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Today: Biden to Release Plans For Annual Budget; Netanyahu: Israel Will Move Forward With Rafah Operation; Sen. Britt Facing Backlash After Controversial Speech. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired March 11, 2024 - 06:30   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Priscilla Alvarez joins us now from the White House with more.

Priscilla, good morning.

Let's be real, like this has become an annual exercise that is fundamentally meaningless, but it does tell us about what at least the White House sees as the priorities. So it does send messages.

What have you learned from what they've laid out here?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, and, Kasie, in an election year, it's also an important messaging event for President Biden to outline for voters what his vision is, especially as many are still sour on the economy. So this is a proposal that is expected to build on his State of the Union Address, especially those components that look at building the middle-class. So some details from the proposals include raising taxes on large corporations, reducing corporate profit shifting 25 percent tax on billionaires on billionaires it all in all would cut the deficit by $3 trillion in ten years.

Now, despite those positive indicators on the economy, the president is still facing low approval ratings on how he has handled the economy. So this is an attempt to appeal to those voters and take the message on the road. The president is headed to New Hampshire today after a few stops over the weekend, both in Pennsylvania on Friday and in Georgia on Saturday. So all of this taken together, just trying to bolster the president's message as he hits the campaign trail, and as this election really gets ramped up, Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Priscilla Alvarez for us at the White House -- Priscilla, thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

And back with me now, our panel. Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton, CNN political commentator, former White House comms director Kate Bedingfield, and Washington bureau chief for "The USA Today", Susan Page.

All right. So I do want to dive into some more of what we heard from President Biden over the weekend, Kate, because he, of course, off the cuff during the State of the Union Address, he took a pin from Marjorie Taylor Greene with Laken Riley's name on it. That nursing student who was killed in Georgia by an undocumented person and he used the term illegal when he was talking about it.

He then did an interview with MSNBC over the weekend and he said this.


JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: You use the word "illegal" when talking about the man who allegedly killed Laken Riley.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: An undocumented, an undocumented person. I shouldn't have used illegal. He's undocumented. And, look, when I spoke about the difference between Trump and me, one of the things I talked about in the border was that his -- the way he talks about vermin, the way he talks about these people polluting the blood. I talked about what I'm not going to do, what I won't do. I'm not going to treat any -- any -- any of these people with disrespect.


HUNT: So, Kate, was that the right thing to do?

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think so because I think, obviously, look at the end of the day, what Joe Biden's trying to do is build as broad a coalition as possible to get reelected. And I think that, you know, saying to people, look language matters. I approach this differently than Donald Trump. When I misspeak or when I say something that I think about later and don't feel good about -- I'm going to -- I'm going to admit to that.

And I think that both the charac -- both the contrast on character between, you know, somebody like Donald Trump who calls human -- humans vermin, but also, never admits to any kind of mistake or suggests that anything he said wasn't flawless.

You know, I think that character contrast is good, but I also think that saying to the broad Democratic base, you know, I hear you, I hear your concern, and I shouldn't use that word. It's a smart thing to do.

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: Yeah, no worse issue though I think -- no worse policy issue for President Biden and the issue of immigration because you're -- now that the economy's a little better immigration for many voters has risen to the top of less concerned about an uncontrolled migration. Do we have control of our southern border?

We know that immigrants actually have lower levels of crime than nonimmigrants but these, we have these shells -- these cases, these terrible cases of murders, including the one of the -- the one in Georgia.

So the problem -- the president clearly misspoke. He didn't mean to use this word, but then apologizing doesn't add to the impression he's trying to build these being strong on immigration, that he's done kind of a pivot when it comes to immigration. BEDINGFIELD: And that's certainly fair. But I do think -- I will say,

I do think that he has found and I think you heard this in the State of the Union. I do think he's found a more proactive kind of aggressive message on immigration, both obviously, talking about what he's done to be tougher, which absolutely speaks to the concerns that people are feeling across the country. No question, you know?

