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Biden's Future As Candidate Uncertain As Support Slips; Washington Post: Obama Telling Allies Biden's Path To Re-Election Tougher After Debate; Today: Biden To Meet With Democratic Governors; VP Harris: "Proud To Be Joe Biden's Running Mate"; Beryl Churns Toward Jamaica As Category 4 Hurricane. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired July 03, 2024 - 06:00   ET




KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST: It's Wednesday, July 3rd. Right now on CNN This Morning, calls on President Biden to bow out from Democrats as President Biden's team digs in to have him stay in the race.

Plus, a new CNN poll showing Democrats may have a better chance of holding onto the White House with the VP at the top of the ticket.

Then there's this also, Hurricane Beryl tearing through the Caribbean now targeting Jamaica. And --


IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP: I love him very much, so it's painful.


HUNT: Ivanka Trump breaking her silence on her father's criminal conviction.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, I view myself as a bridge, not as anything else. There's an entire generation of leaders you saw stand behind me. They are the future of this country.


HUNT: That was President Biden in 2020. He went back on that promise when he decided to run again in 2024, but might he be about to make good on it now? This morning on the sixth day after that disastrous debate, President Biden's dam of support in the Democratic Party has sprung so many leaks that it is at risk of failure. And with it, so is Biden's future at the top of the Democratic ticket.


REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS: We have to be honest with ourselves that it wasn't just a horrible night.

SEN. PETER WELCH (D), VERMONT: They have to take a clear-eyed view of what happened as a result of the debate. And can they move on or do they have to reevaluate.

TIM RYAN (D), FORMER OHIO CONGRESSMAN: That the fact that no one said it, I think, was holding back. And now it seems like the dam's breaking.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: I think it's a legitimate question to say, is this an episode or is this a condition?

REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D), TEXAS: I salute President Biden. I just feel that it's time for him to step aside. If we were to be able to protect what he allowed us to gain in 2020, he delivered us from Trump. Then he could be delivering us to Trump this year.


HUNT: Wow. The behind the scenes panic starting to spill out into the open. Overnight, The Washington Post reporting this, quote, "Former President Barack Obama has privately told allies who have reached out to him that President Biden's already tough path to reelection grew more challenging after his shaky debate performance on Thursday."

That's a far harsher assessment, they report, than Obama has offered in public. This as President Biden tries to explain it all away, telling supporters at a fundraiser, quote, "I decided to travel around the world a couple of times shortly before the debate, and then I almost fell asleep on stage."

So that was apparently a joke. It didn't quite land, according to reporters in the room. The laughter was, shall we say, minimal. And it's worth noting that Biden did have nearly two weeks at home before the CNN debate.

And then there's this. This morning, the New York Times reporting President Biden has, quote, "increasingly appeared confused or listless, or would lose the thread of conversations." The Times also reports this about Biden's debate prep, quote, "it never started before 11:00 a.m. and Mr. Biden was given time for an afternoon nap."

President Biden has now announced that he'll sit down with ABC's George Stephanopoulos for a taped interview on Friday. And today, several governors are flying to Washington to meet with Biden in person as he tries to reassure them that he is up to the job.

Among them, California's Gavin Newsom and Illinois J.B. Pritzker, both named as possible contenders to replace Biden at the top of the ticket, even if they currently support him.


GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D), ILLINOIS: Joe Biden is going to be our nominee unless he decides otherwise. And so, I think that there's a healthy conversation that will happen with the president. GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D), KENTUCKY: Joe Biden is our nominee and ultimately that decision on continuing or not will fall to him and his family. The governor's just want a direct and candid conversation with the president. You know, we want to make sure he's doing OK.



HUNT: All right, our panel's here. Let's bring in CNN Senior Political Analyst Mark Preston, Alex Thompson, National Political Reporter for Axios, the Former White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield and Matt Gorman who is Former Senior Adviser to the Tim Scott presidential campaign.

Welcome to all of you. Kate, you are in the hot seat this morning. Welcome. I appreciate you being here.


HUNT: We have seen all of this kind of reporting pilot. I want to dig into some of the things that Alex has reported in the last 24 hours as well. And I know he has new reporting. But, first, I just want you to kind of bring us inside the conversations Democrats are having right now because it does feel like we're in a different place today than we were on Monday.

There does seem to be this groundswell, this sense that a boulder is rolling down the hill at President Biden. What's your sense of where things stand now and what are the variables affecting --


HUNT: -- the president's decision?

