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Polls on Biden and the Democrats; Wesley Clark is Interviewed about Biden Meeting with NATO Leaders; Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-CA) is Interviewed about Concerns over Biden; Congressional Democrats Meet about Biden. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired July 09, 2024 - 09:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: At this moment, House Democrats are meeting behind closed doors and are giving us, frankly, a very good sense of President Biden's current standing in this race. It does seem that the winds are shifting in his favor, that Democrats in that meeting are not en masse calling for him to step aside, though there are some who have expressed concerns that Biden could drag down Democrats across the country.

What does the polling say? CNN's senior data reporter Harry Enten is with us now.

Mike Quigley, who was on with us yesterday, one of the things he continues to say is that Biden will drag us all down. If he stays on the ticket, it's going to hurt House Democrats. What do the numbers say right now in terms of the House?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes, I mean, look, they may be able to run slightly ahead of Joe Biden. But the fact of the matter is, you look at the national polling, the generic congressional ballot choice for U.S. House, look at this, CNN poll, plus two Republican. "Wall Street Journal" poll, plus three Republican. Monmouth University poll, plus three Republican. Yes, Joe Biden may be in slightly worst shape in these particular polls, but the fact is, when Biden's down four, five, six points in these polls, you can only run so far ahead of Joe Biden. At this particular point, at least in the race for the House, it does seem like Republicans are ahead because Donald Trump is so far ahead.

BERMAN: What's the Senate landscape?

ENTEN: Yes, what's the Senate landscape? I mean, take a look here. GOP needs just a gain of one for control if Trump wins. And their path is extremely clear because their best chance for a pickup opportunity is in West Virginia. That's a very likely GOP win with Joe Manchin retiring. And the best Dem pickup chance perhaps to reverse that so the GOP doesn't gain - net gain of at least one, is Texas, but that's still a likely GOP win.

So, the fact is, if Donald Trump wins this election, the race for the Senate, for all intents and purposes in my mind, is over.

BERMAN: One of the things I have heard from Democrats running for Congress is, OK, if President Biden's not doing well, what we'll say is it makes it all that much more important to elect a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate. Maybe they can gain support that way. But does it work like that, split tickets anymore?

ENTEN: It really doesn't. Let's go back since 2000. Same party won presidency and Congress. Yes, five times. No was just one time in 2012. The House that year. But the House popular vote that year actually went Democratic, even though Republicans maintained control of the House. So, the fact is, five out of six times. That's not good math.

And let's just take a look at the Senate here. Senate and presidential races in 2016 and 2020. States that voted the same way in both, 68. States that voted for a different party, just one. That was Maine back in 2020. The fact is, straight ticket voting is the way of the land these days. The idea that Democrats down ballot could somehow outrun Joe Biden to such a great extent to win control in the House or maintain control in the Senate, that seems to me to be an unlikely proposition.

BERMAN: That is a pretty stark number, right?

ENTEN: Yes, so those are - those are pretty clear numbers, John.

BERMAN: Harry, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.


SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thank you both.

So far this morning congressional meetings seems to show people rallying around Biden's re-election bid. Now he faces a different test. This week's NATO summit in Washington.

And next hour, the trial of Alec Baldwin in the "Rust" on-set shooting begins with jury selection. The judge's decision that's already considered a major win for Baldwin's defense. We'll have that story coming up.



SIDNER: This morning, NATO leaders are gathering in Washington to mark the 75th anniversary of the military alliance. The summit gives President Biden a much needed opportunity to prove to the world literally that he has what it takes to be the commander in chief of the United States. White House National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby spoke with our Kate Bolduan earlier and had this take on the president's ability to lead.


JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESPERSON: If the national security team needs to get to the president, they get to the president. And it doesn't matter what the hour on the clock says. He's always there. He's always available. And they have ready access to him. And he also knows that the world doesn't take a breather after a certain time of day.


SIDNER: With me now is General Wesley Clark, former NATO supreme allied commander and founder of Renew America Together.

Thank you so much for sticking with us this morning.

Can you just explain what this means for NATO to see what is happening here in the United States with Democrats starting to sort of pull apart a bit when it comes to Biden and his potential re-election? How do they maneuver this? What are they doing? And how do they perceive at all?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Well, NATO has watched with concern U.S. politics for a long time. It's - it's nothing new. But this is new. This concern right at the time of the NATO summit about whether the Democrats' selected nominee, the current president, is going to continue to run for his second term. And I think President Biden made a very strong pitch in his letter to Congress yesterday. He was on another network saying, if anybody thinks they're better than me, let them run against me. I mean he's come out very strongly.

