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CNN This Morning

Biden, Trump Clinch Party Nominations; Critical Fire Dangers Across Texas Panhandle, Western Oklahoma. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired March 13, 2024 - 06:00   ET


KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: It's Wednesday, March 13. Right now on CNN THIS MORNING.


Get ready for the long haul. Voters just locked in Biden and Trump for eight more months of head-to-head campaigning.

Plus, two scares in the sky. Boeing could be called to testify in a rare public hearing on problems with their planes.

And will Americans delete TikTok? Just hours from now, lawmakers on the Hill could vote to effectively ban it.

All right, 6 a.m. here in Washington. A live look at Capitol Hill on this Wednesday morning. I think it's Wednesday. Good morning, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt. Wonderful to have you with us.

It's a done deal. Joe Biden and Donald Trump are headed for a November rematch, both candidates clinching their party nominations last night with primary wins in Georgia, Mississippi, and Washington state.

Trump taking a victory lap in this video released by his campaign.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's your favorite president, speaking to you on a really great day of victory. The Republican National Committee has just declared us the official nominee. And so we're the official nominee of the Republican Party, which is a big deal.


HUNT: The Biden-Trump rematch will be the longest general election presidential campaign ever. Once it became clear the president had clinched the Democratic nomination, team Biden released this slickly produced video.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Are you ready? Are you ready to defend democracy? Are you ready to protect our freedom? Are you ready to win this election?


HUNT: All right. Our panel is with us this morning. Let's bring in Republican strategist, Kristen Soltis Anderson. Democratic Congressman Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts remains with us. Former White House communications director Kate Bedingfield is here. And Zolan Kanno- Youngs, White House correspondent for "The New York Times."

Welcome all.

Kate Bedingfield, this is going to be a grueling eight months for the White House.


HUNT: What does it say to you that, you know, we are where we are at this point? I mean, one of the things the White House keeps saying, or I should say, Democrats, especially in and around the campaign, keep saying is that voters didn't actually believe that Donald Trump was going to be the Republican nominee. It hasn't sunk in.

Do you think it's going to sink in? Has it sunk in? Because here we are.

BEDINGFIELD: Yes. I think it will sink in. I -- you know, it's -- not only did voters not think Donald Trump would be the nominee, a not insignificant share of Democratic voters didn't think Joe Biden would be the nominee.

So for the Biden campaign, having these two, having the candidates locked in, having the contrast of the race start to really come into focus, is a good thing. It allows them to make their case.

It -- you know, you kind of -- you saw on the video there from the Biden campaign. I mean, one of the big tasks that they have here is energizing their base, energizing their coalition. They're obviously going to spend the next eight months drawing a really sharp contrast with Donald Trump on these core issues that we know are front of mind for voters: democracy, abortion, the economy.

But, you know, fundamentally, one of their big tasks is -- is getting their winning coalition from 2020 excited. And so that's what they're going to have to focus on the next 7.5 months. It is going to be a slog.

HUNT: So we have our Gary Tuchman spoke to some undecided voters and speaking to slog, grueling, other words that we have been using around this, we've got -- we've got two chunks here. So let's first look at those who might not -- say they might not vote because of their choices here. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the hardest job in the world, and we keep hearing stories about how he's so sharp; he's so on point behind closed doors. But I haven't seen it. I haven't seen it.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Kesha (ph), why don't you like Donald Trump?

KESHA (PH), VOTER: Well, I mean, I just don't think he's a good human being and just the things that come out of his mouth makes me cringe every time. And not to mention all the indictments against him.

TUCHMAN: So you're both independents. Might you not vote in the election in November?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unless they give us a compelling reason to change our mind.


HUNT: So Kristen Soltis Anderson, you spend all a lot of your time talking to voters like the ones that we just saw here. Do you -- is this what you hear, too?


HUNT: And I think the big question is going to be will this dissatisfaction with both candidates, this feeling of this is a slog, this is terrible, when we get to November and you have voters who say, I don't actually think there's enough of a difference between these candidates that I feel like I'm going to go put my name -- go put myself out there and vote.

