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CNN International: Beryl Hurtles Toward Jamaica, Cayman Islands; NYT: Biden Told Ally He's Weighing Whether To Stay In Race; Biden Ally: President Has Privately Acknowledged Coming Days Critical For Whether He Can Save His Reelection Bid. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired July 03, 2024 - 11:00   ET




ZAIN ASHER, HOST, "CNN NEWSROOM": Hello, and welcome to viewers from around the world. I'm Zain Asher in New York.

Coming up on CNN Newsroom, Hurricane Beryl turning deadly and now threatening Jamaica as a Category 4 storm. CNN has a team of reporters across, the latest for you. Plus, behind the scenes panic in the Democratic Party over President Biden's fitness. We are live at the White House with his push to reassure the public. And voters in the UK head to the polls Thursday for a momentous general election that will likely see the end of the Conservative Party's 14-year-rule.

All right. People in Jamaica are now facing a life-threatening storm surge, as the powerful Hurricane Beryl closes in. The Category 4 hurricane is considered extremely dangerous and has already left a deadly trail of destruction. Here you can actually see houses, homes, knocked down, if you look closely there in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A Florida-based disaster relief organization plans to send aid containers to Beryl-impacted islands. The hurricane has killed at least seven people in the southeastern part of the Caribbean, and its journey is far from over. Jamaica could be spared a direct hit but Beryl could deliver a devastating blow, and that is what the nation is preparing for at this point in time. The government is already taking precautions.


ANDREW HOLNESS, JAMAICAN PRIME MINISTER: All Jamaica should note that following on this declaration, an island-wide curfew will be in effect between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. This is to ensure the safety of everyone during the passage of the storm and prevent any movement with the intent to carry out criminal activity.


ASHER: All right. Let's turn now to CNN's Patrick Oppmann, who is standing by for us in Havana, Cuba. So, Patrick, obviously, people in Jamaica are nervous because they've seen what this hurricane has done in Barbados, for example. Just walk us through how specifically the country is preparing. I mean, do people really sort of understand the gravity, the seriousness of what is about to happen there?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's tough to say because, of course, Jamaica has not faced a storm like Beryl in over three decades. So, if you haven't lived it, you really don't know. People in the Caribbean, by and large, have long memories when it comes to hurricanes. And so, they are under the gun right now. They've had time to prepare, unlike people did in the Windward Islands where the storm just exploded. Jamaica saw the tragic experience there. And so, they had more than a day to get ready to get food and water together, to begin to make something of a plan. And now that period has essentially come to a close. Winds are picking up in Jamaica. There is the possibility over the next coming hours of mudslides because, of course, Jamaica is a mountainous Island. And so, that is, of course, one of the big fears.

And probably until later today, tonight, people will need to be inside, will need to be sheltering, because it'll just be too dangerous to be outside, when you're talking about the wind gusts, the storm surge. Even if Beryl does not make a direct hit on Jamaica, it is going to get really punishing winds and flooding. And so, people hopefully have taken the opportunity they had to get ready as best as they can. And now, they just need to be safe and stay inside. And I think that's why that quarantine is in place and that's why the government of Jamaica as well has declared a seven-day disaster area declaration that will allow the government to begin to recover.

Of course, the pain is not over. The storm will continue on, affecting the Cayman Islands, potentially affecting the Yucatan Peninsula and other parts of Mexico. And it is still very, very early in hurricane season, even though we are facing a storm that would seem to be a much later storm in the hurricane season, much more powerful storm than we're used to seeing at this point.

ASHER: As you touched upon Patrick, people in the Caribbean certainly have long memories when it comes to hurricanes and even if you haven't lived it. Just talk to us about the history of hurricanes, especially in Jamaica. I mean, the first thing that comes to my mind is, of course, Hurricane Gilbert, which was several decades ago, but really did leave its mark


OPPMANN: Oh, it did. At least 45 people killed. You had heavy mudslides. You had terrible damage. Just look at and you think how much better construction is all these years later, and people in the Caribbean by and large tried to try to build to last and learn from hurricanes. And I was really just shocked looking at the photos of the images coming out of Grenada and Barbados and other places of how these islands, there doesn't seem to be a roof on many houses across the islands. And it just looks like a bomb went off in so many places, and boats completely sunk in, thrown up on the shore.

And this is the scary thing, is that people are getting less and less time to prepare, as storms develop quickly, more quickly, due to climate change, as the waters now feel like it's August or September. They're that warm, and that is the fuel for hurricanes. So, people just don't have time to prepare like they did in years past.

ASHER: All right. Patrick Oppmann live for us there. Thank you so much.

