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Source: Biden Tells Dem Governors He Needs More Sleep; Biden Fights For His Political Future After Debate Debacle; Second House Dem Calls On Biden To Quit Race; How Democrats Could Replace Bide At The Top Of The Ticket. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired July 04, 2024 - 15:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: For President Biden, what unfolds over the next two days could decide his political future with his campaign in crisis and Democrats wavering, a lot is riding on this primetime interview tomorrow night.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And former President Trump's campaign is watching the Democrats in disarray and weighing how it could change his own campaign strategy. We'll look at what the likely Republican nominee makes of these events.

And the U.S. isn't the only country witnessing some political turmoil today. The U.K. could be ready for a change at the top after 14 years with the conservative party in charge. On this Fourth of July holiday, we are following these major developing stories and many more all coming in right here to CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

SANCHEZ: We have new details coming in this afternoon on President Biden's ongoing fight for his political future. Sources tell CNN the President told Democratic governors during yesterday's White House meeting that he needs more sleep and he plans to stop scheduling events after 8 PM.

That meeting was an attempt to reassure Democratic leaders that he could win re-election and serve out another term. His campaign faces a critical test in the next 48 hours. Tomorrow, President Biden is set to hit the campaign trail and then we'll see him in his first televised interview since the debate. Today, in new taped radio interviews, he again pushed back against calls for him to step aside.

Let's get the latest now live from the White House with CNN's Priscilla Alvarez.

And Priscilla, how does President Biden hope to regain the confidence of voters over this next critical stretch?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Boris, the resounding message from the President's allies that they want to see him more often and to see him in unscripted moments. And there is some of that on the horizon. Of course, we'll see the President today during the July 4th celebrations here at the White House. He's then going to two battleground states, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. And, of course, he'll participate in that high-profile interview with ABC News tomorrow.

Now, advisors had been talking over the last week in ways that they could put the President out there more often and try to make the point that that energetic North Carolina rally that we saw him at after the debate, that that wasn't just a fluke, but that is the person that they see behind closed doors.

But the reality, of course, is that it hasn't calmed nerves. And the President, I think, is trying to give us a glimpse of what his message might be on the road with a pair of interviews that he did with Black Radio this week. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had a bad night. And the fact of the matter is that, you know, it was - I screwed up. I made a mistake. That's 90 minutes on stage. Look at what I've done in 3.5 years.


ALVAREZ: So, of course, that is the argument here, that the President should be judged on his record and not on the debate stage. But it's a week out from the debate, and still all corners of the Democratic Party are really in panic and quite frustrated with the reasons they've been given so far. That includes some of the conflicting responses that we have heard from the White House over the last 24 hours.

The White House now saying that the President was briefly checked by his doctor after the debate. Remember that at the time, officials had told reporters that he had a cold, which is part of the reason for his debate performance. And that comes after the White House Press Secretary had said he hadn't received any checks from a doctor aside from his physical in February.

So these evolving reasons and explanation are just complicating and adding more layers to an already difficult situation for this campaign as it tries to salvage the President's re-election bid. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Priscilla Alvarez, live from the White House, thank you so much. Brianna?

KEILAR: President Biden is also trying to reassure his fellow Democrats in Congress. Two sitting Democrats are now calling for the President to quit the race after his debate performance. We have CNN's Sunlen Serfaty with more in Washington for us. Sunlen?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna. House Democratic leaders are certainly absorbing this anxiety that they're hearing from their members and really trying to take a moment and take stock of this critical moment going forward. Now, House leaders convened a conference call last night with some of the top Democrats on the House, and they really heard an earful. Sources telling CNN that some said that they want Biden to step aside. They think he should go now, and others expressed some concern over the frenzy, in their words, that would ensue if potentially the nominee was replaced. We are told, according to that call, that the top Democrat in the House, Hakeem Jeffries, he did not show his cards.


He did not reveal what he thinks of the situation, only that he understood the concern from his members. But certainly his opinion here matters so much when we're talking about Biden's effect on down- ballot races, especially in the House that the Democrats are trying to flip.

Now, we have heard from two Democrats on Capitol Hill calling for President Biden to step aside and many others privately acknowledging that that might need to happen. But we have also, in the same breath, heard from some supporters of President Biden, Debbie Dingell this morning, acknowledging that this is a critical moment and that it is Biden himself that needs to step up here. Here's what she had to say.


REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): I think that the one clear thing this week is that there's only one person that can show he is up to the job, has the stamina to do the job, that he will do the job and that is Joe Biden. And he needs to get out there on a sustained basis and do things spontaneously. One interview is not going to reassure folks. We got to be realistic.


SERFATY: And many House Democrats sharing that feeling, too, that they want to see him out there doing well. And that's why a lot of congressional Democrats, Brianna, they are looking towards how tomorrow goes, how this interview on ABC goes, how his campaign rallies in Wisconsin and over the weekend go, to see what kind of what Biden shows up, and that there's something of an inflection point on the horizon when all the members return from their recesses and get back here in Washington on Monday and Tuesday morning, certainly dealing with the wake of potentially what happens over the weekend.

KEILAR: All right. Sunlen, thank you so much for that report. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Meantime, a Trump ally is telling CNN, quote, "Chaos is our friend." We're learning new details about how the Trump campaign plans to use the uncertainty and panic that's taken over the Democratic Party to its advantage. Trump is keeping a low profile as questions swirl around President Biden's political future. But newly surfaced video is giving us a clear idea of what he's thinking. Take a look.




TRUMP: He's a bad guy. He just quit, you know? He's quitting the race.


TRUMP: I got him out of the way. And that means we have Kamala. I think she's going to be better. She's so bad. She's so pathetic. She's so (expletive) bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just can't imagine that.

TRUMP: But can you imagine that guy dealing with Putin? And the President of China who's a fierce person. He's a fierce man, very tough guy.


SANCHEZ: CNN's Alayna Treene is here in the studio with new details about the Trump campaign strategy.

Alayna, what can you tell us about this video? What are you learning?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, there's a few things. One is that you mentioned Donald Trump is trying to keep a low profile. That's very rare for him, but Republicans really do want Democrats and Joe Biden to be the story right now. And so you're seeing them really not weighed into the spotlight that much, which again is not usual for Donald Trump.

Now, despite that, of course, you did see that video of him criticizing Joe Biden as well as Kamala Harris. It's unclear if Donald Trump knew that he was being filmed in that moment, but he did reshare that video on his own Truth Social page. So it's clear he's also happy to attack both of them in this moment and pile on to what is already - some of the criticism that the Democrats are seeing over Joe Biden's fitness to serve.

I will say though, however, behind the scenes, just from my reporting and talking to Donald Trump's team about this, they're also very uncertain of how this impacts their own campaign. Remember, Donald Trump has spent months setting up a general campaign infrastructure. They've built out this massive data operation, all of that focused on going after Joe Biden. And the reality really started to set in earlier this week, I'm told, that there is a very real possibility that maybe Joe Biden will no longer be the candidate. And so they're really trying to grapple with how that impacts them.

And at the same time, you know, a lot of people have argued in the past, even Donald Trump himself has said he didn't think that Joe Biden would make it to the Democratic convention, that he would ultimately step aside. He's been saying that for months, but now that it's actually happening, when I talk to some Republicans, they actually argue they think Biden would be the best candidate for Donald Trump to beat.

And so they're trying to figure out really what this means for their own campaign, as well as, again, keep the attention on Democrats and let Joe Biden and the criticism he's facing be the story right now.

SANCHEZ: And you sort of alluded to some of this. How are they preparing for the potentiality of another candidate leading the Democrats?

TREENE: Well, it's interesting because for months, we really haven't seen Trump and his team go after Kamala Harris. They started to ramp up some of those attacks this week, especially because I can tell you on Monday, actually, I got a series of calls from all corners of Trump world asking me how real the possibility of Joe Biden stepping aside would be and who would replace him.


So they're very much in the dark, but they've started to ramp up some of their attacks on Harris, including some of Donald Trump's leading super PACs like MAGA, Inc. But also I'm told that they've kept running opposition books of research. They've been calling them, like, rolling books of criticism on some of these other candidates like Gretchen Whitmer, Gavin Newsom, Shapiro in Pennsylvania, all of these candidates that could potentially maybe become the next torchbearer and standard bearer for the party.

But again, they aren't totally prepared, I think, for this moment and they're kind of waiting to see what happens. I'm also told at the same time that they're not trying to do too much preparation in this interim. They want to see how it all plays out first.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it seems both parties are waiting to see ...

