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Dems Worry About Flipping House With Biden As Nominee; Now: Polls Open Across UK As Voting Gets Underway; Kraken Puts First Woman Behind The Bench In NHL History. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 04, 2024 - 05:30   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Just before 5:30 a.m. on the East Coast. That is the Statue of Liberty as we celebrate this Fourth of July in America. Good morning, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's wonderful to have you with us.

House Democrats have long viewed this upcoming election as a prime opportunity to win back the House -- that is until last week's debate. There is now growing panic in the ranks. Democrats fearing it's going to be difficult at best to flip competitive House seats if President Biden remains at the top of the Democratic ticket.

Two Democratic congressmen now calling on Biden to drop out of the race. Raul Grijalva telling The New York Times, "If he's the candidate, I'm going to support him, but I think that this is an opportunity to look elsewhere."

I also spoke with retired Congresswoman Annie Kuster. She represents a swing seat in New Hampshire. She tells me that she has been in talks with both the White House and the Biden campaign with "concerns about how the president's well-being is impacting House races, particularly in challenging districts."

Joining us to talk about all of this is Julia Manchester. She is national political reporter for The Hill. And Reese Gorman, political reporter for NOTUS. Good morning to both of you. Thanks for being here.



HUNT: Julia, let me just start with you with your latest reporting off The Hill. I spent a lot of yesterday talking to members to try to figure out where Democrats' heads were. There is some suggestion there might be a bunch of them ready to say something.

Congresswoman Kuster suggested to me that pressuring Joe Biden might not be the right move if there -- if, in fact, people do want him to step aside. That this is something he needs to come to on his own terms if he's going to do it. I've sort of heard that broadly inside the Democratic Caucus.

What are you hearing?

MANCHESTER: Yeah. I think this sentiment is certainly that, and I think there is still somewhat some trepidation of coming out and speaking publicly. But now that two congressmen have come out and called for him to step down, I think that could change the game.

I thought Congressman Seth Moulton also had a very interesting statement last night, essentially saying that he's going to take a long time to think about this.

But it's interesting to compare that to what happened at the White House during the governors' meeting last night. A source familiar with that meeting told me that essentially, the governors saw a Biden who had been stronger than in recent memory. He said he wanted to get back out there. He wanted to be unscripted.

But I think there's still a lot of trepidation, particularly among down-ballot Democrats. So I think it's going to be on those governors to kind of help try to rally down-ballot Democrats in their respective states.

HUNT: Yeah.

So, Reese, speaking of what happened at the White House yesterday, the governors' meeting, as Julia notes -- and we saw those governors come out -- and we played some of the sound earlier in the show -- and say we're behind him. We're going to do this.

But Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, had another pretty tough day behind the podium and here is what she -- it was kind of a long explanation of, like, why what happened at the debate happened. She blamed the cold and jet lag. Just watch this clip.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's the jet lag and also the cold, right? It is the two things and -- that occurred. And you all heard it in his voice when he did the debate, right? And it is not even something that we shared ahead of time. You heard it in his voice and we confirmed it. And I think that's important to note as well. Like, it is the get lag and the cold.

But I want to be really -- I want to be really clear here. This is not an excuse, right? This is not an excuse. You all asked for an explanation and we gave -- we're giving you an explanation. It is not an excuse.


HUNT: It's a bit of a cliche in politics but if you're explaining, you're typically losing.

GORMAN: Oh, yeah, 100 percent. And the thing is they've been explaining it a lot of different ways. They -- at first, it was a cold that they didn't tell people before the debate. They said that only after it started going downhill. And then Biden said that it was jet lag and kind of this, like, restlessness from traveling. But he was at Camp David for over a week before the debate. He had not traveled since then.

HUNT: Yeah, it's almost two weeks -- yeah.

GORMAN: Almost two weeks. And so, now they're -- the spin just keeps happening. You keep hearing different excuses. And we've never heard Biden mention the cold himself. He has always said it was this jet lag. It was this travel. He was restless. And the White House also said that he didn't take cold medicine.

And so there is a lot of, kind of, spin going on about what's happening and, kind of, the excuses for why Biden performed so badly at the debate.