Or do we get to November? And, even though voters don't love their choices, they have been persuaded that one is slightly more terrible than the other, and that is motivational enough to get them out?

That's what I'm looking for from voters like the ones that we just heard from. Do they eventually come to the conclusion that they may not like the options available to them, but one is slightly more horrible than the other. And therefore, it is worth them participating in the process.

HUNT: Of course, the other potential issue is the third-party candidacies. That is still kind of an evolving a corner of this election, but it's one that could play a major role. Here's some more with those voters talking about whether they might vote third-party.



TUCHMAN: Could there be two worse options, right? You know, Biden is weak in all the wrong areas. Trump is a polarizing salesman, not a statesman. We need better.

TUCHMAN: So might you not vote?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. There are too many reasons to go and exercise my right to vote. So I will vote.

TUCHMAN: Who will you vote for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know right now, considering going third party. I think --

TUCHMAN: So who would that be?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Kennedy has a lot to offer.


HUNT: So Congressman Auchincloss, he's talking about Robert F. Kennedy Jr., noted vaccine skeptic; opponent, really. How much danger does this pose to either one of the major candidates, but especially President Biden?

REP. JAKE AUCHINCLOSS (D-MA): This election is going to be a near run thing, going to come down to a few states. It's going to come down to a couple of hundred thousand voters. So any third party candidate, especially with the last name like Kennedy, poses a significant challenge.

And it's unclear out of whom he takes votes, right? Trump or Biden.

I think voters are going to have to dial into Robert F. Kennedy's access to the ballot and how he has gotten where he is. He has used a super PAC to get onto the ballot at some states. He's looking at the Libertarian Party to get on the ballot in other states.

It's all being funded by MAGA donors trying to prop him up as a stalking horse. Voters are going to have to, I think, peel back some of the layers of that name and say, who is this person really, and who is he helping?

Because I think the answer is going to be he's helping Donald Trump. And who he is, is someone taking advantage of his family name to further his own ambitions and his own conspiracies.

HUNT: Yes. I mean, you're from the land of Camelot and were Massachusetts anyway. Do you think Democrats are taking this seriously enough and trying to push back against this? I mean, you know how -- how powerful the Kennedy name is, still.

AUCHINCLOSS: It can be compelling. And Democrats are absolutely taking it seriously, especially in the swing states where he could be decisive.

HUNT: Yes.

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": What I found interesting about your piece, as well, was that there were some voters that voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020 that no longer see '20 [SIC] as sort of the outside-the-government anti-establishment figure but are finding that in Kennedy.

Now, whether that lasts going forward in the election, I think it's a question we've seen. But as you noted, every single vote is going to matter, particularly in the few battleground states that both nominees are trying to. BEDINGFIELD: I think this is why there has to be there has to be an

effort to educate, and voters have to understand these voters who say, I don't want Trump. I don't want Biden.

They have to understand that a vote for Kennedy or a third party candidate is effectively going to hand the election to one or other of the -- of the primary candidates.

I mean, there is no universe under our current system where a third party candidate is going to win enough electoral votes to be president of the United States.

Now, that's a whole -- we can have a whole other discussion about why that is and whether that's a good thing or not. But the fact of the matter is, you know, for November.

So that is a task, you know, like I would say that the Biden campaign has in front of them, is to help these voters understand that casting a vote for Robert Kennedy, for example, is not so much casting an anti-establishmentarianism vote as it is, you know, saying, well, Donald Trump's going to have a second term.

HUNT: Kristen, who do you think RFK Jr.'s candidacy hurts? Is it President Biden? Is it Donald Trump? I mean, how do you see it? You talk to all these people all the time.

ANDERSON: Right. So I did a focus group for "The New York Times" all about these voters who had voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and then voted for him again in 2020 but now said, I'm off the Trump train.

