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Erin Burnett Outfront

Biden To Tout "America's Comeback" In State Of The Union Tonight. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 07, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Live from Capitol Hill. And the stakes here could not be higher. The president about to deliver his State of the Union Address, one of the biggest audiences that he will have before Election Day. And we have new details on what the president is about to say.

Plus, Trump welcoming a strongman to Mar-a-Lago. Hungary's far-right authoritarian prime minister getting the red carpet treatment tomorrow. Is it a sign of how Trump wants to run this country?

And should Trump be allowed to get classified intelligence briefings again? It's a question that is now front and center as he is about to formally clinch the Republican nomination.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening and welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT. I'm Erin Burnett and I am live tonight on Capitol Hill.

And we begin with the breaking news, President Biden is set to arrive here soon to deliver his state of the union address to what is I mentioned could be the largest audience that he will get, all at one time before Election Day.

This is a moment that he must seize. It's a Biden-Trump rematch is now where the country is. According to new excerpts that are married much -- that rematch is very much on the president's mind tonight. It doesn't actually name Trump in these excerpts, but he does draw a clear distinctions between himself and Trump, like this.

And I quote from the speech that will all here tonight: My lifetime taught me to embrace freedom and democracy. A future based on the core values that have defined America, honesty, decency, dignity, equality, to respect everyone, to give everyone a fair shot, to give hate no safe harbor.

Now some other people see my age -- my -- other people my age see a different story, an American story of resentment, revenge, and retribution. That's not me.

Some people of my age, its obviously clear who he's talking about and there's so much pressure riding on this biggest speech so far of the election year.

Last year, more than 27 million people watched President Biden's address on television and another nearly 2 million on YouTube. Earlier today, I had a chance to sit down with the president and other journalists for an off the record conversation at the White House. And what I can tell you is this, it was a substantive conversation. The president spoke for 90 minutes and a very free -- freewheeling back- and-forth without notes.

His comments were extensive and expansive on a wide range of issues. And it was clear that Biden knows the seriousness and the importance of tonight, as he is now preparing to go head-to-head with Donald Trump and the election itself.

Now one thing we should not necessarily expect when the president starts speaking is civility on the floor. In fact, Biden is anticipating jeers from the Republicans. Congressman Lauren Boebert who has heckled Biden in the past, telling CNN, quote, I don't even promise my pastor I'm going to hold back in church.

We have a lot to cover in the next hour as we count down to this momentous speech. But I want to start with MJ Lee because she is OUTFRONT live outside the White House.

And, MJ, what are you learning about Biden's speech tonight?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, this is a speech that President Biden and his top aides have been working on for months, and they all understand the gravity of the speech and the gravity of this moment. This is an audience that he's not going to get again before he have to face voters again come November, and he has a very serious selling job to do. He needs to sell that he is theater built for this moment.

And we very much expect that a significant part of this speech, as you noted, is going to be about selling this idea that he has brought on and economic recovery since the peak of the pandemic. And according to excerpts that we got, he will say to this point, I came to office determined to get us through one of the toughest periods in our nation's history. And we have. It doesn't make the news, but in thousands of cities and towns, the American people are writing the greatest comeback story, never told. So lets tell that story here and now.

Erin, I have to tell you, you know, all of the policy issues aside, the president is going to be graded tonight just as much on his performance. You know, you mentioned that off the record lunch you have with the president earlier today that he was speaking for 90 minutes back-and-forth with journalists without using any notes. That is the side of the president that White House officials and campaign officials want to showcase more.

So, tonight, when he is speaking in that House chamber, is he showing vigor when he's ad-libbing, which he tends to do a lot? Is he going to make sure that they are clear of mistakes? So that is something that we should be really watching out for because so many of the people that are tuning in tonight, they want to see.


They want to see how the president performs in addition to listening to all of the different policy areas that we expect him to delve into, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. MJ, thank you very much.

And I want to go OUTFRONT now to Anita Dunn, the senior adviser to President Biden.

And, Anita, in that excerpt that I just read, it's clear it's about Trump when he says now some people -- other people my age see a different story in American story of resentment, revenge and retribution. That's not me.

Obviously doesn't use his name there, but how much tonight will we hear the president talk about Trump and draw a contrast, a very obvious contrast between the two of them?

ANITA DUNN, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Erin, thank you for having me on this evening.

Tonight, the American people will hear the president lay out his vision for what comes next in this country. He'll talk about the importance of defending freedom. He'll talk about these threats toward democracy and the importance of everyone Republicans and Democrats to commit themselves to a democracy that makes so much possible.

