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GOP. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) Suspends Presidential Campaign; White House: 3-Year-Old American Among Hamas' Hostages; Democrat Dean Phillips Escalates Challenge To Biden. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 13, 2023 - 05:30   ET





SEN. TIM SCOTT, (R-SC): But when I go back to Iowa it will not be as a presidential candidate. I am suspending my campaign. I think the voters, who are the most remarkable people on the planet, have been really clear that they're telling me not now, Tim.


KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Kasie Hunt.

That was Republican presidential candidate Tim Scott announcing last night he is now a former presidential candidate. Scott's team conceding his upbeat optimistic campaign had failed to gain traction in a not-so-optimistic race.

In the meantime, Democratic candidate Dean Phillips, who is challenging President Biden, says he's ramping up that longshot bid. Phillips told me on Saturday that he is willing to invest as much of his multimillion-dollar personal fortune as it takes, although he claims he doesn't think he will have to.


HUNT: Do you have a top-dollar figure that you're willing to invest?

REP. DEAN PHILLIPS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, because this is so important. Again, I will not be self-financing my campaign. I won't need to because we are drawing wonderful support from around the country. I start my day every day with five-dollar donor calls.


HUNT: Joining me now, White House -- Wall Street Journal White House reporter Catherine Lucey. Catherine, good morning. Thank you so much for being here.

I want to start with a little bit more from that Phillips interview. I think we should help everyone understand this isn't a person that the White House thinks is going to be -- going to be taken them on for the nomination, right, but there are people biting their nails about how he could potentially hurt President Biden in this process.

You heard him there say he's potentially going to invest as much as it takes. He's a multi -- has tens of millions of dollars.

Now, he also talked to me about super PAC money because there's talk that super PACs supporting him might air ads in places like Michigan, which is also a critical swing state. Take a look at what he told me about that.


HUNT: But that's a yes -- you will take some super PAC support?

PHILLIPS: First of all, I can't -- as you well know, I can't deny support from anybody that wants to give it and considering what --

HUNT: I know you can't tell them what to do but you can send them a public message.

PHILLIPS: The answer is yes. The answer is -- the answer is to achieve what we need to achieve to overturn the status quo, to ensure that Donald Trump is defeated, absolutely.


HUNT: So my takeaway from this is that the attempts by the Democratic Party to basically reject Dean Phillips have just kind of made him angry and more willing to spend whatever it takes to make a point. This seems a little risky for the White House.

What are your thoughts?

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (via Webex by Cisco): Well, certainly, yeah, he's a -- he's not going away.

And I think one of the key things that you're seeing with Phillips is that he is highlighting Biden's biggest weaknesses, right? So he's talked about Biden's age, which we know from voters is a real concern, and he's targeting the economy or so-called Biden economics. So, you know, Biden's economic achievements, which we also know a lot of voters don't feel like this economy is working for them.

So, yes. I mean, if you talk to people around Biden they'll say this isn't serious. This -- you know, he can't go the distance. Can he get on the ballot in various states?

But certainly, the fact that he is making noise and highlighting these weaknesses -- potentially, in key states like Michigan -- is something that's not helpful to the president who is currently locked in basically a tied race with former President Trump when they're matched in hypothetical polling. This isn't helpful for him right now.

[05:35:03] HUNT: Right. I mean, we know regardless of how it comes together, the 2024 election is going to be razor-thin. We know those margins in these critical states are so small. But anything like this could make a difference.

All right --

LUCEY: Any small amount could make a huge difference.

HUNT: Yeah, for sure.

Let's talk about Tim Scott because I think you could kind of see the look on Trey Gowdy -- you know, former South Carolina congressman, actually, and now a Fox News host. He looks a little stunned as Tim Scott tells him he's not going to run for president again. And our reporting at CNN indicates that a lot of donors and staff members for Tim Scott were stunned by this announcement.

What's behind it?

LUCEY: Yeah, I mean, it's a surprise I guess to a lot of people -- a lot of these reports. It was a surprise to some of his staff. But it's also not a surprise, right, Kasie? I mean, he just hadn't caught fire at all. I mean, I think the hope was that his campaign that his personal story -- a positive message -- would really elevate him in this field. That just didn't happen. It has not been that kind of race. I mean, obviously, Trump just dominates the race so much that nobody has come close.

But even among the -- you know, the also rans, he was trailing far behind. He didn't stand out in the primaries. And even in Iowa where he was really staking his campaign, a recent Iowa poll showed him around I think seven percent. So he just hadn't caught on.

HUNT: Yeah.

LUCEY: I was in Iowa in August at a Tim Scott event and a lot of people there were like I really like Tim Scott but I'm still caucusing for Donald Trump.

