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CNN This Morning

Biden Delivers Fiery Address To Congress, The Nation; Biden Directs Military To Establish Aid Port In Gaza; Storms Bring Flood Threat to Deep South. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired March 08, 2024 - 05:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: It's Friday, March 8th.

Right now on CNN THIS MORNING:


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When America gets knocked down, we get back up.


HUNT: President Biden, rising to the occasion, delivering a fiery State of the Union Address. Did he do what it needed to do to convince voters that he's fit for a second term?

And --


SEN. KATIE BRITT (R-AL): President Biden just doesn't get it.


HUNT: Republicans responding to the State of the Union Address, painting a dark picture of America under the leadership of President Biden.

And the clock is ticking on TikTok. A bill that could lead to the app being effectively banned in the U.S. is gaining traction in the House after a move by TikTok, we'll tell you about.


HUNT: It is 05:00 a.m. here in Washington. A live look at the White House, the Washington Monument behind. Clearly, they're still sleeping it off after last night.

Good morning to all of you. I'm Kasie Hunt.

It's wonderful to have you with us. President Biden was fiery and focused on fighting Donald Trump. Last

night, one of the most political State of the Union Addresses we've heard in recent memory. His performance sharpened by the incredibly high stakes of a historically pivotal election year. Adding to the energy, the president's frequent freewheeling exchanges with Republicans on the floor


BIDEN: Republicans can cut Social Security and give more tax breaks to the wealthy. I -- that's the proposal. Oh, no, you guys don't want another $2 trillion tax cut?

Oh, you don't like that bill, huh? That conservatives got together and said was a good bill? I'll be darned. That's amazing


HUNT: Biden's approach was a clear response to widespread concern as voters tell us in polls that he is too old for another term. He also tried to parry that with a couple of self-deprecating jokes.


BIDEN: I know you don't want to hear anymore, Lindsey, but I got say a few more things. I know it may not look like it, but I've been around awhile.

When you get to be my age, certain things become clearer than ever.


HUNT: Now, the president was clearly focused on Donald Trump, but he never said his name. He warned that his opponent poses a serious threat to democracy.


BIDEN: Now, my predecessor, a former Republican president, tells Putin, quote, do whatever the hell you want. My predecessor on some of you here, seek to bury the truth about January 6. Many of you in this chamber, and my predecessor, are promising to pass a national ban on reproductive freedom.


HUNT: All right. Let's bring in "Axios" political reporter Stef Kight to kick us off.

Stef, good morning. Thank you so much for being here.


HUNT: Let's talk a little bit about how this speech was received, because I got to tell you, the Democrats I talked to were absolutely a static with how it went. They said to me, this is exactly what the base needed to hear.

Republicans -- I have to say their initial reaction was like, okay, we're not getting the guy that we thought would play into all the things we've said about President Biden. But they also by the end were criticizing how divisive they said the speech was. What were your takeaways and what's your latest reporting?

KIGHT: I mean, we've been hearing similar things. Democrats really felt that but this was a strong performance from Biden and it was in a moment that Biden needed a strong performance. They wanted to see Biden feisty. They wanted to see him ready to fight. They wanted to see him energetic and we got all of those things.

Last night, we saw a repeat from last year where he kind of engaged with hecklers throughout the evening and that was really something Democrats wanted to see. This was a speech that really was geared toward motivating the Democratic base, reminding people that Biden is the best option for them as we move towards November and drawing that comparison with Trump. Of course, Republicans are always going to find something, something to criticize. But the fact that they really have focused on the divisiveness of the speech is interesting that that was really all they had to go on.

HUNT: It is pretty interesting. What do you think Biden did last night to appeal, if anything, to the independent voters that he's going to need to win the election, people who've been voting for Nikki Haley?

KIGHT: You know, one issue that I thought was really important for Biden to address was immigration. We've seen time and time again that that is one of his worst issues in the polls.


That's an issue that more and more Americans are hearing about. We see so many polls indicate that Americans view immigration as one of their top two priorities going into November. It's an issue Biden has not wanted to talk about for years now. He's not wanting to address the border and we saw him actually go on offense here.

Can I pause you for second on that actually, because one of the interesting moment last night was, of course, Marjorie Taylor Greene put on a Make America Great Again, hat and handed Biden a button, which he took and which suddenly became an impromptu moment in the speech that we can show you. Watch what President Biden had to say last night about Laken Riley?


BIDEN: Laken Riley, an innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal. That's right. But how many thousands of people being killed by illegals?

To her parents, I say my heart goes out to you. Having lost children myself, I understand.


HUNT: A pretty stunning moment, especially the fact that he used the word illegal, which most Democrats don't use anymore.

