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Biden Campaigns in North Carolina; Democrats Express Widespread Worry Over Biden After Debate Performance. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired June 28, 2024 - 13:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Defiant, deflated, but moving forward.

Welcome to CNN NEWS CENTRAL. I'm Brianna Keilar, alongside Erica Hill here in Washington.

And happening right now: President Biden is about to speak at a campaign event in Raleigh, North Carolina, just hours after his CNN debate performance prompted widespread worries among Democrats.

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Despite the growing anxiety, the president's advisers are outright rejecting calls from some Democrats for Biden to drop out, one telling CNN -- quote -- "We are in a dark place, but we're moving forward."

Just a couple of hours from now, former President Trump set to hold his first campaign event since the debate. He will be delivering remarks at a rally in Virginia. And we, of course, are going to monitor both President Biden's event and that event later from the former president.

First, though, let's go to see in a national correspondent Kristen Holmes, who is at the location for that Trump event.

Do we know yet what we will hear from the former president later this afternoon?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're really hearing from senior advisers that this is the first opportunity for the former president to actually address what happened last night.

Now, I have talked to a number of donors, as well as those in his orbit, who said they actually don't want him to attack Biden too much. They think that he had a win last night. Remember, Donald Trump and most of the people around him view everything as a winner and a loser, and they believe that they were the winners last night.

What they prefer for him to do it get out on the stage, take a victory lap, of course, but then go back to the messaging that they want to hear from him. Now, whether or not that's going to happen, of course, will remain to be seen. This is the first time that Donald Trump is going to be surrounded by a group of his supporters.

And that is traditionally when we start to see him go off on those rants and riffs that his team had specifically been hoping to avoid on the night of the debate. Now, it is interesting just to note we are in Virginia, a state that Joe Biden won by double digits in the last election, a state that has been blue for multiple cycles, but that the Trump team insists is at play.

Now, I have talked to some people who are actually working on the political structure and strategy for Donald Trump, who say, look, this is not something that we believe is one of these key battleground states. But we are seeing a level of movement in the state that we are hoping in our deepest desires that Donald Trump would be able to flip.

And, of course, he is appearing here with Governor Glenn Youngkin, Republican who met with Donald Trump just about two weeks ago. Youngkin is a more moderate Republican. So there is, of course, some hope that that would help Donald Trump in this state as he tries to reach voters outside of his base of support.

But from what I'm seeing here, everyone who is actually attending this rally is a die-hard Trump supporter.

KEILAR: All right, Kirsten Holmes thank you so much -- Kristen Holmes -- pardon me -- thank you for that.

Let's go now to CNN's Priscilla Alvarez.

Priscilla, what are you hearing from the Biden campaign?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Look, Biden advisers acknowledged it was a lackluster performance last night, but they are standing by him and they maintain that he is staying in this race.

And sources tell CNN that he is still committed to debate in September. But there is no doubt that over the course of the day the Biden campaign has had to contend with criticism from all part -- from everywhere, from allies of the president, from Democratic officials and lawmakers who were deeply concerned by the President Biden that they saw last night.

In fact, I had talked to folks heading into Thursday's debate, and they told me that they hoped that they would get the State of the Union President Biden, who was -- showed for example the strength and was able to quell some concerns about age and mental acuity.

What they got instead, though, just raised more questions about the president's age. And, yes, advisers have pointed to the first debate that former President Barack Obama had against Mitt Romney and noted that that wasn't his best performance, but that Obama went on to win that second term.

But the difference here is that there are such concerns among Democrats that they are talking about whether Biden should be on the ticket at all. But the Biden campaign is trying to move on. And today's post-debate rally in battleground North Carolina is going to be an opportunity to do that.


And we could see a different Biden. I have attended multiple of these rallies, and the president is often more eager and upbeat, feeding off the energy of the people and the voters in the crowd. We saw a glimpse of that at the watch party that the president and the first lady attended last night, which was quite a stark difference from the way that he was on that debate stage.

So we may see some of that in his rally that's going to happen moments from now. Vice President Kamala Harris also hitting the campaign trail. She is on her way to Las Vegas, Nevada, where she is going to try to rally Latino voters, another key coalition.

HILL: We will be watching for all those moments.

Priscilla, thank you.

Joining us now to talk more about the concerns behind the scenes today and what it really looks like moving forward, a Democratic congressman telling CNN, despite party leaders publicly standing by Biden today, everyone in the party is privately buzzing about whether to try to convince the president to drop out.

KEILAR: Let's discuss this now with CNN political analyst Jackie Kucinich and presidential historian Douglas Brinkley.

