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Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) is Interviewed about Biden's Run and Sudan; Family Seeks Upgraded Charges in Chicago Crash; Study on Film Stars who Draw Audiences. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired April 25, 2023 - 08:30   ET





JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I ran for president four years ago, I said we were in a battle for the soul of America. And we still are. The question we're facing is whether in the years ahead we have more freedom or less freedom, more rights or fewer. I know what I want the answer to be, and I think you do to, too.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: There it is, new video announcement from President Biden this morning that he is officially running for a second term. His advisors moving quickly to finalize staffing and operational details for his re-election campaign. Today begins a 19- month effort to convince the public of his accomplishments and his ability to serve well into his 80s.

So, let's bring in not only Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, but also a very close friend and ally of President Biden. He's also a member of the Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committees, so we're going to talk about Sudan in a moment, but good morning.

You're smiling. You're happy. You liked the video. But what about the skeptics? What about the polling over the weekend that shows that 51 percent of Democrats don't think he should run and half of them are worried about how old he is. What do you say to him?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Poppy, great to be on with you. This is a great morning. And I am optimistic about the 2024 election.

President Biden himself often says, don't compare me to the almighty, compare me to the alternative. And I'll just briefly compare him to the alternative. President Trump talked about rebuilding our infrastructure. President Biden has actually gotten it done. Passed a record bill to invest in rebuilding our infrastructure, a bipartisan bill. President Trump talked about cutting prescription drug prices. President Biden has actually gotten it done, signing into law a bill that will reduce prescription drug prices for millions of Americans. Across a dozen different topics, strengthening manufacturing, dealing with gun background checks, strengthening our position in the world, investing in community mental health, things that his predecessor merely talked about, President Biden, working with bipartisan groups in the Congress, has gotten done.

We have the lowest unemployment in 50 years. The private sector has created a record 12 million jobs in his first two years as president. I think when folks look at President Biden and his strong record, compared to the alternative, they will vote for him and the polls show that and show that strongly.

HARLOW: How are you so sure the alternative is former President Trump? We don't even know what Governor Ron DeSantis is going to do.

COONS: That's right, we don't yet know how the Republican primaries will play out. But virtually every poll of the Republican primary electorate shows that president -- former President Trump still has a commanding lead in their primaries and, frankly, President Trump, in the campaign in 2016, showed himself to be a very capable, aggressive, agile, combative primary competitor. So, I'll be very interested to see how Governor DeSantis does in the face of the withering personal attacks that we can expect.

HARLOW: Well -

COONS: Look, I share the lack of enthusiasm of many Americans for a slugfest. I would rather -- I would only get to talk about the accomplishments of the last two years.


But I think we are stronger abroad and safer and stronger at home. And I thought the introductory video featured not just President Biden's beautiful Catholic school penmanship, but the visuals that remind us of how much better off we are two years later.

HARLOW: I noticed the writing as well.

But I remember after the midterms, when you noted - you talked about it, and Biden himself said in March of 2020, talking about carrying the torch forward for the next generation. If it is a Governor DeSantis, who, by the way, wasn't that far behind Trump in the polling over the weekend, right, he was a lot further ahead than other Republicans who are already in this race, does that make it more difficult for this White House and Biden to be up against someone so much younger?

COONS: Well, Governor DeSantis has spent a lot of his time fighting culture wars, focusing on issues that fire up the far-right base of the MAGA Republican Party, but that I'm not sure will succeed in helping him win over skeptical independent suburban voters.

I'll remind you, cases in front of the Supreme Court about access to reproductive services just in the last few weeks will re-engage millions of Americans in the debate about how much individual liberty, how much freedom do they believe they deserve. There is a reason President Biden chose freedom as the theme of his introductory video for the 2024 re-election.

HARLOW: Yes, Kaitlan -

COONS: He has been focused on creating real opportunity for America's middle class and reminding us of the freedoms that are at risk and the importance of fighting to retain our freedoms both home and abroad.

HARLOW: Kaitlan just did a really interesting interview with Governor Asa Hutchinson, who's running for the Republican ticket about abortion and if these positions are strong ones for Republicans to run on. He said yes.

Let's turn - you're on foreign relations. You've been warning about Sudan, writing about this issue for a long, long time. You're very concerned that what we see now could become a full-blown civil war in Sudan.

I re-read this op-ed you wrote, Senator, last year on foreign policy. And at that time you said, sanctions on the coup leaders and their networks will disrupt the military's revenue streams and their grip on power, creating an opening for the nation's nascent democracy to grow.

Just yesterday on this show we asked John Kirby at the White House about sanctions, and he said we have a lot of tools at our disposal we're working our way through right now. Should the Biden administration act now, put sanctions in place now?

