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Biden Campaign Fundraises Off High-Stakes Interview; Biden Insists He Has Stamina For Four More Years; Biden Denies Polls Show Him Losing To Trump; Jim Sciutto's Political Panelists Weigh In On President Biden's Interview With ABC News. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 05, 2024 - 22:00   ET


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Just in, President Biden's campaign is already fundraising off his performance in tonight's interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos. Is still signal the campaign is happy with how it went?

In that interview, Biden defended his presidency and explained why he is the right pick in 2024.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm the guy that put NATO together, the future. No one thought I could expand it. I'm the guy that shot Putin down, no one thought could happen. I'm the guy that put together the South Pacific initiative with AUKUS.


I'm the guy that got 50 nations, not only in Europe, outside of Europe as well, to help Ukraine.


SCIUTTO: We're going to have more from that interview right now on CNN Newsroom.

This is CNN Newsroom. I'm Jim Sciutto.

The breaking news, President Biden on the defensive tonight during a critical interview with ABC News tonight. Biden tried to convince voters he is healthy enough to serve a second term to win a second term just over a week after stumbling through CNN's presidential debate. The president says, every day on the job proves his fitness.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: What I'm asking you is about your personal situation. Do you dispute that there have been more lapses especially in the last several months?

BIDEN: Can I run the 110 flat? No, but I'm still in good shape.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you more frail?


STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you spoke --

BIDEN: I keep my schedule on.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you spoke with your doctor after the debate. What did he say?

BIDEN: He said -- he just looked at me. He said, you're exhausted. I said, look, I have medical doctors traveling everywhere. Every president does, as you know. Medical doctors, some of the best in the world, travel me everywhere I go. I have an ongoing assessment of what I'm doing. They don't hesitate to tell me if they think there's something wrong.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you said you have an ongoing assessment. Have you had a full neurological and cognitive evaluation?

BIDEN: I get a full neurological test every day with me. And I've had a full physical. I had -- I mean, I, I've been a Walter Reed for my physicals. I mean, yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I know your doctor said he consulted with a neurologist. I guess I'm asking a slightly different question. Have you had the specific cognitive tests and have you had a neurologist, a specialist do an examination?

BIDEN: No, no one said I had to. No one said they said I'm good.


SCIUTTO: Despite growing pressure from some in his own party, Biden insisted he is staying in the race, making the case he remains a better choice than former President Trump and, crucially, he believes the polls are wrong.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. President, I've never seen a president with 36 percent approval get re-elected.

BIDEN: Well, I don't believe that's my approval rating. That's not what our polls show.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And if you stay in and Trump is elected and everything you're warning about comes to pass, how will you feel in January?

BIDEN: I feel as long as I gave it my all, and I did the goodest job as I know I can do, that's what this is about.

Look, George, think of it this way. You've heard me say this before. I think the United States and the world is at an inflection point. When the things that happen in the next seven years are going to determine what the next six, seven decades look like.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: That interview, the first major step by Biden and his campaign designed to show that he can and should remain in the 2024 race.

Joining me tonight, Democratic Congressman John Garamendi of California. Congressman, we appreciate you taking the time tonight.

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): Good to be with you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: You watched the interview. Do you believe President Biden's performance was enough to answer questions about his fitness?

GARAMENDI: He's well into the process of answering that. In fact, it started the day after the debate. The debate was terrible. No doubt about it. The day after the debate, he gave an extraordinary, strong, stirring speech to a rally in North Carolina. He's continued that today. Once again, in Wisconsin, he did that. And he's showing he's out on the road doing these things.

Well, being president, he's quite correct about all of the work that goes into being a president. And, indeed, he's tested from the time he gets up in the morning until he gets to bed at night on his mental capacity because of the extraordinary number of issues he dealt with just today, the conversations he's had today dealing with the new prime minister of England. And I think he also talked to Netanyahu today. You don't do that unless you're mentally competent and capable, and he certainly is.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this, because, as you know, some of your Democratic colleagues have come out and said he should leave the race. One of them is Mike Quigley, who was on this broadcast a short time ago. Is it the loyal thing to encourage the president to stay in the race or is it the smart thing to do? Do you believe he's the strongest candidate to beat Trump?

