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Democratic Governors Meet With Biden: "We Have His Back"; Harris Stands By Biden Amid Campaign Uproar. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired July 04, 2024 - 06:00   ET




KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: It's Thursday, July 4th. Happy Fourth of July. Right now on CNN This Morning.


GOV. WES MOORE (D-MD): The President has always had our backs, we're going to have his back as well.


HUNT: Democratic governors rushing to the defense of the President.

Plus, President Biden speaks out, admitting that he made mistakes in last week's debate.

And then there's this, a dangerous display as fireworks set a New England Harbor on fire, bring you that.

And the deadly Hurricane Beryl pounding Jamaica, now on track to hit the Cayman Islands.

All right, 6:00 a.m. here in Washington, a live look at the White House on this Independence Day. Good Morning, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's wonderful to have you with us.

On this Independence Day, President Biden is weighing a decision that many in his party believe is critical to the future of the Republic. The President meeting, Wednesday, with more than 20 Democratic governors to try and shore up their support. "Politico" reporting that he told them he had a medical checkup after the debate and that he's in good health, but that he knocked on wood for effect. Knock on wood. Afterwards, several governors insisted they are still behind him.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): President Joe Biden is in it to win it. And all of us said, we pledged our support to him because the stakes could not be higher.

GOV. TIM WALZ (D-MN): What we saw in there today was a guy who was the guy that all of us believed in the first time who could beat Donald Trump.


HUNT: But behind the scenes, there are increasing concerns that Biden's faltering debate performance could put blue states in play for Republicans in a way that would be unimaginable otherwise, including potentially New Mexico, New Hampshire, Virginia, Maine. This is a -- comes as a New York Times/Siena College survey found Trump now leads 49 to 43 percent, among likely voters nationally, picking up a three point swing from a week earlier before the debate.

A Biden ally telling CNN that the President has privately acknowledged the reality that he may not be able to continue and that the next few days are critical. His "ABC" interview now set to air in primetime on Friday night. Here's what the President had to say in a radio interview, Wednesday.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had a bad night. And the fact of the matter is, that, you know, it was -- I screwed up. I made a mistake. That's 90 minutes on stage. Look at what I've done in 3.5 years.


HUNT: Biden spokeswoman, Karine Jean-Pierre, enduring another brutal day behind the podium trying to explain what happened.


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.


HUNT: And this morning, the White House waking up to the news that Reed Hastings the Netflix co-founder and top Democratic donor is calling for Biden to step aside. And I can tell you from my conversations with Democrats, the message that many are sending to President Biden is a tougher version of what Maryland Governor Wes Moore had to say after that meeting with governors.


MOORE: I think that, no, we always believe that when you love someone, you tell them the truth. And I think we came in and we were honest about the feedback that we were getting. We were honest about the concerns that we were hearing from people.


HUNT: All right, our panel is here. Let's bring in Alex Thompson, national political reporter for Axios, Meghan Hays, former special assistant to President Biden and Lance Trover, former spokesperson for North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum's 2024 presidential campaign. Welcome to all of you. Thank you for being here on this holiday. That doesn't quite feel like a holiday here in Washington. We're just rolling right along with this news.


Alex, let me start with you, because we've got a lot, you know, there's a lot of data points coming in, right, at this point. There was a statement from Seth Moulton. He didn't call him on the President to step aside. But he did say that we should have all viable options on the table. And he said that the status quo will likely deliver us, President Trump, there's Reed Hastings, we kind of tick through a whole bunch of these things that are happening. What is your latest reporting on what's going on inside the White House and what matter -- is mattering the most right now?

ALEX THOMPSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: The vibes are bad. And the thing is that the White House has been slow to realize the severity of the crisis they are facing. Joe Biden, after appearing to many people to potentially have, you know, have trouble with his civility, to be blunt about it and debate, has still, yet six days later, a week later now, has not done an unscripted moment in front of cameras with reporters. You know, he didn't appear at all at any extemporaneous --

HUNT: Or voters for them.

THOMPSON: Yes, or voters. And, you know, they basically bunker down over the weekend. They basically did nothing except for that North Carolina rally. They -- I harped on this a few times, but they didn't, Annie Leibovitz photo shoot with the family as the crisis within the party has grown. Now yesterday was the very first day you saw them try to stop this bleeding. And so he's finally, actually, he finally called Nancy Pelosi, finally called Hakeem Jeffries, the problem is that he should have done that 20 -- in the first 24 hours. And so this is potentially snowballed beyond the fact that and it is possible that it's actually really out of their reach now.