COONS: Well, Poppy, I think this is one of the different tools that we should be presenting to the competing military leaders of Sudan, both General Burhan and General Hemeti, who are currently tearing their country apart in a brutal and unjustified civil war. We have offered in the past sustained both development assistance and humanitarian assistance. Obviously, the other side of our toolkit is these targeted sanctions. I hope that the current ceasefire will hold and that along with our development partners, our security partners, other countries from Europe and the region, we will be able to finish evacuating those who want to leave the country.

But, frankly, more importantly, it's my hope that the determined work of our diplomats and some regional leaders will produce an enduring ceasefire and then allow a negotiated renewal of the movement towards a civilian government. If that doesn't happen, yes, I think sanctions are appropriate.

HARLOW: You do think sanctions -- in the near term?

COONS: In the near term.


COONS: Because, frankly, they're squandering their chance at peace.


COONS: And this is a country that deserves, because of so of much civilian, civic leadership towards development and democracy, they deserve peace.

HARLOW: Yes. Thirty years of a brutal dictatorship. They were on the state sponsor of terrorism list.

Just, before you go, to your point about evacuations, because we do have this new reporting from our colleague Sam Kiley in Djibouti that the U.S. is considering a plan to send U.S. troops to Port Sudan to help evacuate U.S. citizens. This has been a complaint of many U.S. citizens there, some who are dual nationals, some who are not, including one whose sister-in-law we heard from on the program yesterday. This woman is a teacher in Sudan. She's stuck there with her 18-month-old baby.

So, my question is you is, do you think the U.S. should do that, should send troops in to the Port of Sudan and help those people get out?

COONS: Well, let's be clear, what you were describing was to Port Sudan, which is on the Red Sea, which is a long way from the active fighting in Khartoum.


COONS: If we can safely facilitate the evacuation of civilian U.S. dual nationals we should. But a large-scale military operation out of the center of Khartoum in the airport there, my assessment is that that's not safe at this moment.

HARLOW: OK. We'll keep following because we also know two U.S. warships are being deployed towards the Port of Sudan right now.

Senator Coons, I really appreciate you coming on CNN THIS MORNING. Thank you. Thank you.

COONS: Thank you.

COLLINS: Thanks.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, notable comments there, especially as the U.S. embassy in Khartoum is still saying that the evacuation of private citizens is not safe at this moment.


We'll continue to follow that.

Also, here in the United States, North Dakota has just passed a near total ban on abortion. It has no exception for rape. No exception for incest. The response that we're seeing nationally to that ahead.

Plus, a horrific car crash in Chicago after two teenagers allegedly stole a car that led to the death of a baby. There is growing outrage this morning over the charges they're facing and whether or not it's enough. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: All right, here are "5 Things" to start your day this morning.

President Biden, number one, officially announcing he is running for re-election. That means we could see a Biden/Trump rematch in 2024.

HARLOW: Also, in Georgia, the Fulton County district attorney says she will announce charging decisions involving former President Trump this summer.


For the last two years, Fani Willis has led a criminal investigation into alleged meddling in Georgia's 2020 election results. We'll see if there is an indictment of the former president.

COLLINS: Also, in North Dakota, the governor there signing a law banning most abortions in the state. Exceptions include saving the life or the health of the mother, but rape, incest victims could only get the procedure if the pregnancy is detected in the first six weeks.

HARLOW: Also, as we just talked about, CNN is learning the United States is considering sending troops to Sudan to help evacuate Americans who are still stranded in that war-torn country.

COLLINS: All right, and from title town to big apple. The New York Jets have now acquired quarterback Aaron Rodgers from the Packers in a blockbuster deal. He won't be wearing number 12 despite Joe Namath's blessing, but likely number eight, which is what he wore in college. Welcome to New York's newest resident.

HARLOW: There you go.

COLLINS: Of course, for more on these stories all day they'll be here on CNN, also And don't forget to download the "5 Things" podcast every single morning.

HARLOW: A Chicago family wants to see charges upgraded against two teenagers following a car crash that killed their baby. That is six- month-old Cristian Uvidia who died when a stolen car crashed into the truck that his mother was driving with him inside. Police say a 14- year-old boy and a 17-year-old stole the car involved in the crash. They each face one misdemeanor count of criminal trespassing.

Adrienne Broaddus has the details.


ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A six-month-old baby was killed in a car crash in Chicago after a stolen vehicle crashed into his family's pickup truck. The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office identified the six-month-old as Cristian Uvidia. According to CNN affiliate WLS, Shawn Walker witnessed the crash and ran to help, performing CPR on the baby. SHAWN WALKER, WITNESSED CRASH, PERFORMED CPR ON BABY: I just wanted to

try to do what I can to help the situation out and to help the mom.

