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Defiant Biden Says He Isn't Quitting Presidential Race; Four Holiday Beachgoers Bitten In Shark Attacks In Texas And Florida; Texas Issues Voluntary Evacuation Order Of Coastal Areas Ahead Of Beryl; VP Harris Campaigns In New Orleans Amid Ongoing Biden Debate Fallout; Undecided Female Voters Weigh In On Biden-Trump Debate; Reformist Becomes Iran's New President; Dodgers Superstar Ohtani Delivering On The Field And Beyond. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired July 06, 2024 - 15:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: A defiant President Biden is vowing to stay in the race and win the 2024 election.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the Lord Almighty came down and say, Joe, get out of the race, I'll get out of the race. The Lord Almighty is not coming down.


WHITFIELD: In the aftermath of his shaky performance at the CNN debate and growing calls from some within his own party to step aside, the president sat down last night for a make-or-break television interview with ABC News. With voters and pundits hanging on every word, the president downplayed his debate performance as just a bad at night. He said he was distracted by Trump shouting over his muted mic during the debate, and that he was tired from travel and wasn't feeling well.


BIDEN: I was sick. I was feeling terrible. Matter of fact, the doc is with me, I asked him, they did a COVID test. He was trying to figure out what's wrong. He did a test to see whether or not I had some infection, you know, a virus. I didn't. I just had a really bad cold.


WHITFIELD: And in the interview, the president also dismissed growing concerns about his mental fitness but refused to commit to taking a cognitive test. He also downplayed polls showing him trailing his GOP challenger saying he remains the Democrats' best chance to beat Trump.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS HOST: Mr. President, I've never seen a president with 36 percent approval get reelected.

BIDEN: I don't believe that's my approval rating. That's not what our poll showed.

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 good as 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. With the things that happen in the next several years are going to determine what the next six, seven decades going to look like.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Arlette Saenz joining us now from Delaware where the president is spending the day before hitting the campaign trail tomorrow.

Arlette, what's the mood inside that Biden camp?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, President Biden's campaign has expressed optimism following that interview as aides really view it as a key opportunity to try to ease voters' concerns about his viability in this 2024 race and also his ability to serve into a second term. But the president in this interview was quite defiant, showing no besides that he is backing down from this race even as there is pressure from within his own party for the president to do so.

Now, in this interview with ABC News, the president would not commit to taking a cognitive test even though many of Americans have expressed concerns about the president's age and health, especially in the wake of that debate performance last week. Now, the president in this interview also pushed back on the idea that some top Democrats would want him to leave the race. Take a listen to how he framed it.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And if Chuck Schumer and Hakeem Jeffries, and Nancy Pelosi, come down and say, we're worried that if you say in the race, we're going to lose the House and the Senate, how will you respond?

BIDEN: I'll go into detail with them. I'm speaking to all of them in detail, including Jim Clyburn. Every one of them. They all said I should stay in the race. Stay in the race. No one said -- none of the people said I should leave.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if they do?

BIDEN: It's like, they're not going to do that.


BIDEN: Yes, I'm sure. Look, I mean, if the Lord Almighty came down and said, Joe, get out of the race, I'll get out of the race. The Lord Almighty is not coming down. I mean, these are hypotheticals, George.


SAENZ: Now so far five House Democratic lawmakers have called for President Biden to step aside. The most recent one was Congresswoman Angie Craig of Minnesota who this morning released a statement saying that the president's performance in that debate, as well as a lack of a forceful response from him in the days after have made her concern about whether he could run a campaign and win against Trump in November. And so she called for him to step aside.

Now President Biden this morning convened a call with his national co- chairs. I spoke with one of the participants on that call, Senator Chris Coons, who told me they spoke with President Biden for a little more than an hour and that the president sought honest input and advice about the best path forward for his campaign. Coons said that he anticipates the president will start to hold more direct engagements, potentially town halls or press conferences to try to take his message more directly to voters.