And he'll talk about his determination to make sure that the middle- class and working class in this country are the ones who grow the economy, that we grow the economy by growing the middle-class, by lowering costs for them, by investing in programs that are going to help them. And that he's going to bring very much his orientation as someone who grew up in Claymont, Delaware, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to that economic argument.

BURNETT: So, obviously, you know, you're talking about the economy and its clear that's going to be front and center. The president from other excerpts that have been shared with us is going to say the U.S. is making the, quote, greatest comeback story.

Now, obviously, inflation is down, although prices are still rising, but by much less than they were. Unemployment is as much, much lower. These are true points.

But there are issues, Anita. Housing costs are still 19 percent higher since Biden took office. Thirty-year fixed rate mortgages, when Biden took office, was 2.77 percent now, it's 6.88 percent to obtain that same mortgage. Those affect Americans every single day.

How does President Biden talk about that tonight? Does he address that pain directly?

DUNN: Erin, I'm so glad you raised housing costs because the president will address it very directly. He'll say rents are too high. He'll say it's too tough to get a mortgage if you're a first-time home buyer and that it's such an important thing because it's one of the ways that you really address the wealth gap in this country. He'll talk about coming out of this pandemic and the fact that four years ago this week was when the country really shut down.

And obviously, the supply -- the supply chain disruptions we so all of the labor disruptions we saw all of this disruptions from the worst pandemic in over a century left this economy with all kinds of tensions in it, and we're still working those out.

But he'll address housing costs directly. He'll address other cost directly because he understands. He grew up in a family where they didn't have a lot of money lying around. He knows that the American people, American families, need a break here, need a little breathing room at the end of the month.

So, yes, and he'll talk very directly about housing tonight.

BURNETT: And, you know, to that point on housing, though, there are some new polling that shows 40 percent of voters saying that Trumps policies helped them personally. But when you ask them the same question about President Biden, only 18 percent say that his policies have helped them personally. I'm sure that's a point of great frustration for you and your team, and the president.

How do you overcome this, those numbers, in the next few months?

DUNN: You know, Erin, if you try to govern by polls, you're not going to govern very well. Good government is at the end of the day the best answer for any of this. The president came to office, determined to do his best for the American people. And that's what he's going to continue to do and he'll address issues that they care about -- housing, the cost of health care and prescription drugs, which he's bringing down.

He'll address, shrinkflation, and the fact that you feel like you're getting less for the same amount of money while corporate profits stay very high. And he'll address a tax code that rewards the wealthiest and that by the way, his predecessor put big chunks of it into place. And he'll talk about the need to make the wealthiest and the large corporations pay a little more of their fair share so that the middle- class and the working class aren't bearing all of the burden.

So, he's going to talk about these things and he's going to take his case to the American people today and in the future.

BURNETT: And, Anita, he is going to announce a new plan to raise taxes on corporations. You all made that clear today, which includes raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, right, from a minimum of 15.


DUNN: Minimum of 21, of 21.

BURNETT: A minimum of 21, I'm sorry.

DUNN: Yeah.

BURNETT: Biden had proposed that same idea in 2020, but he failed to get that through Congress. And Democrats, obviously, were in charge. So is this just sort of a rhetorical putting a policy marker in the ground? Or do you actually think you can get this done now?

DUNN: Well, Erin, next year, big chunks of that 2017 tax package, the one that exploded the deficit and the debt by $2 trillion, the ones that gave huge tax breaks to the wealthiest and the largest corporations at the expense of the middle-class and the working class, a lot of that comes up for renewal. So, 2025 is a time when I think there's going to be a big tax debate in this country in the precedent is making it very clear what his priorities are going to be. And more importantly, who his priorities will be. And that's the middle-class and the people work for a living in this country.

BURNETT: All right. Anita Dunn, thank you very much, senior adviser, of course, to President Biden.

And OUTFRONT now, Dan Cluchey, the former senior speech writer for President Biden, who worked on multiple major Biden speeches during the 2022 State of the Union speech and the 2021 inaugural address. And David Litt, speechwriter for then-President Obama.

Okay, thanks very much to both you.

So here we are, we're less than two hours away from -- this could be a major speech from Biden, and I think safe to say my interpretation from spending time with him today is he's going to take his time and he's going to talk about a lot of things.

We know he reached out to TV presidents, TV presidents like Morgan -- Morgan Freeman, Geena Davis. Yeah. I mean, why do you think he did that?

DAVID LITT, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, can I say, you neglected Bill Pullman, who I think is the best TV president's speech has gotten.

BURNETT: I know, I was not always --



LITT: That's true.