I want to turn now to meteorologist Elisa Raffa tracking the storm from Atlanta. So, Elisa, when it comes to Jamaica specifically, it's really about the people who are in the sort of low-lying areas. The concern for them is really to get to higher ground. Just talk to us about what people in Jamaica can expect, and of course, where the storm goes from here. There are some who say that it might even loosen or lessen its intensity after leaving Jamaica. Just walk us through your assessment of that.

ELISA RAFFA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah. That's definitely possible. There are already a couple of factors that are trying to knock down that intensity, some, we're seeing with each update that the pressure keeps coming up, and that's a sign of some weakening. But, we're still talking about a massive intense major Category 4 hurricane right now with still 145 mile per hour winds, still sitting 75 miles east and southeast of Jamaica. But, the tropical storm force winds extend 185 miles out. It is a very fat storm. So, already starting to find some of the tropical storm force winds getting on to the island.

You guys were talking about the history. These are all of the major hurricanes, Category 3 or higher, that have passed around Jamaica since 1980. You can see Gilbert, the one that made landfall in 1988. So, this, again, could really stack up amongst some of those.

As we go through the day today, there is a look at where we could scrape the southern part of the island, maybe with that eye, could make official landfall or not. But, even if it doesn't, and we're talking about storm surge, two to three meters, six to nine feet of that ocean water just coming in because the hurricane force winds will kind of drag it on. And that's why they're worried about people in the low-lying areas. We'll continue to find the hurricane force and tropical storm force winds in the Cayman Islands as we get towards tomorrow.

Rain is also a concern. And when you're looking at the topography of a place like Jamaica, there is mountains there that can enhance the rain totals, looking at rain up to about 12 inches, up to a foot, that's 300 millimeters, because the mountains will enhance some of that rain and could cause flash flooding and mudslides.

Here is a look at some of these factors that will try to continue to eat away at the intensity wind shear. It's that wind energy upstairs in the atmosphere, kills hurricanes. So, that's why we're finding a little bit of a weakening trend in the track, as we look towards where this is going next, could still pass the Cayman Islands as a major Category 3 hurricane. We have new hurricane warnings in effect for parts of the Mexico -- parts of Mexico here, the Yucatan Peninsula, where we could still find some hurricane conditions as it makes landfall by the end of the week. And then, depending on this track, we could be looking at some impacts in southern Texas by the end of the week there. Zain.

ASHER: All right. Elisa Raffa live for us there. Thank you so much.

All right. We are tracking breaking news. New York Times reports the U.S. President Joe Biden has told an ally that he is weighing, he is weighing whether or not to remain in the presidential race. This after, of course, last week's devastating debate performance here on CNN. This news comes as Mr. Biden is set to speak with a group of more than 20 Democratic governors to date at their request. Many are concerned about whether or not he can stay in the race. Meantime, Vice President Kamala Harris appeared to stay the course on Tuesday, amid questions about whether she could replace Mr. Biden at the top of the ticket.


KAMALA HARRIS, 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 leave the country if necessary?

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


ASHER: All right. The numbers only look damning for Mr. Biden. A new CNN poll shows that three quarters of U.S. voters believe Democrats would have a better chance of beating Donald Trump with a different candidate.


And Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Texas came out on Tuesday to call on the President to step aside. He is the first sitting Democratic lawmaker to make that call public, and more are suddenly sounding the alarm, saying their party must deal with the fallout and make sure that Trump does not return to the White House.


REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX): I salute President Biden. I just feel that it's time for him to step aside if we were to be able to protect what he allowed us to gain in 2020, which was a victory for democracy. But, he could -- he delivered us from Trump then, he could be delivering us to Trump this year if we have more of what happened last Thursday.


ASHER: All right. For the latest, CNN's Arlette Saenz joins us live now at the White House. Just in terms of this news that we're getting from The New York Times, Arlette, this idea that the President has told a key ally that he knows he may not be able to save his candidacy if he cannot convince the public in the next couple of days. This is major news. Just walk us through what you're hearing.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Zain. We really are entering into some critical territory for President Biden, as he is charting his next steps forward in this campaign. The New York Times reporting that the President told a key ally that he is weighing whether he should remain in this race and acknowledge that he may not be able to salvage his candidacy if he cannot convince the American people to give him a chance after that debate.

We also have some new reporting in from our colleague MJ Lee, who says that President Biden has privately acknowledged that the next stretch of days are critical for him in trying to save his reelection bid. You have seen President Biden really start to reach out to congressional leaders. He has spoken in the past 24 hours with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, also another key ally, Senator Chris Coons. The President is expected to continue those calls to congressional leadership over the course of the day.

And a bit later this evening, he is set to have a key meeting with Democratic governors from across the country at a time when many of those governors have privately expressed concern about the President's, not just his performance in that debate, but what it could mean in the future, as this election is playing out. Now, as you've also noted, there are some who have really started to show some cracks in the Democratic support for President Biden. You have Congressman Lloyd Doggett, who has said that he should step aside from this race. You have others openly saying that there are other Democratic lawmakers saying that they don't believe that President Biden would win against Trump in November.