HUNT: Speaking of Donald Trump -- and the contrast here could not be more significant or visible because we've noted Tim Scott tried to run this sunny -- you know, I'm a -- I'm a friendly conservative kind of campaign. And sources I've talked to said the electorate is just not in the mood for that. What they are in the mood for is honestly, very, very dark.

And what Donald Trump had to say during a rally over the weekend -- he used language that echoes Hitler and Mussolini. Listen to what Trump had to say in New Hampshire.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In honor of our great veterans on Veterans Day, we pledge to you that we will root out the communist, Marxist, fascist, and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country, that lie and steal and cheat on elections, and will do anything possible -- they'll do anything, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America and to destroy the American dream.


HUNT: So the Biden camp -- Harris headquarters tweeted about this -- or X'd about this over the weekend as well. I mean, this -- I just -- I honestly sometimes am on the fence about playing stuff like that in terms of circulating it. But in this case, I think it's important to underscore it because it really goes to a potentially dangerous place.

LUCEY: It speaks about the kind of campaign that he is running and is going to run. It's really noteworthy, obviously, I think, Kasie, that he said these things on Veterans Day during a speech on a day that is meant to honor service to the nation. And it's part of a pattern, right, that we have seen before.

I mean, you remember -- one thing I always think of, for example, a couple of years ago when he went after the late Congressman Elijah Cummings, talking about how badly he was doing for his district and calling Baltimore -- I believe it was disgusting and rat-infested, or when he told the congresswoman in the so-called Squad to go back to where they came from, suggesting they weren't American.

So we have seen this before but he is clearly doing this -- these kinds of derogatory language again. And I think it really signals, to your point, the kind of campaign this is going to be. That it is going to be about dark and divisive rhetoric.

HUNT: All right, Catherine Lucey of The Wall Street Journal. Thank you very much for your time this morning. I really appreciate you being here.

LUCEY: Thank you, Kasie.

HUNT: All right. The White House says one hostage being held by Hamas is a 3-year-old American toddler whose parents were killed in the October 7 attacks.

CNN's Clare Sebastian joins us live from London. Clare, what do we know about this American child and these desperate circumstances?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Kasie, this we know from, according to a colleague of ours in Jerusalem who spoke to her uncle. She is 3-year-old Abigail Edan. She was living in kibbutz Kfar Azza with her mother and father and older brother and sister. That we know is one of the communities in southern Israel that was devastated by those Hamas attacks on October 7.

Now, as for how this unfolded, what we understand from the uncle's account is that when the attack started her father, who was a news photographer, ran outside and started to take pictures. When he realized how serious it was he ran back inside. There were three children. By that point, we understand his wife had already been shot and killed. And for some reason, the two older children stayed in the house. And he took the youngest, Abigail, out with him.


He was then shot by Hamas while he was with her, according to the uncle. And at some point, she was, they understand, picked up by a neighbor and sheltered with the neighbor who also went missing. So she is assumed now to be being held hostage in Gaza by Hamas.

The two older children were eventually rescued and are with the -- with the uncle and aunt. The aunt, though, we understand is now in the United States. They are trying to raise awareness for obvious reasons about this story.

We know now from the readout of that call between President Biden and the Emir of Qatar over the weekend that it has very firmly reached the president's desk.

And as for the other American hostages in Gaza, we understand Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that there are nine being held; one permanent resident -- a green card holder. We don't know if Abigail Edan is among those nine. But, of course, this is something that the White House is now very keenly focused on as those hostage negotiations are ongoing -- Kasie.

HUNT: All right, Clare Sebastian. Thank you very much for that report. I really appreciate it.

All right. Just ahead here, more from Democratic presidential candidate Dean Phillips. He knows his campaign against President Biden is a longshot. Why he says he's running. That's next.



HUNT: Everybody likes an underdog? That's at least what Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips of Minnesota is hoping. He launched his longshot bid for the Democratic nomination for president a couple of weeks ago. Phillips made it known that if he doesn't reach his ambitious goal by Super Tuesday he doesn't plan to make life difficult for Biden.


PHILLIPS: If I do not succeed on March 6, I will wrap this up with grace. I will get behind either the president or whoever the eventual nominee is with the same passion, the same energy, the same incentive, and the same need that I'm giving to my own campaign.


HUNT: All right, let's bring in Michael LaRosa. He's the former press secretary to first lady Jill Biden and special assistant to President Biden. Michael, it's always great to have you.

Look, let's talk about Phillips generally. The White House is very quick to dismiss him. He obviously is an extraordinary longshot.

But what I learned when I went up there to talk to him is that getting rejected by the Democratic Party wholesale has basically caused him to double down, escalate his attacks on the president, commit to spending more of his own money if it's needed, to take super Pac money. I mean, it seems like he wants to kind of take this as far as he can until at least, he says, Super Tuesday.

What's the potential for damage here?