BROADDUS: Last week, police say two teens, ages 17 and 14, stole a car and took it reportedly for a joyride, according to affiliate WBBM. This surveillance video shows the speed the stolen car was driving at right before it hit the Uvidia family's pickup truck. The family's truck then crashed into a tree. One adult and two other children were injured in the crash. The baby's family says they are heartbroken and now planning his funeral.

ANNELISSE RIVERA, AUNT OF SIX-MONTH-OLD BABY KILLED IN CRASH: The funeral director, he suggested that we put balloons, because those would be the only balloons that he'll ever receive.

BROADDUS: Police say the investigation remains ongoing, but the two offender have been charged with one misdemeanor count of criminal trespass to a vehicle.

ANDREW HOLMES, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST AND VICTIM ADVOCATE: The charges does not fit the crime. My message is to the state's attorney, to anybody else that has hands on this case. What are you looking at? What are you feeling? How about first-degree murder? How about reckless homicide?

BROADDUS: The family and community activists are calling on the state's attorney general's office to upgrade them to a more severe charge.

RIVERA: It's like reliving the day all over again. And it just - it sends a message of -- to us at least, truthfully, his life meant nothing.


BROADDUS: And we have reached out to the state's attorney. Still waiting to hear back at this hour.

Meanwhile, as you heard in that story, this family is devastated. They have received an overflow of support from people in the community on a GoFundMe page that was created. A spokesperson with the family says money from that GoFundMe will help with medical expenses because not only did the baby die, the child's mother and sisters were injured, too.

Poppy and Kaitlan.

HARLOW: Completely Heartbreaking. Heart-wrenching story. Adrienne, please keep us posted, OK?

COLLINS: Also this morning, what began as a way to cope with her father's illness actually led a teenager to helping thousands of children nationwide in the end through reading. It's a really remarkable story. You'll want to hear it, ahead.

HARLOW: Plus, the older the star, the brighter it shines. We'll take a look at the lasting star power of Hollywood's legends and why audiences still can't get enough.


HARRISON FORD, ACTOR: I've been looking for this all of my life.




COLLINS: Tom Cruise, as you can see him there, still playing "Miss Impossible's" Ethan Hunt, even decades later. A new survey actually shows that legendary actors, like Tom Cruise and other Hollywood heavyweights, still drawing the audiences to the movie theater even after all these years.

CNN's Harry Enten has been tracking this, is here with this morning's number.

Harry, you know, what about the new stars? I mean what do -- do they attract the same kind of audience or is it only these guys?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: So, this morning's number is one, because of the top 20 movie theater draws, just one actor under the age of 40, Chris Hemsworth, that good looking guy right over there. And if we look at who the top drawers are, look at this, Tom Cruise is 60, The Rock is 50, Tom Hanks is 66. You've got to go way down to get Hemsworth, all the way down at 20.

And what's so interesting to me about this is, if we look who went to the movies in the last year, an average over the last two years, those age 18 to 34, 70 percent of them went to at least one movie, while all adults, just 49 percent. So the fact that it's a lot of these younger audiences who are actually liking these older stars.

COLLINS: And when it comes to older Americans dominating the field, so is that surprising given, you know, what we see in the labor force at large? Are they at all connected?

ENTEN: Yes, I do think it is. You know, if we look at the median age of the labor force, look at this, in 1980 it was 35, in 2000 it was 39, in 2021 it was 42. And, you know, we've been talking a lot about Joe Biden announcing his presidential bid this morning. Look, on Inauguration Day 2025, Joe Biden will be 82, Donald Trump would be 78. Both would be the oldest at inauguration. So the fact is, we're seeing it all over the place. Even Aaron Rodgers, right?

COLLINS: Yes, we're talking about everyone's age here.


It's a, you know, (INAUDIBLE).

HARLOW: You guys, Aaron Rodgers is 40.

ENTEN: For football that's like 120.

COLLINS: In football years.

HARLOW: Yours truly here. I've got a few more days at 40. That's all I got left.

Thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

COLLINS: Yes, and you're going to get acquired by the Jets as well.

HARLOW: That would be nice. But then I'd have to leave you.

We'll be right back.

COLLINS: NO, I'll come to your games.

All right, Harry Enten, thank you. We'll be right back.


HARLOW: For this "Morning Moment," turning a page on cancer. After 19- year-old Emily Bhatnagar's father was diagnosed with stage four thyroid cancer, she began a non-profit book drive called For Love and Buttercup to put books into the hands of pediatric cancer patients.


And since 2019, Emily has donated about 15,000 books to local pediatric hospitals. Her father, good news, cancer-free now, but that has not slowed down Emily's mission. You can find the link to the Amazon wish list on her Instagram account, For Love and Buttercup. Good for, Emily.

COLLINS: Wow, 15,000 books. That's amazing.

HARLOW: Right. Right. Great inspiration.

COLLINS: Yes, lovely news to end your morning on.

All right, CNN NEWS CENTRAL starts right now.