HUNT: Yeah. I have a lot of questions about why you wouldn't give the guy cold medicine. I realize Donald Trump was running around saying --


HUNT: -- well, he's going to be on drugs, but he's done that every other time he's debated in the last however many years. If he needs cold medicine it doesn't seem like it should be a big problem.

Let's also look at the polling, Reese. Because we got this New York Times-Siena poll out yesterday that shows some movement -- basically, a three-point change. It seems like this is the likely voter screen. It's six points, 49 to 43 percent.

And look, the bottom line is, like, in this kind of polarized environment, like, that is a landslide.

GORMAN: That's a -- that's a lot and it's definitely not a good look for Biden. And especially -- I mean, looking at that, this is not what Biden wants and it's well without -- within -- well, outside the margin of error, rather.

HUNT: Yeah.

GORMAN: And that's a lot of ground to make up, and it's going to be very difficult to do, especially, like you said, in this polarized environment that we're in right now where a lot of people already have their minds made up. There's not a whole of these swing voters that you can kind of get to come your way. And that poll is not promising news for the Biden campaign.


HUNT: I mean -- and the one thing that really stood out to me Julia, from the governors' meeting, in particular, was that there were a couple that raised the prospect of major losses in what should be or what typically are very --

MANCHESTER: Right. HUNT: -- strong blue states. Maine and New Mexico were listed. I mean, the conversation I think in the political world also extends to Virginia and New Hampshire.


HUNT: These are places that Biden certainly needs in his column if he has any hope of winning the White House, but what the Democrats in the House and Senate also need.

MANCHESTER: Yeah, absolutely. And you can look to political forecasters who have already been predicting that. Remember, before the debate, Biden was already losing. The debate was I think meant to be a mechanism to somehow stop the bleeding. It obviously didn't do that.

Larry Sabato has rated Minnesota now from a more likely Democrat to lean Democrat.

In Virginia, it was interesting. The date after that debate, I was talking to Virginia Republicans. And one I was talking to before the debate -- a few days before and they said oh, that's going to be stretch for us. This is probably going to go to Biden. The day after the debate they said we're pretty confident we can do well in this state in November.

HUNT: Yeah, pretty remarkable.

Reese, you have been doing some reporting on just the shear mechanism and how it would work to replace Biden on the ticket because this is actually a significant thing that they're weighing, right?


HUNT: I mean, this is the latest in the process we've ever seen this happen. It is -- potentially. It obviously hasn't happened yet, but it would be the latest in the process any presumptive nominee would have stepped aside.

You say, "The upshot was that replacing Biden on the ticket would be 'extraordinarily difficult' and that 'we would make it extraordinarily difficult.'" This is the Oversight Project executive director.

Now, this is the Republicans who are trying to make it as hard as possible because it's worth noting all 50 states have their own laws about the ballots, et cetera.

Where are Democrats' heads on this right now?

GORMAN: Democrats' heads are spinning out of control right now. They are -- they are extremely worried about this prospect. I mean, not just the fact that -- say they do find a way to replace -- say they do replace Biden. That -- some of them might be like OK, cool -- we have a new candidate. But that's just the beginning.

This is going -- they're going to try to cause -- Republicans are going to try to cause as much chaos for them replacing Biden, whether it be litigation -- and it doesn't matter necessarily if they're successful in this litigation. It just -- imagine the -- kind of the picture of them fighting just to get their candidate on the ballot leading up to November. That is enough chaos to kind of be like strike some more kind of fear and questions into voters.

And then there's also fear of keeping Biden on the top of the ticket. And so, it's kind of a lose-lose situation right now for Democrats because they're afraid that if they keep Biden it's going to be a drag on a lot of these swing state members that really -- that you need in order to take back the House.

HUNT: Many of the -- all the polls and people I talk to have seen the internal polling shows these House candidates running way ahead of the president --


HUNT: -- right now.

All right, Julia Manchester, Reese Gorman. Thank you very much for being here --


HUNT: -- on this holiday. I really appreciate it.

REESE: Thanks for having us.

HUNT: All right. Happening now, polls open across the U.K. where voters are casting ballots in a general election. The prime minister, Risha Sunak, voting earlier this morning in Yorkshire. He is hoping to keep his Conservative Party in control.

CNN's Nada Bashir is live for us in London. Nada, good morning. Walk us through what we're going to see today.