GARAMENDI: Yes, he is. He's done it once before and he'll do it again. The issues, the work that he's done over the previous, well, it'd be three and a half years by election time, is extraordinary. And he was there to finish the job.


Trump comes in, Trump will destroy almost everything that has been put together by the Democratic Congress and Senate and the president. You only need to look at the current Congress to get a fix on what is likely to occur. Can Biden beat Trump? Yes. There's time ahead in this election and he will be out on the stump. He'll be doing his work and he will be showing in the daily work of being the president that he's on top of the game.

SCIUTTO: You have run and won a series of elections. You know as well as anyone that you have to pay attention to the polling data. And if you got problems, you address those problems so that you could win. Do you believe the president and his team are aware of the actual state of the race? Do you believe that they understand that at this point they're losing? GARAMENDI: Of course. Of course they do.

SCIUTTO: He didn't sound like in the interview. He was denying that in the interview,

GARAMENDI: You show me a candidate across this country, myself included, that is going to say the polls are actually right and I'm losing this. No, you don't. You have confidence. You speak with confidence. The polls are a moment in time, and they are a moment in time. And the moment over the last week has not been good for the president, that's true. But also he's in the process, as he showed today at the rally and in this interview, that he is in the process of rebuilding his position.

No candidate would ever say, Oh, of course the polls are gone and I'm finished. You don't do that. And don't expect the president to do that. However, you do expect the president to do what he did, and that is to run the risk of this interview, to get out there on the stump, as he did today and before and along the way, continue to maintain a very, very busy schedule as president, as I've already said, talking to international leaders today. That's his daily schedule. He's doing it and he will continue to do it.

Will he win this race? He will because Trump is the opponent. The unfortunate thing about all of this is the feeding frenzy has taken Trump off the television sets. They've taken off the fact that Trump has said he would set up a military tribunal for Liz Cheney. And also, in his posting, apparently, he agreed for a military tribunal for the elected leader of the Senate, Mr. McConnell. Who is this man, Trump, that would even allow such words to go out?

SCIUTTO: The top Democrat in the House, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, he's now calling for a virtual meeting on Sunday for ranking members on committees amid these concerns about Biden's viability as the party's nominee. Is the very fact that that meeting is happening a bad sign for the president? Because it clearly shows that the minority leader knows he's got an issue to deal with inside his own caucus.

GARAMENDI: Not necessarily. Hakeem Jeffries is a very skilled member of the House. He knows that he needs to listen to all of the members and certainly to those in the leadership positions on the various committees, and he's done that repeatedly, and he'll do that. It doesn't mean that he's panicked, probably quite the opposite, as you have heard from his various comments that he does support the president.

SCIUTTO: Congressman John Garamendi, we appreciate you joining us tonight.

GARAMENDI: Always. Take care, Jim. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: So, a great deal to discuss. We're going to break it down with our political experts. And I appreciate I appreciate having you back, Van Jones and others.

Van, let me begin with you. We did hear from the president tonight more of what his supporters complained they did not see during the debate, and that is making the case for his record. He talked about the jobs figures out today. He talked about character, as distinguished from Donald Trump. He spoke about expanding NATO, standing up to Putin, getting support for Ukraine. Did you hear enough of that? Because one of the key questions going into this was, does he still have the skill to be the party salesman, right, which you've got to be in a campaign if you're going to win that campaign? Did you hear that from him tonight in that interview?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I saw more of it. Look, the presidency, it turns out is a speaking role. It's a speaking role. You got to be able to talk. You got to be able to do interviews. You got to be able to give speeches. You got to be able to debate. It's a speaking role. Everybody goes, well, that's not -- no. Yes, of course, you got to be able to make decisions behind closed doors the presidency is a special role.


It's a speaking role.

I thought today you saw more of the Biden that you could feel some confidence in because it's just the typical voice, a little soft, it's a little stumbly, bumbly, but nothing alarming, nothing that would panic, nothing that would have you run out the door. The problem is, on the biggest night of the campaign, that guy was not on the stage.

