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President Biden Delivers Address on Extreme Weather Events; Concerns Grow Following Biden Debate Performance. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired July 02, 2024 - 13:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: President Biden facing questions from fellow Democrats. Governors now want to hear from the president about his debate debacle and what it means for his political future, the newest concern for a campaign that is in jeopardy.

And former President Trump on the legal warpath, the former president trying to drive a stake through the legal cases against him from state to federal courts. We're going to look at the legal lifeline the Supreme Court's conservative justices have thrown him.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: And turbulence forces a flight to divert and leaves 30 passengers injured, afterward one saying -- quote -- "We thought we were going to die." We're going to show you what happened inside that plane.

We are following these major developing stories and many more all coming in right here to CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

KEILAR: Debate fallout is coming fast.

Sources are telling us that Democratic governors are now asking for a meeting with the White House after the president's rough performance,a source saying that meeting could happen tomorrow.

And a House Democratic lawmaker just told me -- quote -- "There's a large and increasing group of House Democrats concerned about the president's candidacy representing a broad swathe of the caucus. We are deeply concerned about his trajectory and his ability to win. We want to give him space to make a decision," meaning to step aside," but we will be increasingly vocal about our concerns if he doesn't."

All of this as new CNN polling is telling us what voters think about Democrats' chances in November and whether Biden is the right choice for the top of the ticket.

So let's turn now to CNN political analyst Mark Preston.

All right, let's talk about it mark because Trump has a six-point lead coming out of the debate. That question that we just posed about, what voters think, what does this show us?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, a couple of things. We have this new poll that just came out about an hour ago, Brianna.

It is chockful of information. These are just a couple of the data points and. i have got to tell you I haven't seen a poll like this in a while, and I'm not hyping it up. It is incredibly interesting.

So Donald Trump, as we saw, as you note, has a six-point lead over Joe Biden. That hasn't changed since Donald Trump's lead back in January, but here's where the problems come for the president right now, President Biden.

If you look right now where his support is among Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, he has lost 3 percentage points. Now that's a small amount, OK? But, again, this has only been a few days since we have seen this debate. The conversation just seems to be getting louder.

The governors, as you note, will be here in Washington tomorrow. Some will be virtual, trying to figure out or at least expressing their concerns about what happened the other night with President Biden. We saw a Representative Quigley this morning on CNN talking about his concerns for it, Sheldon Whitehouse, the senator from Rhode Island.

The voices are starting to come up. But this is problematic as you go on. Could this poll even be worse than we're seeing right now? Let's look at his approval rating right now. It is all the way down to 36 percent.

Now, just to put that in perspective, if you look at the last four presidents who were under 45 percent going back to Jimmy Carter, they all lost. So that is a troubling data point right now, Brianna, for the Biden campaign, as are many others we have seen in this poll.

KEILAR: So, the question really is, if not Biden, then who, right? And much of the focus has been on people like Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, maybe Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, hypothetically top of the ticket, right?

There's this hypothetical, many of them out there. Not a whole lot of attention has been played -- paid to Vice President Kamala Harris. What does the poll show there?

PRESTON: Well, this is interesting too, because immediately afterwards, there was all this talk, as you note, about Gavin Newsom. Could he come in and save the day? And he's the young California Democrat, governor, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Well, if you look at the poll numbers right here, Kamala Harris, who wasn't necessarily mentioned in the first breath all the time, she actually is polling better than anyone that we have mentioned so far, or that anybody has mentioned so far that could potentially, hypothetically, maybe could replace Joe Biden at the top of the ticket.

[13:05:16] Now, look, there are technical financial rules that regarding the campaign funds that have already been collected, and Kamala Harris would be entitled to those. So there's that. But there's also the political part of this.

Could you imagine if the Democratic Party came in and said, we are going to replace Joe Biden, Joe Biden decided to step away, and Kamala Harris, guess what, even though you're the first African-American vice president, and you're a woman, first woman vice president, you're out, like we're going to put somebody else in?

I think, politically, that's very difficult for Democrats.

KEILAR: Yes, you can see the chaos that would come from that. Thank you so much, Mark, for taking us through the polls. Very important.

PRESTON: Thank you.


BROWN: All right, we have breaking news into CNN.