But he also has an affirmative case to make out the melting pot of this country and the contributions that immigrants make to the economy. And so I think, I think being -- not being afraid to say, you know, this -- I talk about this differently than Donald Trump is not necessarily a bad thing though. I certainly hear what you're saying.

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think the president would have lost any voters -- I don't think there's anyone out there who believed the president was talking about all immigrants.


He was talking about that one specific individual who allegedly the person hasn't been found guilty yet, but the person who allegedly killed Laken Riley.

I think it would have been okay for the president to make the clarity. I am not talking about all immigrants. I'm talking about this one particular person and we do have to make sure that we secure our borders so that we don't see the perpetuation of this type of incident.

I also think there was a missed opportunity of from the president, Kasie, to announce some type of an executive action on immigration.

HUNT: I was a little surprise to see that.

SINGLETON: The American people were hoping for something like that. And he has the authority constitutionally to do so to limit.

HUNT: Do you have any insight as to why?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, I think part of it is because they're trying to draw this clear contrast on the party that's willing to come to the table and do the work and the party that isn't. And so I think like for them, they want the focus to be entirely on the -- the fact that Republicans have walked away and announcing an executive order sort of says, well, I have these tools in my bag, when we know that the courts are going to come for those executive orders and the same way they came for them under the Trump administration.

So, I think from a message perspective, that's what they're trying to do.

HUNT: Fair enough.

All right. Thanks all. We're going to pick up our conversation in just a moment, but up next here, Senator Katie Britt admitting that her State of the Union response blamed President Biden for something that didn't happen on President Biden's watch.

Plus, palace intrigue, major news agencies pulling a photo of the princess of Wales was it altered and by whom?



HUNT: Welcome back.

This morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejecting a recent warning from President Biden not to invade the Gaza city of Rafah, where more than 1.5 million Gazans are sheltering, something Biden said would be a, quote, red line.

Netanyahu telling "Politico" in an interview, quote, we'll go there. We're not going to leave them. You know, I have a red line. You know what that red line is? That October 7th doesn't happen again, never happens again.

Our panel is back with us.

Susan Page, this is quite a clash between Netanyahu and President Biden over what's next here.

PAGE: Really a direct rebuke from the Israeli prime minister to comments that the president made in the MSNBC interview, where he said that it would be unacceptable for there to be more thousands of deaths of civilians in Gaza. The United States now moving to provide food aid, you know, building appeared doing it that way, not with the necessary doesn't require the cooperation of the Israelis, the two nations are really on a collision course when it comes to what to do with this situation now and whether to demand a ceasefire which obviously the White House wants, in which the Israeli prime minister is rejecting.

HUNT: Kate, you've kind of been behind the scenes as they've kind of dealt with each other. I mean, Bibi is a very polarizing figure, obviously back in Israel, but he also gets himself involved in U.S. politics, too.

How does this play into that, our election campaign?

BEDINGFIELD: Oh, no question. And I think there are, you know, I don't think it takes a political genius to assess that Bibi would prefer Donald Trump to be president in the United States. And so, I think for -- you know, obviously, for President Biden, he has to make the calculations based on trying to get to a more peaceful outcome and the suffering in the region. But the region gallery is that domestic politics here are very much influencing the -- certainly the conversation around this. And I think there has to be some question about, you know, Bibi's own motivations here.

And so for Biden, I think he also has to factor that in. And obviously, Joe Biden is a very -- he's a very shrewd political analyst and so I think that is -- you know, he has to think about that. He's thinking about that as well.

SINGLETON: I think -- I think that's a good point. I was a bit perplexed though, by the president's comments because he said he would withhold military weapons so that they wouldn't have the Iron Dome. But then he also said he will never not support Israel.

And I think the president has to be very, very careful understand that the politics of this particularly with younger Democratic voters leaning more progressive. But you also don't want to run the risk of ostracizing or isolating rather, those independent leaning Republicans, even moderate Republicans, you may say, look, we don't want Donald Trump. We're looking at voting for Joe Biden, but we strongly believe the U.S. should stand firmly with Israel.