So, I do think that today he did better. I do think today it's useful. The problem that you have is that the stuff that he said about the campaign is just not factual. And what you love about Biden in general is that big heart and cares, but you don't want somebody who's detached from reality.

I understand what Garamendi was saying that you wouldn't come go out there and say, yes, we're losing, but you have to acknowledge some of the reality. And I think the problem that you have -- the panic happening in the party is people think this guy is detached from reality, he's got a guard of people around him that won't tell him the truth, and he's just being stubborn. And I think he did not help himself on that point tonight. He's no longer hiding Biden. I give him credit for that. He came out. He talked. He did the interview. That's good. But he still is not dealing with the reality of how bad this is.

SCIUTTO: David Axelrod, is that as much a rap on the president himself as it is on his team? Would it be accurate to say that his team is not sharing some of the bad news with him about the state of the race?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I just can't answer that, Jim. I think that if they're not shame on them, I mean, the fact is it's a very difficult spot. And, you know, again, he has a tremendous list of accomplishments to be proud of and that is meaningful, but it doesn't speak to the main question that the debate opened up, and that's a question that he just doesn't have a good answer for. Because, you know I mean, talking about what he accomplished over the last three and a half years reminds me of the fact that Tom Brady won a Super Bowl three years ago, and he's not playing football anymore, because time is inexorable. Father time is the one opponent nobody can beat, and that's the question people are asking.

SCIUTTO: Scott Jennings, there is a fundamental unfairness here. Some Democrats have claimed, right, that there is not focus, for instance, on the lies that Donald Trump told during the debate, which is, of course, a consistent thing, which you as well have called Donald Trump out for. But I suppose the fact is, what is newest are the questions about whether there is a new decline on the part of the president's abilities, and therefore you cannot focus on Trump because this is the newest dynamic, newest development in the race. And I wonder if you agree with that. And I imagine Donald Trump is celebrating that.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, and it's exacerbated the condition you just described by the fact that the Trump campaign has been quite disciplined. Donald Trump has exited the stage since the debate. We haven't really seen him and they've allowed the entire focus to be on Joe Biden and his decline.

Look, I think most Americans don't analyze the political angles in exactly the way we do when they're watching their politicians on a television and specifically with Joe Biden. I think most people watching have probably had a conversation with someone about an elderly relative in which it went something like this. How's he doing today? And they say, well, you know, he has good days and bad. And right now that's about the best thing you can say about Joe Biden. Every one of us has had that kind of conversation and we recognize that in Joe Biden.

But you're right, the Democrats are in quite a pickle here. He didn't do anything fatal tonight. That's going to run him out of the race tonight. You know, he obviously believes he did well and he did well enough to dig his heels in and say that only, you know, our Lord and savior Jesus Christ could run him out of the race. And for a party that's pretty secular, it'd be surprising to hear a lot of Democrats raising up prayers tonight over that, but, I mean, he's limping along. He's limping along. I guess this is not fatal, according to some Democrats. And now Donald Trump continues to get to run against the most wounded Democrat he could possibly run against, mid-30s approval, an expanding battleground map and really nothing left on the calendar to change the trajectory of the campaign. It's quite a pickle the Dems are in and obviously the President doesn't see it that way.

SCIUTTO: Maria Cardona, Biden said again tonight, he said it before emphatically, nobody is more qualified than him. He's got a track record, no question, he's got legislative successes, bipartisan ones to run on here. But you know it's more than qualifications, it's more than the C.V., the resume that wins you elections.


This was a problem Democrats faced with Hillary Clinton in 2016, right? Voters have to look at the candidate, be excited about that candidate and believe in that candidate. And I wonder, are you confident he has that quality? MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I am confident he has that quality. The question is, can he demonstrate that quality consistently the way that he did the Friday after the debate, this weekend, today in the rally, today in the interview with George Stephanopoulos, and then on down the line? Because if he can, and I do think that he can, if he does that, then I do think that he can win this race.

And let me just talk a little bit about the polls. I just showed Shermichael an Ipsos/Reuters poll that has them tied in the last two days. Polls are very different today than they have been in the last decade.

SCIUTTO: The track record of polls in recent cycles have not been great.

