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Top Democrats Stand Behind Biden; Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) is Interviewed about The Biden Campaign. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 01, 2024 - 06:30   ET





REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): I'm for Biden-Harris in this campaign.

SEN. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): The president has done a really good job and he deserves a second term.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): I'm with Joe Biden.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Joe Biden's decision to go forward is a decision that we will all embrace.

GOV. WES MOORE (D-MD): I am all in, in supporting President Biden.

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): I'm not so cynical as to believe that the American people are going to choose a president based on a 90 minute debate.


KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Top Democrats sticking by President Biden this weekend despite that dismal debate performance that unleashed a wave of panic throughout the party with nearly half of Democratic voters now saying that President Biden should step aside and let someone else replace him at the top of the Democratic ticket. Party leaders, though, rejecting that possibility.


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Is there even a mechanism that you think would work if President Biden did decide to step aside? You know, the campaign says that it would cause weeks of chaos and internal food fighting.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Well, again, there's nothing as well as - just as Joe Biden getting up and taking the ball over the finish line. Something else could be chaotic.

The question is, Joe Biden's decision to go forward is a decision that we will all embrace because of the record he has and the performance that will come with it.


HUNT: And joining our panel now is CNN's chief political correspondent, the co-host of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," and the host of "INSIDE POLITICS," also the moderator of Thursday's debate, Dana Bash.

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


HUNT: So, you had also on your program the person who is possibly the one man who could call Joe Biden and say, hey, you need to step down out of this, and that is Jim Clyburn, who also saved his initial bid in 2020 when he - when Biden went down to South Carolina.

Let's watch a little bit of what Clyburn had to say to you also.


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Take into account the record. Yes, it was a bad performance. I've been around these things. I've been a part of debate preparation before. And I know what a - when I see what I call a preparation overload. And that's exactly what was going on the other night.


HUNT: So, he's essentially saying that the prep was bad for the president.

What have you been hearing as this story has rolled on? There doesn't seem to yet be a final answer, although the family certainly has circled the wagons.

BASH: That's key. What we just heard from Nancy Pelosi, from Congressman Clyburn, from all of the other Democrats that you have been showing, that is the epitome of circling the wagons. And that matters because the initial reaction was obviously shock, but also the sort of stack of newspaper editorials in important newspapers for Joe Biden in particular. "The New York Times," in the swing state of Georgia, "The Atlanta-Georgia Constitution."

But we all know, you know, Meghan, better than all of us, it's the family that matters the most to him. And because it is about the country, it is about they argued democracy, but it is also about their father, their grandfather, their husband, their brother. And that was a - I mean, can you imagine watching that moment as that person being your family member? So, that is one of the many reasons why this meeting with the family, even though it was preplanned, a photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz.


HUNT: Which is a bit of an odd choice. BASH: Well, they were doing - he -

HUNT: I mean I realize it was planned well before this.

BASH: It was planned well before.

HUNT: Right.

BASH: And she was doing portraits because they, just real quick, my understanding is that they had planned to do it this past weekend because everybody's in town for 4th of July. That's the explanation.


BASH: But obviously, they talked about it and they said, we're with you.

HUNT: Yes. Meghan, I - take us kind of inside the family thinking here. I mean I realized like if Joe Biden had - every time he had a bad time of it, if he had stepped off the stage, like, he would have been gone in 1988, right, when he was first running for president, and that didn't go so well for him.

But is there - is there a point where this shifts for them? And, if so, what is it?

MEGHAN HAYS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Look, I think what the family - they decided to run as a family in '20. They had a family meeting as they talked about after I think George Bush's funeral. And they talked about that publicly, that they - that's when they decided to run. This is always going to be part of their family. This he - he is, you know, the head of their family and he relied deeply on their support.

I don't think it's going to shift unless Joe Biden doesn't think he can beat Donald Trump. And I don't think that that will ever come today, and he will let it - the voters decide. He felt that way in '20, and he will feel that way this time. I just - I don't see a world in which she does not want to take this to the voters to decide.

