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Some Elected Democrats May Follow Representative Lloyd Doggett in Calling for President Biden to Step Down as Democratic Party's Presidential Nominee; Former Democratic Presidential Candidate Tim Ryan Interviewed on His Calls for Kamala Harris to Replace Joe Biden as Democratic Party's Presidential Nominee; Beryl Churning Toward Jamaica as Dangerous Category 4 Hurricane; 176 Graves Vandalized at Two Jewish Cemeteries in Ohio. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 03, 2024 - 08:00   ET



ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And now that's gone. So someone talked about maybe Vice President Harris, that she might not be popular enough to win. But the way one woman put it was that if we don't, at least try, it's better to at least try and lose than to not try at all, which is what she thinks would be keeping Biden on the ticket. Others said maybe some kind of centrist governor, but they were really at a loss.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of people now asking these questions. Elle Reeve, thanks so much for this reporting this morning, really appreciate it.

We've got a brand new hour of CNN NEWS CENTRAL starting right now.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The White House trying to calm panic within the party, but calls are growing louder from Democrats for President Biden to step aside after his disastrous debate and his fallout afterwards. What the president will say today to congressional leaders and Democratic governors about concerns over his mental fitness.

Hurricane Beryl just hours away from potentially catastrophic landfall on Jamaica. How people there are preparing for this monster storm.

And millions of Americans hitting the road for the Fourth of July holiday will be celebrating the nations independence and lower prices at the gas pump.

I'm Sara Sidner with John Berman and Kate Bolduan. This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

BERMAN: This morning the question -- the question is, who's next? Will another elected Democrat come forward and ask President Biden to step aside and allow another candidate in? The White House is doing everything it can this morning to make that answer no. They will hold an all staff call this morning. The president will meet face-to-face with several Democratic governors expressing concern and speak with congressional leaders. This is an addition to his public schedule. We will see him at a Medal of Honor ceremony today.

So far, Lloyd Doggett of Texas as the only Democratic congressman to directly say the president should drop out. The question is, has anything moved in the last few minutes?

CNN's chief national affairs correspondent Jeff Zeleny is with us now. And Jeff, really every minute counts in this. Every hour things seem to be fluid. What have you heard so far this morning? Any movement?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John, good morning. There is no question that other Democratic lawmakers are looking at what Lloyd Doggett and several others have said, not quite as forcefully, that there needs to be a change at the top of the Democratic ticket.

So I am told that today that polling that we've been talking about, that research from some swing states and battleground districts is likely to come in. And the Biden campaign is going to take a closer look at some of this.

But John, you could feel things change throughout the day into the afternoon and evening hours yesterday. There is a sense that Biden advisers know, obviously, how serious this is. The president is the bigger question here. Of course, he wants what's best for the Democratic Party. The question is, is that still him?

But yesterday, the conversation also began to increasingly focus on Vice President Kamala Harris. She, of course, has been a big defender of President Biden. She said the debate was not good but said his entire candidacy and presidency should not hinge on that one debate. But she also is speaking out forcefully about needing to take on Donald Trump. Yesterday on the campaign trail, she said this.


KAMALA HARRIS, (D) VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Joe Biden is our nominee. We beat Trump once and we're going to beat him again, period.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you ready to lead the country if necessary?

HARRIS: I am proud to be Joe Biden's running mate.


ZELENY: So she said we beat Trump once and we will beat them again. Of course, she was on the ticket in 2020 and she is on the ticket this time. And that is something that is important to remember. This campaign is her campaign as well.

And yesterday, new CNN polling really showed some very interesting numbers in terms of how she stacks up to Biden should she be at the top of the ticket. Of course, these are all hypotheticals. President Biden has not made a decision. But look at these numbers here. If the choice is the Democratic candidate versus a Trump right there, Biden and Harris, 49, 43. She is within the margin of error. But more interestingly on women, look at these numbers here. She is stronger among women than Joe Biden is. She would get 50 percent of women polled, Biden only 44 percent. Independent voters also so interesting. She would get 43 percent of the independent vote. President Biden now is only getting 34 percent. So in some questions, she has emerged as a stronger nominee, at least hypothetically, then President Biden. Of course, this would all change, should be defined in a new way should this happen.


