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Biden Delivers Fiery, Political Speech to Nation; Today: President Biden to Campaign in Philadelphia; Biden Faced Boos, Jeers from GOP. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired March 08, 2024 - 06:00   ET


KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: It's Friday, March 8, right now on CNN THIS MORNING.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The issue facing our nation isn't how old we are. It's how old are our ideas.


HUNT: President Biden, full fire. Did he do enough to calm fears he's too old for a second term?

Plus --



BIDEN: The biggest increase in history. It was then.


HUNT: It seems to be the new normal at State of the Union addresses. Protests, heckling, and a whole lot of politics.

Also, could Americans lose TikTok? The bill that could effectively ban that app picking up steam in the House.

All right. A beautiful shot. Look at that sky this morning here in Washington over the White House and the Washington Monument.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's wonderful to have you on this Friday. We made it.

The 2024 presidential campaign is joined. From the dais in his State of the Union last night, President Joe Biden cleared what was really a very low bar for performance that his Republican critics had set for him. He cleared it and more. He called the stakes no less than the future of the free world.


BIDEN: And yes, my purpose tonight is to wake up the Congress and alert the American people that this is no ordinary moment either. Not since President Lincoln and the Civil War our freedom and democracy have been under assault at home as they are today.

What makes our moment rare is that freedom and democracy are under attack at -- both at home and overseas at the very same time.

Overseas, Putin of Russia is on the march, invading Ukraine and sowing chaos throughout Europe and beyond. If anybody in this room thinks Putin will stop at Ukraine, I assure you he will not.


HUNT: It was one of the most political State of the Union addresses in recent memory.


BIDEN: Now my predecessor, a former Republican president, tells Putin, quote, "Do whatever the hell you want."

My predecessor and 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.

My predecessor, and many in this chamber, want to take those prescription drug away by repealing Affordable Care Act.

My predecessor's watching. Instead of playing politics and pressuring members of Congress to block the bill, join me in telling the Congress to pass it.

Unlike my predecessor, I know who we are as Americans.


HUNT: He had a particularly pointed message about what happened in that very building, in that very chamber, just over three years ago.


BIDEN: You must be honest. The threat to democracy must be defended. 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: Watching the House speaker, Mike Johnson, shake his head behind the president as he says that, quite something.

Still, last night wasn't all deadly serious. One of the other objectives for the president last night, of course -- this possibly the top line objective, which everyone I'm talking to says he met -- is to prove that he was fit for a second term.


BIDEN: 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: All right, our panel joins us now. Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell is back with us, along with "New Yorker" staff writer Evan Osnos and Republican strategist Sarah Longwell.

Evan, I want to start with you only because you spent so much time kind of profiling the president. What did you see from him last night? He clearly was basking in the moments, and he came to do a task. It seems like he executed on it.

EVAN OSNOS, STAFF WRITER, "THE NEW YORKER": Yes. I think from the moment he left the White House, you saw he had a little skip in his step. He got his way over there to the chamber. First thing he did is he says hello to everybody on two feet --

HUNT: Including Congresswoman Dingell.

OSNOS: Including Congressman Dingell. Look, he is -- he draws energy from a room like that. He sort of gains some speed over the course of the evening, gave a long speech, gave it well, and stayed longer, probably, than anybody expected him to.

Look, the bar, as we know, last night was to say to Americans, I can do this. I've got the vigor. I've got the precision.

And look, there are flubs along the way. That's inevitable. But this is about giving -- there were a lot of Americans who weren't sure what they were going to see last night. And I think a lot of people came out of there feeling reassured.

HUNT: Congressman, what do you think he said to independent voters? I mean, they're sort of an increasingly small slice, but a lot of them came out and voted for Nikki Haley. Clearly, there are people in your state of Michigan, other swing states.

What do you think the president gave to those voters last night?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): Well, first of all, I agree with Evan. He did a great job. And -- as you know, I told you less night, I thought he would do a great job. That audience is his element.

And I wasn't surprised at how long he stayed, because he -- you know, he lives in a bubble, and they don't let him talk to people. And he had all his friends there. So he was happier.

But I think he also laid out a vision. He laid out his vision for the future. He did -- you know, I think one of things all of us have not done a good job about is talking about what we have gotten accomplished in the last three years.

He reminded people of all the things that we've gotten done; called Republicans on some of it, like lowering prescription drugs and the infrastructure bill and the money out there. And hey, most of you didn't vote for it, but you're taking credit for it now. That was one of my favorite lines.