BASH: Can I just add two things that I'm hearing and what we saw over the weekend with the interviews that I did and others are a critical part of this. The things that they are watching right now like hawks are donors to see if the money dries up, so far they claim it hasn't, we'll see, but maybe most importantly real polls that come out after the voters have had a chance to consume and to digest what they saw. If it looks like the bottom fell out or even close to that, there - there will be different conversations. And that was told to me by people very close to this process. They admitted it. Which is why you saw an effort, a war room, like I have never seen in Biden land. I don't know about you. I have never seen it the way that they kicked into high gear afterwards to try to stop the bleeding.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Along those lines, this might be the first presidential election I - certainly in modern history where both candidates this far out have such universal name recognition. So, the idea that someone's getting a big bump or a big fall, even from a disastrous debate peform, who knows if, you know, people, Biden hemorrhages support from that.

HUNT: Well, and, I mean, I think that that underscore - your point underscores that if there were a huge shift in the polls, it would be that much more significant.

WILLIAMS: Yes. Oh, seismic. Yes, yes, yes.

HUNT: I mean, Matt Gorman, let me - let me just bring you in here because -


HUNT: We can also put up - look, if President Biden - we've been talking a lot about Biden, what he's going to do. Were he to step aside, Democrats would have to find somebody else, right? That is not - I mean I can say that sentence in three seconds or less. That would be an incredibly messy process. And we can put up, you know, there has been head-to-head polling, Biden versus Trump, Harris versus Trump, Buttigieg. You can see, going on down, like Biden versus Trump is at the top of the list.

Now, of course, we can argue many of these people do not have nearly the name recognition of a President Biden, but this is what helps - and you can see the - in the center, that's kind of the - the undecided or the don't knows, right? They get bigger kind of as that - as that chart goes on down.

For Republicans, when we - we saw JD Vance came out and said, ah, I don't care - we don't care who they run against. How do - how is the Republican world looking at what Biden might do here?

GORMAN: Two points to this. The whole reason we have the June debate, why this whole thing started was in many ways I think the Biden campaign felt they were a little bit like on a glide path to being, you know, kind of down about three points. They need somebody to shake up the race. So even just maintaining the status quo in many respects wasn't the whole part - point of this strategy in the first place if you asked them a month ago. I think they needed to shake this up, not just maintain.

The - secondly, I think it's - also the tough part is, just stating the obvious, there is no reasonable way you can bypass Kamala Harris, who is already in the ticket, who has the legal right to the money raised by Joe Biden. And also, I mean, let's face it, in Democratic politics, you cannot bypass the first African-American, the first woman to be elected vice president. There's simply no way.

BASH: Can - can you - I'm sorry. Can you just put that back up?


HUNT: Yes, let's do it. Put the graphic up, please, guys.

BASH: I'm sorry there to producer your show but -

HUNT: No, it's fine.

BASH: The - one of the things that we have to not overlook here, Biden campaign shares polling data on other Democrats.

GORMAN: Ding. Yes.

BASH: I mean, can you imagine.

HUNT: I almost missed that.

BASH: This is part of their - no, but this is - but it is true, that was part of their strategy. It was the Biden - can you imagine a world in which the political operation is so - is scrambling so much, I would even say desperate to stop everybody from freaking out that you're putting out internal polling on other people to show, oh, yes, you think it's bad with - with our guy. Look what it's going to be with the other people.

GORMAN: Including their own vice president.


Including their own vice president.

BASH: Yes, with - with -


BASH: I mean the list of all of these other Democrats, which they had in their back pocket.

WILLAIMS: Amazing.

Now, Matt, along the lines of your point, I'm curious as to, of that list of people, including Joe Biden, who scares Republicans?

GORMAN: Any of them.

WILLIAMS: Like who - is there anybody - I do -

GORMAN: Any of them.

WILLIAMS: Are they afraid of JB Pritzker or Gavin Newsom or Gretchen Whitmer or the vice president?

GORMAN: No. I'll tell you why, if you can throw that one more time.

BASH: Who's producing what?

GORMAN: No, no, no, I'll tell you. Because, look, after Harris I kind of discount most of them because they're all hovered on 43, 44 percent. In my mind, that is where a generic Democrat, any Democrat with a living pulse -

WILLIAMS: Well, nobody knows who they - nobody knows who they are yet right here.

GORMAN: (INAUDIBLE) name ID isn't high, right?


GORMAN: People aren't being, you know, that JB Pritzker versus Josh Shapiro, they're really weighing this.


GORMAN: You are a generic Democrat and that's how people respond to the polls.

Harris is different.


GORMAN: But there's a whole other host of issues there.

HUNT: Yes.

