Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Biden Fights for His Political Life After Debate Debacle; Beryl by Grand Cayman Island After Slamming Jamaica; Wildfire Prompts Evacuation of 13K People in California; U.K. Voters Go to the Polls; Americans Celebrating Independence Day Overseas. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 04, 2024 - 04:00   ET




GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): President Joe Biden is in it to win it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A path to victory in November is the number one priority.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In November, we've got a clear choice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two lackluster candidates in a race with a result that is all but certain.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: This is something that a lot of people here have been waiting quite some time for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is his first TV interview, inspired by the January 5th door plug blowout.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you can't even keep parts segregated from good parts, what else aren't you doing right?

ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, a warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Max Foster. It's 9 a.m. here in London, 4 a.m. in Washington.

We're on this 4th of July holiday. The U.S. president will be celebrating the birth of America, reassuring voters that he's the best candidate to lead the nation. But CNN is learning that privately, Mr. Biden has acknowledged the next few days could be critical to his campaign. One senior official indicating that serious doubt is setting in, even at the highest levels of the administration. On Wednesday, the president made his case in several radio interviews.


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.


FOSTER: A second House Democrat now publicly calling on Mr. Biden to leave the race. A number of congressional candidates fear they could lose in November if the president remains at the top of the ticket. Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris dismissing calls for her to replace Joe Biden in the race.

One source tells CNN the mandate for Harris campaign staff is to remain firm, stay in line and keep the focus on the Biden Harris ticket. The White House insists Mr. Biden is absolutely not stepping aside. And Democratic governors are voicing their strong support for the president.

CNN's MJ Lee reports.


MJ LEE, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Joe Biden trying to save his teetering reelection campaign. After keeping a limited public schedule for days following his disastrous debate performance last week, the president emerging to try to reassure panicked supporters.

Biden rallying his campaign staff on a call telling them, quote: I'm running. I'm the nominee of the Democratic Party. No one's pushing me out. I'm not leaving. I'm in this race to the end.

But this as CNN is learning that the president has privately acknowledged this week that the next stretch of days will be critical to whether he can save his candidacy. An ally who spoke with Biden on Tuesday telling CNN that the president was chastened and blamed himself, not his staff, for his poor debate performance.

BIDEN: With the covid, excuse me, with dealing with everything we have to do with.

LEE (voice-over): The allies saying Biden is clear eyed about what it would look like if his efforts to save his campaign were to fail. The polls are plummeting, the fundraising is drying up and the interviews are going badly. Meanwhile, the White House struggling to answer a barrage of questions about the president's health and medical records.

LEE: If now is not the time for full transparency, what is?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have been one of the most transparent administration when it comes to medical records.

LEE (voice-over): The White House also confronting questions about Biden's new explanation for his halting debate performance, jet lag and fatigue from two foreign trips, despite having had nearly two weeks back in the States before the CNN debate.

JEAN-PIERRE: When he travels abroad, it's a pretty rigorous travel. We get tired looking at him doing his meetings and traveling. LEE (voice-over): The White House and campaign had previously blamed a


JEAN-PIERRE: I was so focused on the call -- on the cold and that's what I kind of leaned into and talked about. But yes, his schedule did have something to do with it. It was the schedule and the cold.

LEE (voice-over): One of Biden's first major tests coming on Friday when he sits down for an extended TV interview. Biden also beginning to call Democratic leaders like Chuck Schumer, Hakeem Jeffries and Chris Coons.

LEE: And President Biden hosting a group of Democratic governors here at the White House Wednesday night. A few of the governors coming out afterwards to tell reporters that they had had honest conversations about the need to defeat Donald Trump and the path forward in the 2024 campaign. And one of the governors, Tim Walls of Minnesota, said that the group was all in on pledging their support for President Biden.


This was a large group of governors. So we will see whether that is in fact the case that every single one of the governors that met with the president Wednesday night is in fact all in.

MJ Lee, CNN at the White House.


FOSTER: The ABC News interview with President Biden will air Friday night in the U.S. CNN media analyst Sara Fischer spoke with Laura Coates about what a prerecorded primetime special could accomplish.


SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: What I think you're seeing is the urgency wanting to get his message out faster, wanting the American people to see him, to feel his competence faster than perhaps even Sunday. And by the way, Laura, normally, you know, the press news cycle moves fast. Two days, though, is not something that the White House would have ended strategy for.