So, these are all part of the dynamics surrounding the President right now, as he is contemplating his future in this 2024 race. There also has been a lot of conversation in the past 24 hours relating to Vice President Kamala Harris. Biden is set to have a private lunch with her in about an hour. And I'm told that the two have spoken multiple times over the course of the past week since that debate, but there are some in the party who are now openly saying that Harris should be at the top of the ticket. One of those people was Congressman Tim Ryan -- former Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio, who said that the President should step aside and that Harris should become the Democratic presidential nominee. Of course, Harris has batted down those suggestions, saying that she is running at President Biden's side.

But, there will be many questions going forward, especially following this report from The New York Times, suggesting that the President is reconsidering whether to remain in this race, according to conversation they had with one of his key allies.

ASHER: All right. Arlette Saenz live for us there. Thank you so much.

All right. So, the big question is, will the Democrats stand by President Biden, or will more of them continue to call on him to step aside? Just ahead, we'll have a lot more on the tug of war going on inside the party. I'll speak with the House Democrat after the break.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ASHER: All right. More now on our breaking news. New reporting from CNN that President Biden has privately acknowledged that this next stretch of days are critical for whether or not he can actually save his reelection bid. While a growing number of Democrats are calling on the President to step aside following his debate performance last week, others are taking a much more cautious approach. House Democrat Ami Bera told The Hill, "My advice to folks would be: Let's sit down, let's see how the next couple of weeks play out."

Congressman Bera joins us live now to talk about this. Congressman, I do want to start -- first of all, thank you so much for being with us. I do want to start by talking about this breaking news that we just got from The New York Times, a source basically saying that Biden told an ally that he might not, right, he might not be able to save his candidacy if he cannot convince the public over the next couple of days, basically saying that the next couple of days are going to be crucial as to whether or not he can save his reelection bid. Congressman, your thoughts on that, please?

REP. AMI BERA (D-CA): Yeah. I think that's true. I mean, that is Joe Biden. He is a thoughtful individual. He is going to put country first. He is going to -- I'm glad he is meeting with governors, and I'm glad he is doing a live interview, I think, with the press. So, I think those are all things to do. He deserves the time and the space to reflect on this and then make a decision.

ASHER: The President is obviously taking this now quite seriously, especially since there have been a lot of people, privately at least, acknowledging that last week's debate performance was actually really painful for a lot of Democrats to watch. What are your thoughts? Do you think there needs to be changes at this point in time atop of the Democratic ticket?

BERA: You can't hide the obvious. That was a bad debate performance. I don't have any reservations about how President Biden is governing the United States, as well as leading the world right now. We've seen that throughout the past three and a half years, leading us in protecting Ukraine, trying to contain a war in the Middle East, and trying to prevent a war in Asia. So, I have no reservations there.

That said, a campaign is different. You have to inspire folks. You have to get folks out there. So, I think you've got to look at the objective data. You have to have the support of folks. And it can't just be about the threat there is a second Donald Trump term. So, I think it's also got to be about electing Joe Biden. So, again, I'd give him the space to take a look and see what the poll numbers show, talk to allies and others, and then make a decision that's in the country's best interest, but also his best interest.

ASHER: If he does step aside, would you support Kamala Harris?

BERA: Yeah. I think the Vice President, I've known her for a long time. We're fellow Californians. I think she is ready to step up. Obviously, there is plenty of others that also would be very capable. So, yeah, it could be a messy process. So, it's not without risk. ASHER: So, the President is essentially saying that it's really about the next couple of days that he has, a few days, less than a week, certainly, to save his candidacy and he needs to convince the public. What does that look like, specifically?

BERA: Yeah. I think it is going out and doing interviews. He should come on CNN in decent, unscripted interviews. He should go on other stations and do those interviews, be accessible to the public. I think the mistake that Hillary Clinton made in 2016 was not doing those media interviews, not doing as many public events. She would have been a very capable President as well. But, again, being President is different than running for office. Running for office, you have to go out and inspire folks, and the only way to do that is to be accessible to the public now.

ASHER: Yeah. You got to be able to handle really high pressured unscripted moments where the entire country, if not the world, is watching you, and you've got to be able to handle those moments and rise to the occasion extremely confidently.


Obviously, a lot of people are questioning whether Biden can do that based on last week's debate performance. He is meeting with these Democratic governors. What does he need to say in these meetings, do you think, Congressman?

BERA: I think he has to answer their concerns, their reservations. Again, I don't think anyone is questioning how he has reformed as President. He had a really bad debate. I'm glad last Friday, he said he is older, a little slower, speaks a little slower. I think he has to gain the confidence of those 20 governors.

