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Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) Is Interviewed About Biden Goes On Full Offensive: "I Am Not Going Anywhere"; Two Million Plus Lose Power As Beryl Crashes Into Texas; French Left-Wing Alliance Defeats Far- Right In Shock Result. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 08, 2024 - 11:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We begin this hour with Joe Biden's reelection campaign, launching a Monday morning full court press to try to counteract a rocky holiday weekend where more members of his own party called him to drop out of the race. Since sunrise, we've learned the campaign has sent a letter to House Democrats scheduled a private call with donors. And the President called into a morning show just in the last hour or so to forcefully reiterate that he isn't going anywhere.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The bottom line here is that we're not going anywhere. I am not going anywhere. I wouldn't be running if I didn't absolutely believe that I am the best candidate to beat Donald Trump in 2024.


BLITZER: Still more Democrats are leaving him. Sources now tell CNN that six ranking members in the House now say President Biden should drop his reelection bid and five House Democrats are publicly calling for President Biden to withdraw. There is deep concern within the party that President Biden could cost tight races in November and possibly even keep Democrats from taking control of the House of Representatives. Let's get right to our senior White House correspondent Kayla Tausche. Kayla, what is the President doing to shore up support right now among Democratic lawmakers?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there is broad outreach from President Biden this week, I'm told by a campaign official on the back of his outreach to more than 20 House Democrats last week, to assure them that he's listening to their concerns, but also to reassure him -- reassure them that he is fit for office and he's committed to this race.

Now, over the weekend, you heard that several House Democrats senior Democrats had shared the view that they believe that President Biden should step aside. And in response to that, President Biden launching an offensive saying he's not going anywhere and issuing a letter to all House Democrats saying that the voters have already spoken and they have made him the presumptive nominee by a wide margin, urging them to put an end to those questions and to focus on the one job at hand and that is beating Donald Trump in the election.

Now, President Biden is trying to tamp down intra-party criticism and frustration just before he has to step onto the world stage and present a unifying front where NATO leaders are gathering in Washington for the 75th anniversary of this summit. His predecessor, Donald Trump, has suggested that he could withdraw or limit resources to NATO if he were reelected, which is something that President Biden has tried to reiterate time and time again.

And just this morning, on an interview with "Morning Joe," unscheduled, unprompted, the president phoning into that show one of his longtime favorites. He said that that is just one of the many things that Trump would do. That's dangerous. Here's Biden his own words.


BIDEN: Look at his performance in debate. He lied over, you know, Trump has 50 lies. I mean, look, this is a guy who says 10 percent of university, yes, I want to get it. He's just a liar. And he hadn't done a damn thing since the debate. He's been riding around the golf cart for 10 days. He's down at Mar-a-Lago talking with his wealthy friends.

I'm not running because of these guys, though. I'm running because he knew me well enough to notice from the very beginning, I ran because I never bought on and it's trickle down economic theory, I never bought into the notion that we have to walk away from the rest of the world and cave to Putin or anybody else. I've never believed any of that. And I'm confident that's where the American people are.


TAUSCHE: But it wasn't just Trump that Biden was criticizing in that interview, he had choice words for the party's elite, the pundit class, as well as donors saying that he doesn't care what they think, he cares what voters think. But his campaign does care what they think Jen O'Malley Dillon, who's one of the campaign co-chairs is convening a call with top donors on the National Finance Committee just next hour, Wolf.

And certainly, there are going to be a lot of questions from those considering pledging more money to Biden's cause whether they'll continue to do so. Wolf?

BLITZER: Kayla Tausche over at the White House for us, thank you very much, Kayla.

Meanwhile, former President Trump returns to the campaign trail this week, a week where he was slated to be sentenced first conviction in the New York hush money case but the judge as you know press pause just last week on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's immunity decision. CNN national correspondent Kristen Holmes is joining us now live from Miami. Kristen, the former president slated to hold a rally there, I'm told, will this be the week that Trump announces his vice presidential pick?


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's likely to be because they've given themselves a deadline of next Monday, which is the start of the convention in Milwaukee. So we are likely to see some movement on that front.

But I will note that at least one source has told me that it could be as late as Monday meaning they would make that vice presidential announcement at the convention before that official nominating process began. But when they start this two week critical period, they are in a place that, one, they are not used to and one they didn't think that they would be in which is out of the spotlight.