CARDONA: Exactly. Most recently, and I am reminded about this literally, I think, every hour on the hour from people who are out there who know that I do this. They say, Maria, do you remember the red wave in 2022? And do you know why that red wave did not appear, did not materialize? Because people were not taking into consideration what women thought, what Latinos were thinking. They did not measure.

People kept saying, oh, it's the economy, you know, those women, they, they got over a Roe. They're saying that again today. Every single Republican I hear that talks about this election says, it's about the economy. It's about inflation. Abortion is down number 15. Really? Go talk to the women that I've been talking to. They are going into the ballot box, they are pulling the lever for the candidate who does not believe that they are second class citizens.

And this happens on other issues as well. Joe Biden's -- his announcement about giving Latinos and immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants who have been here for years, away to a pathway to citizenship, that is transformational for families. That's not being taken into consideration in these polls.

I hear you. And, Shermichael, I want to get your thoughts on this because, again, no one's going to say -- they're not going to bet their house on poll, political polls in recent cycles. That's for sure. But there are certain consistent numbers as relate to Biden, one of which is a very low, historically low approval rating. And we also know that these elections are decided by tiny numbers of voters in a handful of swing states, right, and by any measure, a president who is not his best self in terms of communicating his case to win doesn't help you with those swing voters, right?

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, it doesn't help at all. I mean, part of the job when you're a candidate running for public office is the ability to convince and persuade voters that you are a better option than your opponent. We have seen for about a year now, the polls have been relatively consistent that not only do voters have concerns with President Biden about his age.

But voters also are concerned about the president and his ability to tackle some of the more critical issues that they're dealing with day- to-day, whether you're a young voter, and you're concerned about graduating from college, wondering whether or not you'll be able to start your family soon, purchase your first home. That's not a reality for most.

If you're an African-American, and I don't mean those living maybe in the suburbs, but African-Americans who are living in cities, would certainly like to have better jobs so that their children can have a better future than the one that they had. I think if you are an immigrant, I do think that some immigrants may come into the country and would like to see a more unified immigration process.

And so on all of those issues, when you look at the data, a year's worth, President Biden does not perform well on any of those things. And at the end, I think George asked a question, well, what if you lose to Donald Trump at the end? And he said, well, I gave it my best. If you're a Democrat, I'm not exactly certain that that's the type of rhetoric that gives you confidence going into the final end of this presidential cycle.

So, you look at all of those things, I'll just quickly say here, Jim, if you're a Democrat, if you're a swing voter that leans to the Democratic side, you're probably looking at the state of things and saying, do we not have someone else who could potentially help us carry the mantle forward? And I don't think that's President Biden.

SCIUTTO: And it's interesting, we've had a series of election, of course, around the world, India, France, the U.K. The one consistent thing it does, it's not been so much a move to the right or the left. It's been tough sailing for incumbents. And that's one thing to watch for. Of course, we don't know if it's going to be duplicated here.

Everyone, stand by. We've got lots more to discuss, and thanks so much.

Still to come, a Biden rival in the 2020 primaries offers his take on the crisis facing the president and the Democratic Party. Former New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, he's going to join me live.

And, if Biden does leave the race, it would not be unprecedented. Other incumbents have chosen not to run for a second term.


SCIUTTO: Breaking news, CNN is learning tonight that President Biden's campaign views tonight's sit-down interview with ABC as a win, after the president faced direct questions about those calling on him to drop out of the race.


STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, I've heard from dozens of your supporters over the last few days, and there are a variety of views, I grant you that. But the prevailing sentiment is this, they love you, and they will be forever grateful to you for defeating Donald Trump in 2020. They think you've done a great job as president, a lot of the successes you outlined. But they are worried about you and the country, and they don't think you can win. They want you to go with grace, and they will cheer you if you do. What do you say to them?

BIDEN: I say the vast majority are not where those folks are. I don't doubt there're some folks there. Have you ever seen a group at a time when elected officials running for office aren't a little worried? Have you ever seen that? I've not. Same thing happened in 2020. Oh, Biden, I don't know, man. What's he going to do? He may bring me down. He may --


SCIUTTO: Joining us now, Bill de Blasio, former mayor of New York City, who ran against Biden in the 2020 primaries. Mayor, thanks for joining us tonight.