But still many questions about whether President Biden will be able to ease any of the anxiety that's brewing from within his own party. So far there have been no signs that have shown that Democrats are entirely convinced about him continuing in this 2024 race.

WHITFIELD: All right. Arlette Saenz, we'll leave it there. Thank you so much.

CNN senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein is with us now.


Good to see you.


WHITFIELD: So, yes, Representative Clyburn's, you know, analogy after the debate, you know, that Biden has two more swings. Was this interview the second swing? And was it a better hit?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, it was -- I think it was kind of a, you know, it was a ground ball somewhere. Not a hit, not necessarily a strikeout, right. I mean, like basically Biden did well enough that by itself this interview would not prompt a sudden further surge of Democrats calling on him to get out. But there was nothing in that interview that would undo the concerns of the Democrats and the voters who are concerned about what they saw last week.

And conceptually, I'm not even sure there is anything -- there's no series of subsequent performances that can effectively erase that from voters' minds. I mean, once they know that, that possibility is out there, I'm not sure they're going to be reassured by even subsequent strong performances. So you have the party really still in a state of paralysis where I think the dominant view among Democratic professionals is that he can't recover from this sufficiently to beat Donald Trump, but there are still a lot of Democrats who worry that the alternatives might not be able to win, and you don't have the leadership of the party, whether on Capitol Hill or the governors really exerting much leadership at this point in terms of sending a message. So Democrats appear kind of stuck today.

WHITFIELD: Yes, while there have been five members of Congress who have said something, you know, you are speaking about the leadership. I mean recognizable names and there has been a real reticence, you know, among them to express their, you know, worries out loud, you know, along with, you know, these handful of officials while they're asking the president to step aside. He was asked about that and this is how he responded.


STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, I've heard from dozens of your supporters over the last few days and 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 success, as 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 that?

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


WHITFIELD: So, I wonder, Ron, you know, I mean, will that interview or does that interview help some of those, you know, Democrats who were perhaps reticent? Will it inspire them to coalesce more one way or the other, coalesce around him to stay in the race or to leave?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, I think so because, you know, that phrase that George used, go with grace is one that I heard quite a bit on Thursday and Friday from Democrats who believed Joe Biden has been a very good president, who believed that he has, you know, had a lifetime of service to the country and the party, and who thought he was moving kind of inexorably toward the position that most of them hold, which is that he cannot recover from this.

But by digging in so deeply particularly in the interview and in those events on Friday, I think the paradoxical result is that he is going to force some more of those Democrats to say publicly what they are kind of mumbling privately because they are concerned that, you know, he is not fully acknowledging at all the depth of the challenge.

Don't forget, he was the one who wanted the debate. He wanted the debate because he was losing in the race. He was not on a trajectory to win. And if you go one step further and you say, what is the biggest problem that Joe Biden has in '24 compared to 2020, it's that his support has eroded substantially among younger non-white voters. I mean, that is the biggest change between '20 and '24.

And certainly, you know, nothing in that debate is going to diminish those concerns. If anything, it's going to deepen them. We saw on a "New York Times" poll 85 percent of people younger than 45 said they thought he was too old to execute the job effectively and the White House I think ultimately has to give an answer about what is their answer to that if they are going to tamp down these concerns and so far we really you haven't heard much of a strategy for how he would recover from this.

WHITFIELD: Right. But if there, you know, isn't a feeling that there is anyone on the bench, you know, who can beat Trump and then there is this, you know, where people are on the fence, then what's the real goal here with just four months out.


BROWNSTEIN: Well, yes. I mean, I think we have to take that in several pieces. I mean, one of the reasons why Biden did not face more pressure to step aside earlier despite the polls showing his approval rating, as George said down at a level where presidents usually lose and 75 percent of Americans saying they thought he was too old, is that there was a lot of concern in the Democratic Party about whether Harris in particular would be a more effective candidate against Trump.

