Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) Says, Biden Campaign Has Fumbled the Debate Fallout; White House Pushes Ban on First Lady's Role in Biden Decision; Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) Says, We Don't Have a Lot of Time for Biden to Decide. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 04, 2024 - 06:30   ET





REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): They've clearly fumbled this, and I think that we have to be honest about that. I think there are as many for me as many questions about President Biden's advisers, both those who did the debate prep and those who are continuing to give him advice, as there are for me about President Biden himself.


KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Not exactly a ringing endorsement for Team Biden. That was Democrat Katie Porter of California. She is not the only one in the party who thinks that the president isn't being well served by his top advisers, and that it may be too late.

Sara Fischer, senior media reporter for Axios, is joining our discussion now. Sara, you've kind of looked at this from, you know, the perspective that you often do in terms of whether or not this is even recoverable from an optics perspective. What have you been hearing from people? Yes, there's been a lot of blaming of the staff. There's been a lot of questions about, okay, what is he doing now? Could he make a difference if he does it now? But the reality is the country can't unsee what happened last Thursday.

SARA FISCHER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA ANALYST: That's exactly right. So one of the things that the president is trying to argue is don't look at this 90-minute debate, look at my 3.5 years. Well, the challenge also works on the flipside. If you don't want us to believe what we saw, then give us multiple examples of you being able to do a live, unscripted interview so we can see that this was just a one-off, if that's what you claim.

So, the challenge that they now face is the ABC News interview isn't going to be enough. They're going to have to show and demonstrate that he can do this repeatedly, and, by the way, in an unscripted format.

[06:35:04] I can't stress that enough. You know, him doing rallies in Raleigh is not going to convince the American people that he's got to hold on this. Him doing press conferences where he has a teleprompter is not going to convince the American people. He needs to be in an interview where he's being pressed live in a spontaneous moment so people can see whether or not he can really be quick on his feet.

HUNT: Well, I mean, that's, that's the, the ultimate question at hand. Meghan Hays, can you kind of take us inside the dynamics of the inner circle of Biden world, because the closest is obviously his family? We're going to talk about them in a second. But the next ring out of people, it's this sort of cadre of aides and advisers that have been with him a long time. And then there's Anita Dunn and Bob Bauer, Bob Bauer, his personal attorney, Anita, well known to those of us in Washington, she's been around this town a long time.

There seems to be some blame for Anita Dunn and Bob Bauer going around town on this. But, obviously, you know, the president himself, to his credit, actually, in my opinion, does not seem to be blaming the staff publicly, but there are some people talking behind the scenes, blaming them.

MEGHAN HAYS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Yes, absolutely. I mean, these people have been around him for many, many years, probably. I mean, I think Mike Donilon has been around for 40 years with him. Anita worked in the Obama White House and knew him then, and she's also been around, you know, in his -- the off-time, the off-years. And then on the campaign, she was very involved. I think that Bob has been his personal lawyer for a very long time, but it was also in the Obama White House.

So, these people have been around President Biden for an extremely long time. So, they know him very, very well. It is -- to your -- what you were just saying is he would never blame staff. That is not how the president would ever, He will always take the blame before he blames staff. That's just not how he conducts himself. He does not fire people. That's been reported many times, very notorious. But these are people Very notorious. They don't fire people. And so I just -- you know, these people have just been around him for a really long time, know him very well.

But to that, there's also been -- you sort of get blinded by some of these other things that people are pointing out and that the media has been pointing out. So, it does have a little bit of a weird juxtaposition here that it's great to have all these people who know you so well, but then are they also the ones telling you the truth. That I don't know. When I was there, you know, Anita and Steve and, you know, Ron was there and Mike and Mike Donilon and Bruce Reed. They do speak truth to power. I've seen them speak truth to power.

You know, there's other people also around Secretary Blinken, Jake Sullivan, there's a lot of people that have been around him for a long time that do speak a lot of truth to power here. So, they're not naive to this, but they are going to close ranks and, you know, this is something that's good to have loyal advisers. He very much values the loyalty of them. ALEX THOMPSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Well, one, one thing really quick to add to that, I do find it really striking the fact that, you know, Anita and Bob, while their names are being out there and blamed, they are also the ones that have been around him for the shortest amount of time. And, I mean, they've been with him since 2015. But, you know, Steve Ricchetti, Bruce Reed, Mike Donilon have been with him for decades and are not being blamed in this conversation, which is really striking.