But he laid out his vision. And I think it is a very stark choice between another four years of Joe Biden, what he wants to do, how he's going to support the middle class, how he's going to protect people's freedoms, starting with women's rights and women's freedoms and very much in that democracy was at stake.

And made it -- wasn't afraid to call out. You're right. He didn't use Donald Trump's name, but he told people and reminded them they were proud that they overturned Roe versus Wade. They want a national abortion ban; that he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act; that he's Putin's friend. And I could go so on.

I think it was a very excellent speech. And clear, stark contrast the country needs to see.

HUNT: Sarah Longwell, you've talked to a lot of Republican voters and voters in general about what they expect from President Biden. And we were talking yesterday about how they had set the bar incredibly low.

What is your view of how he performed last night and how it's going to be received by some of these voters?

SARAH LONGWELL, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, you can tell how well he did by how annoyed Republicans are this morning and last night. You could just see how upset they were.

and I think, look, for a lot of voters, they think the stakes are incredibly high. And I think the fear has been that Joe Biden can't hit -- you know, can't manage where the stakes are, like, isn't good enough to take us through this moment.

And last night, what he said was for the Democratic base, but how he said it was for swing voters who needed to see that this guy was all there, that he could do the job.

And I told you yesterday when I was on the show, the Republicans have made a mistake, because they set the bar at dementia. And that -- if look, if that's what dementia -- I hope that's how I have dementia when I'm older. Because he was on his game, the energy.

And he did the thing that I think Joe Biden is particularly good at, where he sparred with the Republicans. He -- he somehow managed to have it be incredibly political. He managed to be going right at Republicans, but often was also, like, joking with them, smiling at them, egging them on a little bit. And it gave this balance to the speech that I think just worked really well for him. And it was offense. It was offense.

He's been needing this shift, change the tone, and I think he nailed it.

HUNT: You could see Lindsey Graham at one point, you know, laughing at him in the audience, right? It's like he's almost forgotten that they were friends for so many years before Lindsey Graham was suddenly very close to Donald Trump.

There was one particular moment that he -- he basically adlibbed because of something that happened on his way down the aisle. He encountered Marjorie Taylor Greene in a red "Make America Great Again" hat and a button with the name "Laken Riley" on it.

She, of course, was the nursing student in Georgia who was killed by an undocumented immigrant. He took the button, and then he did this from the dais.



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

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


HUNT: Evan, I've heard from a number of Democrats already this morning that they didn't love the way -- the language that he used, that he said "illegal" there.

You've known him a long time. Is that authentic to him? What was he doing there?

OSNOS: You know, in some ways that was a moment that could have gone a lot of different directions. He did use a word that did bother people. Immigration advocates don't want to hear him use the word "illegal."

What he did do, though, was take a moment and acknowledge the suffering of that family. He put it in personal terms. He said, I've known -- I know what it means to lose children.

And you'll notice it was over in a matter of seconds. It was not ceding the ground to Marjorie Taylor Greene. It was not losing command of that space, which is really important.

You know, in some ways, the measure of a moment like that is if you turned off the TV, turned off the sound on your TV and you were just watching the people in that room, who would you think came out of there confident and in control? And I think Joe Biden ultimately was able to manage what -- what could

have been a very volatile time.

HUNT: Yes. I mean, and Sarah, we know that the House speaker had basically told everybody to behave. Do you think that that effectively happened? I mean, what -- how do -- how do swing voters perceive kind of what Marjorie Taylor Greene did there?

LONGWELL: Well, like I said, this yesterday, look, anytime Joe Biden has the opportunity to do a split-screen with Marjorie Taylor Greene, he should take it.

Because these swing voters, these sort of right-leaning independents, soft Republicans, they don't want to be in a political coalition with Marjorie Taylor Greene and people like her.

And I think the stunt that she was pulling, wearing a hat -- like what he did was he met her at her stunt, and he called her on it. And I think it was a little unclear what he was saying. And I think that actually, it like, matters less about sort of the specific words he used than the fact that he sort of got into it with Marjorie Taylor Greene.

And he did the thing where he acknowledged her family and made it -- put it in personal terms. And so I think he got through that just fine.