Well look, there are 650 local constituencies -- 650 seats up for grabs in the House of Commons. And that is exactly what voters will be voting for in this local. They'll be voting for their member of Parliament -- their local representative. And each party is looking to secure a majority, so they're looking for that crucial number 326 or above in order to be able to command and establish a government.

And, of course, as you mentioned, polls have now opened across the United Kingdom just a little under four hours ago. They will remain open until 10:00 p.m. local time. That's 5:00 p.m. Eastern time. And, of course, once polls close, that is when the crucial counting begins.

Now, here in the United Kingdom, that counting process takes place overnight into the early hours of Friday morning. We may well, of course, get exit polls ahead of that time. But we will be waiting to see those vote counts coming constituency by constituency to get a better picture of where this year's election is heading. But that official result expected to be declared tomorrow. And, of

course, that is when the parties will have an idea of whether or not they have succeeded in winning this year's election and whether they will be able to declare a government.

Now, of course, voting is taking place up and down the country. We will have a better idea of where things stand later tonight. But, of course, there's still a long way to go before those polls close.

HUNT: All right, Nada Bashir for us live in London. Nada, thank you very much for that.

And now, here at home, parades, barbecues, and pool time -- just a few ways Americans celebrate the Fourth of July here in the U.S. But how will Americans who are overseas celebrate Independence Day?


CNN international correspondent Mike Valerio is joining us now live from South Korea where he is visiting the largest U.S. military installation overseas, Camp Humphreys. Mike, happy Fourth of July. How are the soldiers celebrating?

MIKE VALERIO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kasie, they are celebrating exactly as they would be were they back home. We are about 40 miles away from the heart of Seoul, South Korea and 16 miles from the border of North Korea, but this is quintessential Americana.

You know, a couple of minutes ago, I took a break. We had a splashpad over my left-hand shoulder and Korean barbecue over my right-hand shoulder, mixed with a Korean twist -- a little bit of Korean barbecue.

But Kasie, as you mentioned why we are here, this is the largest U.S. overseas military installation. So we're talking about not one, not 10, but 40,000 Americans who are -- who are connected to the U.S. DOD. And there is about a baby a day born in the hospital at Camp Humphreys. So for all of these new families this kind of celebration is so important for these new families who have not had a Fourth of July overseas.

And oh my God, I'm not sure if you can hear it in the background because of our little, tiny mic, but Hoobastank is playing. I don't know where you were, Kasie Hunt, in 2003.

HUNT: (Laughing).

VALERIO: I was listening to Hoobastank. The reason: it was, like, the anthem of sophomore year spring fling at Somers High School. So Hoobastank is here. Oh my God, they're playing "The Reason" right now.

Listen to Doug Robb. He's the lead singer of Hoobastank. He talked about what a unique environment this is. Listen to what he told us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DOUG ROBB, LEAD VOCALIST, HOOBASTANK: There's a lot of just gratitude and everybody seems so thankful and appreciative both ways, you know? And it's something that you can't replicate -- just go in and play a show, you know, at a theater somewhere. And it's really cool. I look forward to it. It does -- I can feel it, for sure.


VALERIO: So, Kasie, we have fireworks coming up in about two hours from now. We are hoping that the monsoonal rains hold off.

And two names, Kasie, we have not heard all day, Biden or Trump, interestingly, enough. I think it is not an understatement to say people are certainly motivated by a unique steadiness of purpose to defend the security posture of East Asia and the Korean Peninsula, putting all politics aside and enjoying this American moment, Independence Day 2024, Kasie.

HUNT: Pretty great. And we're showing our age, Mike. I have to say I haven't thought about Hoobastank since I was graduating from high school --

VALERIO: I know.

HUNT: -- in 2003. So here we are.

Happy Fourth, Mike. Enjoy it.

All right. Coming up next here, Democratic governors standing by their man, but for how long? Plus, Joey Chestnut, banned from the Nathan's hot dog eating contest -- he is now breaking his silence.



HUNT: All right, welcome back.

President Biden insisting that he's in it to win it, downplaying any suggestion that he'll step aside after last weeks debate performance.

House Democrats, of course, are growing increasingly uncomfortable with Biden staying at the top of the ticket.