And even though I think Meghan says that she's seen them speak truth to power, there is a feeling among a lot of Biden worlds that they are much less willing to do that to Joe Biden than Anita and Bob and Ron Klain have been. And part of this is because there is a culture within parts of Biden world that if you raise problems that it can be deemed as potentially disloyal.

And so I think like the most important aides right now are Mike Donilon, Bruce Reed, Steve Ricchetti, Anthony Bernal, first lady's top adviser, and Annie Tomasini, those are the people that are really going to determine the next three weeks of this presidency.

HUNT: And, of course, it's also really going to come down to his family, because this big decision, to stay in the race or go, is going to be very dependent on what the family thinks most of all, and possibly exclusively. The White House is pushing back on reports that First Lady Jill Biden is hiding details of her husband's condition. Other Biden family members, though, now suggesting the campaign needs to clean house. That's the staff.

NBC News is reporting that Jill Biden believes that now is the time for the president to keep fighting on. And this reasoning stuck out to me. They write, quote, she pointed to all they have endured since Biden decided to run for the White House, including attacks on Hunter Biden and criminal investigations into their son that have publicly exposed some of the family's darkest and most painful moments to make the point that now is the time to fight, two people familiar with the conversation said.

Meghan, you're nodding. Expound.

HAYS: Look, I think that they are a family that's been through a lot from the time his I'm not sure wife passed and when the car accident was killed with his wife and daughter. He has endured a lot in his life and as a politician, I do think that they are fighters. I do think that that is Dr. Biden's general mode of operating here is to fight. She also is very supportive.

I would push back a little bit on the hiding his condition. I'm not sure that that he has a condition to push back on. He is old, like he has in 81-year-old man. So, that's not being hidden. So, I don't think that's a fair assessment for Dr. Biden, but she does have a lot of say here and she does have a lot of influence within the West Wing and to the president.

[06:40:05] And so I don't think that that should go unnoticed and/or untalked about because it is important that the family and her have a lot of influence on this.

HUNT: Yes.

FISCHER: One thing I'll say on that influence, you got to be careful not to exert too much of it, we see after the debate, Jill Biden looks like she has to be his pep rally talk person, right? Obama looks like he has to sort of hold the president's hand. You want to show that you're supporting the president but not that you have to hold his hand throughout it because that makes the age thing look worse.

HAYS: 100 percent. But the President Obama and the first lady are two different people. The first lady is his wife. That is a very different dynamic and relationship and her goal and her responsibility as a wife and the first lady are different than the president or other members of this party.

FISCHER: I don't know if the American people see it that way. I think they see a president who's being held by his closest people up because he's too old to do it.

HAYS: I just disagree. I think that the role of a wife and a spouse is so different than the role of your advisers and the role of President Obama. It's just it's not even the same. It's literally not the same.

HUNT: That makes sense. I do have some questions around like the Vogue cover though, right, kind of the stepping out. Because I do think because that role is different, the risk for Jill Biden is the perception that she's running the show, right?

HAYS: Absolutely. But I think that, you know, as everyone knows here how media does their timing, this was probably planned a long time ago, months in advance, obviously that photo and the cover was put together weeks ago. I don't think that they were planning to have Thursday night happen the way that they were, obviously. We're all sitting here talking about that they had a slow strategy to, to solve the problem. So, they didn't have a plan B here, right?

So, I think that that's a little bit of an unfair criticism. It does give that perception now. Totally fair to have that now, but I don't think this would be an unnormal thing going into the convention to have her on the cover of Vogue.

THOMPSON: Really quick though on the Vogue thing, I asked them, because it's the August cover. And they, and I asked them point blank, did you call Vogue and just say, hey, do we have to drop the digital edition? Can you wait a week? And they just did not answer, if they'd reached out to Vogue and asked. And I thought it was very telling. They did not answer that. I think it also speaks a little bit to the bunker mentality that nobody thought that maybe this was a potentially bad idea in terms of timing. Now, it was months in the planning.