But at this point, I think for many Democrats the question is sticking with a hand that looks very unlikely to win versus shuffling the deck in an unpredictable way and perhaps getting a burst of energy from the generational change and the gender, you know, kind of breakthrough. I do think that if Biden is ultimately convinced to step aside, I'm not sure any of the other top tier candidates who are talked about would really run against Harris.

There may be a demand side opening for that in the party in the sense of donors and delegates and activists who are open to an alternative. I'm not sure there's a supply side. I'm not sure if someone like Gretchen Whitmer or Gavin Newsom or any of the potential top tier candidates really want to take the risk of running into the first woman of color who had been vice president and the damage that might do to their long-term standing in the party with key constituencies.

If Biden gets aside, it's possible, not guaranteed because are still skeptics that this could coalesce around Harris more quickly and more emphatically than seem possible a few days ago.

WHITFIELD: Interesting. All right. Interesting and still very complicated. All right, Ron Brownstein, thanks so much.


WHITFIELD: Coming up, beachgoers, watch the water. Several shark attacks take place off the coast of Texas and Florida around the holiday. Plus Tropical Storm Beryl, the storm is aiming at Texas and it could grow even stronger.



WHITFIELD: All right, shark bites had beachgoers on edge this week in Texas and Florida. Authorities in Florida say a shark bit two visitors, just 24 hours apart in the waters off Smyrna Beach. Both men were taken to the hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

CNN's Rosa Flores has details on the attacks in Texas -- Rosa.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're learning more about the moments when beachgoers on South Padre Island are afraid of a shark that's lurking in the water and first responders and law enforcement are trying to do their best to save lives. But I want to start with the response by U.S. Border Patrol because according to a CBP official there just happened to be two off-duty officers from an elite unit called BORSTAR, that happened to be on the beach.

They were probably vacationing there at the right place at the right time. And they jumped into action. According to this official, these two agents ran into the water, pulled a victim out of the water, and immediately started rendering aid. But the response was not just by land, it was also by air, according to Texas Department of Public Safety Lieutenant Chris Olivarez. He shared this video with us. Take a look.

He says that this is the shark that was lurking in the water that people were afraid of, that attacked multiple people. How do they know that? Because their response was to try to maneuver that helicopter to keep that shark away from the shore. And so Olivarez says that the helicopter pilot was flying very low trying to keep that shark way until the threat was gone, until the shark swam away to deeper waters.

Now, imagine being those beachgoers. Imagine being a mother and seeing your daughters in the water while the shark is in -- on the beaches of South Padre Island, well, that's exactly what happened. Take a look at these photos. This mother posted photos on social media. The 18-year- old is the gal with the gauze around her leg. This mother said that her two daughters were in the water. They all of a sudden started screaming, running towards her. One of her daughters had blood running down her leg.

She says that the good thing is that both of her daughters are OK, but that it was a very scary and intense moment for this family and for the other beachgoers. Now, according to officials from South Padre Island, they say they're counting their blessings today because there were no fatalities. Back to you in the studio.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thank goodness. Rosa Flores, thank you so much.

All right. Tropical Storm Beryl growing stronger before a second landfall this time likely on the Gulf Coast of Texas. We're following this track of the storm. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


WHITFIELD: Tropical Storm Beryl is now headed towards the south Texas coast. The National Hurricane Center says a hurricane warning will likely be issued for parts of the Texas coast later on this afternoon.

Let's get right to Chad Myers.

So we're seeing coastal Texas issuing these voluntary evacuation orders as well right now.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Right. The voluntary means like, hey, if you're just vacationing here, can you go home? I mean, because we don't want you in the way if we have to rescue people. We don't want more people to rescue because we know there are going to be people that don't want to leave and those are the residents because they don't want to lose their things. That's just how it goes in every hurricane.