KIGHT: It's true, and that phrase, an illegal, is certainly something that's upset some Democrats. I heard from one Democratic lawmaker who said, you know, that's not the term that I prefer to use that sure, maybe it's in U.S. code, that term that's not what they prefer to use. There has been blowback to that phrase.

But his willingness to engage with Marjorie Taylor Greene, in some sense, Green actually handed him one of his most iconic moments of the night. It's something we're talking about now and people will be talking about moving forward.

And again on this issue that has been so tricky for Democrats to navigate and to see the president not shy away from the issue of immigration and the border, not just let former President Trump take that issue as his marquee issue, but a see him actually go on offense and punt this back to Congress and say, look, we came up with a bipartisan border deal. Where are you on this?

HUNT: Yeah. I'm going to show you a little bit of how Republican Senator Mitt Romney reacted to the speech we heard Biden called him a man of integrity as he was on his way down to the dais. Watch Romney.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I think the State of the Union Address has become more and more political and other chance going out of the chamber. The president obviously making a very strong political pitch. And I -- you know, would rather go back to having a actual address at a -- talk about the State of the Union, but he passed the first test, which is he showed and getting up there and speak a lot of energy, and I'm sure he feels good about it.


HUNT: Really interesting to hear an outgoing Republican senator say, well, he passed the first test, you know, he showed up, he didn't screw it up. A little bit of light criticism for him. What do you make of that?

KIGHT: I mean, I think his comments about the political nature of the speech is interesting and very in line with Romney's whole, whole thing, recently. And it's right. I mean, it was certainly a political speech to count the number of times that Biden reference his predecessor, I think it was more than a dozen times throughout the speech, he was clearly drawing lines between himself and the former president. He quoted Trump on multiple occasions.

You know, this was certainly -- this was a speech that was all about 2024 November election. And he even referenced specifically the 2024 November election in the context of reproductive rights. So there's certainly a political undertone here. And -- but Romney had a good point. This was all about showing that

Biden is fit for office, that he has energy to push back on some of those concerns around age and he did that.

HUNT: Right. Bar cleared.

All right. Stef Kight of "Axios" -- Stef, thanks so much. Great to have you here in person.

KIGHT: Thanks for having me.

HUNT: I really appreciate it.

All right. Up next, a U.S. Army sergeant charged with selling classified military information to China.

Plus, President Biden's plan to bring desperately needed relief to civilians in Gaza.

And Congresswoman Debbie Dingell joins us for a live post-mortem on the president's address and so much more.




BIDEN: You know, as you manage challenges at home, we're also managing crisis abroad, including the Middle East. This crisis began on October 7, with the massacre by terrorists group called Hamas, as you all know, Israel has a right to go after Hamas. Israel also as a fundamental responsibility though to protect innocent civilians in Gaza.


HUNT: The war in Gaza played a pivotal role in the president's State of the Union Address last night.

He announced the U.S. military will begin establishing an aide port in Gaza that could receive large shipments of critically needed food and medical supplies. And in some of his most forceful remarks about the humanitarian crisis since the war began, Biden sent a message to Jerusalem


BIDEN: To the leadership of Israel, I say this, humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration. More bargaining chip protecting and saving innocent lives has to be priority. As we look to the future, the only real solution to the situation is a two-state solution over time.


HUNT: CNN international anchor Max Foster joins me now, live from London.

Max, good morning.

Honestly, I'm really interested in your big picture takeaways before we talk specifically about this Gaza port. I mean, how did you see by the State of the Union Address from your vantage point, how is this going to be received overseas? I felt it was really interesting that the very first thing the President Biden talked about was that freedom was at stake at home and abroad. And that his predecessor, as he kept referring to him, was going to threaten NATO. They sat the Swedish prime minister in the first lady's box. Clearly, that was a very strong message that they wanted to send.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yeah. I think on Israel, basically, was calling for change in strategy, wasn't he?


He has been working towards this for some time. A very clear -- probably the clearest point yet in front of the biggest audience that Israel needs to change strategy.

So, perhaps uncomfortable for Netanyahu. The two main elements of it you saw in that sound-bite get more aid into Gaza. The other one is a two-state solution.

I think the Netanyahu government are quite -- probably, I don't know. We'll have to wait to see how they respond properly to this. But they'll probably be comfortable with the idea of a port being built by American in Gaza to get aid in if they want to pay for it and they want to bring the aid in, then it perhaps take some pressure off the Israelis to get aid in.

On the two-state solution, that's a really difficult one because Netanyahu is not looking to that. And it's very clear from Biden that that's exactly what he wants. So, a change in strategy in Israel, it will be awkward for many in Israel, particularly Netanyahu. But there are those in Israel who would consider perhaps a two-state solution. So he's really looking for them to take more control.