But one thing I'd be curious to get your take on the Meghan is, you know, for so much of her career, Biden's career, Jill Biden was an unenthusiastic political spouse, a reluctant political spouse. But then you've really seen, especially the last few years, but really the last several months, she's become an incredibly enthusiastic political spouse. I'm curious if you -- I don't know, like, if you have an opinion why.

HAYS: I mean, I think it's -- she did a lot of travel when we were in the vice president's office. She's done a lot of stuff on the campaign trail. I mean, she gave up teaching to be on the campaign trail with us in '20. So, you know, she's always been there and enthusiastic behind the scenes. Maybe the media wasn't covering her as much as they are now. I do think she's a very influential figure.

I think when you step into the role of first lady, we saw with Michelle Obama, you become elevated. People expect you to do things. You know, it's a volunteer position. She does not, like she's getting paid for doing this, but she's out all the time. She still is teaching to my knowledge. I think she taught last semester.

So, I do think that the media is covering it more and paying attention more, but I also think that she wants to be there for him, she wants to be supportive. This is their family doing this. This isn't just President Biden. This is their family. And so I think, you know, she is being more -- she's being supportive in a way. I think that is understandable. But, I mean, I just think the media is covering it more.

HUNT: All right, very interesting. Sarah Fischer, very grateful to have you on this holiday. Thank you so much for coming in.

All right, ahead here, excuses or explanations, how the White House is framing President Biden's debate performance.

Plus, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell joins us as the Democratic Party tries to bounce back from a very tough night.



HUNT: All right, 47 minutes past the hour. Here's your morning roundup. A barge carrying fireworks in the New England water caught fire overnight ahead of July 4th festivities. Marble heads, fireworks and harbor show that was scheduled for later tonight has now been canceled. Local officials are still investigating the cause.

Talks between Israel and Hamas reportedly heating up. An Israeli source tells CNN the two sides are on the brink of hammering out a framework agreement for a ceasefire and a hostage deal. The plan still awaiting the blessing of Prime Minister Netanyahu.

President Biden honoring two Union soldiers for their heroics in 1862. Descendants of privates -- two of these privates, Philip Shadrach and George Wilson, receiving their medals of honor. The two soldiers dressed as civilians, they hijacked a Confederate train in Georgia and they drove it north for nearly 90 miles destroying enemy infrastructure along the way.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Until the very end, George and Philip believed in the United States of America, the only nation on Earth founded on an idea.


HUNT: All right, let's get back to politics now. The inescapable fact is that time is not on President Biden's side. He knows it, and he has admitted privately the coming days and hours will make or break his reelection hopes after that disastrous debate performance. His closest allies know it, too.


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, you know, wish him Godspeed in his deliberations.


HUNT: And joining me now is Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan. Congresswoman, very grateful to have you on the show this morning, I really appreciate you starting off your 4th of July with us.

I just kind of want to start with where do we stand. I mean, Jamie Raskin there seemed to be saying, let's decide this quickly. He didn't say it out loud, but it seemed to be like let's make a decision to get off the ticket relatively quickly. Is that how you heard it? Where do you stand on the timeline that you think that the president has here?


REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): Well, good morning, Kasie. Happy 4th. And I hope you go to lots of parades today. I want to be -- first of all, I want to say, I guess, I'm getting in this mood of why is everybody not talking about Donald Trump and the lapses that he has made too, just as an aside. But the fact of the matter is, I think a lot of -- most -- everybody loves Joe Biden, not most people, in the Democratic Party. He's done a good job. He's done incredible, the leadership he's shown for three and a half years. People love him. They respect him. Anything that's done, they want to show that respect and that love.

And yet, you know, there's a lot of fear and there is, quite frankly, fear all over the place. There is panic by some that are running for re election, but, quite frankly, there are a very real number of people that understand the delegate process, the nominating process, the convention process, how complicated it would be to replace and are worried about other untested candidates.