This is what NATO wants to hear. NATO wants President Biden re- elected. Why? Because he's a proven leader. He's been behind the resurgence of NATO's unity. We've got two new members of NATO. We're going to put a pledge out there to support Ukraine for the next ten years. These are all things that are very welcome.

And on the other side of it, there's Mr. Trump, who shows he has some, I guess, sympathy for Putin's dream that he could overrun Ukraine, start a war against 40 million people, murder, rape, torture, abduction of children, and destroying a state.


That's not a good dream.

So, for NATO, it's a - it's a very clear choice. And the leaders here are hoping and wanting to hear a very strong and vigorous President Biden starting this afternoon when he opens the NATO summit.

SIDNER: Do you think he has something to prove to NATO? I - you listed some of the things. And it looks like the congressional Democrats have come out of this meeting. And it seems to be that they are together and behind Joe Biden this morning, although there are still some who think he should not go forward with the re-election campaign.

But does Biden have anything to prove in front of NATO himself?

CLARK: Well, I think he - actually he doesn't have anything to prove other than just being there, being strong, saying what he's planned to say. He's got a strong staff with him. Secretary Austin, Secretary Blinken, they're there. They're doing the bilaterals and the meetings alongside the summit meetings. There are dinners and so forth. He - President Biden has just got to be President Biden.

Look, every country has its own politics. NATO is an alliance of democracies. And France understands it. Britain just re-elected - just elected a new government. France went through this terrible crushing parliamentary two rounds of elections. People understand this.

This is the thing about democracy that maybe Mr. Putin doesn't understand.

SIDNER: It certainly shows that -

CLARK: In an autocracy. And he can change (INAUDIBLE) in a heartbeat. President Biden's representing 75 percent of the American people who strongly support Ukraine. And that's not going to change. I hope Mr. Putin understands that.

SIDNER: General Wesley Clark, thank you so much for your analysis this morning. Appreciate having you on.


BERMAN: All right, at this moment, House Democrats are meeting behind closed doors. We don't have pictures. House Democrats are meeting behind closed doors. We are waiting for word, what's taking place inside the meeting. It's important to note, key House leaders who seem to be against President Biden running just a few days ago, seem to have shifted. Things seem to be moving in his direction.

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KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now House Democrats are in an all caucus meeting behind closed doors to talk about what to do about Joe Biden. A handful of members who have publicly called for President Biden to step aside now face-to-face with the - with other members that are voicing their strong support for the president in staying in the race. A chief concern among the members calling on Biden to get out of the race is the potential drag that he could now have on down- ballot races, on House races, on Senate races. Among those voicing concern about the down-ballot drag, Adam Schiff, who's now running for Senate in California.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Look, there are concerns with the impact on down-ballot races.

Joe Biden is going to need to consider, for his own sake, and his own legacy, can he beat Donald Trump, is the best to beat Donald Trump? But also the profound impact this decision, maybe the most important of his presidency, will have on the House, on the Senate, on the future of the country.


BOLDUAN: And joining us right now is the Democratic senator from California, Laphonza Butler.

Senator, thank you so much for coming in.

Adam Schiff is a Democrat running for your Senate seat, which you've announced that you'll be vacating after this term. He and other Dems say that there are real concerns that Biden is going to drag down the ticket. You're standing with Biden. Do you think those concerns are wrong?

SEN. LAPHONZA BUTLER (D-CA): I think all of the concerns are valid, Kate. The president admitted and the people saw a horrible debate performance. So, all of the concerns are valid and have to be taken into consideration. As I've said before, I believe the president is a responsible patriot, who's going to take into consideration all of those - all of those key points.

And, you know, the American people are expecting us to continue to do the work, deliver, and to put forward candidates that are going to deliver on what their will is. Issues like abortion and education and housing. And I think this is a president that has demonstrated he's committed to doing that.

BOLDUAN: House Democrats are meeting now. Senate Democrats are gathering later - a little later for their - the weekly lunch. What is your message to other Democrats when it comes to this question about President Biden and his candidacy?

BUTLER: Again, concerns are valid. Conversation is important. The president has earned the votes of millions of Democrats in the primary election. He has said that he intends to continue to stay in this race as the Democratic nominee and secure the nomination at the convention in August.

And so my voice and pitch to my colleagues will be, let's continue to do the work. We can't take a single voter for granted. Let's make sure that we are making the - making it known to the American people the work of this president. Not only the - in the past four years, but what he's committed to do over the next four years.

The Supreme Court has made it clear that whoever is president next is going to be required to be a president of great character. Otherwise, that person can, you know, utilize the offices, the office of the presidency, and its agencies, to commit crimes.