HUNT: Congressman, can you take us down kind of onto the floor in terms of the way that, frankly, our policy have so deeply divided us? I mean, there were -- we had reports here at CNN last night that there were members of the escort committee for the president who refused to take photos with him on the way in.

You've seen increasingly kind of those divisions on display. How does it feel different? I mean, you've seen so many of these now.

DINGELL: I'm not somebody that -- I talk to Marjorie Taylor Greene, have screaming matches with at the bottom of the Capitol steps once or twice. But I think he told --

HUNT: OK. I mean --

DINGELL: But I think you should be talking to everybody.

I was struck last night. I've never seen Republicans -- one, they were behaved. I mean, other than Marjorie Taylor Greene -- and I wasn't quite sure what the dissenter in the gallery said.

HUNT: Yes, that seems quite -- not quite clearly partisan.

DINGELL: But they just sat. They were very careful. There were a couple of moments where, when they're talking about IVF and some of the women got up and quickly sat down.

And I've never seen such a disciplined group of Republicans that were responding to nothing. I felt it. I was on the aisle. I talk to those guys all the time.

And it wasn't -- they were uncomfortable last night. It was very clear that they were uncomfortable. There were people that agreed with some of the things that he was saying.

And I'll tell you what. I've never seen, you know, normally security blocks us. You can't get off the floor. The Republicans were out of there in two seconds flat.

President stayed another hour. There wasn't a Republican to be found on that floor.

HUNT: It is. I mean, I'm glad you sort of laid it out like that, because I mean, I've covered State of the Union addresses since George W. Bush. And honestly, usually, there are many moments in speeches where both sides will stand up in terms of cheering for the country as a whole. Really a sign of the times.

Congresswoman Dingell, thank you so much for spending some time with us this morning. I really appreciate it.

Sarah and Evan are going to stick with us. And we'll be back with them in just a moment. Because as we've been showing you, President Biden was heckled during the State of the Union again, and you know, we've been talking about this already. But is decorum dead in D.C.? I don't know if I'm officially ready to put a stake in it, but I am pretty close.

Plus, we'll have Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke live. We're going to ask Donald Trump's former interior secretary why he's backing the former president again.

And a United Airlines flight losing a wheel as it takes off from San Francisco.



HUNT: All right, today, the Biden ministration planning to fan surrogates out across the country to sell president's -- the president's State of the Union message.

Joining us now from the White House is CNN's Arlette Saenz.

Arlette, good morning to you. I know you had a late night, too. How is the White House? How are the president's aides talking about the speech last night? What are you hearing about what happens next?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kasie, officials here at the White House and on the campaign are quite happy with the president's performance last night. They believe that he went into that State of the Union address and accomplished what he set out to discuss, including laying out a vision for the future, but also trying to draw a direct contrast with former President Donald Trump, even as Biden did not name Trump by name, simply referring to him as his predecessor, at least 13 times in that speech.

But the president really tried to paint Trump as a direct threat to democracy and freedoms, and also tried to set up this contrast with him over the issue of reproductive rights, which Democrats believe will galvanize voters heading into November.

The president on that -- at that roster into the House chamber also tangled directly with Republicans on everything from immigration to taxes.

Those are impromptu moments that Biden's advisers have long believed he can shine in, showing that willingness to engage in these arguments.

And then one of the key focus points of this speech was also just trying to address those concerns about his age and stamina, head on. The president was quite fiery, really delivering one of the most political State of the Unions in history.

And he addressed those concerns about his age head-on, saying that this shouldn't be about his age but about making sure that there aren't old ideas in this country.

Now up next, the president will hit the road to sell all of this to the American voters. Today, he will be in the Philadelphia suburbs, in that important battleground of Pennsylvania. Tomorrow, he heads down to Georgia.

Vice President Harris will be out in Arizona and Nevada, really trying to build off this momentum to once again sell their agenda and their vision to the -- the American voters.


HUNT: All right. Arlette Saenz for us at the White House. Arlette, thank you very much.


President Biden at the dais in the House last night, dealing with boos and jeers from heckling Republicans. At the same time, the overwhelming consensus from them is that it was a campaign speech. This morning, they are calling it too political.


REP. GARRET GRAVES (R-LA): This was a speech that he was reading. He had two teleprompters right in front of him. He was able to practice this for days or even weeks ahead of time. This wasn't a dynamic situation where tough reporters like you were throwing hardball questions at him.

REP. JEN KIGGANS (R-VA): The military families from my district, puts in harm's way every day. There was no note of thanks and that was noted by me and so many people here tonight. Very angry.