The president runs risk of losing some of that support if he appears to be abandoning Israel's ability to protect itself. They're our oldest ally in that region.

HUNT: Yeah

BEDINGFIELD: Well, I was just going to say I do think the president made clear in that interview that he will not abandon Israel and he will not stop sending aid -- he will not stop sending military aid. But absolutely, this is a -- this is a complicated and difficult situation and the overlay of domestic politics makes it all the more complicated.

SINGLETON: Yeah, agreed.

HUNT: All right. It's 43 minutes past the hour.

Here is your morning roundup.

Embattled Senator Bob Menendez and his wife are set to be arraigned again today. They are facing new charges of obstructing the federal investigation oh, into the bribery allegations.

And happening now, the flag raising ceremony marking Sweden's full NATO membership. The country just officially joined the alliance Thursday, abandoning its long held position of neutrality.

Indonesian officials investigating local airline Batik Air after two pilots fell asleep mid-flight. The report says they slept for 28 minutes and the plane was not in the correct flight path. Yikes!

And then there's this one, which we cannot stop talking about. Several major news agencies are withdrawing a photo released by Kensington Palace of Kate Middleton and her children due to concerns that it has been manipulated.


It was supposed to be the first image of the princess of Wales since having abdominal surgery.

And this just in, Princess Kate released a statement taking responsibility for the edit saying, quote, like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing. I want to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused.

Kate, what is going on here?


HUNT: This is like, I -- oh, my gosh! Like --

BEDINGFIELD: I know, and I will confess to having gone down multiple --

HUNT: I know, you're teaching me about the rabbit holes. It's great.

BEDINGFIELD: Really insane Twitter rabbit holes here. But the reason I am consumed by this is because it is such a -- has been such a community occasions disaster from the moment the princess went into the hospital for the surgery. I mean, at every turn, the palace has been incredibly opaque. They've allowed these like some truly insane conspiracy theories to really start to get traction online.

And, you know, as somebody who works in communications when you when that starts to happen on behalf half of your -- your clients, you have to take action and it is -- just watching them kind of bungle this at every step is wild. And then to have this happen, to have the major wires pulled the photo because it's been manipulated. I actually can't think of a worse, you know, communications disaster.

HUNT: Look at that, look at this. This is "AP", okay? I used to work at "The Associated Press". Killing something from the wire is like a huge, huge thing.


HUNT: I mean, this is not something that happens without a lot of concern and, you know, angst, and people at the top level signing off, and that's what it looks like. It's very obvious. It's also happened with AFP and "Reuters".

And I guess the issue and I think we've been showing some of these, there's like little misalignments, right? Like the Princess Charlotte's hand isn't in the right spot. There you go. You can kind of see that. There's -- so it's clear that there's some editing there. There's a white line in the background that's off.

Then there's a print on up the top corner of Prince Louis sweatshirt -- sweater there where the pattern doesn't line up. I mean, I guess the fact that I know all these things.


PAGE: You know how you address conspiracy theories? You tell the truth.

HUNT: Yes. PAGE: Yet the statement by the princess does not address these issues. It doesn't explain how this happened or why this happened. This is -- this issue is not dead.


SINGLETON: Oh, not at all.

BEDINGFIELD: And they also -- this is perhaps irresponsible speculation. So I will, you know, but here we are. One of the major theories is there is an issue in their marriage, and then they put out a photo without her wearing a wedding ring. I mean, she has really sent people down --

HUNT: And they did have to put out that statement saying, well, the prince took the photo.

BEDINGFIELD: Right, right, right, exactly. So it just -- it feels like they're not -- they're not looking at the communications challenges they're facing, and addressing them head on. That I'm just -- I'm like bowled over.

SINGLETON: I mean, they're going to -- they're going to have someone out there who's used to photography or Photoshop and they're going to say, okay, it's one thing to remove an image in the background. It's one thing to do some photo correction. But when you start moving body ligaments, you're going to try to really alter that photo.

HUNT: And when it's proof of concept, like everything is fine, like you better put out the raw field

BEDINGFIELD: Also, can we talk about how Kasie he was like I'm let me like dive in on this and then she's just like, no, no.