FMR. MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY): Good to be here, Jim.

SCIUTTO: So, we now know the White House views this interview as a win. Do you think it was a win? He helped himself? Or do you think he just about survived?

DE BLASIO: Look, I think it was a far better performance than last Thursday night, obviously. I think the question is, what's it going to take to really create energy and momentum and faith? And, certainly, I didn't see enough of that in that interview.

SCIUTTO: You yourself, ultimately dropped out of the 2020 race when the polls showed you didn't have a path to win the nomination. You heard Biden tonight dismiss polls showing him losing to Trump prior to the debate, and some showing that margin worsening since then. Do you think there's denial, not just with the president, but perhaps inside his inner circle, about the true state of this campaign right now?

DE BLASIO: Jim, I think there's emotion and humanity, and that always involves a certain amount of denial and delusion. I mean, look, it's very painful. I went through this not only with the presidential race in 2020, I went through it. I ran for Congress in 2022, and, you know, I thought I had something to show people that they'd like. And I had to come to the difficult decision that folks knew me and decided they wanted something else. So, it's a tough emotional decision, especially he has been an unmitigated success as president.

So, I want to emphasize to everyone this kind of decision is so personal and it almost takes suspending belief, because you can hear it in his voice. He's like hey guys I've achieved all these things. Of course, they want me. Why wouldn't they want me? But at the same time, and the point you made earlier about what's happening in incumbents around the world, that is a very important point here, there is a bitterness, there is a pain, I think a lot of it post-COVID, you know, still responding to COVID and all the crises that came from COVID, such as inflation.

I think people are hurting, and to some extent they lash out at incumbents. And I hope for Joe Biden, who is such a good man, that he looks at all the factors as he makes a decision and tries to make it as objectively as he can.

SCIUTTO: In your experience in politics, is it just as hard for the candidate to do that as for his team to do that, right, because he's got a very tight team, and, of course, they don't want to be out of power either?

DE BLASIO: Team, family, everyone, has a stake. So, Jim, I think you hit an important point here. One, it's so emotional and everyone feels it's their creation, too. So, in a sense, you know, are you willing to go against something you're so proud of, you've given your heart and soul to. Are you -- look, to some extent, it's an acknowledgement of mistakes and of possibly having, you know, set a trap for yourself at some point.

That's really tough. I had -- at a certain point, you have to look yourself in the mirror and say, hey, wait a minute, you know, we don't always love the media coverage, we don't always love what our opponents do, but what did we do? Did we do everything we could have done? This is really tough stuff.

But what I will say is I have a lot of faith in Joe Biden's bigger instincts, meaning I truly believe, incredibly patriotic human being, big thinker, experienced. Over time, if he continues to see a lot of challenges, I don't think he's the kind of person that will ignore that.

SCIUTTO: Listen, self-awareness is hard for anyone. As you know, two more House Democrats, they're calling on Biden to step down. One of whom was on our broadcast earlier, Mike Quigley of Illinois, Senator Mark Warner. He, according to The Washington Post, is trying to get a group of senators together to go to Biden, in effect, and call him to step aside.

I wonder, in your view, as a loyal Democrat, are those lawmakers -- are they being disloyal or are they being honest?

DE BLASIO: Well, I don't think they're being disloyal. A lot of those are people I know and respect a lot. Look, this is an honest debate in the party, and I think it comes down to a few different options. Joe Biden has to make this decision. And if he decides to keep running, the vast majority of us are going to battle with him. We're going to go there. We're going to fight for him. We believe in him.

If he decides to choose Kamala Harris, and that's what ends up happening, we're going to fight for Kamala Harris. We're going to believe in her. Or there could be an open process and we have an incredibly deep bench of candidates.

And I got to tell you, if the president decides to step aside, I hope there is an open process. Because what that will mean is a couple of months of attention, a couple of months of attention fully on the Democratic Party, our ideas, our leaders. And if we end up with a new nominee, I want to see it be someone who proved their mettle in battle and got everyone to feel energized about him.