Dana Bash, I mean, it - what is your understanding and reporting around the Kamala question, because this is a big part.

BASH: Yes.

HUNT: Like, from my understanding, it is a big part of how the president's team is thinking about it. It's not as though - I don't think there's a high level of confidence that Kamala Harris would have a better shot to beat Trump than Joe Biden does. And I think that that's kind of baked in here, right?

BASH: Yes. I mean, well, first question about whether she would be on the ticket. All I have been told from senior Biden people is, there is no world in which this party will do anything other - if Joe Biden does decide to step aside, which it looks very unlikely, but if he did, there's world in which she would not be on the top of the ticket. It would have to be decided by delegates. It's not - this is not a coronation. That's not how it works anymore. But it's hard to imagine that that wouldn't happen, first of all, because of the obvious and, you know, people think that she's - she's earned it and that she is the person who needs to be in that spot, but also mechanically she is on the ticket so the money is already attached to her.

You know, can they get around that? If they need to, probably. There are ways to get around sort of a lot of things.

HUNT: Yes.

BASH: But - but that is - that's really the most important thing to think about.

HUNT: All right.

One thing I do want to note, we're just getting in apparently the first comments from the first lady, Jill Biden, in an interview with "Vogue" magazine. And she says, quote, "The family will not let these 90 minutes define the four years he has been president." And they say, quote, "we will continue to fight." She said that the president, quote, "will always do what's best for the country."

We're going to keep digging into what else she had to say there and bring it to you right after this break.

And, of course, you can watch more of these interviews with lawmakers on "STATE OF THE UNION" every Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Dana, thank you so much for being here this morning.

BASH: Thanks. Thank you.

HUNT: And congratulations on the Thursday debate. It was wonderful.

BASH: Thank you. Thank you. Thanks for having me.

HUNT: All right, coming up next, Boeing close to a deal with the DOJ to plead guilty to criminal charges. We'll bring you that as part of the morning roundup.

Plus, the co-chair of the Biden campaign, Senator Chris Coons, joins us live to talk about the president's decision and insistence on remaining in the race.



HUNT: All right, 46 minutes past the hour. Here's your morning roundup.

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon going to prison today for defying subpoenas from the January 6th Select Committee. Bannon was found guilty on two counts of contempt of Congress nearly two years ago. The Supreme Court rejecting a last-minute effort by Bannon to avoid his four-month sentence.

The Justice Department nearing an agreement with Boeing that includes a corporate monitor and a fine in exchange for a guilty plea to criminal charges. A lawyer representing victims' families from two fatal 737 Max crashes is calling it a sweetheart deal.

Starting today, some bars in California must provide roofie testing kits. Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law last year requiring bars and nightclubs that serve alcohol only and no food to offer the drug testing kits.



HUNT: A candidate for the Hennepin County board in Minnesota admitting that scene from the movie "Home Alone" gave her the idea to buy a tarantula and allegedly throw it at a tenant who refused to leave her home. Marisa Simonetti was arrested and charged with assault.

Just because they put it in the movies, kids, doesn't mean you should do it at home.

All right, let's turn back now to this.


BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": You know Joe. He famously loves trains. But apparently not of thought.

Just all night confused and halting and trailing off. I've seen beauty pageant contestants answer questions better.

Democrats have some hard conversations they have to have. Joe Biden, noble guy, what - did a great thing when he got elected president, did very well for three years, but now there is no toothpaste left in that tube. And we either walk around with bad breath or green teeth or walk into a CVS and shoplift a new tube.



After President Biden's debate performance on Thursday, Democrats have spent the last several days in panic mode. And while many of the party's leaders have come to the president's defense, some are saying that they're having conversations about Biden's candidacy.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): There are very honest and serious and rigorous conversations taking place at every level of our party.


HUNT: All right, joining me now is Delaware's Democratic Senator Chris Coons. He's a national co-chair for President Biden's 2024 campaign and has, of course, been close to the president for many years.

Senator, thanks very much for being here.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Always good to be on with you. Happy Monday morning.

HUNT: Happy Monday indeed.

We just - just in here, sir, is a new interview that the first lady, Jill Biden, did for the cover of "Vogue" magazine. And she says that her husband, quote, "Will always do what's best for the country."


Senator, my question to you is, you, many Democrats, certainly the president, have painted Donald Trump's candidacy and potential second term as an existential threat to the very foundations of our democracy.