Here was Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): He obviously has a very heavy decision to make. But he won the delegates and so he's in a situation where he gets to make that decision. But I do think that we don't have a lot of time for him to make that decision and we wish him godspeed in his deliberations.


HUNT: "We wish him godspeed."

Let's bring in Margaret Talev. She is a senior contributor at Axios and the director for the Institute for Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship at Syracuse University. Margaret, very grateful to have you on this holiday. Thank you very much for being here.

That sound bite from Jamie Raskin -- I mean, he's been one of the more -- he's been willing to be pretty candid in public I think in terms of reflecting what's happening behind the scenes.

What do you make of his comments there? And just where do you think this whole thing stands, kind of, at this writing in terms of the president's decision-making?

MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, AXIOS, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR DEMOCRACY, JOURNALISM AND CITIZENSHIP, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY (via Webex by Cisco): Kasie, I would read Jamie Raskin as being in that camp of Democrats that right now is trying to give the president space to reach a decision on his own, but to reach that decision.

And I think we're beginning to hear more of those kinds of conversations take place. Seth Moulton, sort of interesting comments in that direction. We're hearing Jim Clyburn say things like that he would support Kamala Harris if President Biden decided to make that decision.

So I think what you're seeing is number one, a recognition that President Biden probably has a matter of days, not weeks, to turn public opinion around. And number two, a belief by many Democrats that it's unlikely that he will be able to assuage voters' concerns but that it's still his decision. And that they want to see him, whether he's the candidate or not, be able to protect his legacy and sort of protect Democrats' chances at getting some momentum going.

But, you know, there's new CNN polling. You've seen it. It's really interesting. It shows that more than half of Democrats think that, sort of, someone who isn't Biden is the right person to take on Trump. But again, it's not clear who.

Vice President Harris, in this very early pretty speculative polling, seems to be the strongest of a number of candidates, all of whom are running behind Donald Trump in this sort of speculative race.\\


So, Democrats have had the same problem as they've been thinking about this since last Thursday, which is it -- can any Democrat win against Donald Trump in the year where the economy, the post-COVID hangover, inflation -- all of these issues are kind of pulling down against not just the candidates' incumbency but the party's incumbency. And then, if not -- if there really is a stronger candidate, who is it and how do they get there?

This is all playing out in the public eye, which is what makes it very, very unusual.

HUNT: Right. Well, and even -- I mean, Congressman Jared Golden from Maine was very blunt when he said --

TALEV: Yeah.

HUNT: He just said Donald Trump's going to win the election and I'm fine with that. Pretty remarkable comments from him.

Can we dig in for a second to kind of what you think and your view of Harris? You pointed to the polling. I would say that the conversations that I have been having also suggest that there is something of a coalescing behind her. Part of it seems to be, frankly, the logistics of the thing.

But there is also the reality that she has been on the national stage. She has been serving in this role. She did run in a presidential primary, which as we know, is a crucible that really tests candidates. She has been more vetted on the national stage than perhaps some of these governors, as talented as they may be.

Just go -- you know, call Ron DeSantis and ask how it feels to be the "frontrunner" when you've never done it before. People may tell you hey, watch out, this is a hard thing. But they don't tend to believe it until they actually go through it.

I mean, what is your, kind of, understanding of where these conversations are at the moment?

TALEV: Well, she's the vice president and she's his running mate. So it -- you know, it makes sense that she is the default candidate. She has some unique strengths and some unique liabilities.

I think her -- as a unique strength, again, she's in the number-two spot right now and she is a woman of color. And one of President Biden's challenges has been exciting his own base and turning out younger Democratic voters. So she does very well on that side of the equation.

She's also become sort of a favorite stalking horse of Republicans and Donald Trump, and you're seeing these early, sort of, ads and memes, and comments like "Stop, Kamala" which is meant to energize his base further.

So I think there are those sort of questions about what -- based on how Americans understand Vice President Harris' role in politics now, what elements of the American electorate would that turn out and sort of in what direction? What's the net direction?

But I think you're right both from the structural perspective and from a political perspective -- a perspective of upheaval. What could be the implications inside the Democratic Party if she were passed over or if this became contested.

HUNT: Um-hum.