Look, again, Joe, Joe Biden makes this decision and people love him and people respect him. But if he decides it's time for change, the amazing thing about today's Democratic Party, we're actually pretty damn unified, which isn't always the case, and we have a very deep bench of talent.


SCIUTTO: It sounds like you're saying there, you don't believe, if you were to step down, that it should automatically be the vice president.

DE BLASIO: I think the vice president is incredibly talented. I think the vice president would bring a lot but I actually think an anointment, as it were, a coronation, would backfire. Because to some extent, she should never run against the current ticket, obviously, but she needs to be her own person to win.

Just that anti-incumbent feeling we were talking about, that's a real part of this. And she would have to create some separation. And you only do that through an open process. I believe she could prevail in an open process. But the irony is, having it handed to her actually might be the worst possible scenario for her.

SCIUTTO: Former New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, thanks so much for joining.

DE BLASIO: Thank you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: When we come back, did the president's interview tonight help or hurt his case to stay in the race? Our panel will weigh in.



SCIUTTO: There is no sense tonight that President Biden will withdraw from the presidential race, despite calls within his own party, among some, to do so. Listen to his exchange with ABC's George Stephanopoulos on that question.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: You know, the heart of your case against Donald Trump is that he's only out for himself, putting his personal interest ahead of the national interest.


How do you respond to critics who say that by staying in the race, you're doing the same thing?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (D): Oh, come on. Well, I don't think those critics know what they're talking about.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They're just wrong?

BIDEN: It's wrong. Look, Trump is a pathological liar. Trump is, he is -- have you ever seen anything Trump did that benefited somebody else and not him? You can't answer, I know.


SCIUTTO: My panel is back with me now. Maria, the Biden campaign view is that Biden passed the test tonight -- 1-8 is telling CNN, survive and advance. I mean, okay, I get that point of view, but survival, I mean, is that really a win?

CARDONA: Well, I think given the pile on after the debate on Thursday, I think today, clearly President Biden lives on to fight another day. And that was important. That's exactly what he did.

Not only that, Jim, but I think he demonstrated the Joe Biden that does have the fight in him, that is the one who went out there for four years and woke up every single day thinking about how he could make this country better, how he could make families' lives better, as opposed to Donald Trump, who is only in this for himself and to stay out of prison.

And I think, you know, an important part to remember, again, in all of our discussion today is, and I said this earlier on, it's not about what we think, it's about what the voters think. And this is exactly what the campaign still needs to gather additional data on.

We talked a little bit about this earlier, right? Their polls are a lot closer than what the national polls are, right? So, that that is what they're going to go on. Yes. And this is what -- this is the damage that Thursday night did. Thursday night, the campaign wanted to jump ahead. They needed to jump ahead. That didn't happen.

They were a little bit behind. But what they saw even since then, Jim, and a couple of data points, is that it wasn't as damaging as everybody thinks it was with the voters that really matter. The massive amount of money that they raised, grassroots money, millions of new donors, that all matters. There were dials that were done with Latino voters. There were reactions done with Black voters. The Black undecided voters, the Latino undecided voters, they weren't towards Biden after the debate. That's a big deal.

SCIUTTO: The question, Shermichael, that George asked -- George Stephanopoulos asked Biden, is a fair one, though, right? You know, is this more about you than it is about the party's chances against Trump, right? Is he making a decision that's not best for the party? I'd ask you just for a moment to take your GOP hat off. Do you think it's a fair question?

SINGLETON: I definitely think it's a fair question if you're behind several points. And the whole objective is that you are the best person, according to you, to defeat your opponent. The quantified data that we have available doesn't showcase that. So, it certainly is a fair question to ask.

Based upon the data, it doesn't appear that you're going to win. So, make your case for why you can win. Now, I'll say this, Jim, just to take off my Republican hat. If I'm being completely objective here, and I was talking to my dear friend here about this not to give free advice to Maria and her Democrats, but I would actually probably bypass this process going forward. You sat down with George. That's good enough, in my opinion.