Literally the ruling of the court.

So, my conversation, my commitment to my colleagues, a number of them are on the ballot, is that I'm not - I'm going to focus on doing the work, talking to voters in places where they may not be watching CNN every single day, rural America, urban America, and doing the work to win this election because everything is at stake.

BOLDUAN: One thing you've been talking about, and also fitting with your resume, before joining the Senate you were the president of Emily's List. Just yesterday the RNC moved forward to adopt what's being described as softer language with regard to the party's platform on abortion. No mention of a national abortion ban. The platform mirroring more Donald Trump's stands, which is leaving decisions to the states.

Does a softer platform on abortion now make it harder to argue your case against Donald Trump?

BUTLER: Kate, from what former President Trump and those who are putting together now this platform, it --- were also the folks who put together the 2020 - 2016 platform for Donald Trump and let that platform stand in 2020 for Donald Trump. And now he wants to have a, quote/ unquote, softer position on abortion.

What we know and what President Trump showed in the debate is that he is a liar. And the American people cannot trust any platform that is being put forward in this convention, whether it's softer language or not. He told us who he was in 2016. He told us who he was and what he would do in 2020. And I believe he's just now trying to - he's now learned that the American people don't support that position. And he's trying to fool the American people into believing that he now has some - somehow now become softer on this issue.

He has lied on this issue as so many others, and that's why the character of the next president is so important. It's why we have got to ensure that the Democratic nominee comes out to prevail in November up and down the ballot, to execute on the will of the American people.

BOLDUAN: Senator Butler, thank you very much for your time. We really appreciate it.

I want to head back now out to our Lauren Fox, who's outside the meeting of House Democrats. It sounds like it may have just started wrapping up.

Lauren, what are you hearing from everybody?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, members are just leaving this meeting. And I just talked to Representative Richard Neal. I talked to him going into the meeting and just now coming out. He said leadership is in listening mode. They want to get the sense of what the caucus believes, what they think the next steps should be they said. He told me that they were not putting their thumb on the scale at this moment.

Inside the room, members are taking turns coming and voicing their views of what exactly Biden should be doing, what the Democrats should be doing in this moment. But I will tell you that Richard Neal says he is standing by the president, and he did hear several members talking that they also are standing by the president.

Now, he declined to lay out specifically what was said in the room because leadership made the case to their membership that if they are going to have a true conversation, that they need to keep the details of what happens in the room between the Democratic family. Richard Neal told me that that was actually the largest applause line of anything that leadership said inside.

Again, we are still talking to members as they are just starting to trickle out.

Mike Quigley just left this meeting. He was getting his bike, saying that he still has concerns about the president. But I will just tell you that right now Democrats are really soul-searching in this moment. They are trying to figure out what the next steps are going to be. And the reality here is that changing horses in the middle of this race would be extremely difficult. And I think that that reality is starting to sink in for members.

You know, you heard that from Jerry Nadler as he entered the meeting. Just a few days ago CNN reported that he had some concerns about Biden's ability to do this job. Then he made clear this morning, he's really the only candidate that they have in this race.

BOLDUAN: Lauren, stick with us. There's clearly a lot going on. And it sounds like coming out, not - nothing yet decided. We need to hear from leaders if they're going to speak when they come out of this meeting. But the discussion continues.

Lauren Fox is going to be speaking with more members as they're leaving this gathering of House Democrats, a family meeting. Soul searching is how she's describing it. We'll be right back after this.



BOLDUAN: It is time to talk serious and to get real. It may not be the most accurate depiction of quality journalism, but it sure is the gosh darn funniest. "Anchorman," the outrageous movie starring Will Ferrell, if you can believe it, turns 20-years-old today. Considering it marked the beginning of my television career, it's great. The cast stacked with comedic genius. Steve Corral, Paul Rudd,

Christina Applegate, Fred Willard, my favorite, and with so many memorable lines that are burned into our brains still today, "Anchorman" remains iconic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You really want to know what love is?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than anything in the world, Ron.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's really quite simple. It's kind of like -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Gonna find my baby. Going to hold her tight. Gonna grabbed some afternoon delight. My motto's always been when it's right, its right, while wait until the middle of a cold, dark night.

GROUP (singing): When everything's a little clearer in the light of day. And we know that night is always going to be there anyway.


BERMAN: So, it's just like our show meetings right there.


SIDNER: We sing through them. The whole thing. And this guy does all the Broadway tunes.

BOLDUAN: Well, and we have perfect harmony. And we have perfect harmony.


BERMAN: Oh. I really like that.

SIDNER: Coming to you live.