HUNT: Yeah. I mean, Max, this issue is obviously incredibly difficult one for President Biden here at home. I mean, this was, this was the first State of the Union where I've seen streets -- they're trying to block the motorcade route. Thousands of people waving Palestinian flags, talking about the people of Gaza.

Ilhan Omar, the Republican -- all right, excuse me, Democratic congresswoman on the far left of that caucus, holding a sign on the floor saying stopped ending bombs. This is something that is really, really difficult for the president.

And, of course, there is this interaction with Netanyahu that is on the American political clock right? I mean, if this war is still going, when we get to November 5th, here in the United States, there is a very real chance that that could very negatively impact President Biden's chances. How do you think that's all playing into how Netanyahu is thinking

about this?

FOSTER: Well, I think, you know, when they say stop sending bombs, I think what they're referring to is the fact that obviously America gives millions of dollars a year to Israel in aid already, tens of millions, tens of billions more potentially on their way two Israel to support them with this war against Hamas.

So, you know, whatever Biden's words are, he's not talking about reducing any of that aid and supporting the war. And that's what many on the left would like to see an America just stopped sending money to Israel whilst its carrying out the war in this way.

So, you know, they would point to Biden saying actually he is fully these are just words really actually America is massively supporting this campaign and you wouldn't have, you know, this war in Gaza and the poverty and the famine there if America wasn't sending the money over to support the war because Israel would struggle to do on this level with that American support

HUNT: All right. Max Foster for us in London -- Max, thank you. As always, have a good weekend.

FOSTER: Thank you.

HUNT: All right. Coming up next here, gang violence exploding in Haiti, a state of emergency there has been extended. Plus, severe weather in the Deep South. We'll get your weekend forecast straight ahead.



HUNT: All right. Its 22 minutes past the hour. Here's your morning round up.

The state of emergency extended to April in Haiti as widespread gang violence is gripping the country. There is still no word from the acting prime minister who is facing increasing pressure to resign and call elections.

The House passing the Laken Riley Act, requiring police to detain migrants who commit burglary or theft. Riley, a student in Georgia was killed by a suspect who illegally crossed the border. The bill now goes to the Senate.

And a U.S. Army sergeant charged with selling classified military information to China for $42,000. Intelligence analyst, Korbein Schultz allegedly sued his security -- used to security clearance to access the documents.

All right. Time now for whether more thunderstorms bringing possible tornadoes and heavy rain to the Deep South today, states like Georgia and Alabama are bracing for significant flooding. Meteorologist Elisa Raffa is tracking all of it and she joins us now.

What do we have this morning?

ELISA RAFFA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's a stormy start out there. You'd feel all of the lightning strikes across the south this morning where we have heavy rain across parts of Arkansas. And then notice the white, you even have some snow up in Nebraska over near Omaha is the storm just really packing a punch when a couple of different hazards, but were really eyeballing here. These storms across the deep south this morning because the afternoon, as we get a little bit hotter and more humid, that could feel some strong, severe storms and some heavy rain.

A flood watches in effect from Atlanta back towards Birmingham and Montgomery there we could be looking at two to five inches of rain. Now, why did this area already got two to three inches earlier in the week? So, the soils are saturated and a lot of this rain too who will come on the overnight, so that makes that flooding threat even more dangerous.

Here's that risk for severe weather today. You see there in the yellow, that's that slight risk for Montgomery, back into Eastern Texas where we could have some large hail, damaging winds and a couple of tornadoes possible as we go into the afternoon.

Notice the timeframe of this 8:00 Friday evening. That's when we start so to find some of the heaviest rain, so the sun is already down. And then that flooding risk again is more dangerous at night because it's hard to see where that water just winds up piling up.

The heavy rain continues to push its way east as we go into Saturday morning. And then it takes that heavy rain and even maybe a couple of snowflakes mixing in for parts of an interior New England as we go into Sunday.

Again, a lot of the south has already had a wet start to the year, making those flooding conditions just a little bit more amplified.


HUNT: All right. Elisa Raffa for us with our weather update, Elisa, thank you very much for that. Have a great weekend.

All right. Coming up here --


BIDEN: My predecessor. Many of you in this chamber, and my predecessor. My predecessor. My predecessor is watching --


HUNT: President Biden doesn't mention Donald Trump by name. Who could he be talking about there? We'll break down everything from the State of the Union Address last night, up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HUNT: All right. A live look at Capitol Hill this morning after a very busy night last night during the State of the Union Address. Thanks for waking up with us. I'm Kasie Hunt.