LITT: What I was going to say about that is I feel like there were two things going on. First of all, it's just a nice moment to have some fun and be a normal person. Earlier, you were talking about these implicit contrast with Trump. It is weird that were in this moment where if Joe Biden says, I'm -- I believe in being nice to people and liking America, you're like, oh, he's talking about Trump but that's where we are. So I think that normalcy is very helpful.

The other thing that I think he's going on is this is a little bit of a flex because these are people with big platforms that are saying were all in on Biden were going to help him spread his message and that's not just tonight. That's going to be true all the way through November.

CLUCHEY: And I'd add to that. It's a nice contrast with the pomp and circumstance, State of the Union Address tonight. He can also show up and speak to the American people in ways that are more fun and more casual. And they get another sense of him in that way as well.

BURNETT: I mean, I don't know, maybe perhaps it was in part he seems to want spontaneity tonight. I mean, you had that moment, the viral moment last year during the State of the Union talking about taxes. I'm going to play it because it seems to be something that he would embrace the possible moves -- what he's talking to TV president. So he might embrace something like that happened again, let me just play it for everyone to remind you.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset. I'm not saying it's a majority.


That may give you anybody who doubts it, contact my office. I'll give you a copy. I'll give you a copy of the proposal.


BURNETT: You think he wants a moment like that tonight?

CLUCHEY: It's sack religious for a speech writer do admit this, but this president is often at his best when he's off-script and he's just having a natural reaction and working quickly. You know, I can't say that he wants another heckle to come through, but the last time they tried it, he was able to negotiate to save Medicare and Social Security, in real time. So I think he'll be ready if it happens again.

BURNETT: And how does something like that happen? I mean, obviously you want you want a moment like that, although but then you want it to be controlled.

LITT: Well, I think that's always the challenge in life, right? You want control and spontaneity and whether you're the president or you're just people, it would be great to have everything and that's just not the way it works. I think that what you can do though, is you can prepare.

So one of the things that really strikes me about the State of the Union is this used to be a monologue, and now its become not just a dialogue, but whatever you call, all of the members of Congress allowed.

BURNETT: Well, it's more interactive and maybe it maybe reflecting the world that we live in.

LITT: Yeah, right.

BURNETT: Twitter back-and-forth with a bunch of people you don't know all the time. I mean, maybe --

LITT: It's Twitter back-and-forth. It's people who are -- who are thinking, okay, how do I go viral for my heckle of the president rather than just sitting there and saying, okay, this is not my moment.

You get a whole bunch of different things. So I do think that that gives the president of the opportunity to say, okay, we have some idea of what's going to come. We have some idea of which moments people might I get a little -- you know, a little eager to state their own view even though they have not won a presidential election yet.


And so, that -- you can prepare for that even if you can't control it perfectly.

BURNETT: All right. I want to -- go ahead. Yeah.

CLUCHEY: Well, by the same token, you can prepare all you want, but you don't know what a random member of Congress is going to happen to shout out or, or when they will.

And, you know, the president can't go in there with a menu of one- liners for any situation where he can do is be quick on his feet, be knowledgeable. That's what he showed last year and we may see it.

BURNETT: Well, and everyone's watching for that, right? Especially in the context, but we know the American people care about and worried about vitality, you know, age, memory, all those things, right? That they're watching for that.

CLUCHEY: All right. I actually wanted to play I wanted to play something from the actors that the president spoke to in preparing for this. And now I feel a little embarrassed. Bill Pullman's not -- not -- this is not -- wait, no SOT? Oh, I'm sorry. It's not here at all.

Okay. We do have it. But he's still not. I'm sorry, he's still not in it, but let me just play what we have. Go ahead


MORGAN FREEMAN, ACTOR: My advice is just keep telling us how are you working for us and building hope.

MICHAEL DOUGLAS, ACTOR: I learned that having a loving partner changes everything. Love and compassion as a leader are strengths. They're not weaknesses and are key to your character. So, let that shine through in your speech.


BURNETT: Whoever thought of that? I mean, you know, thought of doing that?

CLUCHEY: Thought of doing that segment or thought of the concept?

BURNETT: Yeah. No, I mean, it's the concept and putting it out there. I mean, you know, that's -- it's good thinking.

LITT: You know, I had no idea. One of the things that I learned the working the White House and the same experiences, sometimes you have ideas and then if you find the right person and, you know, people who are more important than you take an interest in them. Something could go from a whim to being something on -- you know, we're talking about on national news, surprisingly quickly.

That does not happen in one's post-White House life, I've learned. It's an exciting thing about that job. I mean, it really is like if its for creative, talented people pushing the envelope, there's really nowhere else to --

BURNETT: There's nowhere else.