TALEV: So there are a lot of variables to consider, but that's all secondary to the main consideration right now, which is -- is President Biden going to stand as the nominee again? And the thing that --

HUNT: Right.

TALEV: -- we are going to see in the Stephanopoulos interview and in these stops in the next couple of days in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania -- a really compressed time calendar for that -- for that test -- for that public test.

HUNT: For sure.

All right, Margaret Talev for us this morning. Margaret, very grateful to have you. Thank you so much.

All right, time now for sports. Major League Baseball has announced this season's All-Star Game starters headlined by plenty of fan favorites.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Andy, good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yeah, good morning, Kasie.

So this year's game -- it's in Arlington, Texas but it's going to feel a lot like a Phillies game. For the first time since 1982, Philadelphia -- three starters in the infield. You've got Bryce Harper at first, Trea Turner at second, and then you've got Alex Bohm -- Alec Bohm at third. Bohm having an awesome season this far. He leads the NL with 70 RBIs.

Shohei Ohtani, the Dodgers lone star, getting the nod at DH.

In the AL, meanwhile, Yankees, Astros, and Guardians all have two starters each. Aaron Judge is having yet another all-time great season. He is the only repeat starter on the American League squad.

All right. In the NHL, for the first time ever, we will see a female coach behind the bench next season. Jessica Campbell becoming the first woman to hold a full-time coaching role in the NHL with the Seattle Kraken, who named her an assistant coach yesterday. Campbell was also the first female assistant coach in the AHL where she worked for the Kraken's affiliate, the Firebirds.

As a player, she competed at the Division 1 level at Cornell and played professionally in Canada and Sweden before transitioning into coaching.

And here was Campbell on making some hockey history.


JESSICA CAMPBELL, FIRST FEMALE ASSISTANT COACH IN NHL HISTORY: You speak to the word first, to be the first, but that's never really where my focus is. It's always on the work, it's on the impact, it's on the job. And I know that if the team has success and that my impact is a good one, then it could potentially open up doors for others.

(END VIDEO CLIP) [05:55:09]

SCHOLES: All right, we're less than a month away from Paris Games and we're getting our first look at the basketball jerseys. You've got Kevin Durant and A'ja Wilson sporting what Team USA will be wearing there in Paris.

The men's squad -- they play their first game July 28 against Serbia. The women's team is going to face Japan July 29.

All right, and with it being July Fourth, that means it's time for the annual Nathan's hog dog eating contest. But unfortunately this year, many Americans, including some of my colleagues, will be boycotting the event after 16-time and reigning champ Joey Chestnut -- he has a rift with Nathan's over his partnership with Impossible Foods. He won't be competing. So we will have a new champion this year.

Chestnut, who holds the world record of 76 hot dogs in 10 minutes -- he will still be competing. He's going up against some soldiers at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. That's going to be YouTube.

But this is going to be first time since 2000 Kasie that we're not going to have Chestnut or Kobayashi to watch in the contest on July Fourth. They will be going head-to-head on Netflix on Labor Day, so we can wait for that to see who is the best once and for all. But it's the end of an era of the hot dog eating contest, but we will have a new champion so it could lots of fun.

HUNT: It is the end of an era. I can't watch this. I really -- I just -- I can't handle it.

SCHOLES: You don't like that buns dipped in water?

HUNT: I can't do it. I really can't.

But look, Andy, I'm kind of upset about your baseball report. You mentioned that there are two Yankee starters --


HUNT: -- on the All-Star team. You failed to mention that there are two Oriole starters --


HUNT: -- in the infield. Adley Rutschman catching and --

SCHOLES: -- I'm sorry.

HUNT: -- our Gunnar at short.

SCHOLES: I'm sorry. That was an omission. And right when I said it I was, like, ooh, I forgot about your Orioles. And I knew you were going to catch me on that. But, yes.

HUNT: I'm glad I've got O's orange. It's happenstance, you know? Here we are.

Andy, love you.

SCHOLES: All right.

HUNT: Thanks for being here. Happy Fourth.

SCHOLES: You, too.

HUNT: Coming up next, standing by Biden. Democratic governors reaffirming their support for the president.

Plus, I'm going to talk to Congresswoman Debbie Dingell about what the Biden campaign should be doing right now.