MICHAEL LAROSA, FIRST LADY JILL BIDEN'S FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: I don't think very much. First of all, it's not very inspiring to say oh, I'm just in it until or at least until Michigan or New Hampshire. I thought that was a little odd.

Both -- super PACs are on -- support the president as well, so that doesn't surprise me. I mean, what would be potentially harmful to the president since he's not on the ballot would be a lot of his own self- funding.

HUNT: Yeah. No, that makes sense.

One thing that has really gotten a lot of focus here in Washington is the fact that Phillips has gone to New Hampshire where, as you say, President Biden is not on the ballot because they moved South Carolina to be the first voting state. The argument there that it reflects the voter constituencies that sent Biden to the White House, namely in Black -- with Black voters. Jim Clyburn, of South Carolina, has been critical of Phillips and said his moves disrespect Black voters.

So when I was up in New Hampshire I asked Phillips if he had done any work with what is obviously a bedrock constituency of the modern Democratic Party. I want you to take a look at how he answered that question.


HUNT: The Congressional Black Caucus, the Urban League, the NAACP -- there's an infrastructure of people who spend their lives working --


HUNT: -- on --


HUNT: -- Black empowerment.

Did you reach out to them before or after --

PHILLIPS: Before I ran --

HUNT: -- you started your campaign?

PHILLIPS: If I had reached to anybody before I actually -- by the way, my campaign started two weeks before I announced. I've only been at this two weeks. Of course, I'm going to be speaking to everybody.

HUNT: But you haven't yet.

PHILLIPS: Not yet. But I've spent my entire life in Minnesota making these very investments of both time and treasure -- energy to try to make life better for people not by imposing what I think needs to be done; just the opposite.


HUNT: So he acknowledged that he didn't reach out to any of these Black constituency groups before or in the weeks since he announced.

Are you surprised by that?

LAROSA: A little bit. I mean, the reason why Joe Biden was so successful in his primary campaign in 2020 was that he did amass such a really broad and diverse coalition of groups within the Democratic Party that really propelled him to victory.

HUNT: Yeah. I mean, I just have to say I was -- I was taken aback by it. If your goal is really to win the Democratic nomination for president it's not really possible to do it without --

LAROSA: Right.

HUNT: -- infrastructure and support from these kinds of groups.

LAROSA: Yeah. I would say that though the Biden campaign did give him a gift by leaving this opening in New Hampshire with this sort of unforced error. I mean, as you know, Kasie, people like Billy Shaheen is a Democratic kingmaker up there and another co-chair of Biden's New Hampshire campaign is -- are helping Phillips. So that's disconcerting. It's a -- it was sort of this unforced political error and I think really unnecessary. But hey, I still think --

HUNT: You think it was an unforced error to move the primary, basically, or to just --


HUNT: -- say you're not going to be on the ballot to follow the rules?

LAROSA: Yes, I do. I don't think it was a necessary -- I don't think the president needed to be the first president -- Democratic president in history not to be on the New Hampshire ballot. There was no reason for it. There was no reason to piss off our friends in New Hampshire.

And again, anger a lot of the president's personal friends up there who are now working for somebody like Dean Phillips. What was -- what did it get the president? At this point, I'm really not sure -- but Dean Phillips.

HUNT: Yeah -- no. It's honestly really -- a really good question, I have to say. And because Democrats have mounted for the president in New Hampshire a write-in campaign.


But -- I mean, Michael, you and I both know that the thing about New Hampshire that's honestly the most powerful is its capacity to shape the narrative. Like, even if you lose New Hampshire you can win New Hampshire. It happened to Bill Clinton in 1992. It happened to Lyndon Johnson in 1968 when Eugene McCarthy didn't beat Johnson in New Hampshire but he came so close that Johnson decided he wasn't going to run for reelection just basically two weeks after that.

I mean, what is the narrative risk to the president if something like that happens?

LAROSA: Well, look, I'm pretty confident that the president will win a write-in vote if it's -- you know, if there's an aggressive push for it. I don't see -- I don't see a huge threat there.

However, the downside is even if he wins or if it's just by a little but, like you said, that could shape a narrative in the media that would be unhelpful to the president going into maybe Michigan or wherever else Dean is going to go and possibly get momentum. Again, I think the chances of that are slim but this opening now is a gift for Dean Phillips.

HUNT: I mean, as you said, it's the potential -- maybe it's not going to end up being the biggest unforced error in the world, but if we look back --


HUNT: -- after something surprising happens they might see it that way.

LAROSA: Yeah. It was just a -- you know, it was just -- again, probably just an unnecessary move that has only resulted in us having conversations like this right now that we've been having --

HUNT: Yeah.

LAROSA: -- I've been having on shows since December. So it's, again, whether they care about the kind of free media that they get.

HUNT: All right, Michael LaRosa. Thank you very much for being up with us. I really appreciate it.