LITT: -- that is that's valuable to be.

BURNETT: Talking about loving your work, that's great to hear.

All right. Well, thank you both so much. I appreciate it.

And obviously, we're going to see what the president and those working with him on this beach have come up with and what we expect will be long and substantive speech tonight.

OUTFRONT next, Trump welcoming a far right nationalist, the prime minister of Hungary, to Mar-a-Lago now.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Some people don't like him because he's too strong. It's nice to have a strongman running your country.


BURNETT: So -- to just believe him at his face value here, is that how he'd liked around this country?

Plus, the Republican response being given by the youngest Republican woman ever elected to the Senate. Biden and Trump are nearly twice her age. So who is she?

And why is George Santos reportedly attending the State of the Union tonight?



BURNETT: Welcome back to a special edition of OUTFRONT. We are live from Capitol Hill tonight.

As President Biden prepares to address the nation, former President Trump prepares to meet with an authoritarian leader. He will be hosting Hungary's authoritarian, authoritarian -- authoritarian, I'm sorry, leader Viktor Orban tomorrow at Mar-a-Lago.

And the two of them do have a lot in common. They both embrace strongman rhetoric. They attack the press, and they both have cozied up to Vladimir Putin.

Sunlen Serfaty is OUTFRONT.


TRUMP: Respected all over Europe, probably like me, a little bit controversial, but that's okay.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In style and in substance.

DAVID ORBAN, HUNGARY PRIME MINISTER: I like mavericks, and he's like that.

SERFATY: -- former President Donald Trump and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban are two liters sharing one playbook.

TRUMP: Some people don't like him because he's too strong. It's nice to have a strongman running your country.

SERFATY: Hard charging.

ORBAN: The globalist can all go to hell.

SERFATY: Brash and antagonistic --

ORBAN: Accusing us is fake news. And those who make these claims are simply idiots.

SERFATY: Publicly praising each other.

TRUMP: He doesn't allow illegals into his country. He put barbed wire fences all over. He has soldiers every ten yards.

SERFATY: Echoing each other's rhetoric.

ORBAN: And make America great again.

SERFATY: And policies on immigration.

ORBAN: It's called illegal migration. We have actually build that wall.

TRUMP: And we had the strongest border in history. We built 500 miles of wall.

SERFATY: Russia and the Ukraine war.

ORBAN: If at the time of Russian invasion on Ukraine, Trump would have been the president of United States, there would be no war now. I'm absolutely sure.

TRUMP: I'll meet with Putin. I'll meet with Zelenskyy. They both have weaknesses and they both have strengths. And within 24 hours, that war will be settled. It'll be over.


ORBAN: Hungarian people rejected sexual orientation programs in schools without parental consent.

TRUMP: On day one, I was signing a new executive order to cut federal funding for any school pushing critical race theory, transgender insanity, and other inappropriate racial, sexual, or political content on our children.

SERFATY: And their treatment of a free press.

ORBAN: I don't want to give them any ideas. They know best how to write fake news.

TRUMP: Fake news is all you get and they are indeed the enemy of the people.

SERFATY: In the U.S., Orban has become an icon in some far-right circles, even as his government seen by many as authoritarian, has changed election rules to his benefit and threatened his political dissenters and rivals.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: What Orban represents at one level that is the MAGA America First movement here.

SERFATY: Scoring him prime speaking spots at the conservative confabs CPAC, attracting the adoration of some of the Republican Party's top right-wing voices.


BURNETT: You know, it's amazing just to see that, and what is on the agenda for their meeting. And then what else is he doing here? Obviously, we saw a picture there in your piece of Orban and Kari Lake, for example.

SERFATY: That's right. And so not much is known about this meeting, that's going to be happened tomorrow night at Mar-a-Lago, Trump's resort down in Florida. It's a private meeting, of course, between the two leaders. But the timing so interesting here too, right? It's an interesting moment for Trump, just as he's about to clinch potentially that Trump, the Republican nomination.

Notably, Orban though, is not going to be meeting with anyone from the Biden administration as expected. He will not be meeting anyone from the Biden administration while he's here. So that's significant.

But he however it did today spend some time with the leader of the Heritage Foundation. That, of course, a conservative think tank very closely aligned with President Trump.

BURNETT: It's going be fascinating.

All right, Sunlen, thank you very much.

And our special coverage of Biden's State of the Union continues. There is new reporting this hour that the disgraced former Congressman George Santos is actually expected to make a surprise appearance tonight where we are.

Plus, Putin's next move. A top American general tonight warning that Central Africa is at a tipping point, as Putin seems hell-bent on taking control of that region, too.