TREENE: Right.

SANCHEZ: ... how this goes. Alayna Treene, thank you so much. Brianna?

KEILAR: Let's turn to our panel now. We are joined by former Democratic Senator from California, Barbara Boxer, and former Press Secretary under President Clinton, Joe Lockhart.

Senator, you said give Biden two weeks to fix his ailing campaign. It has now been a full week since the debate. We haven't even seen a TV interview or press conference yet. That's not going to come until tomorrow and next week, respectively. Is he moving too slow on his reset?

BARBARA BOXER, (D) FORMER U.S. SENATOR, CALIFORNIA: No, I meant two weeks from now. The article you're quoting was run today. Two weeks. I agree with Debbie Dingell. I disagree with these members who are coming on TV for their five minutes of fame and pushing out a man who has been one of the greatest presidents since FDR.

And by the way, I say, because there are two schools of thought. My school of thought is show us the comeback. You've done it your whole life, Mr. President. You've come back from personal losses. You've come back from political losses.

And here's the thing about these members and folks who are coming on your station and a lot of your experts pushing this man out right now, before he has a chance, is this: We know that Donald Trump is the true threat here. We know, because he talked 30 lies in 90 minutes. That's what he put out there, 30 lies. He refused to accept the results of the election. He's already going after Liz Cheney and saying she's guilty of treason, which by the way, the penalty for that is murder. It goes on and on.

He also said at the debate that Democrats would kill babies after they're born. And everybody's focused on Joe Biden. And last point, how many times have we seen Trump fall asleep at his own criminal trial where he was found guilty of 34 counts and also liable for sexual assault in another courtroom against E. Jean Carroll. So please spare me your five minutes of fame. Give this man a chance to pick himself up. He's done it so many times.

KEILAR: Joe, what do you think on the timeline? I mean, the RNC is coming up pretty quickly. Two weeks from now will be the end of the RNC.

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think there's a couple of lessons from 1998 with President Clinton. The first is that time actually helps. I think Sen. Boxer will likely remember that senators and some member of Congress privately were talking about going to the White House and trying to convince the President to leave. And the fact of the matter is people are going to figure out within a week or two weeks, as Sen. Boxer said, that he's not leaving. And that's when people will rally around him.

The second thing I think is on strategy. I don't think campaigning is the best thing. Again, a lesson from 1998, 1999. He has the unique position of being president and doing things as president. And I think that's the best way to position himself as a contrast to Donald Trump. It's not about style. It's what he can do from the Oval Office.

KEILAR: He, Joe, has two local radio interviews that aired this morning. He's had remarks off-prompter. He's really had no off-the- cuff Q&A, as we sometimes see from him since the debate. He does have this interview, big interview coming up tomorrow.

Should he have been out there more this past week and how many interviews does he need to have slated here in the coming days and weeks?

LOCKHART: I don't think he needs to do a lot. I think he needs to perform well in primetime tomorrow. I think the country will be very much tuned in to that as they were for the debate. But I think, you know, there's a threshold that he'll need to pass. It doesn't mean 10 interviews. It means doing well in one or two. And then as I was saying, I really think he needs to shift back to being in the Oval Office, doing the work as the President. And that's really the contrast with Donald Trump, who's out there just sort of popping off at any chance he can.


KEILAR: And Senator, I hear what you're saying. You're saying that people are coming on for their five minutes of fame. They're also concerned.


KEILAR: I mean, we just had Larry Sabato on Biden's chances in Michigan. He's downgrading them there. A lot of people put stock certainly in what he says with his projections. When you have people looking at that in the party, people who are proud of Joe Biden's record and they're really concerned as they see numbers in places that he would have to win, what do you say to them?

BOXER: Everybody's concerned. Look, I ran 11 times. And when I ran for the United States Senate four times, three out of the four times I was down in the polls. We have time. Give this man who has so many accomplishments and especially, excuse me, when you put them up against this orange man, there is no comparison. Give him time to make his comeback.

Everybody that you put on the show, fine. They have a right. I'm concerned. Everyone is concerned. Take a deep breath, be a grownup. And I think, you know, Joe is right. I remember those days of Bill Clinton. Could he ever make a comeback? Could he ever do it?

