legislation. I said, close the border. We had the safest border in history.

STEWART: Not great, but a lot of people have resting 25th Amendment face.


SIDNER: Yikes. Not great. Resting 25th Amendment face. No hyperbole. Yes, there was from Jon Stewart about President Biden's performance at CNN's historical presidential debate here in Atlanta.

Late-night comedy shows are one thing, but how did the candidates land with voters? We have a great panel this morning. CNN anchor and correspondent Audie Cornish, and CNN chief national affairs correspondent Jeff Zeleny.

I'm just curious, to the both of you, did anyone think last night that there would be the possibility that we would wake up this morning and there would be talk about Biden being pushed out of this race?

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: I didn't. No. And not to this extent. However, I do think it was notable that the - that the debate was so early in the cycle, which was unusual. And I did have conversations with people who said, well, its early enough that if their needs to be a conversation in either party, it can be had. And today, in the sober light of day, I think it's being had.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I think so. But, look, as we go hour-by-hour, the sun is up now. President Biden will be having an event in North Carolina. This is all on him. This is his choice to make. And we can talk all about reaction from Democrats and things. But there is one person who can actually change this race and shake it up, and that would be him. He could say, you know, a variety of things. I'm not going to say what he could say.

But - and there's zero - less than zero indication of that. The Biden campaign is circling the wagons. It took them a little bit longer than I thought. The spin room was basically devoid of Democrats - Democratic voices last night. But were seeing Governor Shapiro was on with you this morning, John.


ZELENY: And Governor Whitmer is saying it. Others trying to focus back on the record.

CORNISH: And they're formulating their arguments. Yes.

ZELENY: Bad record. Bad - or bad debate night, bad president for Trump. We'll see. But, no, we didn't predict this.


CORNISH: We also went into last night thinking, I think most people, that we were going to watch this kind of debate between the potentially infirmed and the potentially unstable. And now people have a more accurate picture of both. Because at the end of the day, you also had Trump basically gaslighting America about January 6th, about Charlottesville. There were plenty of digressions that you could hear fulsomely. And so, obviously, having reaction shots on, you know, "The Daily Show" is not ideal for a Democrat, but I also think that people are able to circle the wagons because they can say, well, look, Trump is also not in better shape. He's not a better person than he was four years ago.


BOLDUAN: Why doesn't that cancel it out? The way you put it I was started - why doesn't it seem in the reaction today to cancel that out? The Trump avalanche of dishonesty and lies and falsehoods, canceling out the Joe Biden struggling and not doing himself any - any service in trying to disprove concerns about his age?

ZELENY: Because President Biden failed to prosecute that case on the stage last night.

CORNISH: That was his job.

ZELENY: And this is a candidate-to-candidate race. And that was what President Biden's task was. And that's clearly what he, I would assume, prepared for in debate prep because we did know from his advisers he was studying what Trump has been saying at rallies, studying his record and what he would do in a second term.

[09:20:08] And very, very, very, very little of that actually broke through.

BERMAN: Look, my question to Josh Shapiro, Governor Shapiro, was, if Trump is as bad as you say he is, and if that was all the more clear on that debate stage last night, doesn't it make the stakes for the Democratic nominee even higher? Doesn't it make it even more important.

And, Audie, I should tell you, the only podcast I care about is your podcasts. There are a few others that are out there as well. The -

CORNISH: Your check is in the mail. BERMAN: The Pod Save America guys are out this morning and basically what they're saying is, look, you know, it is before the convention. There are several weeks. We do now know, they say, that Donald Trump is all these things. It's on us, they say, the Democrats, to have this discussion and have it in public.

CORNISH: Yes. And it's also about use of resources. Do you want to spend the next 18 weeks in a donor scramble, having this conversation, trying to get someone else up to bat, or do you want to hunker down, convince all those volunteers that like, yes, this is still a worthy person to get behind, or that the stakes are too high to do otherwise and spend your time and resources on that. And I think that's really more of the pragmatism in reality that we're talking about, because I don't like to speculate about, like, well, what does the president think? Like we know he wants this job.

SIDNER: Yes. Yes.

CORNISH: We absolutely know that.

ZELENY: And you mentioned donors. President Biden is going to come face-to-face with some important ones. He's spending the weekend on the Hamptons. Several fundraising events. So, he is about to here and see this week.

