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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Biden Opens Six Point Lead Over Trump In New Quinnipiac Poll; U.S. Strikes 10 Houthi Drones & Control Station In Yemen; Wray: China Poised To "Wreak Havoc" On U.S. Critical Infrastructure; Storm Brings Strong Winds, Heavy Rain To Much Of California. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired February 01, 2024 - 05:00   ET




The new poll that says Joe Biden would beat Donald Trump if America voted today.

Plus, U.S. forces conduct airstrikes on Houthi drones after a missile came dangerously close to hitting an American destroyer in the Red Sea.

And --


SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): Children are not your priority. Children are your product.


HUNT: Lawmakers grill big tech bosses on Capitol Hill. But after hours of the usual grandstanding, will anything actually get done this time?


HUNT: Good morning to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's Thursday, February 1st. Wow, February already.

It is 05:00 a.m. here in Washington. It's also 05:00 a.m. in Wilmington, Delaware, where the Biden campaign is waking up to new data that may give them renewed confidence since in their campaign strategy. A new national poll shows President Biden pulling ahead of Donald Trump with a six-point lead in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup.

This, of course, represents a snapshot in time. There are nine months to go before the general election. But it's still a notable shift from December when the same Quinnipiac poll found a Biden-Trump race to be too close to call. This comes after Republican voters have started to weigh in and Biden

has started to engage more aggressively on the campaign trail. It could give us a glimpse into how voters are reacting as the likelihood of a Donald Trump, as the Republican nominee, becomes more real.

It's also notable that the gender gap has grown significantly here since that December poll, when Biden was favored over Trump by 12 points among women voters. At the end of January, Quinnipiac found it was 22 points.

Let's bring in Eugene Scott. He is "Axios" senior politics reporter.

Eugene, good morning. It's always good to see you.


HUNT: So, let's -- this gender gap is astonishing in terms of the way that its grown and changed, and one of the things wed like to do here is compare like with like.

SCOTT: Sure.

HUNT: So wonderful to the other shows us change here.

Now, the Biden campaign has always been arguing, as we've seen, national polls that have shown Trump potentially leading, that when the campaigns actually joined, when it becomes real for voters, that Donald Trump is the likely Republican nominee. There will be a shift toward Biden.

Do you think that's what we're seeing here?

SCOTT: That is part of what we're seeing, and you might notice that this poll was conducted during the weekend where the former president lost his defamation lawsuit against E. Jean Carroll, he had lots of negative headlines that tied into his history of poor actions and words towards women. We got out of the primaries and New Hampshire primary, should I say, it's what's the Iowa caucuses with him attacking Nikki Haley in ways that were gender to many of the voters that he wants to appeal to.

So it's not that big of a surprise that many of the women who weren't big fans of him before this election still aren't.

HUNT: So, Eugene, of course, the other factor here that that has been unfolding, I absolutely take your point about E. Jean Carroll, Nikki Haley has been the one running against Donald Trump and she, of course, as a woman candidate, Donald Trump has been up there attacking -- he attacked her looks. He attacked the dress that she wore when she gave that speech in New Hampshire.

And this poll shows that Nikki Haley, absent third-party candidates anyway, could actually beat Biden in November. She meanwhile, has been poking fun at both Biden and Trump. They've launched this ad series called "Grumpy Old Men" for those of us who remember this movie. That's the way they have mocked that up.

How much do you think the way that Trump is treating women and Nikki Haley's presence in this race affects these numbers?

SCOTT: It affects these numbers with maybe independents and Democrats. But I'm not quite sure that it really is hurting the former president with Republicans. We're seeing Nikki Haley play a bit of identity politics here and making -- trying to make the case at least that this candidate who is old and male, it's not the best person to lead this country.

Well, the reality is the GOP base has no problem electing someone who is old and male. They've had opportunities in 2016 and 2020 to get behind candidates who were not men, who were much younger than the former president and they still chose him and they're still choosing him right now.


And so, I don't know that this is going to be as effective as Nikki Haley is hoping it will be to get her to the top of the GOP nomination.

HUNT: Yeah. So the other argument, of course, that she's been trying to make is the electability argument. It doesn't seem to have caught on in the early -- in the early states, voting states of the Republican primary as people seem to become more -- in the Republican base anyway -- become convinced like Trump was their, was their person.

I want to show you a little bit of what Nikki Haley had to say when she spoke recently with Charlamagne tha God and then let's talk a little bit about how the pole at plays into this. Listen to Nikki Haley.


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And this also was about a general election. This is about who can win. He can't win moderates. He can't win independents. He can't win suburban women.

He lost in 2018. He lost in 2020. He lost in 2022.

How many more times do you have to lose before you say, you know what, maybe that's not the guy?


HUNT: So, first of all, I mean, this poll seems to help that case. But second of all, why -- why are we not hear her say that, you know, from the very beginning out of the gate, which he was running against Donald Trump? I mean, she's much stronger against him then she was before.