And I wanted to get at why. And for some of them, it was things like January 6 that came up. They said, I was with him, but that to me was a breaking point.

But there were others who said, you know, I thought he was going to be this outsider. I thought he was going to be this change agent. I thought he was going to be anti-establishment, and now he kind of is the establishment.

Now we know what we're getting with him. We know what this looks like. And I don't think I want it anymore. And so it was fascinating to me to see what does a Trump to RFK voter look like?

And it has me taking him a little more seriously as actually potential threat to Trump's coalition for that kind of -- I don't want to say low-propensity. But that's in the political polling. What we would call them, the type of folks who they're not -- probably not watching the news every day.

But they tune in periodically. They're -- might vote if they found someone compelling. They were a big part of Trump's coalition in 2016. What if Trump doesn't have them this time around, and they go to RFK? That could be very fascinating.

HUNT: Congressman, final thought? AUCHINCLOSS: I thought your piece in "The New York Times" was terrific. I read it out of interest, because I'm interested, as well, to see where do these voters go.

And you're encouraging me, then (Ph) into some coalition. Because as Kate said, this is two -- this is two candidates. One of them is going to win. And I got to push back on the American electorate's perception that somehow, it's bad or worse. That's not true.

Joe Biden has been a strong and good president. The economy is growing. He is standing up for the United States and NATO on the world stage. He's handling a series of foreign policy crises with statesmanship.


And the State of the Union was his first opportunity to make that case to a wider audience. He made a case about freedom, democracy, and a strong middle-class. And I think we're going to see that case made more sharply in the next nine months.

HUNT: All right. Congressman Jake Auchincloss, thank you very much for joining us today. Really appreciate it.

The rest of the panel is going to stick around. We'll see them in just a moment.

Up next here, just hours after Biden and Trump officially clinched their nominations, we're hearing from inside both teams. That's ahead.

Plus, the quarterback and the wrestler. RFK Jr. says these guys are on his shortlist for V.P. Well, we'll dig into that.

And a rocket explodes seconds after takeoff. Oh, dear, what went wrong?

And spilling secrets behind the wheel. How your car could rat you out to your insurance company.



HUNT: Welcome back. Donald Trump securing the Republican nomination in commanding fashion and then heading to his Truth Social platform with a bleak victory post.

He claimed President Biden has turned America into a third-world nation, among other things.

The former president's campaign also released a video, letting people know that they're saving celebrations for November.


TRUMP: We're not going to take time to celebrate. We'll celebrate in eight months when the election is over. November 5, I believe, will go down as the most important day in the history of our country.


HUNT: So our -- CNN's Alayna Treene joins us now.

Alayna, always good to see you. You cover Donald Trump for us.

This, clearly, it's going to be the longest general election campaign we've ever seen, because I mean, it's -- it's -- it's odd, right? We've basically got two -- Trump is a quasi-incumbent, right? Former president the United States.

How did they react behind the scenes? And you know, I also was really interested to see that Chris LaCivita, the co-campaign manager, top Trump official, newly installed RNC chief of staff, says that they're going to hire lawyers who are going to battle on election integrity from an offensive instead of a defensive posture.

So it's like were eight months out, and they're already looking at fighting like -- there's already the specter of them saying, regardless of what happens in this election, it's going to be fraudulent.

I mean, what are Americans in for here, and what are you hearing from the Trump world?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, to start with, how they're reacting to last night. I mean, Donald Trump had already been acting like he was the presumptive nominee, even before Nikki Haley dropped out. They have been already very earnest in their efforts to expand across several battleground states.

I'm told they're really focused on seven in particular. That includes Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, obviously, where we saw Donald Trump over the weekend. And that's going to continue even more in earnest now that he is -- officially has enough delegates to make him the presumptive nominee, or to win the Republican nomination come July.

But as for the RNC, that's also where a lot of this focus is coming. And they've been very eager to have the full infrastructure of the party behind Donald Trump, all united behind Donald Trump to really boost him in this effort.