All right, Jackie, what are you hearing from Democrats?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So, I think the first thing we should say is that there are very few people in -- outside of Biden's closed circle that would be able to talk him into dropping out.

I'm thinking of Jill Biden. I'm thinking of his sister, Valerie. That's pretty much where it starts and finishes in terms of the people that really know him best and that he listens to. So, beyond that, if you even get a bunch of Democratic leaders saying they're -- what they're not saying, trying to convince him, I think the most important two people are those two people.

That said, what you're hearing from Democrats on the Hill, what I think a lot of us are hearing from Democrats in text messages, is, they're trying to look past the president's performance last night, which is very hard to do, let's be real here, and focus more on his policies and his agenda and his vision for the future and contrast that to some of the things that former President Trump said last night.

Now, whether voters will be able to make -- to look past, that remains to be seen, but that's what you're hearing from official Washington,though I will say, Governor Healey in Massachusetts just talked to some reporters at the Statehouse and said it was tough to watch, which is not exactly what -- that's a bit further than you're hearing people in Washington go.

HILL: Can I pick up on the voter point, though, for just a second? KUCINICH: Yes.

HILL: The fact is, this was a debate for voters, right?


HILL: They're watching to see which of these two men in a very tight race they are comfortable with. And the fact that voters, voters in CNN -- telling CNN in Michigan, the swing state of Michigan, they were not comfortable with what they saw last night, that they have genuine concerns.

How much of the voter sentiment is actually being picked up on and addressed by Democrats?

KUCINICH: We know from polling and from conversations had in the field with voters that Biden's age is a prime concern.

And whenever you have a candidate reinforcing something the voters already concerned about, it tends to be more damaging. This is not a new thing. But, again, I think there -- you're getting a lot of, yes, it was a bad night, but like you heard Vice President Harris say, a lot of reiterating that, but, listen, look at the past three years, don't judge him on one night.

The problem is, that was a pretty big stage to have this occur.


I mean, Doug, and as we are waiting President Biden here at his Raleigh event, I do just want to ask you, yes, there is such a thing as a bad night. We have seen them before. We saw the Obama-Romney first debate, but that didn't really raise questions about whether the incumbent was up to capably serving for four more years.

Have you seen anything like this before?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I think when Michael Dukakis famously said that he was against capital punishment in a -- Bernard Shaw of CNN posed that -- the idea that what happens if your wife was raped or beaten and he still just said, well, I'm not going to be emotive about it, I'm against capital punishment, Dukakis did terribly.

That was the worst moment in U.S. presidential debate history. And I think last night we saw about 10 examples of Biden being Dukakis, meaning this was a complete wipeout for Biden. And it started when he came out in a zombie-like state and he had a glazed look from time to time and had almost zero ability to fire back.

For example, when Donald Trump talks about Afghanistan being such a huge embarrassment to the world, why didn't Biden immediately come back and say, what about January 6 and really hammer him on that? So it was just a night of missed opportunities for Biden, and the optics were terrible.

So yes, the Democratic Party is scratching their heads and trying to figure out what to do next.

KEILAR: All right, Doug, if you can stand by, we are listening in to this event in Raleigh, North Carolina, where first lady Jill Biden is introducing President Biden. Let's listen.



JILL BIDEN, FIRST LADY: So I'm going to repeat that line because I think it's the most important. I loved him from the start.


JILL BIDEN: I saw in him then the same character that I see in him today.

And even though he has faced unimaginable tragedies, his optimism is undaunted. His strength is unshakable. His hope is undeterred.


JILL BIDEN: And over the last few years, Joe has helped heal our country, helping us all recover from the chaos of the last administration.


JILL BIDEN: We don't choose our chapter in history, but we can choose who leads us through it.


JILL BIDEN: And at this moment, with these perils the world is facing, there is no one that I would rather have sitting in the Oval Office right now than my husband.


JILL BIDEN: What you saw last night on the debate stage was Joe Biden, a president with integrity and character, who told the truth.


JILL BIDEN: And Donald Trump told lie after lie after lie. Oh, you're good. You're so good.

This election is about you. Joe is fighting for the families here in North Carolina and across America, who are working hard to find a secure place in the middle class, the moms who worry that their daughters will grow up in a country with fewer rights than we had. And as a teacher, I'm always proud...


JILL BIDEN: Yay for the teachers. Love the teachers who are here. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JILL BIDEN: I'm always proud of the way that Joe fights for educators, like our next speaker, Eric Fitz (ph). Eric is a former school principal, public school principal. And he now works at Wake County Public Schools.



JILL BIDEN: Making sure teachers get the support they need so that students can thrive.

Eric, thank you for all that you do for your fellow educators and students.