The first sitting Democrat, Representative Lloyd Doggett, Texas, has called on President Biden to withdraw from the race on the heels of that conversation you just had, Brianna, about the voices getting louder.

CNN's M.J. Lee is following this development from the White House.

M.J., what are you learning about that?


Well, first of all, we are learning that nearly everybody in the Democratic Party is looking for reassurance. And this, of course, is one example where some Democrats are just not going to be reassured. Their minds are not going to be altered.

But our Jake Tapper, relatedly, is reporting that a group of Democratic governors is seeking now a meeting with the president at the White House, so that they can be reassured, so that they can discuss their concerns about what they saw on the debate stage last week.

We are told that the White House is eying tomorrow as a potential time for this group to come in. And the group, we are told, according to Jake's reporting, had a call yesterday amongst themselves, led by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, and they were discussing their concerns about the president's debate performance.

And the emphasis really appears to have been that they would like to hear more directly from the president, as well as the vice president, Vice President Kamala Harris.

Now, there are, of course, some serious sensitivities right now within the party. The group of governors on this call discussed their concerns about going public with some of the concerns that they have been discussing privately. And one of the concerns is that, if they were to do, that that could backfire and lead to the Biden campaign and the president digging in even further.

Now, so far, we have not actually had any readouts from the White House on the president directly calling top elected Democratic officials, like a Leader Jeffries or Senator Schumer, which, of course, Pam, is really remarkable, given the crisis mode that the party is in right now.


And as I just reported, this breaking news coming in, you have this representative from Texas, a Democrat, being the first Democrat, elected Democrat, coming out and saying, actually, President Biden should step aside. So we will see if that trend continues or not.

But, M.J., you also have at the same time the Biden campaign releasing these new fund-raising numbers for the month of June, and it's reporting really an impressive overhaul, right?

LEE: Yes.

And the fund-raising and the money continuing to flow in is going to be so important for the campaign. And this has been a rare bright spot, we could say, for the campaign at a time when they haven't had a lot of good headlines. The campaign says that it raised $127 million in the month of June, and it now has $240 million of cash on hand.

But I will tell you, according to our reporting, there is a lot of effort going on right now by the campaign behind the scenes to try to very much reassure donors who are freaked out and worried.

Jeff Zeleny and I spoke with participants on a call that campaign chair Jen O'Malley Dillon held with donors yesterday, and we are told that she tried to offer a very staunch defense of the president's health on this call, at one time -- at one point on the call saying: "He's probably in better health than most of us."

Remember, this was a call with some 500 donors on it, and one of the participants said that they thought that that was an offensive thing to say and basically not taking into account the seriousness of what everybody saw on the debate stage last week.

Now, this, of course, is not the first example of some Democrats saying that the dismissive tone from the campaign has been off-putting and dismissive overall to the gravity of the concerns that a lot of folks in the party are feeling, including the use of the term bed- wetting, which some Democrats have described to me as disgusting and disrespectful.

BROWN: All right, M.J. Lee at the White House for us about what's going on behind the scenes with Democrats.

Let's turn now to the CNN's Sunlen Serfaty. The Biden campaign, as we were just talking about, it's on the

defense, pushing back against these calls from within the party for him to drop out of the race, for President Biden to drop out of the race. We're just learning about this representative from Texas being the first to come out and say Biden should step aside.


What else is going on? What's happening on Capitol Hill among Democrats?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, concern is definitely rising, Pam, and I think that's very plain, laid bare by a lot of these statements that were coming from Democrats on Capitol Hill, and, importantly, the significance that these statements are happening in public.

They are being put out on press releases. They are talked about in the media. These are not Democrats behind closed doors that are quietly, privately expressing these concerns. Democrats are doing it in the open.

And that's significant, including, as you said, Congressman Lloyd Doggett becomes the first sitting Democratic lawmaker to call officially on Biden to withdraw from the race. And, notably, in his statement, he says: "I make this decision with strong reservations about doing so," making them in public, but decided that he had to do this.

He said he did not make this decision lightly to go forward. We also saw a significant statement this morning to our colleague Kasie Hunt earlier today from Congressman -- Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley, signaling some openness to also replacing Joe Biden on the ticket.

Here's what he had to say.


REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): But I think he has to be honest with himself. This is the decision he's going to have to make. He clearly has to understand, I think, what you're getting to here, is that his decision not only impacts who's going to serve in the White House the next four years, but who's going to serve in the Senate, who's going to serve in the House.

And it will have implications for decades to come. It's his decision. I just want him to appreciate at this time just how much it impacts not just his race, but all the other races coming in November.


SERFATY: And that last statement that he made so important to lawmakers on the Hill: How is this affecting these incumbent members of Congress running again, especially those who are in tough districts? Will they see a drag on the ballot? That is top on their mind and certainly potentially could fuel this

concern to grow larger. Now, the Biden campaign says that they have been reaching out to lawmakers on the Hill, trying to stop some of this criticism happening.

But, again, as you heard M.J. say, that the top leadership haven't yet heard specifically from Biden like this -- about this and seriously has not done much to quell the concern. We heard from Senator Whitehouse earlier today saying that he wants the Biden camp to be candid about his condition.

So, certainly, a lot of questions remain -- Pam.

BROWN: Yes, there's a lot of discussion today also about trust. Do we trust some of these campaign officials, White House officials who are saying, oh, this was just one night? I think that's a big part of the discussion as well.

Sunlen Serfaty, thank you so much -- Brianna.

KEILAR: As President Biden's campaign is trying to dispel concerns about his catastrophic debate performance last week, his advisers tell CNN the president is considering sitting down for a high-profile interview here in the coming days.

Brian Stelter, our former co-worker and current "Vanity Fair" special correspondent, is with us now.

I wonder, Brian, if you think sitting down for an interview would do the trick.

BRIAN STELTER, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, "VANITY FAIR": I have been making calls about this, Brianna, for the last 24 hours. I have heard from lots of White House correspondents, network executives.

There certainly is a lot of interest in an interview, right? That would be a prized interview right now. But this reminds me of the old phrase about putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. An interview at this point would just be a Band-Aid on a giant, gaping bullet hole.

This body, President Biden, is bleeding out, and a single interview is not going to change that. The news in the last couple of hours is just even more damning for him.

I think that, instead of just an interview, think about another debate. Think about a rematch between Trump and Biden. Think about a series of press conferences. Think about a series of town halls. That would be a little bit more, I think, in the realm of what might help at this point.

But an interview, it's a Band-Aid on a bullet hole.

KEILAR: Yes, I guess that's my question. Does he need to do something that mirrors more the debate, that it is at night, right...

STELTER: Yes. KEILAR: .. that it is something that is for an extended period of time, that it is not on the prompter?

I know they have been pointing to, for instance, this North Carolina event he had right after the debate.


KEILAR: But that was a very different thing.

STELTER: And this raises a question about whether he can. In other words, if he could do that, he would do that by now. Today, it's Tuesday. The debate is almost a week ago at this point. Everyone understands he was at fund-raisers over the weekend. He was hanging out with his family at Camp David.

But in the middle of a crisis, a president usually takes action in a crisis. He's right now in a political crisis of his own making, and he's not taking that action. We have heard reports about the president being best-equipped between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. If he could hold a prime-time news conference, he probably would.

And I think that's probably what a lot of Democrats are getting at as we hear these private calls. I think, Brianna, what's so interesting now is, what people are saying in private is more honest than what they're saying in public.

I'm hearing Democrats say to me that this is a guy that's been wrapped up in bubble wrap for years. And now they're starting to get honest about the condition he's in.

KEILAR: I should mention we're looking at live pictures of President Biden, where he's going to be speaking about extreme weather, which we have all been experiencing. He's at the D.C. Emergency Operations Center.


So, when he does begin speaking, we will take that live.

Let's say, Brian, he does an interview and he doesn't do that well. I mean, how would that -- what would the ramifications of that be?

STELTER: Right. That's the other factor here.

But Biden does have an opportunity. You think about the holiday weekend that we're heading into the Fourth of July. If anything, if any moment is a moment for unity, Biden, I'm sure, is thinking about how to take advantage of these upcoming days.