But there's going to be some point where it may get to be mandatory for everyone. We'll have to see. Beryl has had a very hard time today. Hurricane hunters have been flying through the storm most of the morning. They're gone now so I'm not expecting a big update at 5:00, but we will see those hurricane warnings eventually posted because it is going to get to be a hurricane. So the good news is, it's, well, in a lot of shear and a lot of dry air, but a lot of that dry air is sitting right over very warm water.

So the potential is there for this to really rapidly accelerate, but then it can accelerate because there's a little bit of, a little bit of breaking going on here because we have a little bit of the shear at the atmosphere. Now, very typical of a storm like this, is that the shear goes down in the overnight hours. A lot like, you know, like it's windy during the day and then you go outside at 9:00 and you go, where did the wind go.

And that's kind of the same thing. Where did the shear go? The shear does go down overnight, so that rapid intensification possibility comes in in the overnight hours. I want you, if you're in this area, I want you to wake up tomorrow at 5:00 a.m. Eastern Time and look to see what happened, see what the hurricanes center is saying, see if it actually did get into that water, see if the shear did go away.


Now, this is probably going to be a category one, possibly a category two hurricane. Is the potential for it to be higher? Yes. Right now that is not the forecast. But a three to five-foot surge and it's a new moon or very close to a new moon so the tides new moon or very close to a new moon. So the tides are already high. So yes, the surface there and the surface is going to be very close to rip current. I don't want you in the water around South Padre anyway. That'll be the first place that actually starts to see these bigger waves. And then as the day goes on tomorrow, these waves are going to head up

to east and all the way up to probably close to Galveston where you'd probably need to be out of the water as well, just because of the waves and the rip currents, and I'm not even talking about sharks, you know. I don't go in the ocean and the sharks don't come on land.

WHITFIELD: Not this time.

MYERS: We have an agreement.

WHITFIELD: That's right. There are other dangerous -- I gotcha. I gotcha. And that's pretty widespread. I mean, those kind of potential dangers along the coast. All right. Not just shark-related. Again, good notation.

All right. Chad Myers, thank you so much.

All right. Here to give us some perspective is Dave Johnson, a former news anchor in the coastal city of Corpus Christi, Texas.

Dave, great to see you. You've been covering and living through hurricanes in South Texas for, what, more than 30 years now? So you know the drill.



JOHNSON: And the whole (INAUDIBLE).

WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness. So what are your thoughts right now?

JOHNSON: It was like I was watching on your prior cast, if you look outside, I know Beryl is 400 miles away, might as well be 4,000 because you can't see or hear anything. Its typical corpus Christi weather today. 92, but he backed over 105, hot, hasn't rained, it's typical weather. That's what you can see, but it's what you can't see that's coming towards you. That kind of has you worried.

WHITFIELD: Exactly, and of course we know the governor has already said there are some voluntary evacuation orders that are being posted. And when the skies look as they do and the beach looks as it does, and we saw in some of those live shots, people kind of feel like, you know, I'm going to stay put. I'm waiting for things to change, but I mean, talk to me about how difficult it will be to mobilize people if it comes to that, if you feel like folks are feel like, you know, feel like they're such pros in enduring hurricanes that they really won't budge unless it's mandatory.

JOHNSON: Well, one thing I found out at least this year is that everybody is a social media meteorologist. Everybody is an expert. And it wasn't that way back in the day. Of course people are taking this seriously. I got up early this morning to go to the local grocery store to hear and see everything. And literally everybody who walked by is talking about Hurricane Beryl. It's not, you know, is it going to come, it's what are you going to do when it gets here, how bad do you think it's going to be, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Well, tune into your local news, tune into CNN, and find out. But stay informed. It's not going to be very good for anybody to just sit there and go, well, it's never really hit her before. We haven't had a direct hit since 1970. Weather is weather and weather does what it wants to do.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Hey, it wasn't that long ago, what, just 2017 when Hurricane Harvey came close to Corpus Christi there. We know it dumped a whole lot of rain. I mean, there was tremendous flooding in so much of South Texas including Harris County. So are people kind of reliving any of those thoughts about whether this storm could bring that kind of storm surge or flooding or, you know, problems?