HUNT: Yes. I mean, Meghan, I guess that is my question, why? Why did it take them nearly a full week? I mean we are now one week from the debate as of today, and he's just calling these people?

MEGHAN HAYS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Look, I don't know, I'm not there anymore. I just -- I think that they were waiting to see how this set in. I think that they had a full day of events on Friday and Saturday. And I think that they were not expecting sort of the outcome that weren't to happen when he did, you know, he did have some unscripted moments. He did go to some stuff directly after the debate. He went to that OTR at the debate watch party, he went to the Waffle House, so and then he met with people voters in the -- when he went in North Carolina.

So he has had some, not to the severity that people would like to say, totally give you that. But I just think that they were waiting to see what was going to happen. And I think they have these things pre- planned. And just knowing sort of how they work, everything is very methodical, and they think through things. So I think, you know, they are now taking through what they need to be doing. So they did that call with staff yesterday for the campaign staff and the White House staff. They are doing an interview. Like, so he, you know, they are getting today things. The question is if it's too late, and we just won't know that until after these interviews and after the press conference next week.

HUNT: Yes.

THOMPSON: One last thing, just to add to that before bringing you in is like the other thing that's been really baffling is they can't keep their message straight. You know, the fact is that, you know, you just played that or, you know, you mentioned that Politico mentioned that he told people he had medical checkup. Well, Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters yesterday that he didn't have medical checkup. She also then said that it was just the cold.

Then Biden said no, it was the jetlag. Biden has still not even -- he had a sore throat. He hasn't really mentioned the cold. They cannot keep their story straight. It is a shifting explanations for a debate performance that honestly really is probably unexplainable.

HUNT: Yes. I mean, Lance Trover, I will say the thing that stuck out to me and "Politico" is reporting this, "ABC" has matched it. We're working on it here at CNN. "Politico" reported that the President knock on wood motion. I think that stuck out to me just because it's like, oh, man, the President staying in good health, knock on wood. I mean, that is a very sort of, on the nose demonstration of the moment we're in.

LANCE TROVER, FORMER SPOKESPERSON FOR 2024 DOUG BURGUM PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Look, I think we also need to take a step back because the issue of credibility here is because they have spent the last three and a half years, there have been questions that had been raised for three and a half years, and this White House has said time and again. Oh, no, no, everything's fine. Despite don't believe what you see on T.V. when some of these things happen. That's the issue we have right now is credibility.

"The Wall Street Journal" has story. Now, one month ago, very well sourced, well-documented story about the President's ability to serve and his fitness for office. And this White House enraged, went out and berated every reporter and anybody else who dared to ask about it. So the underpinnings of this as we get into their shifting explanations are that they don't have a lot of credibility going into this. And then last Thursday night happens, and lo and behold, 50 million people --

HUNT: Yes. Well, and look, to the issue of credibility and where this has stood, we pulled together a couple examples of debate performances gone by from President Biden, let's just watch what it was like. This is a VP debate, followed by a presidential debate in 2020, followed by what we saw on Thursday. Watch.


BIDEN: It has never been done before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been done a couple of times.

BIDEN: It has never been done before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates increase growth. Ronald Reagan --

BIDEN: Oh, now. Jack Kennedy.


BIDEN: Republicans amazed me.

Well, it is what it is because you are who you are. That's why it is. The President has no plan. He hasn't laid out anything. He knew all the way back in February how serious this crisis was.


Dealing with everything we have to do with -- look, if - we finally beat Medicare.


HUNT: I mean Meghan Hays, it's tough. I mean, and which of those presidents did you know, when you were in the White House?

HAYS: I did not know the one that showed up at the debate on Thursday. That was not the person that I worked for, and not -- so that's, you know, but again, I left over a year and a half ago. So I don't know what he's like now to work for. I was on the 20 campaign. So I definitely there. I also did the relax. So I saw that that person as well. And it's hard to watch. These are hard to watch moments. But I think the issue here is was that anomaly like they say or is that a less frequent person? And he -- is he able to do what he's been doing? And is the person who showed up in North Carolina and the person has been showing up since is that the President that he needs to go out and the voters to decide.