BURNETT: And welcome back to a special State of the Union edition of OUTFRONT. You're looking live at statuary hall on Capitol Hill where people are now arriving for what truly may be the most consequential address of President Biden's political career. And an important focus just for him tonight will be reproductive rights.

In an excerpt of his speech, just released, Biden will say, then I quote, clearly those bragging about overturning Roe v. Wade have no clue about the power of women in America. But they found out when reproductive freedom was on the ballot and won in 2022, 2023, and they will find out again in 2024.

All right. Dana Bash is OUTFRONT now.

Dana, you've had a chance where you are right now as people are coming in and with your reporting all day to speak to lawmakers on Capitol Hill ahead of this speech, what is the mood tonight?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me just set the scene what's happening right now where I am. As you said, I'm in statuary hall.

You see a parade of people coming in and they're heading into the house chamber. This is the diplomatic corps. This tends to be the first group of people that gets seated inside the house chamber. And then later, obviously well have the actual members of Congress who are the formal members of the audience. And the answer to your question, Erin, is, it does feel different this year, I have covered -- I don't even know how many States of the Union and just joint addresses by a president, and it's always electric. There's always kind of a crackling feeling in the atmosphere here on Capitol Hill.

This feels different because the stakes are just so obvious. The stakes are obvious first and foremost for the president of the United States and for his party. And there's tension and there's a bit of anxiety. The public line is that they note that he'll be great and they know that he'd have to just have to communicate what he's done and what he's going to do. But this is something that the Democrats who I'm talking to are so focused on pretty much more than I've ever seen when it comes to not just the substance of what the president is going to say but the performance.

BURNETT: Yeah. What as you say the performance not that -- not the opposite of substance, but yeah, how he looks and how he sounds. And what are they hoping he can accomplish tonight with voters who obviously have made it clear in poll after poll that in addition to the substantive issues they care about, the economy, border is the top ones care deeply and have deep fears about his age?

BASH: Yeah. And we saw in one of the excerpts that you were talking about that he, at least in what we've seen, he is going to try to address it head-on. I mean, maybe it's a little bit subtle, but he is going to talk about his age and start to say that that's an asset.

That is the kind of thing that a lot of Democrats who I've spoken to say that they hope that he does. Certainly, a lot of these members who are here, they can go out and they go on your show and they go on my program and they talk about the contrast between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. They talk about the litany of things that they believe Biden accomplished again, and that he hopes to accomplish the future.

And what they are hoping is that he can be that kind of messenger for their party and ultimately for a second term. And the stakes are very high, as I said, not just because this is an election year and this is the biggest audience he will have likely until the convention this summer. But because of the contrast and that word contrast is a word that we hear over and over, which is a not so subtle way of saying, it's either Joe Biden or Donald Trump.

BURNETT: All right. Dana, and, of course, Dana is going to be in statuary hall throughout the evening, talking to everyone in our special coverage.

And OUTFRONT now, with me here on Capitol Hill, Shermichael Singleton, Republican strategist, who's worked on multiple presidential campaigns, and Jamal Simmons, former communications director for Vice President Harris.


OK, Jamal, so interesting, what Dana just referred to there. He doesn't use the word Trump, at least in the excerpt that we have. But this ones loud and clear: My lifetime has taught me to embrace freedom and democracy. This is what the president will say. A future based on the core values that have defined America, honesty, decency, dignity, equality to respect everyone, to give everyone a fair shot, to give hate no safe harbor.

Now some other people my age see a different story, an American story of resentment, revenge, and retribution. That's not me.

You know, so there's no fig leaf there on what he's doing.

JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, yeah. We know exactly who it is he's talking about. The White House is very clear. They are focused on making the contrast between the president and the former president and let people know, either you can go back to chaos and instability, or we can have government where everybody works.

We have people arriving here right now tonight, and I'm here. This is like one of the big grand nights of our democracy, right? I'm here with the --

BURNETT: Dana talking about that crackling energy. And in a town that the country doesn't necessarily associate with those words, crackling energy, it is that way tonight. It is that way tonight.

SIMMONS: It's true. And like two years ago, I was here with the vice president, but she was sitting on the podium. I was, you know, when I was working for her at the White House and I'm sitting here and I'm just thinking about all the people who were out there protesting January 6. That was four years ago, almost four years ago now, three years ago, right here, we're here.

This is the cradle of our democracy in this night is one of the nights run when our democracy really does speak for itself. The president of the United States, speaking to all the members of Congress, all the senators, and I think the contrast is, do you want a president who respects this building and respects this process or one who encouraged insurrection? That's part of what it is we're --

BURNETT: Shermichael?