HILL: So, the first lady there, who is, of course, the president's biggest champion, also as -- Jackie, as you were noting, one of maybe two people, right, who can have that tough conversation with him that we're hearing a number of people would like her to have with him.

She said, what we saw last night on the debate stage was Joe Biden.

KUCINICH: I mean, it's not a false statement, but I think that she also said someone who was telling truth, while the president -- former President Trump told lies.

This is a very positive spin on what we saw last night. And the idea that that is who Joe Biden is, I don't know that's what she meant.

HILL: Are you surprised at all that there is not more of an effort to try to change perhaps people's minds about what they did see last night? She glossed over that. Could she have done that here?

KUCINICH: Not at a rally. I don't think at a rally you can have the kind of nuance that you would need to explain this.

But you saw the campaign try to do it last night. And midway through the debate, they were saying he had a cold, which, again, OK, fine, but this is the president of the United States. The stakes were so high last night. And you can gloss over it as much as you want.

You can't tell people to see something that they did not see.

KEILAR: Yes. And a lot of people will not unsee and unhear what they experienced watching that debate.

KUCINICH: Exactly.

KEILAR: Doug, it was really stunning.

And I wonder where you see this five months out from the election going from here. Doug, can you hear me?

All right, we lost -- unfortunately, we lost audio with Doug. But, again, we're watching this Raleigh event, where an educator is

going to be introducing President Biden here very shortly. We will be staying on this.


Doug, thank you so much, Jackie, thank you so much for your insights as well.

This just in: a federal court in D.C. already reopening cases against January 6 rioters just hours after the Supreme Court limited charges, particularly obstruction charges, against them. So how this decision could impact hundreds of January 6 defendants, including former President Donald Trump -- next.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's good knowing you have my back.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We got your back, Joe!


JOE BIDEN: Eric, thank you for that introduction. We had a wonderful time spending time with your sons, Christian (ph) and Carter (ph). They're going to grow up to be incredible young men. You have -- been really impressed with the way they talked about their dad, how informed they were about what was going on. I was truly impressed.

And I ate two hamburgers.


JOE BIDEN: And a special thanks to Roy and Kristin Cooper.

Roy, you have been a great governor.


JOE BIDEN: Which makes it all the more important that North Carolina elect a great governor to replace you, Josh Stein.


JOE BIDEN: And when I'm reelected again with your help, I want you to know that I'm not promising not to take Roy away from North Carolina.


JOE BIDEN: Whether he will come or not, I don't know.


JOE BIDEN: And thanks to all the state and local leaders here today, the great musicians and entertainers who performed earlier.

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

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

JOE BIDEN: That's OK. That's OK.

I'm here in North Carolina for one reason, because I intend to win this state in November.



JOE BIDEN: I think we are. And Roy is right. We win here, we win the election.


JOE BIDEN: And here's how we're going to do it. We're going to stand up for the women of America.


JOE BIDEN: We're going to restore Roe v. Wade to the law of the land.


JOE BIDEN: We're going to stand up for the right to vote.


JOE BIDEN: We're going to stand up for Medicare and Social Security.



JOE BIDEN: We're going to fight for childcare, paid leave and eldercare.

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


JOE BIDEN: We're going to keep protecting the Affordable Care Act, which is why more than 40 million Americans have health insurance today. They didn't before.


JOE BIDEN: We're going to protect our children and get the weapons of war off our streets. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JOE BIDEN: We're going to provide clean drinking water, affordable high-speed Internet, a quality education for every child in America.


JOE BIDEN: We're going to secure our border and protect legal immigration.


JOE BIDEN: And unlike the other guy, we're going to stand up to dictators like Putin.


JOE BIDEN: Because America bows to no one, no one, no one ever.

Folks, and we're going to keep dealing with the climate crisis.

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

JOE BIDEN: Look, more than anything, we're going to preserve, protect, and defend our democracy.


JOE BIDEN: Because, more than anything else, that is what is at stake in America this election, your freedom, your democracy. America itself is at stake.

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


JOE BIDEN: Did you see Trump last night? My guess, he said, I mean this sincerely, a new record for the most lies told in a single debate.


JOE BIDEN: He lied about the great economy he created. He lied about the pandemic he botched, killing millions of people.


JOE BIDEN: He closed businesses, he closed schools, losing their homes, people all over this country. America was flat on its back.

So I told Trump that he was just one of two presidents of American history who left office with fewer jobs than he started. Herbert Hoover was the other one. That's why I call him Donald "Herbert Hoover" Trump.


JOE BIDEN: And then he lied about how great he was for veterans.


JOE BIDEN: But then I told him how he had called a veteran who had given their lives in the country in World War I and refused to go to their grave sites, he called them suckers and losers.