ASHER: Are you convinced that if Biden chooses to stay and run for President again, are you convinced that he can actually beat Donald Trump come November?

BERA: This was always going to be a tough election. I think we forget that the 2020 race really came down to a handful of states and less than 100,000 votes. So, he is going to have to run with vigor, with stamina, get out there, and not make the mistakes that we did in 2016. He has got to be accessible to the press and the public. And those are decisions that he, his family, his closest advisors are going to have to make. And if he decides to stay in the race, I'm all in. We're going to have to go out there and win this election.

ASHER: A lot of people are concerned about not just the presidential race, but what it means for down-ballot races as well. We'll see what happens over the next couple of days as to whether or not President Biden can really convince voters that he has what it takes to meet the next four years. All right. Congressman Bera live for us there. Thank you so much. We'll be right back with more.


ASHER: All right. Welcome back. You are watching CNN Newsroom. I'm Zain Asher for you in New York.

All right. More now on our breaking news. New reporting from CNN that President Biden has privately acknowledged that the next stretch of days are critical in terms of whether or not he can actually save his reelection bid.

CNN's Kristen Holmes follows the Trump campaign and is joining us live now from Washington. I mean, this idea that President Biden is considering, right, whether or not he can move forward here is monumental. I mean, this is a moment where we're going to remember in American history, what a gift to the Trump campaign, Kristen.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I would say it's a gift in some senses, but in other senses, it could be somewhat problematic for the Trump campaign. And here is why. One, it's a gift certainly right now. Donald Trump has spent much of the last eight years of his life as the center of media attention and it's often not in a positive light. And one of the things that you'll notice is since the debate, you really haven't heard from the former President almost at all.


He has completely been laying low. He is not blasting on Truth Social constantly. He instead is trying to avoid any sort of limelight and that is intentional. He and his team are essentially just letting this news cycle play out with Joe Biden. They thought that it might actually be over by Monday or Tuesday. Obviously, here we are on Wednesday and the storyline keeps escalating. So, we don't anticipate hearing anything from the former President, as this continues. He himself is playing golf in Bedminster. He is celebrating the Fourth of July with his family.

But, when you talk about whether or not Biden actually leaves the race, that in itself could be problematic for the former President, because they have planned an entire campaign against running against Joe Biden. They believe that they can beat President Joe Biden. There are a lot of factors if someone else is at the top of the ticket that his team hasn't taken into account. And in fact, we had really rarely heard them talk about Vice President Kamala Harris until today when it seemed to be that they were realizing that this could really very well happen. And so, they started going after Kamala Harris. But, this is very new.

So, all of the data, all of the modeling, all of the advertising that they have put together and waited to roll out for the next several months, all of that would change. And so, it's likely the structure of the campaign, if Joe Biden is no longer in the race.

ASHER: I see. So, a gift in some ways, but just the idea of having to start from scratch and restructure and rebuild the entire machine is obviously very expensive and problematic. In terms of sort of other news surrounding the Trump campaign, Trump is getting closer to announcing, we think, a potential VP candidate. And when you look at the people that are on the list, I mean, there is a lot of people who were very staunch critics of President Trump -- former President Trump, who are now obviously in his good books. Take us through it.

HOLMES: Yeah. Especially if you look at the first two on your list there, Senator J.D. Vance and Senator Marco Rubio, Senator J.D. Vance obviously did not support Donald Trump in 2016, actually was an outspoken critic of his but has turned into somewhat of a MAGA darling. Senator Marco Rubio, it was somebody who ran against Donald Trump. He relentlessly, Trump, teased Marco Rubio and not in a friendly way during that time. And actually, Donald Trump was mad at Marco Rubio this time around because it took him so long to endorse them. Then, the third person on there who we believe is still at the top of the list is Governor Doug Burgum, who has been nothing but really a Trump loyalist.

Now, we talk about when that announcement is going to come. First, a lot of conversation about whether or not it would come at the convention. Trump himself has given himself that timeline. But, when I was talking to senior advisors and aides, they thought it would come shortly before, and in fact, last week, during the debate, they were sending teams down to Miami for a potential vice presidential rollout, a rally at Doral at his resort there. But, since then, because of this new cycle, because of what we have seen, it seems as though the planning and any sort of announcement is in flux. Could it happen then? Sure.

But, it really seems as though they are trying to get the most out of what is happening right now on the Democratic side, watching it kind of unravel, if you will. And so, it's likely that it might not happen until actually he gets to the convention. So, everything that's happening on the Biden side is impacting the Trump team right now as well.

ASHER: All right. Kristen Holmes live for us there. Thank you so much.