COONS: Absolutely.

HUNT: If it becomes clear that President Biden cannot beat Donald Trump after that performance, do you think he should step aside?

COONS: Well, Kasie, that's not where we are. All the evidence we've seen after the very difficult debate performance on Thursday night is that the polls haven't moved, a few have moved in Biden's favor. We've had record grassroots fundraising and a record number of folks applied to work on the campaign.

I spent the whole weekend campaigning across Pennsylvania and was very encouraged by what I heard from grassroots volunteers there. I also, as you can imagine, took a whole lot of phone calls from donors and supporters, from many journalists, and from other colleagues, senators, governors, others.

There's a lot of conversation, but I do think it's important to reflect on how strong and how capable a President Joe Biden has been, and what a shocking and clear threat to democracy Donald Trump presented on that debate stage in Atlanta.

If there's an editorial board out there, and I'm looking at you, "New York Times," and you watched that performance, and you're going to spend all your time focused on why you're convinced that having Joe Biden step aside is the best path forward for the American people, and very little time on the performance of Donald Trump, a man who's been convicted of 34 felonies, of sexual assault, held liable for commercial fraud and faces dozens more charges, and who lied and lied and lied on that stage, if that's not alarming and concerning to you, then I'd like you to refocus your lens. Because what I've heard from all the other elected officials I've talked to is they have confidence in Joe Biden. They think he's our strongest candidate. And I'm looking forward to campaigning hard for him from now through November.

HUNT: Sir, you mentioned the editorial board. There also was this column for Maureen Dowd, who covered President Biden as - when she was a young reporter, he was in the Senate. She was - she covered his 1988 campaign. She opened her column this way, quote, "He's being selfish. He's putting himself ahead of the country. He's surrounded by opportunistic enablers. He has created a reality distortion field where we're told not to believe what we have plainly seen. His hubris is infuriating. He says he's doing this for us, but he's really doing it for himself."

And, I mean, look, the piece of this that I want to zero in on here is that we are told not to believe what we have plainly seen. I think for a lot of, you know, voters, you know, certainly the way that the White House talks to reporters in Washington, I think there's a little bit of this. But for voters who saw that on stage and then are told, hey, this guy actually has it all together, what do you say to people who feel like they are being gaslit or somehow lied to or told that what they seem to see with their own eyes isn't actually the case?

COONS: So, here's what we're seeing on the screen that you're showing right now, a president who is, frankly, thunderstruck by just how aggressively Donald Trump is lying about everything, from January 6th, to when there's a record deficit - it was under Trump, not under Biden - to the impact of his proposed economic policy.

HUNT: Yes, but, sir, he looked like that from the moment he walked out on stage before anything ever came out of Trump's mouth.

COONS: And - and, Kasie, if I could finish my sentence, then I'll let you ask the next question. And where the next day, at a campaign rally in North Carolina, he gave a forceful and engaging and sharp speech. I think everyone's entitled to have a bad night. And I prefer, to Maureen Dowd's column, if we're going to compare columns in different newspapers, E.J. Dionne's (ph) column where he basically said, what is it we saw on that stage, a bad night or a sign of a bad future. I think that President Biden needs to reassure those who were paying attention by giving more and more of the sorts of interviews and impromptu events and engagements that put him in America's living room in the first place.

I've known Joe Biden 30 years. Nobody does better than Joe at working a fire station, a union hall, a coffee shop. He was at a Waffle House later that night in Atlanta. He worked the crowd at the Raleigh event. He's had several events in New York in the last few days.

I agree with E.J. Dionne (ph), that we need to remind the American people of who Joe Biden is, a strong and capable president with an incredible record and a good heart who can tell the truth and get the job done in sharp contrast to who Donald Trump is, a man who, on that stage, just spewed chaos, anger, vengeance, and lies, which reflects how he led as president.


I'll remind you, Kasie, Donald Trump's own vice president, chief of staff, secretary of defense, national security adviser, all won't support him and say he shouldn't be let back into the White House. I hope we spend as much time focusing on that as the parlor game of will he or won't he in the days to come.

HUNT: Sir, do you think that the people around President Biden let him down by not putting him out there more ahead of this so that maybe this wouldn't feel like such a shock?

