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Biden Delivers Fiery Address To Congress And The Nation; One- On-One With Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI); Anthony Edwards Delivers Epic Game-Winning Block. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 08, 2024 - 05:30   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: 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.

The 2024 general election season is off to a fiery start. Last night's State of the Union speech by President Biden had it all. The president repeatedly calling out his Republican opponent on abortion, immigration, and democracy without actually saying the words Donald Trump.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, my predecessor, a former Republican president, tells Putin, quote, "Do whatever the hell you want." That's a quote. The former president actually said that, bowing down to a Russian leader. I think it's outrageous, it's dangerous, and it's unacceptable.


HUNT: With wars in Ukraine and Gaza, the speech had a significant foreign policy focus -- more than some other State of the Unions -- States of the Union addresses -- but most of the substance was still focused here at home, especially on the economy.


BIDEN: America's comeback is building a future of American possibilities. Building an economy from the middle out and the bottom up; not the top down. Investing in all America -- in all Americans to make every -- sure everyone has a fair shot and we leave no one -- no one behind.


HUNT: So voters, of course, are still skeptical their economy is really improving but the president focused, I think probably for that reason, mainly on populist-style initiatives. He talked about raising taxes on the wealthy and lower prescription drug prices. And finished off with a one-two punch trying to counteract the idea that he's too old, and also hitting his predecessor. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: An issue facing our nation isn't how old we are; it's how old our ideas. Hate, anger, revenge, retribution are the oldest of ideas. But you can't lead America with ancient ideas. It will only take us back. You need America, the land of possibilities. You need a vision for the future and what can and should be done.


HUNT: All right, joining me now are Farnoush Amiri, congressional reporter for the Associated Press; and Mariana Alfaro, politics breaking news reporter at The Washington Post. Ladies, thank you so much for being here.

Farnoush, you've told me that you have not slept since covering this speech, so I'm very grateful to have you here. I'm not able to pull those all-nighters, I have to say. I need at least a couple of hours in between.


HUNT: So look, I mean, the president -- let's just talk big picture. I mean, The Washington Post goes with "A Fervent Biden Takes on Trump." "Biden Says Trump Poses a Dire Threat" in The New York Times. The Wall Street Journal, "Biden Paints Stark Differences With The GOP in the State of the Union."

It's very clear this was an incredibly political speech -- more than many State of the -- States of the Union addresses that we have seen in the past. But also that Biden very clearly hit the bar that -- I mean, Republicans had set the bar very low for him, quite honestly. They had sort of -- had sort of painted this picture of someone who really can't get much of anything together, let alone stand on the stage the way he did. Instead, this morning, they're criticizing what they say was the divisiveness of the speech.

Take us inside the room. How did that divisiveness -- the politics of this feel because it really did seem to me that there was a lot more of that than there has been in previous years?

AMIRI: Yeah. I mean, this is my third State of the Union and every year the lack of decorum, to use their own words, is kind of dwindling, right? You expect these kinds of outbursts. You look to see who the president talks to on the right side and on the left side. He looked to see who was wearing what -- what pins.

And this year -- I mean, there were two protesters in the galleries who were escorted out. That's never happened before.

Obviously, we saw the back-and-forth with Marjorie and President Biden and him saying exactly the words that she wanted him to say.

So it was a pretty stunning evening. But like you said, the expectations Republicans had were pretty low for Biden. HUNT: Mariana, I want to talk a little bit about one issue we didn't show there, which was immigration. That, of course, is one of the president's major weaknesses with American voters, according to what we see in polls.

I want to show you how he really tried to -- I mean, the big question has been is he going to be able to turn this issue on Republicans after Democrats agreed to pass a very conservative border bill and Trump basically torpedoed it from Mar-a-Lago by calling House Republicans and saying don't pass the Senate bill.

Here's how Biden addressed it at some length. And you'll see Sen. James Lankford in here. He, of course, was the Republican who really put it all out there and took a lot of heat from his own party for negotiating this -- watch.


BIDEN: The result was a bipartisan bill with the toughest set of border security reforms we've ever seen. Oh, you don't think so? Oh, you don't like that bill, huh, that conservatives got together and said was a good bill? I'll be darn. That's amazing.


That bipartisan bill would hire 1,500 more security agents and officers, 100 more immigration judges to help tackle the backlog of too many cases. Four thousand three hundred more asylum officers, and new policies so they can resolve cases in six months instead of six years now.

What are you against?


HUNT: So you can see the look on James Lankford's face as he nods along with that and his colleagues sit in stony silence.

What is your view of how -- what the next turn of this is based on the president's performance last night?

MARIANA ALFARO, POLITICS BREAKING NEWS REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yeah. I mean, that nod said it all. And I think we've heard from Lankford already that he is very aware -- that he stands different from his colleagues on this.