All right. I want to bring in political analyst and historian Julian Zelizer, who is joining us actually by phone. Julian, can you hear me?


ASHER: Great. I mean, just talk to us about this moment in history. This -- we just got reporting from The New York Times saying that it's possible just in terms of what President Biden is weighing at this point in time. He is really weighing over the next few days whether or not he can even continue his reelection bid, this idea that the Biden campaign could completely unravel just a few months before the election. Just talk to us about this moment in history.

VOICE OF ZELIZER: It's a very rare moment. It's a very unstable moment for the Democratic Party. I mean, the debate wasn't even a week ago. And now, we're talking about the possibility, the serious possibility about him stepping down. This has only happened a few times before. It happened in 1968 when Lyndon Johnson decided he wasn't going to run for reelection. But, it is certain amount of chaos going on right now. And I think everyone is wondering what the President is thinking and his inner circle and more of these stories will circulate, as pressure increases either for him to step down or to prove to the American public that he can run, and the Democrats can have confidence that he can defeat Donald Trump.


ASHER: Just speaking to some Democrats sort of anecdotally who watched the debate last week, I mean, they described it as just sad, just really sad watching what played out on Thursday. But, at the same time, it's one thing to say in theory that you don't want Biden atop the Democratic ticket. It's one thing to say that in theory. But, when it comes to the practicalities of choosing another candidate this late in the game and the mess and the chaos that that would create, that's another thing altogether. I mean, who would even -- obviously, Kamala Harris, the name, for obvious reasons, that everyone is throwing out right now. But, who are the heir apparents in the Democratic Party, do you think, at this point in time?

VOICE OF ZELIZER: Well, there is no heir apparent. I think the Vice President is the most likely, if this would actually happen. I think the Governor of Michigan, Governor Whitmer, is someone who is talked about very much as a strong Democrat, is someone with a lot of potential, Governor Shapiro of Pennsylvania, Governor Newsom of California, a lot of governors actually have floated to the top.

But, I think what you just said is exactly right. It's one thing to speculate about this all happening. It's very different. And there are many risks Democrats have to consider about doing it. It's not simply the chaos of picking any of the people you mentioned or some others being floated. It's also they are often untested people. It's not clear they're going to do much better. And so, Democrats, as this gets more serious, have a lot of deliberation to do. What's the greater risk? Hoping that President Biden can perform well enough to defeat Donald Trump, or take the risk of the process to find someone else and then see if they actually can handle, but it's a very awesome challenge.

ASHER: So, President Biden, just according to the -- what we're seeing in The New York Times right now, he is sort of speaking to allies and saying that he has just a couple of days in which to really convince the public. What does that look like? I mean, is it about if more and more sort of serious people, by serious I mean elected officials, governors, senators, more House Democrats come forward and start saying the President needs to step down? Is that what it's going to take? Or just walk us through what you think it's going to take to move the needle in terms of the President deciding what to do next.

VOICE OF ZELIZER: I think one will be his private conversations with Democratic leaders, with Democratic donors, and other Democratic officials, and whether he can shore up their confidence in private conversations that he can do this. That was really not necessarily even an anomaly at that day, but it won't happen very often. Second, he has to have polls in the next week or so, which will come out showing that the debate wasn't devastating, that even if it diminished his support, that he is still pretty much where he was before.

And finally, and I think this is essential, he needs to be in public on television, in unscripted interviews in primetime, same time as a debate, and show kind of in real time to voters and to Democrats that he can do this. I think that's the only thing that will actually convince people at this point. And I think those are the three pillars of what we need to see in the next week for Biden to really survive this.

ASHER: All right. Julian Zelizer live for us there. Thank you so much.

All right. Biden campaign officials spoke earlier on CNN about reports Biden is weighing whether he can stand the race. He actually called those reports false. Take a listen.


QUENTIN FULKS, PRINCIPAL DEP. CAMPAIGN MANAGER, BIDEN-HARRIS CAMPAIGN: Well, that is false. There are a number of rumors floating out there. The President is in this race to win it. He is the Democratic nominee. And from our perspective, we're going to continue to do everything we can to make sure that we're building a campaign apparatus to reach voters.

The President has been having conversations with a number of Democratic leaders and talking to them. I think, obviously, the President, in his own words, acknowledged a poor debate performance. But, at the same time, I think what we're sensing from people is a sense of urgency and fear from Donald Trump. And I think that the conversations that the President has been having with Democrats across the country is wanting to reassure them that he is in this race, that he knows that he needs to reassure the American people and that our campaign is going to continue to build and scale to win in November.


ASHER: We'll have much more news after this short break.