But now in the here and now, President Biden is still at the top of this campaign. Of course, he is planning ahead. He has an interview on Friday with George Stephanopoulos on the campaign trail. And tonight, that critical meeting with governors. I am told that several Democratic governors are coming here not to read him the riot act, but to prop him up and to give him support, and the space they would like him to have to what many people hope is an ultimate decision to consider his future and perhaps step aside.

BERMAN: What they say later may hinge on what happens between now and then. Honestly, things change so quickly here. And as you said, there is a new focus on the vice president, Kamala Harris. "Politico" actually led with what seems to be a resurgent group of support for her in Democratic circles. Jeff Zeleny, we'll let you get back to reporting. We'll talk to you again soon. Thank you very much.


BOLDUAN: And let's talk about exactly that right now. Joining us right now is former Democratic Congressman from Ohio, Tim Ryan. Also ran against President Biden in the 2020 Demo Primary. Was quick to endorse Biden after he ended his own bid.

Congressman, good to see you. Thank you very much.

You are now saying it is time for Joe Biden to step aside, and you are saying, and let Kamala Harris lead the ticket now.

Since you spoke out yesterday, have you heard from the White House or the Biden campaign?

TIM RYAN (D), FORMER OHIO CONGRESSMAN: No, I have not. But I've heard from a lot of worried Democrats around the country and in Congress that they were thankful that I said what I said because I think that the consternation, the angst that's out there is very deep and very real. What we saw on Thursday, you know, was a lot more than a bad performance.

But what we worry about is how Donald Trump was able to completely shape the discussion around COVID, around the economy, around all of these issues without any pushback. And I just think Kamala Harris would thrive in a - in a debate with Donald Trump and prosecute the issue around choice. She would be, I think, very well received in the industrial Midwest with working-class voters. I've watched her campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire during the presidential a few years back, and she has the ability to connect.

So, you know, I just say, what are waiting for? Let's get moving here and let's take the fight to Trump before, you know, before it's too late.

BOLDUAN: You said yesterday that what you're seeing is that the dam is breaking, in terms of the support behind President Biden, holding up President Biden if you will. Do you think it's a sure thing that he decides to - he will step aside at this point? What do you think the chances are?

RYAN: I really don't know, honestly, Kate. You know, I'm watching from Ohio here, as things - as things are unfolding. You know, and again, and I just want to say, like I love Joe Biden. This is - this is nothing personal.

But when you - when you watch -- one, you watch the performance and then you watched the Chevron decision last week, you watched the immunity decision a day or two ago and you see that the Supreme Court literally flipped the Constitution on its head.

And then you envision Donald Trump running roughshod the next four months, becoming president, a Republican Senate because we're - our down-ballot races are hurt.

Donald Trump's going to appoint federal judges in all across the United States, U.S. attorneys all across the state, coming out of the Federalist Society. Like Democrats need to wake up and realize, you know, that we've got to act with conviction. We saw what we saw. We love him. This happens. People get older. It's the - he didn't do anything wrong.

But we've got to move on and we've got to put a candidate that can prosecute. There's so much at stake for women, you know, let's have a Kamala Harris, former attorney general, prosecute that case against Donald Trump on the choice issue for women. Brag about the Inflation Reduction Act, the reindustrialization of the United States, our energy policy.

Like she could do that and, you know, I would be excited, I think our base would be excited. You know, young people who - we're bleeding out now young people, that they're just so disengaged. I think the minority communities, we're soft support there. All of a sudden, we're in a - we're in a dog fight with Donald Trump and with a good chance to win the five states that we need to win.

BOLDUAN: But what do you think - I mean, but also - some Democrats though are warning a little bit, be careful what you wish for in this regard, which is that there is - it's not just as easy as Donald - Joe Biden step aside, Kamala Harris step in and you're off to the races. That replacing - finding someone to replace Joe Biden carries serious risk with it as well, in terms of success in winning the White House. What do you say to that? The risk is more worth it.

[08:10:00] RYAN: Yes, I mean, there's risks in everything you do in life and it's risky to, you know, say we're going to go to the convention. It's risky to say we're going, you know, put Kamala Harris in and unite behind the vice president. But I think the highest risk that we have, the highest risk is the status quo.