I've asked him before do you think that the Republican demand that Biden can do something with executive action -- like, is that going to solve it all? And he says no, we need to pass congressional legislation to address this. He can't do it all with executive action. So that was kind of a point driven yesterday.

President Biden made very clear that the fact that border bill died was all on Republicans and all on Donald Trump. And so, I think that he really -- we know -- we heard from Democrats. We also saw even some Republicans in the background say he really nailed it there. He really drove a point across and he kind of -- you know, that is the message that he's going to take on the -- on the trail -- that he and Democrats tried to pass this bill but it failed because of Donald Trump snapping his fingers.

HUNT: Yeah.

I do want to touch on the Republican response as well, Farnoush, because I've gotten -- I woke up to several emails from Republicans, actually, in my inbox saying you know, having Katie Britt, a woman, do the State of the Union from -- rebuttal from her kitchen table perhaps sends the wrong message to women voters.

Let's set that aside and show a little bit of -- so Katie Britt, she is the youngest Republican woman elected to the Senate. She's from Alabama. She was actually a longtime congressional aide so she's very well-known on the Hill. She's also on President Trump's short list to potentially be vice president.

Let's watch a little bit of her address.


REP. KATIE BRITT, (R-AL): Right now, our commander in chief is not in command. The free world deserves better than a dithering and diminished leader.


HUNT: So she has -- I mean, Farnoush, I'm interested in what you're hearing from your sources about her performance. I've got to say, this is, like, the toughest assignment in politics. Like, no one ever really comes out of this looking a lot shinier than when they went in for whatever reason. I mean, it's incredibly difficult to follow the president.

Marco Rubio, of course, had it famously. There was a water bottle involved.

What have you been hearing about how people think she performed?

AMIRI: I mean, expectations for Katie Britt were astronomical, especially because in a lot of ways, she was handpicked by the former President Donald Trump himself.

You know, he called her up and said what is going on with IVF? She was the woman of the moment. She was able to get Republicans over this really difficult issue, which is reproductive rights, in this election cycle.

And there was high expectations for her. I think that from what I've heard from many Republicans is that she seemed -- the tone was not maybe in line with some of the things she was saying. There was a bit of drama there that maybe necessarily didn't --

HUNT: You could see that a little bit. I mean, she's sitting in her kitchen and then that -- AMIRI: Yeah, I think maybe objectively you could say that.

HUNT: It's not the greatest.

AMIRI: It didn't meet the moment.

But, yeah -- I mean, the expectations for her were sky-high. She's seen as a rising star. And like you said, she's on the short list for the vice presidency.

HUNT: Let's touch on -- to turn back to what we saw last night from President Biden. One of the things at the very top of his speech -- you know, I was at the Capitol on January 6. Forgive me. I don't know if you --

AMIRI: I was not, no.

HUNT: -- were up here yet.

The way that the country has shifted in terms of how Republicans now talk about it from how they were talking about it on that day when they were actually under attack and three years out when the politics of it apparently have shifted and so have many of them.

President Biden addressed it very close to the top of his address. I want to play what he had to say about his predecessor and what Trump would do, and just spend a second with kind of the Republican reaction to it -- watch.


BIDEN: My predecessor and some of you here seek to bury the truth about January 6. I will not do that. This is a moment to speak the truth and to bury the lies. Here's the simple truth. You can't love your country only when you win.


HUNT: We don't have the reaction shot there but the Republicans stayed seated for that.

This has become -- and some of the notes I got suggest that this is one of the things where people say well, that's just a Democratic base issue, which again, as someone who was there, I still find repeatedly stunning.

What do you hear from people that you talk to about this?


ALFARO: I mean, definitely, it's not just a Democratic issue. I know that the polling maybe is high on other issues for Republicans, like immigration or the economy, but there's still a very tight group of moderate Republicans who are concerned of what would happen if a second Trump term comes around. And they are saying they might not just -- they're going to vote for Trump but they still are worried about what that says about their democracy.

And I think we saw that slight nod from Mike Johnson behind Biden when he said that. I know that, like, Republicans didn't stand up but there's definitely that recognition there.

HUNT: Yeah.

ALFARO: A lot of these folks still remember what happened that day and they still know that is something that, at some point, will need to be addressed. But they'd rather not talk about it because, again, it wouldn't benefit the former president.

HUNT: Yeah. Well, here we are. All right.

Farnoush Amiri, Mariana Alfaro, thank you both very much for being with us this morning.

All right. Up next, a move to ban TikTok in America -- effectively ban TikTok in America -- gaining momentum on Capitol Hill.

Plus, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell is live for us here on CNN THIS MORNING after she shook hands with the president on his way down the aisle. We'll get her take on the president's performance last night and how it looks in November.