LAROSA: Yeah, no problem.

HUNT: See you soon.

LAROSA: Good interview.

HUNT: All right. Former President Trump's team set to begin its defense in his New York civil fraud trial. What to expect coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING."



HUNT: Welcome back.

The as-ever disappointing New York Jets come up short against the Las Vegas Raiders on "SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL." But there may be some help coming sooner than later.

Carolyn Manno has this morning's Bleacher Report. Carolyn, I have to say I'm married to a Jets fan --


HUNT: -- or if you can be a Jets fan, which is why I'm always so entertained by these headlines.

MANNO: Yeah. You know what? He can only hope. I mean, this has been a rollercoaster for the Jets. You sign Aaron Rodgers. You get featured on HBO's "HARD KNOCKS." He tears his Achilles on the first drive of the first game of the season. And the offense, unfortunately, for your significant other has been absolutely horrendous since. The Jets have not scored a touchdown in 11 quarters and counting.

The Raiders scoring the game's only touchdown Sunday night. Aidan O'Connell finding Michael Mayer in the end zone for a 7-yard score in the fourth quarter. With the game on the line, Jets quarterback Zach Wilson was able to drive the team down the field after this. But man, a costly interception as the Raiders hang on to win 16-12 the final. It's gone that way for the Jets.

But this rollercoaster could be on the upswing with Rodgers telling NBC's Melissa Stark his goal is to return in mid-December. That would be an unprecedented recovery from one of the most brutal injuries in sports. Head coach Robert Saleh was asked about the possibility after the game.


ROBERT SALEH, HEAD COACH, NEW YORK JETS: I don't know. It's really -- if the doctor clears him we'll play him.


MANNO: That's all you're getting on that front.

Meantime, nearly a year after suffering a torn ACL, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray making his return to football for the first time. Down by one to the Falcons with less than two minutes remaining in this one, Kyler erasing all doubts about his knee.

Put the coffee down for just a minute and check this out. Escaping heavy pressure here, taking off for a 13-yard run for a first down. And that would set up Matt Prater for a chip shot field goal as time would expire in this game. Arizona picking up their second win of the season -- 25-23 the final score.

And it went like that this weekend. It was a weekend of surprises. The Texans and the Bengals in a thriller here. In the end, this would come down to Houston rookie CJ Stroud showing the poise of a veteran, leading his team on a 55-yard drive in six plays over the final 93 seconds. And that put kicker Matt Ammendola, who had just been signed on Tuesday, in range for a game-winning 38-yard field goal as time ran out.

Texans win in an upset 30-27.

Walk-off Sunday across the league. In total, a record fives game ending with last-second field goals.

Elsewhere for you this morning, one of college football's highest-paid coaches is suddenly out of a job. Texas A&M fired Jimbo Fisher yesterday almost six years after hiring him away from Florida State where he led the Seminoles to a national championship. So the Aggies 6-4 this season. Two games remaining.

He was making more than $9 million a year and his firing will reportedly cost the school roughly $76 million to buy out the rest of his contract.

Sixers star Tyrese Maxey scoring his first-ever 50-point game last night, dominating in Philadelphia's win over the Pacers. His career performance putting him in some pretty exclusive company. He is the first Sixers guard to score 50 or more since Hall of Famer Allen Iverson, who did it all the way back in 2005.

But after the game, he dedicated this win to his teammate Kelly Oubre, who was hit by a car on Saturday night and is expected to miss significant time.


TYRESE MAXEY, PHILADELPHIA 76ERS GUARD: Man, this had nothing to do with me. This is all Kelly Oubre, man. You know, we praying for him, man. I love my dog, man. I just met him and I love him. You know what I'm saying? And I hope he gets well soon.


MANNO: We wish him the best, too.

And on a much lighter note, Kasie, to wrap things up, the latest development in the Swift-Kelce love affair. Taylor Swift has been at Chiefs games supporting her beau and meeting his mom Donna. Over the weekend, the tables turned a little bit. Two-time Super Bowl champ taking a 14-hour flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina on the team's bye week, showing up at her second Eras Tour with her dad, Scott.

[06:00:00] And after she wrapped up this performance, she ran to the VIP tent backstage. She was waving to her fans and then we saw it. We saw some PDA here. I mean, she changed the lyrics in her karma song. She said, "Karma is the guy on the Chiefs coming straight home to me."

And this is what some people have been waiting for. This is the proof.

HUNT: This is what America needs right now.

MANNO: It's what America needs.

HUNT: This is what America needs right now.

MANNO: I'm happy to deliver. This was important. This was important to some.

HUNT: It's a love story. Baby, please say yes.

Carolyn, thank you very much.

And thanks to all of you for joining us. Don't go anywhere. I'm Kasie Hunt. "CNN THIS MORNING" starts right now.