And because of what we saw, and I just - what I get nervous about, just to reiterate it, Kate, watching Donald Trump reframe COVID, reframe the economy when he was president, reframe his tax policy without any pushback.

And so, that to me is the highest risk that we have, is to let him speak how he spoke. And he's, obviously, you know, knows how to persuade people, lies like hell, but you know, he could be persuasive to do that without any pushback at the - at the level and the intensity, with the vigor that is needed scares the crap out of me.

BOLDUAN: Real quick, Biden's talking to Dem governors today. He's setting down with George Stephanopoulos for a one-on-one on Friday. Could anything happen in these intervening days and that interview that would change your mind?

RYAN: I'm not sure. I mean, I'm worried that what, you know, what's today? Wednesday. You know, that the debate was Thursday and all we saw was a five-minute press conference, very muted, when the Constitution was just flipped on its head. Like this is - nothing that's been happening is encouraging.

And so, you know, we all love George Stephanopoulos, and that's great, but like it's got to be a lot more than that. It's got to be a barnstorm. It's got to be townhalls in hostile environments, probably like Fox News and show us you can make the case.

And real quick, I've been thinking a lot about the Cuban Missile Crisis with President Kennedy, 13 days, the top brass in the country, joint chiefs of staff bullying him, trying to push him around to go into World War III and he had the mental capabilities, the intestinal fortitude, the energy to be able to push back and prevent World War III. That's what happens, you know, for presidents.

And people sitting on bar stools in Ohio or coffee shops, they didn't see someone who could do that on Thursday night. And it's sad and it's heartbreaking but there's too much at stake for any one personality, one person to prevent us from beating Donald Trump and having an elevated, aspirational message that I think someone like Kamala could give to hit the reset button.

The double haters, I don't like - I don't want to vote for Biden. I don't want to vote for Trump. Well, Democrats, let's give them somebody different to vote for and I think we would see some success there.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thank you for - thank you so much for coming on. It's been a minute. Appreciate your time.

RYAN: Thanks, Kate. BOLDUAN: Really interesting interview, Kate.

All right, locals in the path of the deadly hurricane Beryl are struggling to secure basic supplies as they brace for this monster storm.

And a shocking act of antisemitism, the FBI now investigating after vandals targeted two Jewish cemeteries.

And he is an admitted fake elector but kept his job supervising the vote in Wisconsin. Now a group calling itself the Raging Grannies intends to change.


CROWD: -- a heart of the conspiracy. He's one of the 10 false electors now known for their dishonesty.




BERMAN: All right, new this morning, a fake Trump elector in Wisconsin is still overseeing elections in that state.

Robert Spindell admitted to trying to overturn the 2020 election there.

CNN's Sara Murray reports on the group of people calling themselves -- all right, you know what? We are going to come back to that a little bit later.

The raging grannies, as we showed you a little while ago, it is an outstanding story. You will love them, but you know what? You're going to have to wait for it.

More news right after this.


BERMAN: All right, happening now, Jamaica under curfew as the deadly Hurricane Beryl moves ever closer to the island. It is a powerful Category 4 storm bringing life-threatening winds and storm surge.

Joining us now from Jamaica, journalist Fitzroy Prendergast.

Fitzroy, nice to see you.

It looks calm there right now, but what have you been seeing over the last few hours in terms of preparations?


It is certainly a lot of activity. Many Jamaicans have taken this storm very seriously. They have made sure that they've gone to the supermarkets and they have done the necessary.

Yesterday, I was personally doing some prep myself. It was chaos. A lot of stores, supermarkets were running out of items and being resupplied.

The gas stations were very hard to -- there was so much crowd at the gas stations. It was difficult to imagine.

This is a change from the norm because certainly we've had near brushes in the past, but nothing as big as this one coming since the 1988 Gilbert and I think Jamaicans have now realized that this is coming and they have done the necessary as much as they can do to get themselves ready for this storm.

BERMAN: What do you think the biggest concern is in terms of the actual physical damage that might be done?

PRENDERGAST: Well, certainly, Kingston is our capital city, as you would know and in recent times, the economy of the Jamaican government has improved, and I think the fact that Kingston is basically in the path, it signals challenge because it could put our economic progress backwards.

The biggest areas in Jamaica that are certainly concerning are the Port Moore more area.