HUNT: Joining us now is CNN's Lauren Fox, who was on the Hill last night.

Lauren, good morning. Thank you so much for being here. Can you just talk a little bit about the Republican reaction here, what was felt in the chamber. They obviously weren't -- I think they would have been quick to jump on any mistake President Biden would have made thank to talk about his age. They didn't have that. So this is what we're hearing from them this morning.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, a number of Republican senators that I talked to as they were walking back to the Senate chamber, a couple of them argued that they felt like he was mumbling, that he moved from topic to topic too quickly. Those are sort of some of the strategic things that they called out.

But on the side of the substance, what you heard from a lot of Republicans is they felt like he used the dais this moment to really launch his campaign. And a lot of them were pretty unhappy about that.

On the flip side, a lot of Democrats I talked to were pretty darn pleased with how the president performed. You know, I talked to Gerry Connolly before this speech and after the speech, and he noted that he felt like going into last night. He was pretty nervous about the president's performance.

And at the end of the night, he felt like this is the moment that Joe Biden needs to channel all of this energy that he threw out, and he needs to continue to do this on the campaign trail.

Joe Manchin joked with me, it really felt like the president had a lot left in the tank to give after that speech. And he's hoping he's going to use it on the campaign trail.

So Democrats very happy, because they argued this is a political moment. We are in an election year. This is the kind of speech you give to launch your campaign.

HUNT: What do swing members think in tough districts?

FOX: Yes. I mean, I think one of the things to keep an eye on is those folks who have to go and run, right, with him at the top of the ticket, and do they feel comfortable with where things stand?

A lot of members that I talked to last night made very clear that, if this is the Joe Biden that they get on the campaign trail, Democrats feel very good about that.

On the flip side, I think Republicans, they're nervous to see a very energetic president out there running.

HUNT: All right. Lauren Fox. Lauren, thank you very much for this this morning. I appreciate it.

All right. Twenty-two minutes past the hour. Here's your morning roundup.

Donald Trump ordered to pay $385,000 in legal bills after losing a lawsuit in the U.K. A court order says the former president must pay the fee to cover the cost of his opponent's legal expenses after he unsuccessfully took the consultancy firm Orbis Business Intelligence to court.

The company was founded by the former British spy Christopher Steel.

Trump also owes over half a billion dollars from recently lost lawsuits in New York.

A United flight loses one of its wheels as it takes off from a San Francisco runway. You can see it falling off a Boeing jet just seconds after takeoff.

According to United, the tire was one of 12 on the main landing gear. Debris from the tire landed in an airport parking lot. I'm glad my car wasn't parked there.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

And a little later this hour, we'll talk about aviation safety with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. I think he's there talking about the State of the Union. But here we go. We've got a tire falling off a plane. He'll join us live.

And then there's this. George Santos spotted last night in the House chamber before the State of the Union. He now says he's running for Congress again. Santos made the announcement on social media during the president's address.

He was expelled from the House last year and faces multiple federal charges.

Excuse me. All right. Up next, collateral damage on the ground after, as we saw, a United flight loses a wheel.

Plus, he served in the Trump administration, and he's backing the former president again. We'll talk to Congressman Ryan Zinke about the State of the Union last night and his assessment of the president's performance when he joins us live.


HUNT: Welcome back. Republicans are criticizing President Biden this morning over his fiery State of the Union address, calling it a political campaign speech without an agenda, citing moments like this.


BIDEN: It will also give me and any new president new emergency authority to temporarily shut down the border when the number of migrants at the border is overwhelming.

The Border Patrol union has endorsed this bill. The federal Chamber of Commerce is -- Yes. Yes. You say, oh, look at the facts.

I know -- I know you know how to read.


HUNT: The Republican response delivered by Senator Katie Britt of Alabama. She hammered Biden on his age and capacity to serve.


SEN. 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: All right, joining us now is Montana congressman and former interior secretary under former President Trump, Ryan Zinke. Congressman, thank you so much for being here.

REP. RYAN ZINKE (R-MT): Great to be with you.

HUNT: So let's be honest: the bar was set pretty low for President Biden. What's your assessment of what happened last night?

ZINKE: Well, the bar was set low, and going into I think most Americans wanted to see Joe Biden to see whether he's competent, and he read -- he read the speech. In fairness, he stayed within the margins.