ASHER: All right. With just four months to go to the U.S. presidential election, we are hearing about a potential political earthquake. CNN has learned that President Biden has privately acknowledged to an ally that the next stretch of days are crucial and critical in terms of whether or not he can save his reelection bid. Much of the Democratic Party has been in a state of panic since the President's disastrous debate performance. Publicly, the White House insists that he is fit for the job.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: -- we have been transparent. We have released thorough reports from his medical team every year since he's been in office. That is something that we have been pretty consistent about. As it relates to, you know, something like a cognitive test, to the question that you're asking me about what the Speaker -- former Speaker said, obviously, she can speak for herself. His team, who has said, the medical team said it is not warranted in this case.


ASHER: Our senior politics reporter Stephen Collinson has just written an article, saying that the crisis over the President's terrible debate performance is evolving into a genuine threat to his reelection bid. Stephen Collinson joins us live. Your analysis, by the way, Stephen, is always excellent. So, I encourage all of you to go to the website and read them. How surprised are you by these reports? Because after the debate performance, which I think we can all acknowledge was really at times difficult to watch, after the debate performance, my assumption was that Biden even privately would continue to sort of dig in his heels. The fact that privately he is now talking to allies and openly discussing the possibility that he may not run for reelection, just talk to us about this moment and which way you think this is likely to go.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: I think what the President -- the problem for the President is that the White House and the campaign have been trying to put a lid on this crisis. And everything they do just escalates it. They've been saying things like, well, we won't let one bad night define the presidency. His qualification for the job can be seen by what happened over the last four years, when the real problem is what will happen when he is President for the next four years, and if he is fit to be able to do that.

So, this isn't an acknowledgement by the President that there is an issue here. The campaign and the White House has been accused by Democrats very vehemently privately, and in public, in some cases, of not being responsive enough, of not understanding the gravity of this moment. And what my colleague MJ Lee is now reporting is that the President understands that the next few days are going to be critical. He has a meeting with Democratic governors that the governor has asked for this evening. He has an interview on Friday with ABC News, which will be broadcast on Sunday. He has got a couple of campaign events. If those goes wrong and this crisis continues to escalate, it's very hard to see how Biden's position that he is going to continue is sustainable.

ASHER: It's interesting, because yesterday, I spoke to Congressman Garamendi and he said to me, listen, the job of the President is not about debating. He don't to be able to debate to become President of the United States.


There is no indication of how well you're able to do the job. And I understood what he was saying. But, of course, the job of the President is about those high pressured, unscripted moments, right, when the entire country is watching you, and you have to be able to rise to those occasions. And those moments, as we know from working in news, can come really thick and really fast. And you have to be able to not just meet the moments, but also really gain the respect of voters and constituents. Just talk to us about why that argument doesn't really hold water, this idea that being President has nothing to do with debating, as some Democrats are saying.

COLLINSON: Right. Well, the best presidents, FDR, Ronald Reagan, they were great communicators, and that is a vital part of the presidency. I don't think right at this moment there is too much concern that the President isn't cognitively able to deal with, say, a sudden foreign policy crisis. He has been on the phone quite a lot, for example, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. That big operation to shield Israel from Iranian attacks was coordinated by the President and was a great success.

But, a President has to be able to, as you say, rally the country behind him. He has to create a national narrative that people can follow. And just in Biden's particular case, he has to be able to campaign. He has got to tell the country what he would do in the next four years. He has to spend his time getting out and talking to be people, telling them what his next administration would be about. It doesn't seem that he is able to do that. He couldn't make a case for himself in that debate. He couldn't rebut Donald Trump's claims either. So, that is, I think, where he is really falling down and where it's dangerous for him.

ASHER: Stephen Collinson live for us there. Thank you so much.

All right. Let's go straight now to CNN senior political commentator Adam Kinzinger. He is a former U.S. House Republican who served on the Committee that investigated January 6. Congressman, good to see you. Adam --


ASHER: -- you are a conservative Republican who has endorsed Joe Biden, and in fact, you endorsed him just last week. You decided to endorse your first, you're laughing, your first Democrat. In the wake of last week's debate, do you regret that decision, Adam?

KINZINGER: No, not at all, because, look, Donald Trump is an existential threat to this country and to the world, frankly, because of America's role in the world. So, no, I have no regrets. And I'll support whoever. If it's Joe Biden, great. If it's somebody else, great. I will support whoever is running against Donald Trump, because mine is less about embracing the Democratic Party because I'm -- I was never a Democrat, but it's more about countering Donald Trump and recognizing we got to keep democracy alive.