JOE BIDEN: He tried to deny it. But let me ask you, are you going to believe a four-star Marine general, his own former Chief of Staff John Kelly, who said he said that, or a disgraced, defeated, and a lying Donald Trump?

My son was one of those people, not a World War I, but a -- folks, look, how about the fact that 44...

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

JOE BIDEN: How about the fact -- that's OK.

How about the fact that 40 out of his 44 top advisers, including the vice president, aren't supporting him this time around? The people who know him best, 40 of them said, I will not support the man I worked for this time around. It tells you a lot about the person who knows him.

Look, he lied about how great he was on crime. I had to remind him that he oversaw a record increase of murder rates in 2020. On my watch, violent crime has hit a 50-year low. There's more to do, but a 50-year low.


JOE BIDEN: And then I pointed out that the only convicted criminal on the stage last night was Donald Trump.


JOE BIDEN: When I thought about his 34 felony convictions, his sexual assault on a woman in a public place, his being fined $400 million for business fraud, I thought to myself, Donald Trump isn't just a convicted felon. Donald Trump is a one-man crime wave.



JOE BIDEN: And he's got more trials. He's got more trials coming up.

AUDIENCE: Lock him up! Lock him up! Lock him up! JOE BIDEN: Well, the time for that...

AUDIENCE: Lock him up! Lock him up! Lock him up!

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

And then his biggest lie, he lied about how he had nothing to do with the insurrection of January 6.


JOE BIDEN: We all saw it with our own eyes. We watched it on television. We saw thousands at this direction attack the Capitol.

We saw police being attacked, the Capitol being ransacked, the mob hunting for Speaker Pelosi, gallows literally set up for Mike Pence. And then he told them as he sat in the dining room, one -- the private dining room one door off my Oval Office, he sat there for three hours watching the TV.

He did not a single thing to stop it. Nothing. Nothing at all.


JOE BIDEN: And now -- and now he wants to pardon all those convicted and...



JOE BIDEN: But, folks, for all his lies, we did learn some -- we learned some important truths about Donald Trump last night.

We learned he's still proud of being the person who killed Roe v. Wade.


JOE BIDEN: We learned -- no, we learned he's still proud about the pain and cruelty he's inflicted on America's women.


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


JOE BIDEN: We learned that if he's elected again and the MAGA Republicans pass a national ban on abortion, he will sign it.


JOE BIDEN: Donald Trump says he thinks Roe v. Wade -- overturning Roe v. Wade was a beautiful thing.


JOE BIDEN: I think it was a nightmare. No, I really mean it, a nightmare.

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


JOE BIDEN: He continued to lie. He said I quadrupled taxes.


JOE BIDEN: Where the hell has he been?


JOE BIDEN: Which is a simple lie. I didn't raise a tax on anyone in America who -- that made less than $400,000 a year. And I won't in my second term either.


JOE BIDEN: We learned that Trump, who had the largest deficit of any president in four years because of a $2 trillion tax cut to the super wealthy, we learned that Trump wants to give another giant tax cut for the very wealthy and the biggest corporations, this time, $5 trillion, not a joke, $5 trillion.


JOE BIDEN: To pay for it, he is going to cut Medicare and Social Security. He will cut health care.


JOE BIDEN: He will do it all with millions of working middle-class Americans all pay for another tax cut for the very wealthy.


JOE BIDEN: Then, to add insult to injury, he wants to raise taxes on the average family $2,500 a year, what amounts to a new 10 percent sales tax on all products imported in America. That's his new plan for food, coffee, candy bars, and so much more. It's going to raise the taxes on the average family $2,500 a year.


JOE BIDEN: And, most dangerously, though, we learned that Donald Trump will not respect this year's election outcome. He's still not respecting the last time out. Well, think about it. Every court in the land ruled that it was a fair

election. He's still denying it, still telling lies. Three times, Trump was asked last night by the moderators, would he respect the election results if he lost this time? Three times, he refused to answer, three times.

Folks, Donald Trump refused to accept the results in 2020. And we all saw what happened on January the 6th. It's a direct consequence of that. It was an international embarrassment.

By the way, as I go to these international meetings, I know every major world leader, and I literally -- because I have been around, as you might have noticed.


JOE BIDEN: But they ask me, does he really mean this? Is that -- was this real?

It caused a constitutional crisis and an international embarrassment. Now Trump is making it clear that, if he doesn't win this time, there will be, in his words, bloodshed, bloodshed.


JOE BIDEN: No president has ever said anything like that, no president, his words, not mine.

Are we going to let Donald Trump attack our democracy again?


JOE BIDEN: I don't think so.