COONS: Look, I've been encouraging more unscheduled, casual engagements with folks. And we've seen more of that in the last couple of weeks. I do think that part of the challenge of being president, and this is true for many presidents, is that the demands of the job mean you're often in small group settings. Very few of us got to see him in the room at the G-7, for example, just last week with world leaders. But I spoke to our ambassador to Italy, a dear friend of mine, the former governor of Delaware, who was in the room with him. And I said, did you see anything like that alleged moment of mental loss of acuity? He said, no. He was sharp, he was engaged, he was commanding. We don't often see him in that setting.

What we may see, and you showed it, is a compelling speech on the beach in Normandy, or that engaging speech in North Carolina. But I'll - I'll share with you that criticism some have raised with me when I make that point. He's got a teleprompter. He's well-prepared. We do need to see more unscripted and off the record moments. That is something I'm encouraging, yes.

HUNT: Yes. Do you think that he should do another debate with Donald Trump?

COONS: I do. If he's confident in his preparation, in his team, I think he should because he needs to erase some of the negatives of the campaign debate that just happened and build on his accomplishments.

Look, I think it's hard to stand on a debate stage with a guy who's just loading a torrent, an unprecedented, even for Donald Trump, barrage of lies and be the only person up there fact-checking him. And he needed to be better prepared for how to handle that. And to forcefully assert his own record and his vision for his second term.

There's lots more good work to do. But for younger Americans, and I was speaking with some college students over the weekend, the contrast is sharp between Joe Biden, who's done more to combat climate change than any American president, more to make our country more inclusive and just than any American president, more to create opportunity in high-skilled, high-wage manufacturing jobs and the jobs of the future. And Donald Trump's record and values and priorities all stand in sharp contrast to that.

So, I think the more he has casual and regular engagements with voters of all ages and backgrounds, the more likely we are to be happy with the outcome in November as Democrats.

HUNT: All right, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, very much appreciate you coming on. I realize it's a tough day to be out there with us, but you're a real good sport and I appreciate your time.

COONS: Thank you.

HUNT: All right, our panel is - our panel is back.

Elliot Williams, kind of your thoughts on this with Chris Coons.

WILLIAMS: Yes. I - what was really interesting was when he said, you know, the president didn't look confused, he was just thunderstruck by the lies that Donald Trump was making. And, you know, your point in responses was, that's how the president sort of looked from the moment he walked out there on stage. And like you said, this is a very tough day to be a surrogate for the president. And the simple fact is, they are coming up with virtually every excuse in many respects for a performance that was by any historical standard disastrous for a candidate.

MOLLY BALL, SENIR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, and it's also the case that this idea that they should put the president out there more so that he can prove to the American people that he has what it takes. I've heard that over and over and over again for literally years from people close to the White House. And I think having seen the debate, people have a pretty good idea why that hasn't happened. Because he has good moments and bad moments, good days and bad days, and you don't know which Joe Biden is going to come out in any particular circumstance so they can't necessarily - they don't necessarily feel safe putting him out there on a more rigorous basis than they already do. And that's just going to compound the difference.

HUNT: Why did they feel safe putting them out - I mean this was the Biden campaign's idea, this debate.

HAYS: Look, I think that they are used to Joe Biden showing up for game day, right? Like he always shows up. He showed up for the State of the Union. He showed up. So, I just think that they were prepared for that Joe Biden to show up that day and it's clear to everyone that he did not have a good performance.

But again, he came back in North Carolina and had a great performance. I just don't think we need - we can lose sight of the contrast that he's going to show to Donald Trump. But he - to all - everyone's point, he needs to get out there and show the voters what he is going to do for the next four years and that he can do the job. It's not even about its vision, it's that he is able to do the job.


GORMAN: Not on teleprompter speakers during the day. They need more of that. But I'll say, here's the risk, right? In theory you want a new visual. They should have had him out on "Morning Joe" the next morning. But if he shows something during the debate, it is over, right? There - that's an entire risk. If they bring him out again in an unscheduled way, news conference, interview, and it looks more like the debate than it did North Carolina, that's a whole other set of issues.

HUNT: Yes.

BALL: And what -

HUNT: Very, very quick.

BALL: And the frustration for so many Democrats is that we're even talking about someone who's been president for four years having to prove he can just do the job.

HUNT: Yes, it's really a - it's a reminder, he still has control of the nuclear codes.

All right, thanks to all of you for joining us this morning. I'm Kasie Hunt. Don't go anywhere. "CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts right now.