Of course, Saint Thomas, Portland and some very low-lying areas in and around the Corporate Area. We certainly have incidences of significant flooding from time to time.

Clarendon is certainly a source of concern and those areas where there are housing populations that are not so well put together, also are at risk.

And so there are pockets of significant challenges, but I think that all in all, across the 14 parishes, that there is significant preparation taking place.

The government is really marshalling its forces to ensure that they can -- they are ready as much as they can because there is very little you can -- there are certain things that are outside of your purview, but there are certainly things that they have done to try and mitigate the impact of Hurricane Beryl.

BERMAN: Fitzroy Prendergast in Jamaica, you and your family, please stay safe. The next day will be difficult. The best to you -- Sara.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, this morning, the FBI is investigating after nearly 180 gravestones were knocked over, vandalized in two Jewish cemeteries in Cincinnati.

Officials say, some of the gravestones are so heavy that it would have had to been lifted with cranes. CNN's Josh Campbell joins me now.

What more are you learning about how this happened and the investigation into this?


We know the FBI and Cincinnati Police have launched an investigation. They are asking anyone with information about what occurred to come forward and provide that information to investigators.

What we know, as you mentioned, nearly a hundred grave sites were desecrated, some gravestones were knocked down, some of them tipped over, some of them were split in half and some of these gravestones actually date back to the late 1800s.

Authorities believe that this incident at these two cemetery took place between June 7th and July 1st.

Take a listen here to the executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Cincinnati in talking about incident.


SUE SUSSKIND, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JEWISH FEDERATION OF GREATER CINCINNATI: This is 175, which leads me to believe there has to be more behind it than somebody just wanting to knock down headstones.

We are working hand in hand with the local police as well as the FBI.


CAMPBELL: Now, I will read you here a statement that we got in from the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. They say that, "We unequivocally condemn this act of hatred and desecration. Our hearts go out to the families affected by this senseless its vandalism. The Jewish community in Cincinnati is resilient and we are committed to repairing the damage and restoring the sanctity of these sacred spaces."

And now, Sara, family members are being allowed on to these cemeteries. You can only just imagine the heartbreaking task of going there, trying to determine if the gravesite of your loved one was one of the many that were desecrated.

SIDNER: Yes, that's just awful.

What does the FBI been saying about whether they believe there will be more of an upsurge of antisemitism and what they are seeing now?

CAMPBELL: Yes, the FBI has been sounding the alarm, as well as the Anti-Defamation League. Just to give you some of the recent statistics, the ADL says that they've been tracking incidents of antisemitism since 1979. They found a 140 percent increase from 2022 to 2023 with what they described as a dramatic increase taking place after the October 7th Hamas attacks on Israel.

We've seen so many of these threats, both psychological. We've obviously seen protests around campus, Jewish students saying that they feel unsafe, as well as actual attacks on individuals. And take a listen here to the FBI director describing recently how

outsized the threat against Jews in America is when you look at the bulk of the FBI's case work.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: The Jewish community is uniquely, uniquely targeted by pretty much every terrorist organization across the spectrum, and when you look at a group that makes up 2.4 percent roughly of the American population, it should be jarring to everyone that, that same population accounts for something like 60 percent of all religious based hate crimes.


CAMPBELL: Now, we know that this heightened threat environment is not expected to abate anytime soon. We've heard from the FBI, they are working with Jewish security leaders across the nation to fortify security at houses of worship. We know that various police departments have increased patrols around Jewish houses of worship. Certainly, a precarious time here in the US -- Sara.

SIDNER: All right, Josh Campbell, thank you so much for joining us this morning from Los Angeles -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, coming up for us, a welcome break coming along with the Fourth of July Holiday weekend break, a break in gas prices, what's fueling the drop and what is the outlook for the summer.

South Carolina's three-female Republican state senators stood up and successfully blocked their states near total abortion ban from going -- from being approved -- that was last year, and for taking that stand, they are now losing their jobs. Voters turning against them in their primaries, including South Carolina's longest serving female senator who will be our guest.


KATRINA SHEALY, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE SENATOR: And there is nothing anybody could do to hurt me now, so you know, take a look. This is what a Senate seat cost, and I am proud of it. So, somebody better do the job I am leaving, because I am going to be --