And people that really believe Joe Biden can still do the job. I have talked to everybody all over the place. I think that the one clear thing this week is that there's only one person that can show he is up to the job, has the stamina to do the job, that he will do the job, and that is Joe Biden. And he needs to get out there on a sustained basis and do things spontaneously.

One interview is not going to reassure folks. We got to be realistic because, you know what, I make mistakes all the time. And now he's got a thousand cameras on him, a microscope waiting for a mistake to happen any minute. What he does have to do is show he is strong, he has the ability to do the job and reassure people.

But I also want to ask people to start -- why are we only focused on Joe Biden? Donald Trump didn't have a great night. Nobody's talking about that. And he, too, is only three years younger than Joe Biden. And I would argue, at times, has really shown some signs in some of his rants. So, we're at an interesting time. Is that a good way to put it?

HUNT: I mean, it's an understatement, but, yes, fair enough. I mean, look, I think that --

DINGELL: Can you think of a few more adjectives?

HUNT: Go ahead. More adjectives? No.

DINGELL: No, I'm going to behave. Okay. It's Independence Day. This is the day we celebrate our democracy and think about the importance of having to protect it.

And I am going to say that, you know, when I was in grade school, we learned about freedom of speech, freedom of religion, due process, freedom of press. We take that for granted in the United States of America. On the 4th of July, it's a good time to remember what is at stake with the ruling by the Supreme Court on Monday, things we all think we just have, we take for granted that other countries don't, that we have seen happen in other countries in history. Maybe today's a good day to take stock of our freedoms and that we can't take them for granted and what we have to do to protect them.

HUNT: So, I'm glad that you framed it this way, because I had actually pulled up something from the speech that Joe Biden gave near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where he talked about many of the themes that we celebrate on the 4th of July. Let me just play a little bit of it to remind people, and then I'll ask you about it on the other side. Watch.


BIDEN: Is democracy still America's sacred cause? I mean it. This is not rhetorical, academic, or hypothetical. Well, the democracy is still America's sacred cause is the most urgent question of our time.


HUNT: So, if this is the most urgent question of our time, and you say you want to talk about Donald Trump, it seems to me that the main challenge facing President Biden is that the debate showed many Democrats that he simply cannot beat President Trump. Is the threat of President Trump so great that the imperative is that Joe Biden should step aside?

DINGELL: So, I don't think the debate showed Thursday night that Joe Biden can't beat Donald Trump. I think what President Biden has to show the people of this country, and it's the American people. I'm tired of people saying, oh, he's got to talk to the donors, he's got to talk to the members. You know, he's got to talk to the American people. And he's got to show them what is that state?

And I do think democracy is -- you know, I do think the economy is a very critical issue right now, too, Kasie. And we cannot not talk about the economy from now until November.


I've been home. Like I've been trying to do my day job in between all the drama of the last few weeks, but we really scolded -- the ruling by the Supreme Court on Monday have scared a lot of people, but Joe Biden has to show people why he can take Donald Trump on because he's the only person that can.

In the end, I've had more than one person say to me, and I've given a lot of speeches and talked to a lot of people and, by the way, when you're out in the real world, some people really care. The engaged voter in educated communities has one opinion. But you go to my down rivers, they're really focused on the economy, like why is everybody only talking about the debate? Why aren't they talking about the issues that, like I'm really scared about, like my groceries, my job, is it safe, what's happening with trade, they're worried about new viruses that they're hearing. It's a complicated time out in our country.

But there's only one person who can show the American people, and he has to do it now urgently and on a sustained basis. Yes, I will take Donald Trump on. I can take Donald Trump on. I will take Donald Trump on, and I will win.

HUNT: Do you think he's waited too long, President Biden? Is it too far gone?

DINGELL: I don't think anything's too far gone. You know -- and, by the way, you're like the only person that has asked me about polls in the last 24 hours. I'm going to remind everybody.

HUNT: You're talking about the voters. I mean, the voters are telling you that Joe Biden is losing to Donald Trump and that it's worse now than it was before the debate.