But you're absolutely keen on the key issue for the president and his aides. If he does come out and answer questions, whether in an interview in a news conference, and he stumbles, that stumble will be the main story. And that is not the media's fault. This is no longer a media framing. This is about elected officials in his own party rebelling against

him. To the extent that journalists are the ones raising his questions about the president's fitness, that's now fading into the background because it's his own party asking the questions.

KEILAR: Yes, they are. I spoke with a House Democratic lawmaker who was asking that question just a short time ago.

What about the kind of sitting around, considering doing an interview? As you said, we're a week out. I mean, should he have been sitting for an interview last Friday?

STELTER: Right, or take more extemporaneous questions, right, more unscripted, unprompted appearances, would have gone a great way to relieve some of the stress, some of the angst, right?

He could call into national radio shows right now. He could go on "Pod Save America." I'm sure those Democratic hosts would do an emergency podcast episode at any given time.

What we're not seeing from the Biden White House is in some ways more revealing than what we are seeing right now. Yes, it makes sense he's going to hold an event to talk about the hurricane down South and talk about other extreme weather. Those are logical setups for the president, but they're also very controlled. They're also very low- risk.

KEILAR: I mean, we should notice -- let's listen in, actually, to President Biden right now in Washington talking about extreme weather. Here we go.



Now, if my father were here, he's looking down, he would -- turn and say, I apologize for my back.


BIDEN: Very impolite to talk to my back.

Thank you very much. You're doing a hell of a job, all of you.

Look, Mayor, thanks for that introduction and joining me today at the D.C. Emergency Operations Center.

I also want to thank the first responders, who risk their lives every single day running into danger to save others, while everyone is running away from danger.

I'm here to talk about how we're preparing and responding to the dangerous impacts of extreme weather and the climate crisis that's affecting people all around America, all around the country, as a matter of fact, beyond around America. Summer has just started. Already, already, tens of millions of

Americans are under heat warnings from record-shattering temperatures, last month here in D.C., temperature 100 degrees, in Phoenix, Arizona, 112 degrees, in Las Vegas, 111 degrees.

Above-normal temperatures also expected for much of the country in July, especially in Central and Eastern United States. Extreme heat -- this is, I think, going to surprise a lot of people, not you all, but extreme heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States.

More people die from extreme heat than floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes combined. Say that again, combined. More people die from heat than those three other major issues.

And, look, right now we're also tracking Hurricane Beryl, which is passing through the Caribbean. It's the earliest time ever a dangerous Category 5 hurricane has been recorded in American history. People impacted in islands and communities are in our prayers, and we stand by to provide assistance to them.

Look, extreme weather events drive home the point that I have been saying for so long. Ignoring climate change is deadly and dangerous and irresponsible. These climate-fueled extreme weather events don't just affect people's lives. They also cost money. They hurt the economy, and they have a significant negative psychological effect on people.

Last year, the largest weather-related disasters cost over, and get this, $90 billion in damage in America, $90 billion in damage. That's the cost so far last year. They drove nearly 2.5 million people out of their homes from Hawaii to Vermont.

These events also pose serious threats to our nation's transportation system, to our power grid, farms, fisheries, and forests, in each case, costing lives and costing money. The impacts we're seeing are only going to get worse, get more frequent, more ferocious, hitting our most vulnerable people in the most hardest-hit communities in the world.


Look, we can change all that. It's within our power. That's why, today, I'm announcing five new actions my administration is taking to address extreme weather, including heat and other hazards.

The first, the Department of Labor is proposing a new rule that, when finalized, will establish the nation's first ever federal safety standard for excessive heat in the workplace. This includes things like developing response plans to heat illness, training employees and supervisors, implementing rest breaks, access to shade and water.

You think we'd have to tell people access to shade and water. I mean, gradually easing new employees into heat environments. Across the country, workers suffer heat stroke or even die just doing their jobs. This new rule will substantially reduce heat injuries, illnesses and deaths for over 36 million workers to whom it will apply, from farmworkers to construction workers, postal workers, manufacturing workers and so much more.

I want to thank Vice President Harris for the work she has done since she was in the United States Senate that led to this rule.

Second, in the coming days, my Federal Emergency Management will also finalize the rule to improve our nation's resilience against flooding, resilience. FEMA will now factor in the effects of future flooding for any federally funded construction project.