JOHNSON: Folks are I think overly concerned about looking at that red band right in the middle. And Corpus Christi is not straight smackdab in the middle of it. They think we're in a clear. They don't realize that it's the outer bands. Don't have everything to do with everything. I remember one of my first hurricanes, Hurricane Claudette, back in the day it came and I thought, well, this is it, right? Like, no, no, no. The other side is coming. Hold on. And sure enough, you got hit pretty hard.

So nobody here takes these things for granted. It's just that there's a lot more awareness now. And people are certainly aware. People are asking me all over my neighborhood, should I board up? Should I do this? Should I do this? So, it is good that people are at least taking care of.

Listen, Corpus Christi is a resilient community. We're the home to Selena, we're the home to North Padre Island, we're the home to beaches. We're used to this stuff. We will overcome.

WHITFIELD: Great points. All right. Dave Johnson, thank you so much. And let's hope that everyone does exactly as you say, just stay calm and pay attention to all the details and react accordingly. All right. Appreciate it. Be careful.

JOHNSON: Thank you very much.


WHITFIELD: All right, after watching President Biden's performance in the debate, some voters in the battleground state of Georgia have more questions they say than answers. Hear from them, next.


WHITFIELD: All right. With growing uncertainty about President Biden's future, the spotlight is now on Vice President Kamala Harris. She's in New Orleans where she will make a campaign appearance later on today.

CNN's Eva McKend is there, and has more on what her message might be.

And now you're in the arena in which -- where the vice president will speak. EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: I am, Fred. You know,

when the vice president addresses this crowd today, she will do so under intense scrutiny. And that is because she has emerged as the president's chief defender, but she is rejecting this chatter that she should be at the top of the ticket, really demonstrating both publicly and privately a very disciplined loyalty, saying that she is happy to continue to be President Biden's running mate and then trying to steer the conversation back to what she characterizes as the victories of this administration.


But the reason why Democrats are pushing so hard for her, some of them at least, to be at the top of the ticket, is anything that she can inject some real energy into the base at a time when Democrats sorely need it. So these constituencies include young voters, black voters and female voters. Take a listen to what I'm hearing here at the festival.


MAURICE LUCAS, CALIFORNIA VOTER: Whoever is going to win, to be honest, if that's Kamala, great. If it's someone else, I'd be OK with that as well. But as long as we can defeat the opposition, that's where I need to be.

NYREE CLAYTON-TAYLOR, KENTUCKY VOTER: You know, I'm going to choose whoever they choose, because it's much more, it's not about -- it's much more than Biden. It's much more than Harris. This is about where are we going to be and what the future of America is going to look like? What is the future going to hold? Not just for me because I'm on my way out. But what's the future going to hold for my students.


MCKEND: And Fred, this is what I'm hearing time and time again. People here are very supportive of the vice president but they're supportive of the president as well. And ultimately they just don't want to see the former president re-elected and they tell me they will rally around whoever ultimately Democrats settle on as the person to go up against Trump in November, but Barris' supporters say that she is uniquely suited for this time, that she is an effective messenger for them on key issues like abortion.

She'll address this crowd of mostly black women in just a few hours -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Eva McKend, there at the Essence Fest there in New Orleans where the vice president will speak.

All right. In a deeply divided nation, they are sought after. I'm talking about undecided voters. And in the critical state of Georgia, several of them sat down with CNN's Randi Kaye to talk about last week's debate and reveal if they are any closer to a decision.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) EMILY AMOS, UNDECIDED GEORGIA VOTER: The debate was a mess, it was a mess.

KAY BELIVEAU, GEORGIA VOTER: Less than 10 minutes in, I was thinking, what in the name of presidential debates are were watching. This is just unbelievable.


BELIVEAU: It was horrible.


KAYE (voice-over): When we first met these five voters in Macon, Georgia, last month, they were all undecided. So we came back to see if the CNN debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump changed that.