HUNT: Pelosi said, is this an episode or condition?

HAYS: Yes.

THOMPSON: Well, and he hasn't answered that question conclusively. And I don't think a 15 minute or 20 minute or however long the interview with George Stephanopoulos is going to satisfy those questions. Now, he has now said that he is going to do the George Stephanopoulos interview. He is going to do the big press conference next week with reporters. The problem is like and I don't know if it's going to be enough. This is still a President that has done less interviews and less unscripted interactions with reporters than any in history. To Lance's point, there is a credibility problem. Reporters do not believe them anymore. And that's part of the problem. HAYS: But it's not up to reporters to weigh them. It's up to the voter. So I think --

HUNT: Yes. But voters have less voting.

HAYS: A 100 percent. But I'm just saying that it's -- I don't know if it's a credibility problem with voters or if it's with reporters, and that's what it needs that -- he needs is that -- if he's staying in, then he needs to take his message to the voters.

THOMPSON: But don't you think part of the thing that's happening now is a lot of reporters are catching up to where voters have already been? Like voters have said that for forever in every poll for over a year that they thought like 70 percent of Americans can agree on anything, except they think that Joe Biden is too old.

HAYS: That's totally fair. I'm just saying it's not up to reporters to know if he's credible or not. It's up to the voters. Those are the people who ultimately he is serving here. And I understand the credibility issue. I'm not arguing that point. I'm just saying that if he stays in this race, he needs to take his argument to the voters and he needs to do more unscripted moments. I said that let Joe be Joe, get them out there. I totally agree. But this is up to the voters here.

HUNT: No. I mean, look, the -- I take both of your points that the voters have been telling us this. Frankly, the media has come in for some criticism for being too credulous and believing what the White House has said. So here we are.

Coming up next here, Vice President Harris standing behind her boss, there is plenty going on behind the scenes that we're going to dig into.

Plus, Israel and Hamas possibly inching closer to a ceasefire and hostage release deal.

Plus, Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell joins us live to talk about President Biden's prospects in her swing state on this Independence Day.



HUNT: All right, welcome back. Vice President Kamala Harris is standing behind her boss. But she's also waiting in the wings as Democrats grapple with who would replace Biden if he were to step aside. Harris was in the room, Wednesday, for that high stakes White House meeting between Biden and Democratic governors. She also had lunch with the President. One senior campaign source tells CNN the message that President Biden's team is sending is, quote, he's with her. CNN's Jeff Zeleny reporting that should Biden step aside several party officials and insiders -- officials and advisers say plans are underway for Biden to immediately throw his support behind Harris. She is treading carefully. Here's what she said earlier this week. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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 leave the country if necessary?

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


HUNT: So of course, there's also this headline in "The Washington Post," Democrats rallying around Harris as potential nominee, it's on the front page as President Biden continues to face questions. There are growing signs many of the Democratic Party are willing to accept the notion of Vice President Harris at the top of their presidential ticket, a potentially significant shift. And I have to say, I've been picking this up in my reporting, too. I mean, Alex, where do you think this sort of, I mean, it's all very quiet. It's all behind the scenes, but man, the elbows are being thrown, the conversations are being had among the people that would step up if Biden stepped aside.

THOMPSON: Yes, Kamala Harris is the clear front runner. And it's not clear who if anybody would actually challenge her for the nomination. But the thing is that she, you know, we talked about credibility, she is going to have to, first of all, answer the fact that she has been one of the main public validators of his health. Remember, after her report, she went out there and said, he is with it. He is commanding everything in the room, you know, she's going to have to sit down and answer tough questions.

I mean we talked about Joe Biden hasn't really been out there with reporters. You know, Kamala Harris, besides that initial CNN and "MSNBC" interview right after the debate, she has really been out there answering questions and she's going to -- they're going to be -- if Joe Biden drops out, the first week that she is out there is going to be critical, because if there's any signs of chinks in the armor, there are many, as you just said, there are many people in the wings that are ready to pounce as soon as she shows weakness.

HUNT: Yes. I mean, Meghan, this has been part of the difficult set of decisions that the President and his team have been facing is that they do view her as having weaknesses, right? But that said, bypassing her is very, very difficult for a variety of reasons. What is your sense of where people are right now? I mean are they kind of solidifying in terms of, OK, if we're going to do this, Kamala is going to be our person that questions about the VP. How do you envision something playing out where the President to step aside?