But in this situation, it shows you how pressing this moment really is.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: You think it's his decision to move it up, not ABC's?

FISCHER: I mean, ABC has a lot of value in bringing it sooner, but they also have value in bringing it to their Sunday show. Right. So I can see both sides having an input here. But there's no question that this helps the White House.

If this is a decision that needs to be made in the next few days, getting that message out sooner helps President Biden. The other thing, Laura, is that he needs to prove that he can do these unscripted moments multiple times. Right.

So, you know, you want to get the interview out and get reception out before you determine whether or not you're going to book more. Remember, he's doing a lot of things on his own terms. Right. He's doing press conferences. He did that trip to Raleigh. But those are scripted moments.

He needs to show the public. He needs to show donors. He needs to show Democrats that he can do non-scripted interviews.

But until the ABC one comes out, they can't book others.

COATES: And, of course, you know, normally these debates are much later in the campaign seasons. They're usually back to back. And you have that time to course correct. Next one's in September, and that's after both conventions, after both nominations. So it's a whole different ballgame right now. But is this interview with Stephanopoulos the whole ballgame?

FISCHER: It's the biggest ballgame because, like I said, it's going to determine whether or not his team is comfortable putting him out in other unscripted moments. It's also worth noting ABC has that debate in September. And so this is a moment for Biden to develop a repertoire with the network.

This moment also is critical, Laura, because if Biden does want to make this decision in the next few days, he also has to rely on all the people around him making sure he's informing their decision. He knows that his inner circle, right, his family, his close advisor -- advisors are going to be watching this interview like a hawk. He doesn't want to put it off anymore.


FOSTER: Well, Donald Trump seems to think his chances of winning back the White House have got a lot better. Covertly recorded video obtained by The Daily Beast shows Trump in a golf cart calling Mr. Biden, quote, an old, broken down pile of crap. He also refers to Vice President Kamala Harris as pathetic.

CNN's latest polar poll shows Trump with a five point lead over President Biden, 49 percent, 44 percent. And in a separate poll, a whopping three in four responses say Democrats stand a better chance of winning the presidency with someone other than Joe Biden.

U.S. forecasters say Hurricane Beryl is bearing down on the Cayman Islands with strong winds, dangerous storm surge and damaging waves. The center of the storm is by Grand Cayman Island. And it weakened a little while ago to a category three with one hundred twenty five mile per hour winds about 250 kilometers an hour. Forecasters warn it's still very dangerous.

So far, Beryl has killed at least eight people across the Caribbean. Hours ago, the hurricane pounded southern Jamaica with slightly stronger winds, torrential rains and a storm surge of about nine feet. Storm knocked down trees and power lines and damaged buildings. Earlier, CNN's Rafael Romo filed this report from Kingston.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to remain standing because the winds are just very, very powerful. And this is not over yet. We have seen lots of debris have been blown off in the last few minutes and also how the roof was blown off on top of that building right there.

And the big danger is that there's a possibility of the ocean getting into the street because the storm surge is supposed to rise at least 10 feet.


FOSTER: Hurricane Beryl is due to make landfall on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Friday. A long range forecast suggests it could hit Texas. And some officials there are already taking precautions, handing out sandbags.

Chad Myers brings us the latest.


CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right. The center of the eye actually did not make landfall along the southern coast of Jamaica, but the eye wall itself did. And the eye wall has where all the winds are, has all the damage involved.

So we know that there are winds there somewhere around 160 kilometers per hour, at least on land.


Not very many reporting stations out there to really get an idea of what happened. But we do know that there's been an awful lot of rainfall along the mountains. Even some spots still going to pick up another 100 millimeters, maybe 150 millimeters of rain before it finally moves away.

Taking a look at the European Ensemble. Sometimes we make these all different colors because they're all different models. This is actually one model.

But changing just a few different things in the model to make it react differently. The reason why they do that is to try to find where the center of the consensus is. So, yes, there are some to the right that move on up to the north into parts of the Gulf of Mexico. And some to the left that go kind of squiggly and they all go the wrong way. Just changing the wrong things in the model.

But still we get the same cone here in the middle. We still get a landfall here likely as a category two along the Yucatan Peninsula and then somewhere up into northern Mexico or southern Texas. Now, overnight tonight, we are seeing an awful lot of wind and waves

in the Grand Cayman Islands from Cayman Brack all the way to Little Cayman and Grand Cayman itself. So we'll have to see what kind of damage that creates as the sun comes up tomorrow.