BOLDUAN: That's this weekend?

CORNISH: That's the reality check. Yes.

ZELENY: He is flying from North Carolina. He's flying to New York for a series of events, two or three, I believe. So that is a very interesting scheduling coincidence, I guess. Obviously, it was intended to be a victory lap to Biden's -

CORNISH: Yes, to - exactly, to take advantage of momentum.

ZELENY: You mentioned the - the Pod Save America People, obviously, Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, and others. They worked for former President Obama. They do not speak for him. I checked with a couple of Obama advisors this morning just to make sure he had not weighed in on the debate. He, in fact, has not and has no plans to do so.

CORNISH: Yes, and one more thing.

ZELENY: But also will be at a fundraiser today in New York for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. So, he'll surely say something.

CORNISH: But that -

ZELENY: But again -

CORNISH: That's what's interesting about John Fetterman speaking up, the senator from Pennsylvania, saying, look, I've been in the position of doing a bad debate performance and people questioning my cognitive abilities. And what happened with him is there was this like fundraising infusion, right? So, the question is, when you sit down with the donors, are they going to say, you know what, you need the help more than ever, or are they going to say, why don't we have a conversation?

SIDNER: I'm curious, because you just brought up Senator Fetterman of Pennsylvania, a very important state. He's telling everyone to chill the f out.

CORNISH: Yes, that's vibe these days.

SIDNER: Is that even possible after watching that debate and seeing just how it unfolded so uncomfortably? People were cringing, sending us all text messages all night. They were not chilled out. Is it even possible to tell voters and to tell those who support President Biden, just chill out, it will be fine.

CORNISH: I think it's - it's not the just chill out like tonally you guys are going nuts. It's that there's still a lot of time before November. And we're talking without the context of the other people who might be on the ticket. If you have someone on the ticket who's talking about like closing all the polling stations and changing the voting age to 28, that's going to change the dialogue. If you decide there's going to be a national abortion ban, that's going to change the stakes. So, there's just a lot of things that can happen between now and fall as even the players involved themselves, the congressional people, the lawmakers, decide how they're going to react to this moment.

ZELENY: And on the flip side, a lot of Republicans, and either - and others watching this were delighted because they believe that the debate showed President Biden for what they have seen.

CORNISH: Have been saying, yes.

ZELENY: And so, you know, it is a - it's an interesting moment. The question, does this sort of increase the third-party interests for some, because we already know that, you know, neither of these candidates are extremely popular. Does that change the dynamic at all?

The Biden campaign's stronger than the Biden candidate himself.


ZELENY: Again, a lot of weight is on his shoulders.

SIDNER: We just heard from Dean Phillips, by the way, who was running against Biden this year. He said this morning, he quoted Gandhi, "speak only if it improves the silence."


BERMAN: And on that front I have to let you both go. You have like ten seconds or less to answer this question. You say it is only President Biden's decision to make. Is there anyone he would listen to? Is there anyone who could come to him and say, it's time?

ZELENY: I think First Lady Jill Biden or his sister, Valerie, and his son, Hunter.

BERMAN: And that's it?

ZELENY: Maybe his daughter, Ashley. (INAUDIBLE) but -

BERMAN: Jeff Zeleny, Audie Cornish -

CORNISH: One of the grandkids (ph) maybe?

ZELENY: Maybe.


ZELENY: It could be a family (INAUDIBLE), of course.

BOLDUAN: But - but the family.

SIDNER: The family.

ZELENY: But again, this is I think on him.

SIDNER: All right.

BERMAN: Great to see you both.

SIDNER: Thank you both.

ZELENY: Thanks.

BERMAN: So, breaking overnight, the former Uvalde police chief, who was on duty during the mass shooting there, now in police custody. What we are learning about the indictments handed up, in fact, by a grand jury.


And then a pillar of religion or a piece of history. All public school students in one state must now study the Bible in class. That's according to a new rule.


BOLDUAN: In what can only be described as a long-awaited development, the first set of criminal charges stemming from the horrific mass shooting at Robb Elementary School. Two former Uvalde school police officers, including the district's police chief, have now been indicted for the horrifically slow police response to that tragedy.


Nineteen children and two teachers were killed that day two years ago.

Now, Pete Arredondo, the police chief who