AMOS: Trump came with his gloves on, and Biden, you know, Biden was still trying to put his own.

BELIVEAU: I was shocked, though, in Biden. He just -- he was so frail and so impossible to understand. It was sad. I couldn't believe that his wife and his supporters, his team allowed him to come out in that condition.

KAYE: Which candidate would you say appeared stronger?

BRITNEY DANIELS, UNDECIDED GEORGIA VOTER: I mean, Trump had the confidence.

AMOS: Absolutely. I mean, Trump.

DANIELS: Of course but --

AMOS: Yes, clearly was the stronger one, you know.

DANIELS: But as far as like his choice of words, they were horrible.

AMOS: Yes, I agree.

DANIELS: And showed for one, racism. And just a lot of -- a lot of hatred.

COOKE: It was the lack of decorum.

DANIELS: Yes, yes.

KAYE: Where did you see racism from Trump?

DANIELS: I mean, the main thing in this look out for me, which was his reference to, you know, the blacks and Hispanic jobs and like --

COOKE: The black jobs, yes.

DANIELS: What do you consider a black job or Hispanic job? Why would you put that cap on something, that label. BELIVEAU: Why not just job?

DANIELS: Yes, just a job.

KAYE: Who do you think was more truthful at the debate?

KAYE HLAVATY, GEORGIA VOTER: That was absolutely Biden.

DANIELS: Biden. I think Biden was more truthful.


BELIVEAU: Well, I had hard time understanding what he was saying, so I couldn't say if Biden was truthful or not.

AMOS: It was over 30 lies that Trump said. And I realized that I think he just continues to spit rhetoric just to keep you discombobulated.

KAYE: After the debate, who do you trust more to run this country?

AMOS: I mean, if I had to choose a person just strictly based off the debate, then of course it would be Biden. Simply because I just-- you know, it was just too much for me.

DANIELS: There was a lot of lack of care for the American people from Trump. I feel like if you're going to be our president again, you have to represent all of us and be inclusive as well. And that was not there.

HLAVATY: But I think as America, we need other countries to look at us and respect us, fear us, and realize that we could step in and make a change or difference and whatever else is happening in the world. And I'm afraid that I can't see with Biden.


BELIVEAU: I know Trump is far from perfect, far from perfect. But I feel like he is stronger than Biden. I just I feel like Biden is too weak.

COOKE: I don't think that Trump has been a great example of leadership in business or in just human decency.

KAYE: Do you all think this was one bad night for Biden or is this beyond repair?

BELIVEAU: Time will tell.

AMOS: I don't think it's beyond repair for Biden.

KAYE: So do any of you think Biden should drop out?

COOKE: I don't think he should drop out because he is just a better human being than any other option that we have.

AMOS: At this point, you know, drop out and replace him with who? And he has momentum going. And if Biden drops out at this point, I think it is just a lose for the entire party.

KAYE: Because last we spoke, you said I am going to watch this debate and I think that's going to help me. Did it help you get any closer to deciding on a candidate?

DANIELS: I mean, it helped me to X out one a bit more.

KAYE: And who would that be?

DANIELS: That will be Trump. I just -- I -- being an African-American woman, I cannot support someone who is not inclusive.

AMOS: I am still just as confused as I was before the debate. Now, I'm --

DANIELS: Still undecided?

AMOS: Completely undecided. I mean, it's no lie. It's literally worse than it was before.

KAYE: You're still looking third party?

AMOS: I'm definitely leaning, you know, yes, more towards a third party, further away from Trump, for sure, further away.

COOKE: I would love to say that I was looking at a third party. I think that the option is a pretty decent option. The problem is I don't want to ever feel like my vote is wasted.

KAYE: Have any of you decided on a candidate? If so, raise your hand.

BELIVEAU: No, for me.

KAYE: Oh, who have you decided on?

BELIVEAU: Well, I am going to vote for Donald Trump and that may not here amongst some be a popular answer, but I just feel that the country would be in better hands with him in spite of his personality. I have to just overlook that, you know.