FOSTER: As a result, major cruise lines are changing course to keep passengers safe from the severe weather in the Caribbean. Ships in the fleets for Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian now have altered their routes. That includes Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship.

In separate statements, both Carnival and Royal Caribbean said the safety of their guests and crews are the most important things to consider, given the severe weather there.

A massive heat wave is setting in over parts of the U.S. this July 4th holiday weekend. Nationwide, nearly 140 million people across at least 22 states in the west and mid-south are under heat alerts.

Excessive heat warnings are blanketing the state of California through Monday, impacting tens of millions of people. The northern part of the state is expected to see record high temperatures at least -- well, for at least the next five days. That's where a large wildfire is prompting the evacuation of roughly 13,000 people.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is there.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing at Lake Oroville where the Thompson fire is burning, where we've seen thousands of evacuations and thousands of acres burned. Let me step out of the way so you can see here how quickly this fire has burned down into this lakefront area here. It's also burned through some homes, but what you also may notice is just how windy it is, and that is part of the issue here, spreading fires.

We've seen some places where the fire has burned down a house, and right next door, the house is totally fine.

What's also noteworthy is that here in California, according to Cal Fire, we've seen a 1,600 percent increase in the number of acres burned so far this year versus last year. So you're talking about 7,500 acres burned at this time last year compared to more than 130,000 acres burned so far this year.

Part of the issue is the last two years have been very, very wet, and that means that's given a lot of growth of vegetation. That's the problem. In fact, take a listen to what Cal Fire says this means for the fire year.

NICK SCHULER, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS AND INCIDENT AWARENESS FOR CAL FIRE: This winter, we had a significant amount of rain, but with rain brings growth. And the challenge with that is that fuels and vegetation continues to dry out, and in California, that spells the next large wildfire.

ELAM: Of course, with the Fourth of July, the concern is fireworks. But here in Oroville, they've canceled their Fourth of July fireworks show as they're battling this blaze. And throughout the state, where fireworks are mainly banned in most places, they are very concerned that they'll spark other wildfires.

Take a look at this video from San Francisco, which shows you how quickly this three-acre blaze blew up because of an ember from a firework that went off. So they're asking people not to blow up any fireworks at all. The issue as well is the heat, and it is going to be over 105 degrees in several places as we are roasting out here in much of the West.

Those dangerous temperatures, they're asking people to stay inside, to keep their pets inside as well, stay cool. It is going to be roasting like this for several days. And they're saying, using the words, that this is an unprecedented danger that we are facing.

Back to you.


FOSTER: Well, we're just two hours into Britain's momentous general election. This snap vote called by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak months before was actually expected. After six weeks of campaigns, we've been seeing a steady stream of voters entering polling places in London. Millions of others casting ballots in 650 constituencies across the U.K. until polls close at 10 p.m. local time.

CNN's Nadar-Bashir is at a polling station in London with, you know, you can't actually say much, can you? Very tight reporting restrictions here in the U.K.

NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. While polls are open, there are those tight restrictions in place around what we can and can't report in order to not sway the decision of those voters who will be heading to the polls to cast their ballot.


As you mentioned, polls opened a little over two hours ago. They are set to remain open until 10 p.m. local time. So voters will have most of the day to go out and cast their ballot.

And then, of course, the all important counting begins later tonight. And that is, of course, expected to carry on through the night into the early hours of Friday morning when we can expect to see that final result. Now, of course, there are 650 seats up for grabs. Voters will be voting for their local representatives within their constituencies.

And what the parties are seeking in the election is to secure more than half of the votes. That is the crucial 326 figure in order to be able to declare themselves the winners of this election and command a government. Now, of course, counting will be taking place over the night, although we will expect to see some exit polls overnight as well, giving us a sense of the direction of this election. But for many voters, they will be going out today. The weather is great, so it won't be stopping people from getting out there to their local polling stations to cast their ballot.

We've already seen the incumbent Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, joined by his wife, casting his ballot in his local constituency in Yorkshire. And, of course, we'll be speaking to voters throughout the day as they head out to cast their ballots again.

But, of course, many will be waiting for tonight, staying up overnight to watch that counting process take place.

We'll be getting the results in constituency by constituency. So it will take place throughout the night. And, of course, we'll be waiting for those results tomorrow morning -- Max.

FOSTER: Nada, thank you. Joining us live in London, at least it's good weather.