That is, you can look at what caused the damage, what broke down and what the best way to repair it is, not just bring it back to what it was, but prioritize making it better, prioritize nature-based solutions to reduce risk of floods.

Look, third, FEMA's announcing -- excuse me -- nearly $1 billion in grants for over 650 projects across the country that help communities protect against natural disasters, including extreme heat, storms and flooding.

These grants will also help advance my Justice40 Initiative to deliver at least 40 percent of overall benefits of clean transit, clean energy and climate investment to devastated communities, to the poor communities that are always left behind.

Fourth, Environmental Protection Agency is releasing a new report showing the continued impacts of climate change on the health of the American people and on our environment. This report will help us prepare better, respond faster and save more lives.

And, fifth, later this summer, my administration will convene the first ever White House summer on extreme heat, bringing together state, local, tribal, and territorial leaders and international partners who are protecting communities and workers from extreme weather every single solitary day.

Along with these actions, another reason why we're here today is to get the word out, so folks know these resources are available to them and anyone who needs them. You got -- I was telling the group who briefed me earlier, my brother has an expression, you got to know how to know.

We think everybody understands the government. It's complicated. We want the American people to know help is here, how to get that help. Follow the guidance from local leaders and public safety officials, stay indoors somewhere cool, if you're vulnerable.

Be careful on hot pavement. Know the signs of heatstroke, like headache, nausea, and dizziness. And always have water with you whenever you're outside this summer.

Today's announcements build on historic action my administration has already taken to address extreme heat events. We launched a new Web site, Let me say it again,, that shares lifesaving information and links a new heat-risk tool to help communities forecast extreme heat.

Just enter your zip code and see the heat forecast not only generically, generally, but in your community, where you're living, and we will get back to exactly what the heat forecast for your neighborhood is.

My Department of Labor also created the first ever national program to protect workers from heat stress. We have invested billions to enhance our power grid, expand energy shortages, so that lights, air conditioning, refrigeration, Internet stay on during heat waves, storms, and other climate changes.

It's building back a different way. All told, we have invested a record more than $50 billion for climate resilience, including against extreme heat and wildfires.

But that's not all. The American -- my American Rescue Plan is helping states and cities promote energy efficiency, reduce the impacts on flooding, and open cooling centers. People have to know where to go, where they can go in their neighborhood. It's just not automatic.

Through the bipartisan infrastructure law, we're delivering over $20 billion to lower your energy costs, upgrading the electric grid to withstand stronger heat waves and storms. My Inflation Reduction Act, the most significant climate investment ever in the history of the world, anywhere in the world, has already created 300,000 new jobs, building energy we need to cut our emissions and to lead the world.


Unfortunately, my predecessor and the MAGA Republicans in Congress are trying to undo all his progress. They still deny climate change even exists. They deny climate change even exists. They must be living in a hole somewhere.

At the expense of health and safety of their own constituents, they deny it exists. Every single congressional Republican voted against the investments which created these jobs and combat climate change. Many of them are trying to repeal those climate provisions and kill those jobs.

I, quite frankly, think it's not only outrageous. It's really stupid. Everyone who willfully denies the impacts of climate change is condemning the American people to a dangerous future and either is really, really dumb or has some other motive of that.

How can we deny there's climate change, for God's sake?

Let me close with this. When disaster strikes, there are no red states or blue states. I have demonstrated that. I said, no matter whether you vote for me or not, everyone is going to get treated fairly. They're just communities, not red communities, blue communities. They're just communities, families looking for help.

And my administration is going to be there for you every step of the way. You just have to remember who we are, for God's sake. We're the United States of America, the United States of America. There's nothing, nothing, nothing beyond our capacity if we work together.

So God bless you all. We're just getting started here, man. I'm confident we're going to get this done.

Now I want to turn it over to Clint Osborn, director of the -- acting director of D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, to tell you what his team's incredible work is doing on the front lines for extreme...

KEILAR: All right, that is President Biden speaking at the D.C. Emergency Operations Center about extreme weather events, the likes of which certainly the East Coast has been experiencing here recently, but that all across the country we have been watching.

We will continue to monitor this.

And still to come this hour: a major development in one criminal case against former President Trump, how yesterday's Supreme Court ruling is already impacting his legal battles.