BEDINGFIELD: Yes. Well, look, I think we should level set a little bit, which is to say, if you look at the scope of polling that's come out since the debate, the bottom has actually not fallen out from under Joe Biden. I would not argue the status quo is great for him either. I mean, you see him consistently within one or two points in swing states that he needs to win.

So, you know, I'm not arguing that the landscape looks terrific for him right now, but it is also true that the bottom has not fallen out since the debate. So I think that should be the point of discussion. You know, that should be where we start this discussion in part because swapping out the nominee is not a light task. It is not something that would be easy.

You know, the person who takes that mantle is then going to be in the, you know, in the firing line and is going to see their numbers start to drop as they necessarily become the focus. So I think we should disabuse ourselves of the idea that there is like a magic fix here.

You know, that being said, I think the conversations that are happening right now reflect genuine concern. They reflect a respect for the president, respect for what Joe Biden's accomplished, and the fact that nobody wants to see him struggle and or see him diminished.

You know, I think what Democrats are doing is looking at how can we get to a place where we can best defeat Donald Trump, who we believe represents an existential threat to our country and to our democracy. And I think the thing that -- the task that Biden has now is he has got to be out there aggressively trying to assuage these concerns.

People need to see him. They need to see him being his best self. I believe he's capable of that, but I do think he needs to be out there doing it. And he needs to be bringing the narrative back to Trump. He's the focus. He's got to move the focus off of him. Get it back to Trump.

The fact that you have somebody who's been convicted of 34 felonies, who's running for President of the United States, somebody who has stated that he will not accept the results of this election, that's where the conversation needs to be, because that's the real threat here.

HUNT: Alex, can you just kind of update us on where your latest reporting is? Because, I mean, I take -- look, I take all of Kate's points, but the reality is that the more we learn about the state of affairs inside the White House and with the president right now, the worse it seems to get.

ALEX THOMPSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Yes. Well, and maybe if Kate was still in the White House, and taking the -- and taking their advice, maybe things would be better. Because the fact of the matter is, that this is a White House in crisis at this point, not just because of where things sit with the polls and what happened with the debate because of morale inside.

And part of that is not is because Joe Biden has not been out there. The fact is, like, since the debate, he has only done one rally in North Carolina. He didn't any leave of its photoshoot with the family on Sunday behind closed doors. He did a very brief set of remarks and then took no questions.

He has not sat in front of one reporter since that debate --

HUNT: And he's waiting until Friday, and it seems to send the message that he can't do it.

THOMPSON: Or that -- I don't know. I have no idea. But some people inside the White House are taking --

HUNT: It's making people I'm talking to wonder about.

THOMPSON: Yes, exactly. And, again, this goes to the morale question, which is like people said the White House inside the campaign are like, what's going on?

HUNT: Yes.

THOMPSON: Like, because they had not seen that side of Joe Biden --

HUNT: Yes.

THOMPSON: -- but they saw in the debate.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I do think -- I think it's important as we're talking about Joe Biden's future and the future of the country. I think we should make clear to everyone who's watching, whether you're Republican or Democrat, like, this is a man who has given his life to public service, right?

And we are playing this out like it's a basketball game, including myself. Like, we're trying to game this out politically. This is a situation where it's sad. It's sad to see somebody who's given so much to the country that has got the respect from Democrats and Republicans that this could be his way out. That this may be the way that he leads, the ungraciousness.

And it just shows you where we are in politics right now. It's just -- it's brutal, it tears people apart. And then again, sometimes people just don't know when to walk away and when to leave. And I do wonder if that's one of these situations with the president.

HUNT: I've had someone text me, a Democrat -- a Democratic source this morning who said that flattery is going to be the key if Democrats want the president to step down. Well-deserved --


HUNT: -- flattery, by the way. They say, in their view, for a legacy of public service that is very long.


Matt Gorman, I was talking last hour to a presidential historian who talked a little bit about the other times when there have been sitting presidents who have decided not to run for reelection, Truman, and of course Lyndon Johnson. And he underscored that in each case it was the man himself who came to the decision by himself.

And he said over the objections often of family members and others. Where do you kind of see this heading in kind of keeping to Mark Preston's sharp and smart way of thinking about this in a sweeping historical perspective, even as, of course, the questions loom just months away?