Still ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, a former manager from battles playmaker Boeing meets with CNN for his first televised interview and alleges serious safety violations against his former employer.

Plus, inflation may be slowing down, but Americans looking to grill this Fourth of July holiday weekend. Still going to be paying big at the grocery store.

It's now been 248 years since the U.S. formally declared its independence from Britain. We'll look at how American service members are marking the holiday overseas.

MIKE VALERIO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Max, we're about 65 kilometers away from the heart of Seoul, South Korea. But you would never know it. It's like we are in the heart of the United States.

We are in the middle of the largest U.S. military base overseas. We'll tell you how the soldiers are celebrating here. Plenty of flags when we come back.



FOSTER: Americans barbecuing this July 4th weekend are going to be paying more this year. According to the American Farm Bureau, some grocery prices are at record highs. Americans feeding a group of 10 people this Independence Day will spend an average of $71. That's 5 percent more than last year. And 30 percent more than in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The price of ground beef will cost an average of almost $13 this year. That's up 11 percent from 2023. Pork is also more expensive. Up 8 percent to an average of $15.50. Despite the record prices, food costs are no longer skyrocketing like they were two years ago. When the cost of ground beef had surged 36 percent over just one year.

For those planning to travel by car this holiday, at least those road trips won't break the bank, though. For Gas Buddy projects, the national average price for regular gas will be 3.49 a gallon. That's a penny shy of the price a year ago. And down sharply from 4.79 two years ago when oil prices spiked following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Now, July 4th celebrations aren't limited to the U.S. Expats as well as service members overseas also marking the holidays. CNN's Mike Valerio is live from Pyeongtaek, South Korea. He's visiting Camp Humphreys, which is known, isn't it, as the Army's home in Korea.

VALERIO: And, Max, it may be about two hours in our notorious Seoul traffic away from the heart of the metropolis of Seoul. But you would never know it. We are essentially in the middle of Americana as we know it back home.

So as you mentioned, while we are here, this is the largest overseas U.S. military base. So we have about 40,000 people who are connected to the United States Department of Defense. And how they are celebrating, a whole profusion of flags.

We have a splash pad over my left hand shoulder. American barbecue over my right hand shoulder. But certainly, Max, there's a Korean twist with all this pageantry and Americana.

Korean barbecue, K-pop music. And, Max, I'm not sure if you remember the 2003 hit single in the United States, The Reason by Hoobastank. Hoobastank was certainly the singers of an anthem for the millennial generation. They are going to play in a couple minutes live The Reason and their other anthems here.

You know, we had the chance to speak with Doug Robb, who's the lead singer of Hoobastank, just about the energy that's traded being so far away from home, but among so many friends and grateful U.S. military members. Listen to what he told us in a couple seconds.


DOUG ROBB, HOOBASTANK LEAD VOCALIST: There's a lot of just gratitude and everybody seems so thankful and appreciative both ways, you know. And it's something that you can't replicate just going to play a show, you know, at a theater somewhere. And it's really cool.

I look forward to it. It does. I can feel it for sure.


VALERIO: So another reason, Max, why this is so important. There are a whole multitude of military families who, you know, are having new babies, new children who have never experienced a Fourth of July back home. So the aim of the game is to replicate the experience like they would be having in Atlanta, New York, Des Moines, Southern California. And that is the experience that we're getting.


Everything from the flags to these star-spangled, sprinkled red, white and blue cupcakes made by our friends behind the camera. So we're going to have some of these and check back in with our CNN family in a little bit, Max. But we'll send it back to you.

FOSTER: Are you calling this work, obviously? But I just wondered, is this a chance for everyone to forget about the election and just enjoy America and the parts of the country that actually unite people? Or are they all talking about, you know, the debate, as it were?

VALERIO: No, I think that that's that is an incredibly insightful point, per usual, Max Foster. People here have not mentioned what is going on back home in terms of the election once since we've been here since the crack of dawn. This is certainly just to remember a sense of something greater of our cultural tapestry in the United States.

So nary a mention of the election. It's certainly a nice reprieve here in Korea -- Max.

FOSTER: It really is a break for you. Mike, thank you so much for joining us from South Korea.

Now, while Joe Biden fights for his political future, some Democrats are trying to figure out how to replace him and look at the process and the contenders just ahead. There's one of them.

Plus, a glimmer of hope for a ceasefire and hostage deal in Gaza. Hamas responds to an Israeli proposal. We're live from the region with the latest on the negotiations next.