And yes, a huge focus is this election integrity part that they want the RNC to focus on. They brought in one Republican lawyer. His name was Charlie Spies. He's someone that is going to be chief counsel for the RNC, handpicked by Chris LaCivita, who we know now has a massive role at the RNC.

And then also Christina Bobb. She's a former OANN or One America News Network correspondent, someone who has peddled election lies in the past. She's also joining the RNC to work on election integrity, in specific.

And that's something that Donald Trump had long really wanted the RNC to focus on. We know one of his chief frustrations with Ronna McDaniel, and part of the reason we saw him ultimately push for her ouster, is because he didn't think she was doing enough to battle the fraud that he viewed happened during the 2020 election.

That is something that still to this day has frustrated and concerned Donald Trump. And it's something that he really wants this new chairman at the RNC, Michael Whatley, to focus on as they look ahead to November.

HUNT: Yes. So we're basically in for eight months of it.

TREENE: Right.

HUNT: Heading in without -- you know, we don't know yet with the outcome is going to be. Alayna Treene, thank you very much for that. I really appreciate it.

All right. Coming up next, a new revelation about the Boeing jet that lost a door plug mid-flight.

Plus, a measles outbreak hits Chicago. How doctors think it's spreading.



HUNT: Welcome back. Boeing officials maybe subpoena to testify before federal investigators ahead of a rare, just announced public hearing set for August.

The NTSB wants to know more about that Alaska Airlines door plug that blew out mid-flight in January. The airline also revealed that the 737 MAX-9 plane was scheduled to be taken out of service for maintenance the night that the door blew out.

Boeing is not explaining why.

All right. A spectacular explosion lit up the skies above Japan today. An unmanned rocket exploded seconds after liftoff.

The private company behind it, Space One, was hoping to become the first Japanese firm to put a satellite into orbit. They are investigating what went wrong.

All right. We've got a potent storm bringing multiple threats across the Rockies, the Plains, and increasing the extremely critical fire danger to parts of Texas and Oklahoma. Our weatherman, Derek van Dam, tracking all of it.

Derek, good morning. What are you seeing?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Kasie, this is another dangerous day of potential fire weather across the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. The storm prediction center who issues these fire weather forecasts put this area under an extreme -- extremely critical risk today. That is because they've explicitly noted that the vegetation has dried out even further since the largest wildfire that broke out two weeks ago, roughly, across the Texas Panhandle.

We know that as the Smokehouse Creek Fire, still not 100 percent contained just yet. So embers are still burning within that area.

The only condition separating this event from two weeks ago is the wind. It is slightly lower than what we experienced a couple of weeks ago, but still prominent enough to support widespread fire growth. And because of the drying out of the vegetation, this means that it is another dangerous, potentially dangerous fire weather day across the Texas Panhandle.


This is all being fueled by a large storm system that's bringing multitude of threats including snow. In fact, we'll be measuring snowfall in feet across the foothills of the Colorado Rockies and into the Palmer Divide, Denver metro and the Denver International Airport.

The potential exists for nine to 12 inches or more of snowfall. That will impact travel along Interstate 70, the I-25 corridor. Dangerous conditions really cranking up on Thursday, lasting through Friday.

It's a multifaceted storm system that's got several pieces of energy that will stick around. And it will help fuel the potential for strong to severe thunderstorms today.

But ramping up for the day on Thursday, look at the enhanced storm prediction threat here across the Northwestern sections of Arkansas. Heads up, Little Rock. The potential exists for hail and an isolated tornado tomorrow -- Kasie.

HUNT: Yikes. All right. Our Weatherman Van Dam. Derek, thank you very much. I'll see you tomorrow.

VAN DAM: All (ph) for now. All right.

HUNT: All right. Coming up next here, Donald Trump facing a new challenge after clinching the nomination. He's got a growing group of defectors.

Plus, Congressman Ken Buck says he's leaving Congress early, and he's basically torching the place on his way out the door.