He did it. Joe Biden has done it many, many times. So all this jumping on this, pushing him hard out the door because he did have a terrible debate and I think he does need to get out there without the prompter. In addition to doing what Joe says, I agree with people that I have often agreed with like Debbie Dingell, you've got to get out there and prove you still have the mojo.

He may or he may not, but give him that opportunity. And I don't care when the Republican convention is. I care when the Democratic convention is. And I'm going there and it's going to be August and either we're going to rally around our president or we won't, but it's in his hands. And I believe that he can show this.

But I still keep coming back to the President - excuse me, I really, I don't mean you at all - in general, calling for Joe to get out and this and that after this man who's a convicted felon and who instigated a complete insurrection on our nation's Capitol. They don't tell him to get out.

So something is off in America. This is Independence Day. Trump has a plan to fire the entire Justice Department, replace it with people loyal to him and go after people he doesn't like. And it's really frightening. So let's keep our eye on the prize as it's been said many times. Let's see if our president can make his comeback. If not, we'll figure it out.

KEILAR: Joe Lockhart, Sen. Boxer, thank you so much to both of you for being with us. We appreciate it.

BOXER: Thanks.

KEILAR: And ahead, we have much more on the President's critical few days ahead as a second lawmaker calls on him to drop out of the race. Plus, millions of people voting in the U.K. right now. They're going to decide if the party that's been in power for the last 14 years will stay put. We're live from London.

And how L.A.'s new $700 million man, Shohei Ohtani, is a magnet for Japanese tourists? These stories and much more coming up on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.



SANCHEZ: What would it take to replace President Biden as the Democratic Party's nominee? Some in the party are already gaming out potential ways to do it and CNN's Brian Todd has been digging into those scenarios for us.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If President Biden leaves the race, analysts say it would almost certainly have to be his decision to bow out voluntarily.


ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It's unlikely that if Joe Biden does not step down voluntarily that there would be a different nominee at the top of the ticket.


TODD (voice over): If he doesn't voluntarily leave, someone in the Democratic Party could try to replace him by introducing an open nomination process at the Democratic National Convention in August. But that scenario is unlikely.

Still, even if the President decides on his own to quit the race, the process for replacing him is uncertain and somewhat messy.


PROF. LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: The primaries are over. The caucuses are over. You can't redo the primaries or caucuses. You can't elect new delegates.


TODD (voice over): If Biden steps aside before the convention, it could turn the convention itself into a free-for-all, or at least make it full of entry. Names of replacements would be put forward and the roughly 3,900 Democratic delegates from across the country would decide who to vote for as the nominee.


SABATO: Oh, it's up to the delegates. In the end, it's up to them. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD (voice over): President Biden won almost all of those 3,900 delegates in the primaries. But does he have control over who they support if he's out of the race?


KANNO-YOUNGS: It's not like Joe Biden can say, okay, I'm stepping down. All of you delegates that signed on for me have to now support this other candidate. That's not how it works. Those delegates would essentially be free to move in the way they want.


TODD (voice over): Like the days of old, backroom deals and lobbying could prevail at the convention, as potential nominees try to convince the delegates to get behind them.

In the end, how many of the 3,900 delegates would a candidate have to win at the convention to get the nomination?


ELAINE KARMACK, MEMBER, DNC RULES AND BYLAWS COMMITTEE: Ultimately, they would have to convince somewhat, somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000-plus Democratic delegates to vote for them on a roll call vote.


TODD (voice over): If no candidate can convince roughly 2,000 delegates to vote for them in the first round, then additional so called super delegates, about 700 of them, comprised of party insiders and elected officials, are also allowed to join in the voting. It would all mean a late start for any candidate, including in the money race.


If Vice President Kamala Harris won the nomination, she would presumably be able to use Biden's campaign war chest because her name is on all the filings. But any other candidate may have to raise their own money.


SANCHEZ: Our thanks to Brian Todd for that report.

Still to come, the U. K. Could see a political shift today as voters head to the polls. We have a live report next.

And a hurricane is targeting Mexico, a historic one after sweeping past Jamaica with dangerous wind and storm surge, when folks in the United States could potentially feel the impact of barrel?


KEILAR: Polls across the U.K. will close here in less than two hours as voters are casting their ballots in the ...