SINGLETON: I deep dive.

BEDINGFIELD: And Prince William had to -- see?

HUNT: Guilty, guilty.

All right. There's been a lot of fun, guys.

The campaign trail is heating up. It sounds interesting as this. President Biden and Donald Trump are both out there where they're headed next ahead.

Plus, the Oscars, all about who the stars are wearing. Why John Cena decided to present award wearing nothing but himself, ahead.




SCARLETT JOHANSSON, ACTRESS: I'm worried about the future of our children. And this is why I've invited you into this strange and deep kitchen because Republicans wanted me to appeal to women voters and women love kitchen.


HUNT: Scarlet Johansson poking fun at Alabama Senator Katie Britt on "SNL" over her rebuttal to the president's State of the Union Address.

Britt's response has sparked some backlash, not just for the delivery, but also for misleading anecdote that she cited about a woman who was sex trafficked by cartels. In an attempt to criticize President Biden over the border crisis, Britt failed to note the story she was citing actually happened in Mexico during George W. Bush's presidency.

Britt addressed her critics over the weekend.


SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS HOST: To be clear, the story that you relayed is not something that's happened under the Biden administration. That particular person.

SEN. KATIE BRITT (R-AL): I'm -- well, I very -- I very clearly said I spoke to a woman who told me about when she was trafficked, when she was 12. So I didn't say a teenager. I didn't say a young woman, a grown woman. A woman when she was trafficked when she was 12.


HUNT: All right. Joining us now is CNN political commentator and the host of CNN's "SMERCONISH", Michael Smerconish.

Michael, good morning. I'm so grateful to see you.


HUNT: And congratulations on ten years of your show

SMERCONISH: Thank you, Kasie. That's nice of you to say.

HUNT: Yeah, no. Of course, it's -- it's awesome. And anyone who's not watching you on Saturday should definitely check in and take a look.

Let's start with this Britt saga. What did you make of her response, the fallout, everything on "SNL"?

SMERCONISH: So, the curse of the State of the Union response continues. I had flashbacks --

HUNT: It sure does.

SMERCONISH: -- of Marco Rubio drinking water.

You know, something else that I said on radio last week is it's funny that Scarlet Johansson should have given this the treatment on "SNL" because I'm an "SNL" fan, but every once in awhile, there's a skit on "SNL" that bombs and I say, why during the rehearsal didn't someone flag it? Why during the Katie Britt rehearsal? Because it was totally scripted. Of course, there was one.

Why didn't someone say, my god, you're acting is way over the top, you got to rein it in? Because as misleading as we now understand the facts to have been, it's the performance that I think we're going to remember for a long time.

HUNT: Yeah, not unfair in terms of what, what we'll -- what we'll remember.

Let me show you just a little bit about. We did talk to a woman in question, the Katie Britt referenced here at CNN. Here's what she told us. Watch.


KARIA JACINTO, ADVOCATE AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING (through translator): Yes, in fact, I hardly ever cooperate with politicians because it seems to me that they only want an image, they only want a photo and that to me is not fair.

I work as a spokesperson for many victims who have no voice and I really would like them to be empathetic. And I think she should first take into account what really happens before telling a story of that magnitude.



HUNT: So it is interesting to put a voice to this woman in this case.

SMERCONISH: And the fact that the underlying sequence apparently took place on President George W. Bush's watch to me was just a reinforcement that there's so much culpability relative to the border to go around. It's not a Republican issue. It's not a Democratic issue. It's an issue for all of them and it just hasn't been solved on anybody's watch.

HUNT: Yeah. And our government has repeatedly tried and failed since that era. I mean, the first time I was ever covering a failed immigration bill up on Capitol Hill was 2005 and George W. Bush was president. This is how long this has been going on.

The other thing that stuck out to me, Michael, in terms of what happened over the weekend was an interview Nancy Mace did on ABC with George Stephanopoulos.