I think the president needs to go to his base. He needs to go to young voters. He needs to go to Latino voters. He needs to go to black voters. If you can shore up your core constituency, everyone else is going to fall in line. We sort of saw this in some ways with Donald Trump. If you can shore up that base, everybody else is going to say, the base is sticking with this guy. We have to jump on board, as well.

SCIUTTO: I get that line of argument. What about, though, it remains to be seen whether Trump himself would show up for a second debate. What about taking another swing at a debate? It's one thing to do a sit-down interview with a network news anchor. It's another thing to be in that split screen next to your opponent. Should Biden?

CARDONA: I think the Biden campaign has already said, even after Thursday's debate, that they would certainly do a second debate. And they should, because I think that if they do, they continue to do what they have done since that debate, I think this is going to be on an upward scale, and he's going to continue to prove to people what he has said he can do.

SCIUTTO: Depends on the performance. To your point, Shermichael, you're thinking Trump would see advantage in that.

SINGLETON: I don't think the former president should debate Biden again. He debated once. There's been a net advantage to Donald Trump. I think he needs to continue to raise more money, continue to open up those field operation offices across the battleground states, and figure out how you target a message to some of those moderate Republicans who are now somewhat on the fence.

SCIUTTO: All right, Shermichael, Maria, good to have you with me.

CARDONA: Thank you, Jim.


It was fun. Thanks so much.

SINGLETON: On a Friday.

SCIUTTO: I hope you get a weekend. I'm going to allow you to have a little bit of a weekend.

CARDONA: Appreciate that.

SCIUTTO: Coming up, Lyndon Johnson, Harry Truman, both face the painful decision President Biden is facing right now, and chose to bow out for different reasons. Historian Tim Naftali, he's going to join me next.


[22:43:58] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYNDON JOHNSON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I shall not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president.


SCIUTTO: That televised announcement from President Lyndon B. Johnson shocked the nation in 1968. And 56 years later, President Biden is facing growing calls from some members of his own party to do the same -- step aside. I'm joined now by CNN presidential historian Tim Naftali.

And Tim, the big difference between '68 and 2024 is that LBJ did that in March of the year. So, before the primaries, before he was already the nominee, this -- this, of course, would be different much later in the cycle.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Much later in the cycle. There had been a very important primary in New Hampshire before LBJ announced his decision. But LBJ had been thinking about not running again since late 1967. So, the timing is quite different. So, is there any historical precedent for this late in a cycle and this kind of decision for anything similar to this kind of reason?


NAFTALI: No, in fact, there isn't any parallel at all. In many ways, the story is a story of Joe Biden deciding to run again, despite the fact that in 2020, he said that he only wanted one term. The mandate he sought was to end the Trump chaos and restore stability to our institutions and a sense of America's mission in the world and respect for us throughout the world.

And then he said he would turn the party in the country over to somebody else. But after the midterms, the president changed his mind and announced it in 2023. And so in a sense, the process that both Harry Truman, who also decided not to run again, and LBJ went through -- Joe Biden, in a sense, went through that and then decided, no, I can and will run again. So, this means going back on the decision he announced to the world in 2023. And clearly, he doesn't want to do that.

SCIUTTO: Does history treat Truman and LBJ well for making the decisions they did at the time? And do you think you can imagine, and it's hard, of course, to look ahead how history would treat Biden for making a similar decision?

NAFTALI: Sadly, neither Harry Truman nor LBJ lived long enough to see their historical reputations grow dramatically. Harry Truman lived a long time. He lived to be 88 years old. But the rediscovery of Harry Truman actually happened about 15 years after his death. History, I mean, has looked very kindly on both men for what they were able to accomplish when they were in office. And I would argue that history, to the extent that I can predict what

historians will say in the future, but history will look very well on what Joe Biden has accomplished, thus far. In fact, the strongest parts of his interview with George Stephanopoulos were when he was talking about what he indeed has achieved in three and a half years. That legacy will never go away.

The problem for Joe Biden, frankly, and for the nation, is that one of the key elements of his mandate was that he would save the country from Trumpian chaos. And if he makes the wrong decision this summer, he could, in fact, be inviting a return of the chaos he was elected to eliminate, in which case his legacy is severely damaged.