HLAVATY: I think I've decided and I've decided on Trump. As much as I don't like a lot of the points you all brought up, things he said, but where we surprised and we sort of expect that. But what I didn't expect was the weak showing from Joe Biden and that's what really shocked me.


WHITFIELD: Randi Kaye, thank you so much.

All right. Straight ahead, a reform candidate was just elected Iran's new president. We'll hear why this could have a big impact on Iran's relations with West, including the U.S.



WHITFIELD: All right. New today after two rounds of voting, Iran has elected a new precedent. The snap election was called after the previous hardline president died in a helicopter crash in May.

As CNN's Fred Pleitgen explains, the new leader is a reform politician who could shake up Iran's relations with the U.S. and the West.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Fredricka. Yes, Masoud Pezeshkian is the new president-elect of Iran. It's quite a remarkable election result that we saw there in that second round of voting, in that runoff round because the voter turnout was around 50 percent, which is a lot higher than the first round of voting. Nevertheless, still quite low by Iranian standards.

And normally it is the case that if the turnout is low, that the conservatives usually do really well. But in this case, it was the moderates who are managing to get that victory, and Masoud Pezeshkian actually one by quite a significant amount of the votes. Now, he says that he wants better relations with countries in the region, in the Middle East, but also better relations with countries in the West.

That is something that could be quite difficult to achieve because the Iranian president of course does have substantial power, especially as far as domestic affairs are concerned. But in foreign policy, of course, everything needs to be signed off by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And then you also have Iran's military complex, which is extremely influential in foreign policy. Of course, first and foremost, the IRGC, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. So it's going to be quite an uphill battle for Masoud Pezeshkian if he wants to do some of the things that he's promised during the election campaign.

But one of the things that we have heard from Iranian voters is they want their elected officials to work towards getting better relations, not just with countries in the Middle East, but with countries around the world to try and get some of those sanctions lifted and help Iran to get a better economy -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Fred, thank you so much.

All right. Also new today a Hamas official tells CNN that the organization is ready to reconsider its demand for a permanent ceasefire as part of any peace agreement. That glimmer of hope comes as the U.N. says 80,000 people have been displaced in Gaza since last week. Israel's military ordered evacuations in parts of Gaza City as it once again ramped up ground operations in the area. Two million people, almost the entire population of Gaza, has now been displaced since the war began.

All right. Coming up, Dodger superstar slugger Shohei Ohtani isn't only changing baseball. He's also transforming tourism. That's next.


[15:59:23] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. Live pictures right now of a very lovely South Padre Island, Texas. But it may not be that way for too much longer. All eyes are on the Texas coast this hour as Beryl makes its way across the Gulf. Beryl is currently a tropical storm, but is expected to strengthen to a hurricane again before it makes a U.S. landfall late tomorrow, or maybe even Monday morning.

The National Hurricane Center says a hurricane warning will likely be issued for parts of the Texas coast later on this afternoon. And moments ago, the city of Port Lavaca and Aransas County, Texas, both announcing voluntary evacuations.


All right. Let's talk some sports, shall we? A truly amazing play at last night's game between the Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins. This may go down as the catch of the year. Take a look. It's the eighth inning Joey Loperfido, wait, yes, he catches it, but it came out of his glove. Then you saw he was able to, you know, bare hand it there. He fell to the ground. The umpires thought no way he caught that, and initially called the runner safe, but then upon review, it was overturned and ruled an out after all. The Astros giving up seven runs in the ninth, but still winning with a final of 13-12.

And then onto Los Angeles now. The Showtime Lakers, well, they are legendary in the sports world. Well, now there is a new show time in L.A. Shohei Ohtani's move to the Dodgers is paying off big for the franchise and the city. Right now the superstar slugger leaves the National League with 27 homeruns in his first Dodgers season. But he's also bringing in a new energetic fan base from his native Japan that's having huge impacts off the field.