Now sources that are close to the former president, tell me that because Biden is mainstream, because he is really controlling the media cycle right now. It's not going to affect any decisions that Trump makes in terms of announcing a vice presidential pick. But knowing Donald Trump and knowing the fact that he watches all of this very carefully that he likes to be in control of the media narrative that he likes to be the center of attention, it seems unlikely that he would choose a day in which we're going to see President Joe Biden quite a bit.

Now the Trump team and Trump campaign is in the same position really the rest of America and all of us are in which is kind of a holding pattern when it comes to the campaign and moving forward. They are waiting to see how this all plays out. And while they have been happy to sort of watch these Democrats in disarray, this spiraling that we have seen for the last several weeks post-debate, they also are eager to regain control to try and get back into the spotlight particularly as they are heading into once again, a very critical two-week span where he is going to name his vice presidential candidate and go into that convention in Milwaukee next week.

BLITZER: Kristen is the event that the former president is going to have is that his country club down in Miami, the Doral Country Club is that right?

HOLMES: Yes, it's just about a block away from we are. It's the Doral Resort. We are being told it's a rally. We actually are in bed was covering all the vice presidential or potential vice presidential picks. Kit Maher has just reported that Marco Rubio will be at the event in Miami, obviously, Miami being his hometown. But we did speak to a number of sources who said not to read into the fact that he was doing a rally in this critical week in Miami that it did not mean that Senator Marco Rubio was the vice presidential pick.

But obviously, there is a lot of speculation circulating as we have reported. There are three names that have been continued to be batted around by the former president, by his allies. One of them is Senator Marco Rubio, the other one senator J.D. Vance, and the other one North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum. But when you talk to the people, even those who are closest to Donald Trump, they say they still don't know who it's going to be.

In fact, one source told me they're likely to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars the night before the actual announcement, printing out posters that say Trump and whoever it is because they just don't know until Donald Trump says who it is.

BLITZER: All right, Kristen Holmes in Miami for us. Kristen, thank you very much.

I'm joined now by Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman of California. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us here in the CNN Newsroom.

REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D-CA): Good to be with you.

BLITZER: So should he stay or should he go?

SHERMAN: We need more information. I think Biden has been an outstanding President, I hope very much that he's our candidate. But we need to see him in an extended interview or an extended press conference, because he's going to face that test in the September debates --

BLITZER: He's going to have a full scale press conference on Thursday after this NATO Summit here in Washington. He did an extended interview on MSNBC on "Morning Joe" this morning, a phone interview. What's wrong with that?

SHERMAN: Well, I'd like to see 90 minutes or close to 90 minutes with follow up questions and tough questions and not from the international press that will be focused on just one issue, but focused on all the issues that Americans are concerned, something relatively close to the debate that he's going to have on September 10th.

BLITZER: What's your big concern, Congressman, about the President?

SHERMAN: My big concern is he had a bad debate. Now contrast that with Trump, he's led a bad life. But my big concern is he could have another bad debate. And we will slip further in the polls. But I think that he'll rise to the occasion. He's given himself some additional tests. I'd like to see him take as tough a test as he can. So the delegates can make the right decision.

BLITZER: He did this phone interview on "Morning Joe" this morning, as you know, and he explained why he's still in the race. Listen to this excerpt.


BIDEN: The American public is not going to move away from me as an average voter. And again, I'm here for two reasons, Powell. One, to rebuild the economy for hardworking middle class, people give everybody a shot. Just a straight shot. Everybody gets a fair chance, number one. Number two, I've always talked about how I don't have the black support. Come on give me a break. Come with me. Watch. Watch.



BLITZER: So do interviews like these, this is a phone interview he did on "MSNBC" on "Morning Joe," do they give you a greater confidence in his capability?

SHERMAN: They are important steps forward. But the tougher test he can give himself, the more confidence we can have. Ultimately, the delegates need to make the decision. And these are pro-Biden delegates, these are grassroots people pledged to Biden, they're not going to abandon him if it's even close. And I think that if the convention was meeting today, we'd be nominating Joe Biden.

BLITZER: And you would support that?