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm going to push back a little bit. I think the president is speaking before country that severely struggling economically, financially. You have people who want better jobs, they want higher wages. You have people who can't pay for the basic necessities. You have people who wonder if they can even put gas in their cars.

You have people were sent an immigration system and our broken border or individuals are coming into their cities, tapping into already limited resources with programs that already don't have enough funding.

And so, people are asking themselves, is Joe Biden the best person to continue to lead the country for another four years. At a CBS poll that came out a couple of weeks ago, where 65 percent of Americans, say that they believe the economy was better under Donald Trump, only 38 percent said the same thing about President Biden.

So, the president is going into tonight, Jamal, with a lot of struggles ahead of him. Can he accomplish convincing the American people that he can continue to do the job? Well, I'm not certain, Erin, that he can.

BURNETT: Jamal, that's a tough line to walk because you just gave a bunch of stats that are true. There are also other stats that are true that show unemployment plunging and wages rising and write all these things are true at the same time. But, Jamal, when you go in and you tell people all the good ones, and it isn't necessarily how they're feeling, how -- how do you walk that line? It's sort of like give me credit for something that you aren't feeling.

SIMMONS: So the president is going to tell the story of what he did the last three years, and we'd know all those stats, unemployment down for two years. We know that exports are up to now where they were in 2019. We know all these great stats.

The question now is, what are you going to do next, Mr. President? And that's his challenge for tonight, because elections are always about the future. They're not about the past really. The past is just an indicator about what you're going to do.

So he's got to tell people what's going to happen next. And then he's got to say, but then there's this guy. And if you think things are a little bit troubled, remember your crazy ex-boyfriend. He's the one who's going to show up here and he's going to like, start doing the things you didn't like when you guys were together. That's the case that Joe Biden is going --

SINGLETON: But the president is an indicator of what the future outlook is going to be at. It doesn't look great, Jamal. You can talk about how great the unemployment numbers are on paper. It doesn't matter, to Erin's point, if people aren't feeling it.

Then you add into the president's age and people are worried, can you continue to even do the job for another four years? Democrats having persuaded the American people that he can.

SIMMONS: People feel two things. I remember, there's the economy. There's also what's happening in the social structure, right? Abortion is still an issue. Democracy is an issue. People do care about this.

And they've got Katie Britt talking tonight who's from Alabama where they --

BURNETT: Forty-two years old.

SIMMONS: Forty-two years old, but she's in the state where IVF just -- the Supreme Court want to make IVF legal, right?


SINGLETON: She's a woman and I'm sure she's well aware of how important that IVF is, Jamal. BURNETT: Well, age is at the center of everything.

The other thing is you have, you know, when you talk about the energy and but you also talk but the respect for the building.

JAMAL: Yeah.

BURNETT: The times have changed in a sense, in that room, right? It's more interactive, as speechwriters are saying more interactive than it's ever been. And there's positives to that, and part of that is cultural in the way we are. And then there's the lack of decorum that can come with it. Shall we say?

So, we don't know what will happen tonight, but, Sherm, we do know George Santos is there.


BURNETT: He is not a current representative.

SINGLETON: He's not.

BURNETT: You got the boot?

SINGLETON: I would like to move on from George Santos.


BURNETT: Right, but the fact that he's here says something about what somebody, you know, kind of wants there to be a focus or wants to happen. What does that mean to you?

SINGLETON: I mean, I think it says a lot about his ego and whomever invited him. From my understanding, Speaker Johnson wants to showcase civility, but he also wants to showcase that the Republican conference can lead for the American people, that they can fight for immigration. They can fight for better economy --


BURNETT: So, you don't think he's happy with Santos being there and sort of a mockery.

SINGLETON: I don't think he's worried about that. I think he's more worried about how I can protect my position and protect my conference. But number two, how can I deliver results for the American people.

You know, we talked a lot about the economy and Democrats in my opinion, want to add more to the budget, and the Republicans are saying, we need to spend less because people have to spend less in their homes, Erin. Why shouldn't Congress do the same?


BURNETT: Well, I bet he will make a point tonight that he's cut the deficit, we'll see. SIMMONS: Yes. Ever since they yelled "you lie" at Barack Obama, they yelled at Joe Biden when he gave a speech last year, there is no evidence that this Republican conference is going to have more decorum than any other one.

SINGLETON: Fair point, fair point.

BURNETT: OK. Let's end with a note of agreement. Thank you both.

And next, our special coverage does continue with Trump on the cusp of clinching the Republican nomination. Should he be allowed to start receiving classified briefings again? Yes, this is the moment that we are at as a country.