HUNT: Welcome back.

So, how'd he do? The reviews are coming in this morning of President Biden's performance in last night's State of the Union. His speech was political, passionate, and often fiery.


BIDEN: My message to President Putin, who I've known for a long time, is simple. We will not walk away. We will not bow down. I will not bow down.


HUNT: President Biden refused to mention Donald Trump by name but he was all through this speech. He was referred to as "my predecessor" by President Biden at least 13 times.

So the question on everyone's minds going in was whether he would do enough to calm fears that he's too old to give four more years.

Joining us now to talk about some of this is the Democratic congresswoman from Michigan, Debbie Dingell. Congresswoman, good morning to you. Thanks so much for being here.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): Good morning. It's great to be here. HUNT: We were talking before the speech and you had confidence going

in. I saw him give you a kiss on the cheek on his way down the aisle even though you've been a little critical of, like, how he's doing his campaign in Michigan.

Take us inside the room during the speech. How do you think he performed last night? Did he meet the bar? And what struck you about how this speech was different from others?

DINGELL: So, I thought he did a great job, which I told you before the speech I thought that he would. When people let Joe Biden be Joe Biden the country sees the man that will be president for another four years.

I think he laid out what he had accomplished, which is something that we've needed to do a far better job with doing and talk about the different. I even liked the jab that he got in that a lot of you didn't vote for it but you're taking credit for some of the programs.

But he also laid out what his future was and I think he tried to be positive, which is what I think that we need. You know, he's going to build on the middle class. He's going to protect people's freedoms, and he's going to protect democracy.

HUNT: What do you say to Republican critics who say that this speech was too divisive?

DINGELL: I think that Joe Biden is someone that tries to bring people together and I think that he said that again last night. He was very clear that democracy is part of what we are fighting for. He does not like the hatred, the divisions, the feistiness that we are seeing each other face more every day.

And when it comes to the border, he said Republicans, work with me. This is -- come work with me. And he means it. And he referred to it several times in his speech -- bipartisan efforts he has undertaken.

And you know I know Joe Biden. I've known him forever. This is a man that's like me. He wants to work across the aisle. He wants to work with everybody. But I think he also showed last night is that he's going to stand up to things that are going to hurt this country and hurt the world.

HUNT: So we saw -- we've seen in recent years, kind of, breaches of decorum kind of with increasing frequency. Republicans -- the House Speaker told them to kind of cool it. Mostly, that seems to happen.

The one sort of outlier was Marjorie Taylor Greene, who put on that Make American Great Again hat and she handed him a button that had Laken Riley's name on it. She, of course, is the nursing student that was killed in Georgia. The president took it. There she is doing that right there.

And it led to this impromptu moment that I want to show everyone. Here's President Biden last night talking about Laken Riley from the dais. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Lincoln (sic) Riley, an innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal -- that's right. But how many thousands of people are being killed by legals?

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


HUNT: Are you comfortable with what he did there? And he used the illegal, which many Democrats no longer use.

DINGELL: I think what he was trying to do is just say look -- I mean, those were the words that Marjorie Taylor Greene was using and I think he was using those words back -- words back. I think he was showing that he had empathy for what happened but that -- Republicans say they want to do something but they will not -- a bipartisan bill worked on by conservative senators that reached agreement -- won't consider it because oh, it might give a Democrat a win.


This should never be a Democrat issue or a Republican issue. The American people want a win at the border.

And what happened to her was horrific. He also did talk about -- I frequently want to say to people when they talk about things that have happened and they want to take a paintbrush and paint everybody the same way.

From my state -- the Oklahoma bombing was one of the worst domestic, if not the worst domestic terrorism issues we've seen. But because the Nichols brothers came from Michigan doesn't mean that everybody in Michigan is bad.

I think that we do need to do something about the border. He wants to get more money just to get more border agents there. To get more people in the courts. Why can't we work on this together? He said, Republicans, work with me. He means it.

HUNT: The other thing that was, of course, difficult for the president to handle because of how charged the issue is, is the war in Gaza. And they announced that U.S. troops are going to be involved in building this humanitarian corridor for Gazans.

I'm interested to know. Do you think that is going to be enough? Clearly, it's not going to be enough, I guess I should say. I should answer my own question in that regard.

But do you support the president in this action to use American troops to make this corridor?

And how do you -- how do respond to Ilhan Omar sat down on the floor and held up that sign -- you know, stop sending bomb. Was that the right thing to do?

DINGELL: This is what -- we need a ceasefire. I was praying. I know that he has been working to get a temporary ceasefire, which I then pray goes into a permanent ceasefire.

He acknowledged last night the loss of life that's happened to civilians and the children that are being killed. And quite frankly, it is just unacceptable that we cannot get humanitarian aid in there. Children are starving.