Here's CNN's Natasha Chen.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's huge energy from Ohtani fans, especially the ones who traveled thousands of miles for a baseball game. Now, anecdotally, yes, Japanese fans did follow him to Anaheim to see him when he played for the Angels, but we're told this is a new level. One major Japanese travel agency told me that they're booking up to 200 good clients in these seats at every Dodgers home game.


CHEN (voice-over): Baseball is America's pastime. But here in one of the country's oldest baseball stadiums, you'll see a celebration of Japanese heritage and hear Japanese language tours four days a week, all because of six-foot-four --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is a superhero.

CHEN: Star hitter and pitcher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are proud of him.

CHEN: New Dodger Shohei Ohtani. NANOHA HAYASHI, FAN FROM NAGOYA, JAPAN: He is a good baseball player

and so cute.

CHEN: After a record-breaking contract with the Dodgers, Ohtani is drawing fans from across the Pacific Ocean in waves.

STAN KASTEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, LOS ANGELES DODGERS: We're expecting a spike, but truly nothing like this.

CHEN: The team has a dozen new Japanese sponsors this year and added six new Japanese-speaking tour guides. Dodger Stadium food now goes beyond the Dodger Dog to the Kurobuta pork sausage dog, sushi, chicken katsu, and Takoyaki, which are round fritters filled with octopus. You can get the original or --

It's got a kick.

CHRISTINE GERRIETS, EXECUTIVE CHEF AT DODGER STADIUM: Salsa and cheese, and guacamole and cheese.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: American taste.

CHEN: The Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board says 80 percent to 90 percent of visitors from Japan come to Dodger Stadium at least once during their trip to LA. And many of them end up here in LA's Little Tokyo to find the mural they've heard about all the way from Japan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The painting is moving he said.

ROBERT VARGAS, ARTIST: They scan the QR code at the base of the mural, point your camera phone and they can see Shohei actually swing and see him pitch, and you hear Vin Scully say --

VIN SCULLY, AMERICAN SPORTSCASTER: It's time for Dodger baseball.

CHEN (voice-over): Artist Robert Vargas says he painted this mural to bring everyone together in the city's crossroads of Asian and Latin American communities.

VARGAS: The city has been hard hit during COVID and I really felt like as a longtime resident of downtown L.A., I wanted to be able to contribute to the AAPI community.

CHEN: Little Tokyo businesses say they have doubled the customers they normally get this time of year. And with the weak Japanese yen, it's a costly trip for travelers from Japan spending U.S. dollars, but they'll find a few local deals.

HIROKO HANATA, FAMILY OWNS "MR. RAMEN": After he hit a homerun, next day, it will be 50 percent off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Shohei hits a home run, we automatically pass out Shohei's shot.

CHEN: You hope this goes on for 10 years.


CHEN: Yes.

(Voice-over): The Miyako Hotel general manager says rooms are fully booked during home games.

Takayo Hizume says her son also played baseball and she feels as if Ohtani is Japan's son.

JUDY CLOW, TOOK FAMILY ON JAPANESE LANGUAGE TOUR: And wait until he starts pitching for us, I'm just like, my gosh.

CHEN: Whether fans are from his home country, second-generation Japanese American, or have no connection to Japan at all, it's a unifying moment.


CHEN: A moment as American as a hot dog on the Fourth of July and a Takoyaki covered in guac.

KASTEN: This is good for everyone. This is good for all of baseball.


CHEN (on-camera): It's not just the fans, it's also Japanese media who have followed Ohtanis here, so much so that the signs for media at the stadium are translated into Japanese.

Now the fans tell me they're also seeing other classic L.A. sites while they're here which is what the tourism board wants to see. Fans tell me they're seeing Santa Monica Beach, they're seeing Hollywood, and now they're experiencing an American Fourth of July.

Natasha Chen, CNN, Los Angeles.

WHITFIELD: Wow, that's a homerun many times over.