These are the questions that we are facing. He's under investigation for mishandling of classified documents. In fact, he is charged criminally with that very thing, as we await a verdict. Does that mean he gets more?

And a ceasefire between Israel-Hamas falling apart tonight. I'm going to talk to the parents of an American man who is still being held by Hamas 153 days after that original terrorist attack on October 7. There'll be at tonight's State of the Union.



BURNETT: Welcome back to a special edition of OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill for tonight's State of the Union Address.

President Biden's speech will be watched very closely around the world, especially in places like Ukraine, where the crucial military aid bill is still stalled in Congress.

And just take a look at this new video. In this video, what you see are Ukrainian drones striking a convoy of Russian military vehicles. Ukraine saying U.S. aid is crucial to keeping up each and every one of these small victories. Of course, we've also heard that there so desperately low on ammo that they're literally only shooting smoke in some cases.

OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California. He's on the Armed Services Committee and the advisory board of the Biden- Harris 2024 campaign.

So, Congressman, he's going to talk about a lot of things tonight, but he's got to make a case to Republican conference whose completely stalled this aid, and an American public who -- you know, there's plenty of ambivalence about it.

How does he do that?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Erin, I think he talks about American values. I mean, we have always stood up for democracy, for freedom. Here you have Putin, Russia evading Ukraine, killing civilians, and the war will not succeed for Ukraine if we don't provide aid. I mean, the ambassador of Estonia was in my office today as were other Baltic ambassadors pleading, saying we need this aid.

BURNETT: And they feel that I mean, how, how tangible is it to them that they could be next, the real risk of this going bigger?

KHANNA: It's existential for them and they're saying, you know what he said to me. He said were putting 3 percent of our GDP into aiding Ukraine. We're doing more than our part. Were simply asking that the United States step up and this is a risk to not just Ukrainians, that's a risk to the Baltics and they believe that Ukraine can defeat the Russians, that they're on the path to being able to win the war, but they need the aid.

BURNETT: So the top U.S. general overseeing Africa warned Congress today that Putin is determined to take over Central Africa, warning that several countries are at a tipping point of basically capture -- being kept captured by Russian influence. And we've seen that in places like Burkina Faso and across. You said it with arms deals, obviously that then solidifies Russia's control of a lot of base minerals that are required for the running of the U.S. economy.

How worried are you about it?

KHANNA: I'm worried and I'm particularly worried because we've lost our -- not just potentially Russia, but to China and American interests in Africa had been compromised. What I don't understand is I grew up in the 1980s when Ronald Reagan was the strongest voice against the Soviet Union. Mitt Romney ran his whole race in 2012, warning about Russia. I just don't recognize the modern Republican Party.

I think that's what President Biden ought to say tonight. He can just quote Republican after Republicans.

BURNETT: Well, one of Mitt Romney's most famous moments in that. It was actually in the debate, right, when he was warning about Russian and Obama. What was it? (INAUDIBLE), sir, that moment.

KHANNA: Right.

BURNETT: Okay. President Trump, the former President Trump is essentially now the GOP nominee. He will formally clinch that next week, most likely.

So the way that it goes is the party nominee traditionally obviously has access to classified briefings. This nominee is criminally charged with violating the rule of law on classified documents.

So should tradition hold and he got these briefings as that court case winds its way through the system where we very well may not get a verdict even before election day or not?

KHANNA: Look, I'll let the courts speak to that. I don't think it's for politicians to be opining on a legal no matter. Let this process play out. Let the court trial play out. Let the Supreme Court rule on these very complex issues.

And I respect the Supreme Courts decision that says that he has to be on the ballot. I mean, that's why I think --

BURNETT: So, does he get the briefings? Which is that's a matter of tradition though, not -- not law.


BURNETT: Classified briefings in the meantime.

KHANNA: I think we need to have the courts figure that out and, you know, have the courts make a determination how -- what he can be told as a Republican nominee without compromising national security. Obviously, those when I do think should happen, those the trial should be moving forward.

I don't think anyone it should be allowed to just punt a trial, a criminal trial because they're running for office.

BURNETT: All right. Congressman Khanna, thanks so much. I appreciate your time.

KHANNA: Thank you. Beautiful set.

BURNETT: I know, right?

KHANNA: Inspiring.

BURNETT: And it's real backdrop.

KHANNA: It's almost an inspiring moment for the country.

BURNETT: It is and it's great to be here to witness this American moment.

And next, President Biden is about to leave the White House to come here to the Capitol as we're learning part of his speech will focus on the Israeli hostages being held by Hamas. I'm going to speak to one family whose son is among those held captive, who will be at the Capitol tonight.