ASHER: I think that one of the things that people on both sides of the aisle find very appealing about you, Adam, is that you are very much a country over party person. Right? And obviously, we saw that. That's not an easy thing to do, by the way, especially when you have someone, a personality like Donald Trump atop of the ticket. And when Donald Trump got elected, a lot of Republicans had to really have that sort of soul-searching moment of, gosh, do I pick my party, or do I pick my country? Is this the equivalent moment for Democrats? Do they need to do the same? Do they need to, at this point in time, choose their country over their party? KINZINGER: Well, they should, and I'm not saying what they need to do with Joe Biden. This will be a decision that, frankly, it's actually all up to Joe Biden, but Joe Biden and the Democrats need to make if it's him, if he is the guy. It looks like he is right now. You've got to prosecute this case hard. You've got to push back against Donald Trump hard, the lies that Donald Trump was spewing on stage. Somebody has got to be there to counter those lies over and over again.

But, yeah, I mean, look, the idea of country over party look, so I wear on my wrist the name of a guy Andreas O'Keeffe, who I knew, who was killed in Iraq, and I made this decision too when I ran for Congress. It's like, look, if we're going to ask young people to die for their country, I mean, you think 19-years-old, you die for your country, literally your entire life in front of you. It is unthinkable to me that somebody would be in a position like a congressman or anything and not take the same gauge, not put your career on the line for the country. What a small sacrifice compared to a young person that puts their lives on the line? That's where I sit here and I get angry almost every day when I think about my old colleagues that know better, but they don't care.

So, my advice to the Democrats is, always put the country above the party, and it's up to you to figure out what that is.

ASHER: Very powerful words, Adam. So, for our international audience, talk to them about what a House Democrat at this point in time risks, right?


As I said, it's not an easy thing to do to come out when you're -- obviously, it depends on the makeup, the political makeup of the district you're running in. But, either way, whether you're running in a very red district or a very blue district, it is still not an easy thing to do to come out and speak out against the President of the United States. It actually takes quite a brave person to do that. Just talk to us about what House Democrats risk in this moment by coming out and saying that, listen, Joe Biden shouldn't really be running here.

KINZINGER: It's the same thing, less culty than what a Republican risk by doing it, which is this. When you're in office, your entire fundraising kind of system to keep you in office, which gives you comfort to be able to stay there, almost your entire social circle. So, being a member of Congress is such an all-consuming identity that your friends, or in many cases, congressmen, and congresswomen, etc. So now, all of a sudden, that social circle can be damaged, because everybody is like, I can't be seen with this guy because he is going out of the mainstream in this call.

So, you have fundraising. You have your social circle. And then you have a lot of constituents and friends that have your text and will start texting you that you're destroying the party or you're doing this. Look, I had a year and a half ago, my co-pilot in Iraq, OK, the guy I fought with in Iraq, sent me a text and said he was ashamed to have ever flown with me because of my criticism of Donald Trump. Yeah, it's disgusting. And this is what people risk. But, you know what? Again, if you're not willing to take these kinds of risks, go get a different job, go drive a truck, go fly a plane, go do whatever, but don't put yourself in a position where you represent 700,000 people who are counting on you to do the right thing. And you're like, no, the most important thing is that I keep this job. No. Then go get another job that pays more money.

ASHER: So, in terms of where you think President Biden should go from here, I mean, we've been reporting on morning that The New York Times has come out with this piece, essentially saying that President Biden has been speaking to allies, saying that he is going to use the next couple of days to really sit and think about whether or not he can continue his reelection bid. What do you think the President should do in this situation? Do you think that he needs to step aside for the good of the country?

KINZINGER: Look, I think he is doing the right thing by thinking about it. The most important thing that Joe Biden can do right now is assure that Donald Trump does not win reelection. I'm not going to go to the point of saying what the Democrats should or shouldn't do. They shouldn't replace him or they shouldn't. I'm going to be behind whoever is on the ticket. And for me, that's a decision Democrats have to make. But, I think Joe Biden is doing the right thing by thinking this through. He has got time. And ultimately, if he decides to stay in this race, he has s got to get his team together and figure out how to prosecute this case against Trump aggressively.

Keep in mind, with everything from the Supreme Court decision that happened on Monday to all these kind of feels like anti-democratic forces in the U.S., there is only one person that can provide the counter-argument to that publicly, and that is Joe Biden. So, whatever it takes, they have to put somebody or Joe Biden in a place where he can push that counter-argument aggressively.

ASHER: So, if Joe Biden was to step aside, how would the Democrats handle that? How could the Democrats handle that as cleanly as possible? Because the way I'm looking at it is I don't really see how that process unfolds without it turning incredibly ugly, I mean, unless it's sort of a simple situation whereby Kamala Harris is heir apparent and that's the end of it. But, without that guaranteed outcome of it being Kamala Harris, it could turn quite nasty.

KINZINGER: It really could. And now, for your international audience, it's important to keep in mind, up until, I don't know, 50, 60 years ago, a lot of the times, these nominations were fought on the floor of the convention. So, if it goes to the floor of that convention, because again, nobody is actually the nominee of the party until the convention officially nominates that person. So, Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee right now, but he is not the nominee yet. So, it would go out on the floor.