I mean, every day, I'm talking to families. I've seen the pictures. All of us are. And I think anybody with a heart and soul knows how bad it is.

I do not know what's going on behind closed doors. I think at some point -- I don't think at some point -- I think we've got to stand up to Netanyahu. I don't -- I mean, we need more humanitarian aid. I'm glad that we're doing that because even when we get the ceasefire the horrific, horrific, horrific conditions on the ground -- but --

HUNT: So --

DINGELL: I can tell you that my community -- some of the communities -- of many communities -- they're complicated communities and I meet with all of them. But the young people on the college campuses and the Arab-American Muslims want a ceasefire. They don't want to see anybody else die.


DINGELL: I thought he was strong, though, on the two-state solution, which is something else. I think if anything comes out of this we get a two-state solution for two nations to live --

HUNT: Yeah.

DINGELL: -- in peace.

HUNT: Briefly, I do want to touch on one other story outside of the State of the Union but it's relevant because the president focused so much on democracy.

Katie Porter -- a member -- a current member of the House of Representatives running for Senate in California -- said that she -- that -- she said in a statement that they had -- billionaires had spent millions to rig -- quote-unquote -- rig this election.

Is that language Democrats should be using?

DINGELL: Look, Katie -- I love Katie. She's a good friend. I have not looked into exactly what got done there but I will tell there's too much money. I mean, I really do believe people need to look at the amount of money that is being spent in these --

HUNT: Yeah, but that rigged election language, is that not a slippery slope? DINGELL: Well, I think Katie was mad and Katie was -- and I -- we had a Republican that's got a great deal of money. We need to look at these independent expenditures in all these elections. And the kind of money that's poured in and not telling the truth in many -- it's just -- I don't know. In the Senate race, I haven't looked at the ads.

But I think we should all be concerned about the large amounts of money that are being hidden that people don't know what's being spent and being brought in in the last few minutes. In many ways, it's across the country. It's happened in several congressional races. And it does tip the scales -- and it does.

HUNT: All right, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell is going to stick around with us to join us at the top of the hour. So thank you --

DINGELL: Thank you.

HUNT: -- very much for that.

But time now for sports. Timberwolves all-star Anthony Edwards delivers an epic game-winning block to put the finishing touch on a 44-point performance.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Andy, good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yeah, good morning, Kasie.

You know, I've seen a lot of amazing blocks in my life but his one by Anthony Edwards last night -- it's an all-timer and it saved the game for the Timberwolves.

To set the scene, T-wolves up by two. Seven seconds left. The Pacers pushing the ball after a rebound. Aaron Nesmith going for the layup but Anthony Edwards just flies in for the block. Edwards jumping so high that he hit his head on the rim. What?

That won the game for Minnesota 113-111.

And here was Edwards afterwards on that block.



ANTHONY EDWARDS, GUARD, MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: I hit my head, I think on the rim. It's hurting real bad. And I landed on my wrist. But, I mean, you know, I saw him in the lane. I knew he was going for the -- for the layup and I was just like, man, I'm fixing to go get this. I ain't never jumped that high in my life.


SCHOLES: Edwards' offense was just as impressive as his defense. He scored the T-wolves' final eight points of this game on his way to a season-high of 44 points. Minnesota is going to need these kind of efforts from him after the news yesterday that star Karl-Anthony Towns is going to be out until at least the playoffs as he needs surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

All right, elsewhere, we got a potential NBA Finals preview last night as the Nuggets hosted the Celtics. Nikola Jokic operating down low. He's going to miss but Aaron Gordon with just an absurd putback slam. The reaction from the Nuggets bench there just priceless.

The Celtics -- they rallied late to make this a two-point game but then it was Jokic to Gordon for the alley-oop. That sealed it. Jokic, 32 points and another triple-double for him.

The Nuggets would win that game 115-109. They're 7-1 since the All- Star break.

All right. And finally, former undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson is heading back into the ring. Tyson, who turns 58 years old in June, is going to face YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul at AT&T Stadium on July 20 live on Netflix. It's going to be Iron Mike's first time in the ring since an exhibition match back in 2020. Paul, 30 years younger than Tyson and has a pro record of nine wins, one loss, and six knockouts.

And Kasie, neither of these guys, of course, are two of the best boxers in the world but I can't -- I can't wait to watch it. I'm going to -- I'm going to tune in.

HUNT: I've got to say I'm a sports fan generally. I can't -- I can't do -- I can't do -- boxing, I like. I can't do MMA, et cetera.

Andy, thank you very much --

SCHOLES: All right.

HUNT: -- for that. I appreciate it.

Coming up next here, terrifying moments as a United jet loses one of its wheels just after takeoff.