BURNETT: Welcome back to our special State of the Union edition of OUTFRONT live from Capitol Hill tonight.

The president will enter the House chamber in just about an hour where he is expected to address Hamas, and the more than 100 hostages still being held in Gaza tonight. At least six of them we know to be American citizens. And tonight's speech comes as a deal to free more hostages appears to be falling apart. Dozens of hostage families, there will be in the audience tonight.


Among them, Israeli American Jonathan Dekel-Chen and his wife, Gillian Kaye.

Jonathan's son Sagui, who also has dual citizenship, is being held captive by Hamas tonight for the 153rd day. And I spoke with them right before they went into the House chamber moments ago.


BURNETT: So, Jonathan, Sagui is still among the hostages, has been 153 days as of course, I know you have counted every single one.

What do you want to hear from the president tonight when he stands in front of this country and the world?

JONATHAN DEKEL-CHEN, FATHER OF ISRAELI-AMERICAN HELD HOSTAGE: Well, I think that the very fact that we are all going to be in the building, in the gallery, meeting all representatives from all seven families of the American hostages, I think that already says an awful lot about the administration's commitment to getting the hostages home, ll of them, not just the U.S. citizens, and also the congressional support.

Whatever he can tell us, whatever hope he can give us, that there is a way forward is something that would only add to that. But we feel by our very presence there that the U.S. government did in the executive and the legislative branch is -- are with us. They're behind us.

BURNETT: Jake Sullivan obviously the national security advisor, has been at the tip of the spear on this for President Biden for the United States. I know you had a chance to meet with him just yesterday. Did he -- was he able to give you any specifics or anything that gave you hope?

DEKEL-CHEN: Again, I think the magnitude of the U.S. administration's engagement in this is a hopeful factor, because if we were to listen just to Hamas and certain parts of the Israeli government, we probably would lose hope, that the hostages will come home.

BURNETT: And had -- has anyone in the Israeli government of the U.S. government -- it's a hard question to ask, but do they know he's okay? I mean, do they know he's alive?

DEKEL-CHEN: Well, we're among the fortunate ones and we actually from October 7 until late November, we didn't know if Sagui, or actually, anyone else amongst the hostages were alive or not.


DEKEL-CHEN: In that first wave of hostages that were released, 100 hostages or so, 40 of them were from our community kibbutz Nir Oz.


DEKEL-CHEN: Women and children. And some of the women in a couple of teenagers would have been released, were able to tell us that they had seen Sagui in the tunnel, in Hamas's tunnels under Khan Younis a few days before. So as of late November, early December, we have proof of life for him and many others in our community.

Of course, that's an eternity ago.

BURNETT: Of course.

DEKEL-CHEN: And conditions we know have only gotten worse. And the exposure of all the hostages, of all ages is -- they are on the brink of death. This much were pretty sure of.

And so the urgency is extreme that this negotiated process move forward in that requires all of the parties to negotiate.

BURNETT: It's amazing as a father that you can speak about it because I can only imagine your heart.

Gillian, there has been one joy for your family, and that is that Sagui's baby, his third child, was born in December. And amidst the sadness of that child being born without him, there is new life and your family. How is his wife dealing with that? How are all of you dealing with that?

GILLIAN KAYE: Well, Shahar, who is our newest grandchild is who was born in a couple of months ago now, she's -- you know, she's the shining light in this unbelievable impenetrable darkness that we're all living in. She's adorable. She's sweet. She's thriving.

Avital, my daughter-in-law, she's a lion. She's rallied. She is raising three daughters on her own. Sad, it's very hard.

His two older daughters asked a lot of questions that none of us can answer about where their father is, when he's coming home. It's devastating and it's a devastating for her because she has no answers to give. But we all -- yes, Shahar is she is adorable. And as I said, thriving.

And I do just want to add, you know, there's a -- there's a bitter sweetness to this in so many ways. And one of them is that her name, which means dawn in Hebrew.

Also she's named after a little girl who's one of Sagui's other daughters best friends and this little girls Shahar, her sister, her little brother, and her parents were brutally murdered on October 7. They -- the two families were best the best of friends and as I said, Shahar is named also in memory of, of her, and that's something that we live with.

BURNETT: I hope that from this darkness will come a dawn. She will -- she'll be the symbol of that forevermore.

Thank you both so much.

KAYE: Thank you


BURNETT: And thanks so much to all of you for joining us. I'll be live here on Capitol Hill throughout the evening as our special coverage of the State of the Union continues.

"AC360" starts now.