DINGELL: Some are. But some aren't. I had an African-American male who was -- I can't vote for Joe Biden. I just can't. He told me that six months ago. He said to me this week, that debate made me realize why I have to vote for Joe Biden. So, we have to do that.

And the early polls are exactly that, Kasie, the early polls. Remember, the polls showed Hillary Clinton was going to win. You all told me I was crazy. I said she's going to, by the end, when we got to November, I said, Donald Trump is going to win. Every one of you said to me, nope, polls show how strong she is. Well --

HUNT: Not me, to be clear. I did not say that. I came in for a lot of heat from Hillary's people for that.

DINGELL: How many people rolled their eyes at me? You told everybody --

HUNT: I did. They rolled their eyes, yes.

DINGELL: They did. They were like, oh, there's Debbie. Well, it's just way too early. It's just --

HUNT: There's a lot more Debbie Dingells out there this time for Biden. I mean, some of those governors went in there and they said, like New Mexico, New Hampshire, Maine, Virginia. I mean, there are a lot more warning signs at a lot more states right now for Biden even than there was during that time you're referencing.

DINGELL: Okay. That's what I'm trying to tell you. He's got to go out there and show it this week. That is where time's not on his side. The White House staff can't wrap him in bubble. They got to put him out there quick. I mean, I'm blunt. He should have been on the phone Friday. Took too long to get on the phone, took too long to talk to people. I'm glad that the governors and the importance -- can you imagine what it was like for the number of governors that flew in yesterday, the Wednesday before the 4th of July? 4th of Julys are big deals for politicians like me. I have four parades this morning. But they all flew in or a lot of the critical governors flew in. You know, Governor Wes Moore didn't have that long way to go.

HUNT: But he probably hopped in a car, yes. No, it's a good point.

DINGELL: It shows the importance of it. But Joe -- they are not bullshitters, you know? Like some of those -- excuse my language on cable, but --

HUNT: That's where we are.

DINGELL: Many of those governors are not -- I know them. I know all of them. They're going to tell the truth and they're not going to go out and put their reputations on the line. But Joe Biden has got to show people. I think I haven't talked to anybody in the meeting yet. I probably will this morning. But they wouldn't have come out of there if they didn't see something that made them say they have his back, he can do the job. Now, he's got to show the American people the same thing. He has to talk directly to the American people.

HUNT: All right. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, very grateful to have you on this holiday, thank you so much.

DINGELL: Thank you.

HUNT: Panel is back. Alex, your reaction, what she said. THOMPSON: Well, so I think there are two conversations happening here, which is, one, can Joe Biden still beat Trump? But I think that has obscured what is potentially even a more important conversation, which is, can he do the job he is running for four and a half years from now? Is he mentally fit to actually do that job? And I think that's the question a lot of Democrats are asking. It's like, well, it's not just about, can he win? It's like, what happens if he does win, you know, a year from now, two years from now? And, you know, will he start missing stuff? Will he have to step down? And, you know, there's more to being president than not being Donald Trump.

HUNT: All right. Unfortunately, Meghan, you have been on the hot seat all show, I'm going to give you a break because we're going to talk about Joey Chestnut. Lance, thank you. I'm sorry that you are more part of the furniture. Come back for veep stakes.

LANCE TROVER, FORMER SPOKESPERSON FOR 2024 DOUG BURGUM PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Like I said, when your opponent's like volleys, don't get in the way.


HAYS: Thank you for that.

HUNT: All right. I do want to leave you with this today. Reigning champion, hotdog eating champion, Joey Chestnut may have lost his seat at the Nathan's 4th of July hot dog eating contest on New York's Coney Island, but it appears to have only fed the competitive eaters appetite. Chestnut still planning to down hot dogs. He's just going to be doing it against soldiers at the Fort Bliss Army Base in Texas. Despite the change of venue, there is still a gastrointestinal challenge. Chestnut says he is hoping to out eat the winner of the Nathan's contest in half the time. Guess we'll see who cuts the mustard.

All right, thanks very much to our panel. Thanks to all of you for joining us on this 4th of July holiday. I am Kasie Hunt.

Don't go anywhere. CNN News Central starts right now.