I think what's most likely is probably Kamala Harris, because she gets all the money that Biden-Harris campaign has. She seems to be the kind of the heir apparent. I think she'd be a strong candidate. But, if it's not her, again --

ASHER: Could she defeat Trump, though?

KINZINGER: -- you have the thousands of delegates.

ASHER: Adam, could she defeat Trump, though?

KINZINGER: Yeah, I think so. Yeah. I think so. I mean, I can name 1,000 candidates that I think would could beat Donald Trump. She'd be one of them. Are there candidates that I think would be stronger against Donald Trump? Maybe, probably. But, I think she would be strong. And can she prosecute the case against Trump? That's the key. He is a psycho. I'm not. There you go. End of story.



Isn't that simple? Adam Kinzinger --

KINZINGER: That's great.

ASHER: -- I loved your stories, by the way. Thank you so much for entertaining us --

KINZINGER: Thank you. You bet.

ASHER: -- this hour. Appreciate it.

KINZINGER: Good to be with you.

ASHER: Good to be with you too.

All right. We'll have much more on our breaking news story that President Biden has privately acknowledged the next stretch of days are critical for whether or not he can save his reelection bid. That is up next.


ASHER: All right. Just recapping our breaking news in the U.S. presidential race. CNN has learned that Joe Biden privately acknowledged to an ally that the next stretch of days are critical for whether or not he can save his reelection bid. An internal debate has been raging within the Democratic Party since the President's devastating debate performance just last week. Some are calling for him to step aside. The White House, however, insists the debate was just one bad night, and that Mr. Biden is up for the job.

All right. Voters in the UK head to the polls on Thursday for a momentous general election that will likely see the end of the Conservative Party's 14-year-rule. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is almost universally expected to lose this one. He took a major gamble by calling elections in the summer, and has struggled to turn around dire polling. A Conservative defeat would usher in a center left Labour government headed by Keir Starmer.

CNN International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson joins us live now with -- I mean, this is really significant, Nic. 14 years, the Conservative Party have held on to power in the UK and that could be coming to an end. Just explain to us where it all went wrong for the Conservative Party and for Rishi Sunak as well here.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You could say it began to go wrong for the Conservatives when they kind of got into that big internal debate about whether or not to have Brexit and then this was under Cameron, and then they had Brexit, and then that began to divide the party over what Brexit should look like, and then that began to divide the Conservative Party further over what sort of Conservatives should they be and all those divisions led to multiple different prime ministers and then one of those prime ministers managed to literally collapse the economy and send in the space of a week the inflation into double digits and really hurt people's pockets in the UK. They still haven't recovered.

Sunak said, the Prime Minister said, he got inflation down, down to normal levels. But, people's money in their pockets hadn't gone up and the cost of food has stayed at the same price that it went up to during all that inflation. So, I think it's that kind of situation where people are really fed up with actually the net effect of all of those different Conservative leaders and the sum of what it led to, which is a divided party and an economy that has hurt the majority of the people in this country. There are people that are really suffering economically.

So, this is what Labour is offering. Labour is offering change. Conservatives to say, no, Labour is offering you chaos. Both the leaders are out today trying to get the last votes. A Conservative leader saying we just need another 130,000 votes which will really turn the situation around. A Labour leader saying, look, another couple of hundred votes in a couple of constituencies will give us those additional extra seats. But, it's really a shoe in for Starmer at the moment. It appears that way, at least.

ASHER: Yeah. It's interesting because it's not really about the fact that people are super enthusiastic about the Labour Party. It's much more that they're just disillusioned with the Conservative Party here, Nic.


ROBERTSON: It is. It's a lot of things. For a lot of people, it's that feeling that they felt let down initially, though there was a Brexit vote and then Brexit happened. Remember, it was a 48-52 split at the time. So, that's almost half the country that didn't really like that. And people are beginning to acknowledge now that Brexit has had a negative economic impact on the country. It's not really an electoral matter this time around. But, that's an underlying factor for some people.

Yes, they'll hold their noses with Starmer, some of them, because they don't know what they're going to get. They say they're confused about what he is offering. Well, that's something the Conservative Party has been keen to play up as well to put people off any labor. But, this lead for Starmer and Labour in the polls has been building -- ASHER: Right.

ROBERTSON: -- over the past 18 months.

ASHER: All right. Nic Robertson live for us there. Thank you so much. Be sure to watch CNN's special coverage of the UK elections on July 4.Iit starts just before 10 p.m. in London, and on Friday, the 5th, we will have full coverage of the morning's results and big moments.

Thank you so much for being with us. That wraps up this hour of CNN Newsroom. I'm Zain Asher in New York. I'll be right back with One World, up next.