SCOTT: And why not say that two Republican voters? I mean, the audience of the Breakfast Club is overwhelmingly liberal. And so whether or not Trump can win moderates or independents is somewhat irrelevant here. The question is, can Nikki Haley win Democrats and those who perhaps do not want a continuation of Donald Trump?

What she has said, his convinced many people that she will not be as far left for lack of a better word from Trump as they may want their president to be. That being liberal voters.

And one of the main reasons we know that she did not take this message to voters, initially, is because she wants to win the support of the Republican base. And she can't do that by attacking Trump. And she noticed that in Iowa and she learned that in New Hampshire.

HUNT: Yeah, it is definitely an interesting evolution. I also wonder how much they're learning, the lesson of the money that they can come your way when you criticize Donald Trump, because that's what's going to keep her campaign go in here, at least in terms of the small donations?

Eugene Scott of "Axios" -- Eugene, always great to have you kick us off. Thanks very much.

SCOTT: Thank you.

HUNT: All right. Up next here, the U.S. attacking Houthi drones in Yemen before they're even launched.

Plus, the FBI's new warning about China, how vulnerable are Americas pipelines and power supplies?

And protecting our children online. Big tech's next step after a stunning apology from Mark Zuckerberg.



HUNT: Welcome back.

U.S. forces have carried out more airstrikes in Yemen overnight, this time against 10 Houthi drones and a drone control station. U.S. central command says the strikes are meant to destroy the capabilities of the Iran-backed militant group before it can attack international shipping lines in the Red Sea region.

The strikes also follow another close call in the same area when one Houthi missile came within a mile of a U.S. warship, the Gravely, before it was shot down.

Journalist Elliott Gotkine joins us live now from London.

Elliott, good morning. Always good to have you.

How much of a threat are these back-and-forths strike to global commerce. And how does this play into tensions around the questions of wider escalation in the region? ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Kasie, when you've got one of the worlds most important shipping lanes being menaced by the Houthis, its inevitable that there is going to be an economic impact and an impact on global trade before the Houthi started firing drones and missiles and the like towards shipping in the Red Sea. It accounted for about 10 percent of all global trade -- trade would pass through the Red Sea and head on up often to the Suez Canal, which has also being impacted. That's being a crucial source of revenue for the Egyptians, which made about $9 billion from it last year. And if that goes down, it could push the fragile Egyptian economy in -- over the edge, it could end up defaulting or something like that.

So, a lot of shipping is now having to go the long way round, around the Horn of Africa. That's increasing freight rates, the cost of shipping goods by about four fold in some cases. And for those ships that are brave enough to continue going through the Red Sea, their insurance premiums have ballooned as well, and all this is going to add to the cost of everything from food to your IKEA furniture, and, of course, this is just after the world economy is trying to get over the hump in inflation, that it experienced in the wake of the pandemic.

So, it's having a big impact on trade and certainly regional economies. There globally, China not very happy a lot of its goods will go thanks through the Suez Canal, India not very happy because a lot of the crews on the ships are Indian and let's not forget the China and India are both allies of Iran as well.

In terms of the escalation, I suppose for now, the U.S. is limiting it when it's attacked by the Houthis to Yemen. I suppose the bigger concern is what its response will be to the killing of those three U.S. servicemen in Jordan, and Iran has already said that any attacks on it will not go unanswered.

For now though, the U.S. is just retaliating to these Houthi strikes on the Houthis themselves. And I suppose the hope is that there will not be a broader escalation. The U.S. and Iran don't seem to want a war and were not there yet. But obviously, there's always a danger when you have Iranian proxies effectively at war with us -- Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Elliot Gotkine for us in London -- Elliot, thank you.

We also have a sobering warning from the FBI Director Christopher Wray, telling a House subcommittee, China is preparing to launch a cyber attack against the U.S. that could cripple the country.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: China's hackers are positioning on American infrastructure in preparation to wreak havoc and cause real- world harm to American citizens and communities, if and when China decides the time has come to strike.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HUNT: Race says Chinese government backed hackers are targeting things like water treatment plants, electrical infrastructure, and oil and natural gas pipelines.

Steven Jiang joins us now live from Beijing.

Steven, good morning.

How's the Chinese government responding to what the FBI director said here?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Yeah, Kasie, they certainly hard in their usual fashion of denying and deflecting with foreign ministry official saying, not long ago that these latest allegations are groundless accusations, irresponsible remarks, and then of course, pointing the finger at Washington, then saying the U.S. is indeed the world's single biggest origin of cyberattacks and espionage.

Now, all of that, we have heard before, I was actually do some research before I came on stumbling upon this report I filed back in September 2015, when Chinese Xi Jinping, Chinese leader Xi Jinping was visiting the U.S. to see President Obama, the banner across screen says cybersecurity tops U.S.-China agenda during Xi's visit.