MATT GORMAN, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, TIM SCOTT PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: I kind of harken back to in some ways when candidates want to end a presidential campaign that aren't the nominee, right? There's a human side of this. And the way I think of it is imagine going 60 miles per hour down the highway, then immediately shifting in neutral. It's jarring.

There's a human side of this I think we often undercut. And when a lot of candidates who live in a bubble to say nothing of the president states, just candidates running for president or office live in such a bubble. When that bubble is rapidly pierce, it is jarring and it takes time for them to kind of sort out. And I think this being said yesterday, when we look back on this, when all is said and done, no matter what, yesterday was such a pivot point. There was a window, a four or five day window where, as Alex is right, it could have been -- could have went on TV, news conference, some new visual to say nothing of the fact reaching out to Pelosi, Clyburn, Schumer, Jeffries, which I'm shocked that didn't happen.

And now that didn't happen, and the dam might not be breaking, but it's damn close to breaking. And yesterday was such a pivotal point in that.

HUNT: Kate?

BEDINGFIELD: I mean, look, I think that that's -- I think there's some truth to that. I think that the first four or five days after the debate, I do think there have been missed opportunities. I do. I think the fact that we are still essentially solely focused on this now, what, six days after the debate, that's not great for Biden, and he has had opportunities to come out and try to change the narrative and reassure people who are concerned.

But also to the point I was making earlier, I think even more critically push the narrative back to Trump. I mean, that's the other, you know, the overarching message objective of this campaign is to make this a referendum on the guy who was I would argue a disastrous president for four years and remind people of what the stakes are here.

So the fact that that has not happened more aggressively I think is also what is driving concern. It's less about the state of the race, although, yes, there is absolutely concern about that amongst Democrats, because, you know, again, if you look at the swing state polling, you know, you have to have eyes, right?

But I do think that the fact that there has not been a more aggressive push over the last few days is also what is turning people up. The one thing I will say, though, is that that means if the president does engage, get out there, if people feel like they see him and can say, OK, you know what? That wasn't a great night, but it was one night.

And now I've seen him out there. I think he has the opportunity to change the narrative, but I think he's got to do it.

THOMPSON: Well, and I'll sort of agree with both of you guys, where basically every single day that we go forward, there are going to be more cracks in the dam. And we just don't know when the dam will break.

HUNT: Well, and to that point, I've been hearing rumblings of this. Reuters is reporting that 25 Democratic members of the House are preparing to call for Biden to step aside if he seems shaky in the coming days.

And I was talking to one person who also seen a lot of the internal House Democratic polling that shows that the president is running way behind House Democratic nominees, and they're starting to really worry that they could lose the House in a potential landslide that would have a far-reaching ramifications.

And, of course, you know, let's just leave you as we got to take a quick break before resume this conversation. But we are, you know, at a very potentially distinct turning point in history. A flashback to the last time we saw something like this happen.


LYNDON B. JOHNSON, 36TH U.S. PRESIDENT: I do not believe that I should devote an hour or day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office. I shall not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president.





KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, Joe Biden is our nominee. We beat Trump once and we're going to beat him again. Period.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you ready to lead the country if necessary?

HARRIS: I am proud to be Joe Biden's running mate.


HUNT: I am proud to be Joe Biden's running mate, she says. That's the message from Vice President Kamala Harris as Biden, President Biden, grapples with his place atop the Democratic ticket.

In a new CNN poll, a theoretical matchup between the Vice President and former President Trump shows Harris trailing by two points, but within the margin of error, it's actually closer than the current margin between Biden and Trump in that same poll. Look at that.

For some in the party, those numbers are close enough and they are calling to make the change to Harris right now.


RYAN: I just think that Kamala is the person, it's the cleanest way. She's a seasoned campaigner now, three and a half years of experience. And so I think people would be very, very excited and I think she'd be good for down ballot races and energize our base. So to me, it's pretty straightforward.

But the fact that no one said it, I think was holding back. And now it seems like the dam's breaking.

(END VIDEO CLIP) [06:20:01]

HUNT: So, Mark Preston, the other thing that stuck out to me on this question was Jim Clyburn, who is, if there's anyone -- and, I mean, Kate, you can jump in on this, too. If there is anyone that could go to the president and actually way on the president's mind, if they were to say, hey, you need to jump out of this, it would be Jim Clyburn.

He was very straightforward with our Dana Bash over the weekend and saying he supports Biden. But then yesterday he did another interview and he acknowledged he was willing to entertain the idea that he'll support someone else if Biden steps down. Listen to that.


REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC), BIDEN CAMPAIGN CO-CHAIR: I will support her if he were to step aside. This body (ph) should not in any way do anything to work around Ms. Harris.


HUNT: How big a deal is that?

PRESTON: That's a huge deal. He just planted the flag. He basically said, hey, guess what, Gretchen Whitmer? Guess what, Gavin Newsom? Guess what, Josh Shapiro? Guess what, whomever? If Joe Biden steps aside, Kamala Harris is going to be the nominee.

And to your point, he has so much gravitas in the party. He might be one of the few elder leaders now that are still in Congress that actually can get the younger people to do something. And they will -- the younger people, meaning younger Democrats, and they actually trust him.

He could be a kingmaker. He was a kingmaker in the sense that he helped Joe Biden win reelection, right, excuse me, defeat Donald Trump. I just think that what he did for Kamala Harris yesterday, as we talked about yesterday being a notable day, that's going to be a notable moment.

HUNT: Alex, what is your reporting around how much Harris's strength or lack thereof is playing into the Biden's decision making?

THOMPSON: Well, I think there are definitely a lot of people in the Biden world that have sort of justified the fact that they are running for reelection because of Kamala Harris' weaknesses. And that's started from the very, very beginning, basically saying that she is not as popular as Joe Biden. She has not been for a long time now.

She has had incredible amounts of staff turnover, the likes of which that Joe Biden does not have. She's also, you know, not been very comfortable really with any portfolio items that are in any way controversial, right? Like, she's basically retreated to stuff that is very safe. And all those three things have led a lot of the Biden team to be like, we can't let her be the nominee, because if we step aside, she's almost likely to be the nominee. And she can't do it, or she's not ready.

I am -- I believe it was Chris Whipple's book that said -- that quoted Joe Biden as saying that she's not quite ready for prime time or something along those lines. And, but, you know, who knows now, because there are deeper questions right now about whether or not even Joe Biden can do the job a year from now, two years from now, three years from now, four years from now, or even right now.

HUNT: Yes.

THOMPSON: And those are much deeper than the political questions.

BEDINGFIELD: But also remember, they are on the ticket together, and the Biden team absolutely views her as an enormous asset as they're moving into the thick of this general election campaign. So, I don't, you know -- the way that they think about her is as added value as somebody who can go into communities that, you know, sometimes Joe Biden doesn't connect with as directly.

They definitely view her as a political asset. And as we're, you know, gaming out all these hypotheticals, remember, they are on the ticket together right now and that's the way that the White House, the campaign is thinking about their most immediate next steps. Is with her as a partner in this reelection effort.


HUNT: And to your -- picking up on your point about what is happening right now in this moment, there is this column that we can dig into from Tom Friedman after this next break, basically asking whether Joe Biden is the man you want answering the phone at 3:00 a.m. if the Russians or the Chinese or the Iranians attack us, that's kind of where we are in this conversation right now.

All right, coming up next, a family getting ready for an RV road trip when it bursts into flames. We're just going to, you know, take this a little detour. It's one of five things you have to see this morning.



HUNT: All right, 27 minutes past the hour, we are going to take a politics breather and show you five things you have to see this morning. There's a monster storm pounding the Caribbean, packing maximum sustained winds of 145 miles an hour.

New video shows the trail of destruction Hurricane Beryl left behind on St. Vincent's Union Island. Jamaica now preparing for a direct hit from the Category 4 storm.

And there's this, look at this, this is all that's left of an RV after it burst into flames in a Massachusetts neighborhood. Three men from the same family, a grandfather, dad and son, were injured in the explosion. The cause of the fire under investigation.

13,000 residents north of Sacramento ordered to evacuate overnight as a wildfire burns in northern California. Officials say the Thompson fire has charred more than 2,000 acres and that it is 0 percent contained.

Illegal fireworks, setting off a 3 acre grass fire in San Francisco's McLaren Park late Sunday night. The fire was contained within 30 minutes. There was no damage to nearby homes and no one was hurt.

There's a bear on the loose in the suburbs of Los Angeles. There she is, just hanging out in a tree. She has been eluding traps set by the Department of Fish and Wildlife since Monday. Officials are hoping that she finds her way back to the forest on her own.

Very cute.

All right, coming up next here, new reporting on the frequency of President Biden's cognitive lapses.