I want to play a clip. You should know from this -- and I'm not sure exactly if we clip the part where George talks about this but Nancy mace has said herself that she was a victim of rape. It's something she didn't talk about for quite some time. She eventually did reveal it in public.

Watch how this exchange played out.


REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): Any rape victim will tell you, I've lived for 30 years with an incredible amount of shame over being raped. I didn't come forward because of that judgment and shame that I felt. And it's a shame that you will never feel, George. And I'm not going to sit here on your show and be asked a question meant to shame me.

You're asking me a question about my political choices, trying to shame me as a rape victim and I find it disgusting.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: I'm questioning your political choices because you're supporting --

MACE: You're shaming me. You're trying to shame me.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- someone who's found liable for rape -- actually I'm not trying to --

MACE: You are. That's exact --

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're not answering the question.

MACE: I think it's disgusting.


HUNT: So, just to be clear, Michael, that question was as to how could she support Donald Trump, who has been found civilly liable for sexual assault, rape? He said rape and the question considering her own history was.

What was your takeaway from this exchange?

SMERCONISH: Okay. Well, I appreciate the fact that you were much more precise than was George Stephanopoulos because I watched it, and then early this morning I pulled the verdict slip. I have it in my hand. He wasn't found to have raped Jean Carroll. It was sexual abuse that he was found civilly responsible for it.

By the way, if you're differentiating between race and civil -- and sexual abuse, like you're losing. None of these are a good thing. Let's acknowledge that.

HUNT: Just think for that, yes.

SMERCONISH: So I thought that the way in which the question was asked was imprecise. And I thought that she was evasive. Of course, I'm sympathetic to her as a rape victim, but despite the fact that she's a rape victim, she should have answered the question he was asking, which is, how can you, of all people be comfortable supporting him given the outcome of this case?

HUNT: Here's the thing where I get hung up on it though, Michael and I think this is what she was trying to say, is that just because she happens to be the victim of rape, doesn't mean that she needs to let that victimhood define her and her future choices, regardless of what anybody else thinks about how she should feel about someone who commits those kinds of crimes, right? Like, do you think it should be okay to let the rapist have that kind of power over her future life?

SMERCONISH: So, if it weren't Nancy Mace that we were talking about and were other any other individual, a female member of the House, Republicans supportive of Donald Trump, is it a fair question to say in light of the Jean Carroll civil verdict, how are you comfortable in supporting him? I think that's a totally appropriate -- in fact, it's an appropriate question for man, woman, anybody to ask.

So, now --

HUNT: Yes.

SMERCONISH: -- Kasie, I say, well, okay, given her history, is it unfair to ask her? I don't think that it is. I don't think she gets a pass from asking the question because of her unfortunate history.

HUNT: Yeah. Well, I mean, I think it's just the fact that it was putting those terms like as a rape victim, how could you?

But fair enough, I take your point. Michael, I'm so grateful to have you on the show. I really appreciate your time for us. I hope you'll come back.

SMERCONISH: No, thank you. Thanks, Kasie. It's nice of you to say. Thank you.

HUNT: Yeah, no, thank you. Every Saturday at 9:00, watch Michael.

Thank you

All right. I'm going to leave you with this close or the lack thereof seems to steal the show at the Oscars last night last night.


HUNT: Ryan Gosling's show stopping performance of "I'm Just Ken" from "Barbie" appeared to give a nod to another famous blonde, Marilyn Monroe and her iconic song, "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend". Look at that ,nice, amazingly produce element poll, even the background dancers or similar suits.

While Ryan Gosling looked pretty in pink, another star, bared it all.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST: What's going on? You're supposed to run across the stage.

JOHN CENA, ACTOR: I changed my mind. I don't want to be the streaker bit anymore.

KIMMEL: What do you mean you don't want to do streaker bit anymore. We're doing it.

CENA: Costumes, they are so important. Maybe the most important thing there is.


HUNT: John Cena wearing himself, and a strategically placed envelope, apparently pair of Birkenstocks. I'm going to leave you with that. Thank you for joining us.

I'm Kasie Hunt. Don't go anywhere.

"CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts right now.