SHERMAN: I would very much -- I'm very glad that we have a month to get more information. But if I had to make a decision right now, I that's a decision I make. But I really want. I want to test him.

BLITZER: But Congressman, is it too late right now for the Democrats to make a change in their leader going into the convention and a general election?

SHERMAN: Well, if you've been in this for a long time, it used to be that you wait to the convention to see who's going to be nominated. You often have it very close at the convention. Sometimes you go into multiple ballots if you go back in our history. So the idea of the -- of a party picking its candidate at a convention is not new. It's probably the more common way we've done things over history. We've got a good bench. We've got a president who has done an outstanding job for three years. The voters voted for the President they saw for the first three years. We'd have to assure ourselves that it's different from the President we saw for those 90 minutes in the debate.

BLITZER: This divide that's developing among your fellow Democrats right now, whether he should drop out of the race or stay into the race, is there going to have an effect in weakening the whole party going into November?

SHERMAN: I don't think so. We're all absolutely committed to beat Trump. And I think the middle point is, is the one I'm expressing here, that we want more information to make the decision. We're rooting for Joe Biden. And the closer the test is to what he'll face on September 10th, the more confident we can be.

BLITZER: I know you got to run. But what was your biggest concern what you saw at the debate with Trump?

SHERMAN: I can't pick one particular moment. But my biggest concern is that Trump will pick several moments and that'll be his campaign commercial.

BLITZER: But Trump is very vulnerable. He's a convicted felon, as you know, he's not necessarily all that popular right now. But you're worried that Biden can't be Trump? Is that what you're saying?

SHERMAN: Wolf, if it was up to me, you know, Biden would be head by 30 points. This has been a close race for a year. It's going to be a close race on Election Day. And we need to put forward a strong candidate who can win. And, yes, sometimes I have a hard time figuring out why this race is even close. Because Trump is not consistent with American democracy. But I have to look at reality. The reality is, Trump is a strong candidate for his party, and we've got to beat him.

BLITZER: Congressman Brad Sherman of California, thanks very much for coming in.

SHERMAN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Appreciate it very, very much.

Much more to come on all the calls for the President of the United States to step out of the 2024 race. But there's plenty of other very important news that's unfolding right now. We're getting these new pictures in from Texas. Take a look at this. This Tropical Storm warnings continuing Beryl is lashing parts of Houston right now. Millions and millions of people losing power and under threat of devastating storm surge and flooding.


And political gridlock in Europe, voters in France made a surprising turn to the left. But there isn't an outright majority. We're going to go live to Paris. That's coming up. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Also this morning, we're following major breaking news in Texas. Tropical Storm Beryl is putting 7 million people at risk with heavy rain, winds and potential flash flooding. Beryl made landfall as a category one hurricane earlier this morning about 100 miles southwest of Houston. Texas law enforcement says at least one person has died after a tree fell out of house.

Fallen trees have also contributed to widespread power outages. More than 2 million customers in the state have already lost electricity, most of them in the Houston area. Let's go to CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam. He's joining us from Port Lavaca, Texas, right now that just west of where Beryl crashed ashore. What are you seeing over there Derek?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Wolf. Tropical Storm Beryl is barreling through southeastern Texas as we speak. Now here in Port Lavaca in the central coast of Texas, the storm has largely passed. But the same cannot be said to my northeast in the city of Houston, where they're getting absolutely rocked by powerful winds, very heavy rain leading to flash flooding. And some of the first hurricane force winds from a tropical -- named tropical storm since 2008, Hurricane Ike. That's really putting this into context.

Right now, Houston reporting sustained winds of 45 miles per hour gusting to 75 miles per hour. Remember a category one starts at 74. So they are officially in that range in terms of their gusts. This is causing widespread power outages and also toppling trees and power lines as well. We have quite a distinctive eye moving through Houston as we speak. The satellite radar go -- gives you that example. Remember, the eye wall is right along that periphery, that edge, is where we get the strongest winds. And as that continues to move over the city of Houston, we have another hour of these powerful tropical storm forced hurricane force wind gusts that are taking down our power.