So a lot of things really haven't changed. If anything, they've gotten much worse according to many American experts and officials pointing to that growing sophistication than what they say brazenness of these alleged Chinese cyberattacks used to be more about commercial secrets, intellectual property. But now as we just heard from Wray, they carry real-world implications even with military implications.

But the timing of his revelation is interesting. Of course, it's election year in the U.S., but also, this is when the Biden ministration is working hard to ease tensions with Beijing following that summit between Biden and Xi last November, we have seen a growing number of bilateral exchanges and visits happening again. So it seems for now, there's enough political will on both sides, not letting these dramatic revelation to derail this process of a thawing in this relationship -- Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Steven Jiang for us in Beijing -- Steven, thank you.

All right. Still ahead here, a judge dismisses Disney's free speech lawsuit against Ron DeSantis. The feud is not over yet.

And why are Fox hosts so afraid of Taylor Swift? Couldn't have to do with the global superstar's potential political endorsement?



HUNT: All right. Quick hits across America.

Now, a bipartisan tax package that would temporarily expand the child tax credit and restore several business tax benefits passed last night in the House. The $78 billion goes now to the Senate.

A federal judge dismissing Disney's lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his allies. The suit alleged DeSantis weaponized his position to punish the company for exercising its right to free speech. Disney says it will press forward with the case.

Senior White House adviser John Podesta will take over the role of U.S. climate diplomat when John Kerry steps down from that role this spring. Podesta is the former campaign manager for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. Campaign chairman, I should say

All right, let's get now to weather. We've got another atmospheric river. It's bringing heavy rain and strong winds to parts of the West, flash flooding alerts have been issued from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, while mountain snow is going to be in effect in California, Utah, and Colorado.

Our weatherman, Derek Van Dam, tracking all of it.

Derek, good morning. What do we got?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: What about weatherman Van Dam? Is that -- is that still going? I mean --

HUNT: I like that. That's my favorite. I know you're a meteorologist. I hope you can forgive me. It's just like -- it's too perfect.

VAN DAM: Hey, nothing but love, Kasie.

HUNT: All right.

VAN DAM: We've been talking about these atmospheric rivers for days, but we keep harping on it because it is so impactful for the West Coast. And, you know, the state of California can receive about 50 percent of its precipitation from these atmospheric river events, which typically occur this time of the year, but sometimes it's just a little bit too much too quick, right?

So, the first one that we've been discussing now impacting Central and Southern California. You can see that direct stream of moisture coming off of the Pacific Ocean. There just so much energy associated with it. That's being translated into very powerful winds, especially in the higher elevations.

Check that out, over 90 miles per hour clocked in some high elevation points of Southern and Central California. Wow, that's amazing. That's equivalent to a low-end category one hurricane. I mean, just incredible.

High wind warnings and advice as we still dotting the landscape over the Western U.S. and with that long fetch coming off of the Pacific Ocean, we have really large swells impacting those West-facing shorelines across California. High surf advisories, waves between 10 to 20 feet, depending on where you're located, and then there's the rain. This is where it becomes significantly impactful for large population

area, the Bay Area, down to Ventura and Santa Barbara Area. This particular region just getting battered by precipitation right now. Los Angeles, not included within the watch for flood watch. Flood watch at the moment, they believe the National Weather Service believes that this will move on rather quickly and just creates some nuisance flooding and within the urban areas.

But nonetheless, be careful for ponding on the roads, lots of snow associated with this system, will be measuring that in feet and, Kasie, I need to end with this. This is not the only atmospheric river, as second more powerful storm will impact southern California early next week.

HUNT: All right. Well, I'm sure we will be here talking about it.

Our weatherman Van Dam, Derek, thank you very much tomorrow.

VAN DAM: All right. Love it.

HUNT: See you tomorrow.

All right. A new -- a new poll shows Joe Biden suddenly pulling ahead of Donald Trump. We're going to talk about one group of voters that seemed to be helping to put the president up in that.

Plus, social media CEOs taking a bipartisan beating in the Senate, accused of failing to protect our kids online.


SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): Your platforms really suck at policing themselves.




HUNT: Good morning. Thanks for being up early with us. I'm Kasie Hunt, just before 5:30 here on the East Coast.

A new poll shows Joe Biden pulling ahead of Donald Trump in a hypothetical general election mash up -- matchup. It is driven in large part by a growing gender gap. The new survey by Quinnipiac University shows President Biden with a six-point lead over former President Trump. That lead boosted predominantly by female voters whose support for Biden has increased by five percentage points over the course of the last month, according to this survey.

Let's bring in Julia Manchester. She's national political reporter for "The Hill".

Julia, good morning. Always wonderful to see you. Obviously, this is a snapshot in time. It's also a national poll. Not a poll of swing states, but it does kind of track sentiment around this looming rematch. And in Quinnipiac's report, one of their polling analysts highlighted this dynamic.