SCIUTTO: There's something Shakespearean to that. Tim Naftali, thanks so much for joining.

NAFTALI: Pleasure.

SCIUTTO: So, after a frenetic week and high stakes interview, where do things go from here for President Biden? We're going to have some parting thoughts from two White House veterans when we come back.



SCIUTTO: The big question tonight remains whether Democrats and party leaders will continue to stand by Biden or pull their support in the coming days. My two White House veterans are back with me. Good to have you both. Van Jones, you say Democrats are discussing how to replace Biden, not whether. And I wonder, the White House views this interview as a win tonight. Does that change the dynamic in your view?

JONES: I see no signs of any changes yet. Look, I think the mutiny is building. I don't -- I think tonight may have stopped a little bit of the bleeding, it didn't reverse the damage. And they talk about Lord Almighty. He said, only Lord Almighty can get me out of the race.

Well, Lord Almighty has a couple of names. One of those names is Nancy Pelosi. One of those names is Clyburn. At a certain point, the pressure could build to the point where those two people who he definitely respects might have to walk in there.

By the way, has just taken off online. There were "Pass the Torch" signs at his most recent rally. This thing is growing. And I think it's an opportunity for Biden to look in the mirror and see how much more water he wants to take on.

SCIUTTO: David Axelrod, is there a possible worst case scenario for Democrats here in which Biden does manage to draw out the clock, but not to stem the bleeding, therefore leaving Democrats with no good option?

AXELROD: Yeah, well, that's -- I mean, if he runs out the clock, he is the option. And while he said tonight that he'll be satisfied if he gives it the old college try and does his best, I think there are a lot of Democrats who believe him when he tells them that this is --

SCIUTTO: Yeah. We lost -- we lost David Axelrod there as we try to get back, Van Jones, do you agree with that -- his framing?

JONES: I do. And also, I think a lot of people tonight are frustrated. They like -- they hate this. They hate seeing Democrats fighting each other. They hate -- they hate imagining Donald Trump laughing at all of us as we go through this process.

But there are other groups out there, by the way, I just want to point out, you know, there are grassroots groups like Push Black, Swing Left, Seed the Vote. They are just going to be helping grassroots people fight anyway, no matter what happens at the top. So, you're not helpless. You can support some grassroots groups while we get this thing worked out.

But I think it's okay for us to have this discussion. We have not had our convention yet. The reason you have a political party is because there are -- there are interests and ideals that are more important than any individual. That's why you have a party. So, this is a party that needs to have the opportunity to have this conversation. We're going to have it. You can support Push Black, Swing Left, Seed the Vote or any other group you want to in the meantime.

SCIUTTO: And there was a time when conventions actually chose the nominee. David Axelrod is back. I'm going to let you complete your thought and give you the final thought tonight.


AXELROD: I didn't realize I had been lost. Yeah, I know what I was saying is that, yes, I think the scenario you paint is the one that people fear. I think there's broad respect and affection for Joe Biden in the Democratic Party. But there is a recognition that right now, current course and speed, he's headed for a bad defeat.

And he may have said tonight that he'll feel okay if he gives it his best. But I think people do believe what he says when he says that this is an existential battle for the survival of our democracy as we know it. And therefore, they're not going to be as satisfied if he loses and takes with him the Senate in large numbers and the U.S. House and hands to Donald Trump on, you know, mitigated unrivaled power along with the Supreme Court.

So, you know, this is a -- this is a major juncture that we're reaching. And I think what's going to happen Sunday is you're going to see a lot of members come back from their break and particularly those front line members who are in swing districts are going to have strong opinions about how they want this to go forward.

And the leaders are going to have to take that into consideration, whether any of them can have influence on the president, I mean, based on what he said tonight, if it takes the Lord Almighty, that's a pretty big order. I mean, Lord Almighty has other issues to deal with. But, you know, one hopes that reason will prevail and that the president, as Tim Naftali said, will leave with his legacy intact and his reputation intact and will not be blamed for a terrible loss.

SCIUTTO: Van Jones, David Axelrod, quite a night for the president, quite a night for the country. We appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us. And thanks so much to all of you for joining us this hour. The news on CNN continues right after a short break.