In fact, we're one of the 2 million plus customers without power here in Port Lavaca. With wind gusts in excess of 80 miles per hour, it's no wonder that the number of people impacted by power outages is so high. One thing to note is that now that we're recovering after the storm passes, there will not be the ability to cool yourself with air conditioning with so many people without power. And we have an incoming heat wave for the greater Houston area with heat indices over the next coming days, reaching the upper 90s to near triple digit heat so that's something to consider going forward. Have a plan. Make sure your family has a plan to deal with the heat without the potential for cooling yourself down.

We still have a flash flood warning in and around Harris County. That is because of the excessive rain that has already fallen many locations reporting over a half a foot. And there is still additional rain to come as the system quickly exits the region. Tornado threat, new tornado watches up through portions of Louisiana, Arkansas right through 10:00 p.m. this evening, as the storm starts to move through the mid-Mississippi Valley. Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right. Stay safe over there. Derek Van Dam on the scene for us in Port Lavaca, Texas.

Also on our radar right now, very dangerous heat melting records across the west. Just take a look at some of today's expected highs. Look at this. Palm Springs, California 118, Phoenix 116, Las Vegas 115, Portland, Oregon 101, Seattle down to 92. This week, almost 40 million people across the country are expected to experience temperatures 100 degrees or above.

President Biden meanwhile, is struggling with a domestic crisis over his leadership. And its leadership is about to step into the global spotlight. He's getting ready to host a NATO Summit, a historic NATO Summit right here in Washington, D.C.

And a stunning election result in France. The expected big gains by the far right evaporated as voters embrace the left. Stay with us. You're in the CNN Newsroom.



BLITZER: So news, major news developing this hour. We're tracking fallout from a shock election result in France, a left-wing alliances holding off an expected surge by the far right in France. But without a clear majority for any one party, France potentially could be seeing political gridlock, and it could have broader implications for Ukraine and for the United States. President Emmanuel Macron called the snap election after the far right made major gains in a wider European parliamentary vote just a few weeks ago. CNN's Melissa Bell is joining us now live from Paris. Melissa, so what can we expect to happen in the coming days? Set the scene for us.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the truth is, Wolf, nobody at this stage has the faintest idea. There's celebrations that we saw across Paris that news that an unlikely Alliance had been. There was only created a month ago or just under a month ago in order to stop the far right had succeeded in its mission, those celebrations you've given away this morning, something of a hangover here, the French National Assembly, the fact is the country wakes up without not only an absolute majority but without the slightest idea of how this left- wing Alliance which cobbles together many different forms of the French left from the far left and more moderates to ecologist, how they're going to agree on who they might suggest as the candidate who would become the next prime minister.

So for the time being, what we've had is Gabriel Attal, the current Prime Minister trying to resign the French president convincing him to stay on in a caretaker role, no doubt, considering what that sign on the French National Assembly will remind you of that it's just 18 days until the start of the Paris Olympics, a grand opening ceremony that will be presided over not just by the French president, but that with a prime minister. We don't know his name yet.

And of course, all the possibility there is that if he tries to keep his current prime minister in office, and the winning left-wing Alliance feel that they're not being given the opportunity to name or to don't have the possibility of agreeing on a candidate for prime minister, the protests that might follow. Wolf, what this election has done, it was meant to give the voice to the people because the government had heard loud and clear how popular the far right will were doing.

People have come together tactical voting parties to stop them getting to power. But the fact is that Emmanuel Macron is now going to function with a far more divided fractious Parliament than the one that he dissolved just a few weeks ago. So unchartered territory here in France. And I think the difficult negotiations happening behind the scenes, just between the left to agree on a candidate are likely to take some more time, Wolf.

BLITZER: Melissa Bell in Paris for us, thanks for that update.

As President Biden's domestic challenges here in the United States grow, he's returning to the world stage this week, right here in Washington when he hosts the NATO Summit. CNN national security correspondent Kylie Atwood is over at the State Department for us. Kylie, truly a critical moment in a critical week for the President. He's got a very busy schedule during this week's NATO Summit. Walk us through what we can expect. KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, listen, Wolf. We expect that world leaders are going to arrive here in Washington throughout the day tomorrow with opening ceremony tomorrow night. President Zelenskyy of Ukraine is going to be delivering remarks tomorrow night. Of course a critical thing to watch is what the Alliance announces in terms of additional support for Ukraine.


We have seen continued support.