HAYS: Yes. I think that people, look, people cast ballots for her. Her name was on the ticket, so people did cast ballots for her. She will have -- she will get access to the money that they have raised together. She'll have an extreme money advantage. She also has a lot of name ID. So I just think it makes sense for her. It makes things a lot less messy. This is already going to be extremely challenging and very messy, if he is to step aside.

So it makes sense to put behind her and then find a VP candidate for her to choose a VP candidate that may, you know, be one of these other people that are waiting in the wings. I don't see how the Democratic Party picks somebody else for a variety of other reasons as well. You can't overstep the first black woman who is on the ticket. That just doesn't seem like that's going to bode well for our base.

But, you know, it just -- it's anyone's guess right now on what's going to happen. Also, it's going to depends, if the President does drop, the timeline in when he drops. If he drops in the next week, that's going to be a different scenario than a few drops in a month. And I think that's also should be taken into consideration here. There are rules with our conventions there, you know, so all these things matter, but I just don't see how we overstep the vice president.

HUNT: Lance Trover, I mean, how do Republicans look at this? President Trump, there's a video that "The Daily Beast" has no one's awake here yet to prove it, so I can't play it. But it -- he calls Kamala Harris pathetic. He uses swear words. He basically says, you know, dismisses her out of hand. How do Republicans view running against a potential Harris at the top of the ticket?

TROVER: Look, I think we've seen the polling. And -- I mean the one thing Republicans have going for them prior to this debate stuff as they were unified behind Donald Trump, right? It was Joe Biden, who is still struggling with African Americans, Latinos, some of his base. And so if they're going to go into and he steps aside, there's probably going to be a fight. And I don't think that helps their unification on their side at all. So I think if you're the Trump campaign, you just kind of keep doing what you're doing and take a step back if your opponent's tripping over themselves.

HUNT: Yes. Those Veep steaks -- that Veep steaks chatter that was so loud right before the debate suddenly disappear. Where did that go?

All right, coming up next here, explanations or excuses how the Biden campaign is trying to move past the debate disaster.

Plus, Hurricane Beryl's next target and your holiday weekend forecast ahead.

And here's a live look at Nashville. They are setting up for their Fourth of July celebrations tonight on Broadway.




HUNT: All right, welcome back. This morning, Hurricane Beryl is bearing down on the Cayman Islands after battering Jamaica as a category 4 storm. Beryl has now weakened a little bit to a category 3 but it's still packing a life threatening storm surge and 120 mile an hour winds. At least one person died in Jamaica bringing the storm death toll across the Caribbean to eight. Let's get to our meteorologist, Elisa Raffa, for the latest here. Elisa, we're now seeing storm watches and warnings in Mexico as well.

ELISA RAFFA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, that's one of the next places that we're worried about. We have hurricane force conditions starting pretty soon in the Cayman Islands. Conditions getting better in Jamaica. The warnings there were allowed to be dropped. But we still have a category three 120 mile per hour hurricane right now. We still have major hurricane status as it gets towards the Cayman Islands. Winds right now are gusting up towards 51 miles per hour, parts of the Cayman Islands.

And you can see where the conditions have gotten better back towards Kingston in Jamaica. So as we go through the day today. We're looking at the hurricane conditions in the Cayman Islands. Then by tomorrow we're looking at another landfall likely somewhere, you know, in Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun, Cozumel. We could be looking at storm surge up to four to six feet, intense rain as well.

Hurricane force conditions starting there going into tomorrow, then it gets back into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. And we can find it really intensify a little bit as it heads towards another landfall. Rain totals on the Yucatan Peninsula could be looking at four to six inches, maybe even up to 10 inches in some locations that could cause some flash flooding. After that, we'll have to see what it does in the Gulf of Mexico before it heads possibly to South Texas. Kasie?

HUNT: All right, Elisa Raffa, for us this morning. Elisa, thank you very much.

All right, coming on next here, team Biden facing criticism for their handling of the aftermath of the President's disastrous debate. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan is here to share her thoughts for the Biden campaign.

Plus, President Biden honoring two Union soldiers from the Civil War on this Independence Day.



BILL PULLMAN, ACTOR: We will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish without a fight. We're going to live on. We're going to survive. Today, we celebrate our Independence Day.