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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Poll: Women Voters Fueling Biden's Lead Over Trump; Tech CEOs Apologize To Families Of Kids Harmed Online; Trump And Biden Battle For Union Hearts And Minds. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired February 01, 2024 - 05:30   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: 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 mashup -- 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. It's 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 in -- they write, quote, "The gender demographic tells a story to keep an eye on. Propelled by female voters in just the past few weeks, the head-to-head tie with Trump morphs into a modest lead for Biden."

What do you think is driving this change here in the last month or so?

JULIA MANCHESTER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE HILL: You know, Kasie, I think looking all the way back to 2018 when we saw female voters, in many ways, drive the blue wave we saw that year and propelled Biden to the presidency in 2020. And then, of course, in 2022, very much helped Democrats as well. I think we're seeing a continuation of that with Biden -- a rejection of the former president and his policies and rhetoric.

You know, we -- when we look at women there's obviously a number of different subgroups. You have suburban, college-educated women, and then also, other groups of women that fall into that category. And we see that they've been very much leaning towards the Democrats since the Trump administration. So I think you're seeing a continuation of the rejection of Trump. And that's good for Biden, obviously. We've seen that women are very much the backbone, I think, of the Democratic coalition -- and particularly, that suburban, college-educated group. That's huge for the president because that's really proven to be a major swing vote. So if he can get that under his coalition -- that group under his coalition that's good.

And it comes at aa time when other parts of the Democrats coalition do seem to be falling apart, such as younger voters, for example. So this is good news for the president.

HUNT: Yeah. And, you know, Julia, I want to also touch on -- a piece of what's going on here, obviously, is that this general election is sort of starting to get engaged. But as the Republican primary unfolds you have Donald Trump now running against a woman and doing things like --


HUNT: -- criticizing Nikki Haley's looks.

And you wrote in The Hill recently, quote, "Many experts acknowledge Trump's attacks against his female rivals and critics are more personal and visceral. Political observers say the attacks on Haley resemble the former president's past attacks on women and could turn away critical women voters in the general election."

Is the current state of the Republican primary contributing to these numbers we're seeing for President Biden?

MANCHESTER: I think it's possible, certainly. You know, when you compare the two and how Donald Trump talks about women, particularly any woman or female opponent that criticizes him or challenges him -- I mean, it doesn't matter whether it's a Republican women -- woman or a Democratic woman, we see President Trump attacking these women in what seems to be more of a visceral, direct, more intense way than he does his male opponents. So I think it's certainly helping that.

But there are other factors at play and I do think there are voters -- female voters who are looking at this choice between Biden and Trump and not necessarily basing it all on gender. I mean, there are other issues impacting women, such as the economy and also Roe versus Wade. I mean, you are going to see Democrats continue to really zero in on this issue of abortion access. It worked for them in 2022 and it worked for them in Virginia in 2023, and I think you're seeing Biden continue to carry that on.

Now, that's not to say that everything's going to be easy with Democratic voters. Like I said, that coalition is chipping a little bit. However, this is a good sign for Biden going forward.

HUNT: For sure.

So let's talk about the other woman that everyone is talking about in politics and that is Taylor Swift who -- you know, this is kind of been dominating the political conversation over the course of the last couple of days because, in no small part, the MAGA movement has really latched onto this and starting talking about well, is the Super Bowl going to be rigged?

Here's how Fox has been talking about Taylor in recent days -- watch.


CHARLY ARNOLT, HOST, OUTKICK.COM: Now there's an online plea circulating that is begging people to become Niners fans for the next two weeks just so it doesn't raise Travis Kelce, AKA Mr. Pfizer's star power along with, of course, Taylor Swift.

EMILY COMPAGNO, FOX NEWS HOST, "OUTNUMBERED": That's persuadable power and this administration is rock dead-set on harnessing that.

JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST, "THE FIVE": Yeah, but why alienate the -- your -- the -- your fans -- the Swifties? You know, they come across from every political ideology. Why put yourself in one area?

ARNOLT: Please don't believe everything Taylor Swift says. We're all begging you.


HUNT: What is going on here?

MANCHESTER: Look, I think there's attitude -- or this theory that Taylor Swift is a threat -- and I think, in part, because she is a strong, powerful woman who is having influence across the spectrum but in predominantly male spaces, like in the NFL. So I think that's threatening. A lot of political observers watching this


On top of that, because she is so influential, Kasie, we've seen her be able to wield that influence when it comes to political spaces. She has certainly made some of her political views known. However, she has helped out with voter turnout, voter registration.

So I don't think she's as vocally political as some celebrities might be; however, because she is really the pop culture right now. And being a woman and being someone who is probably a left-leaning woman, that's, I think, threatening some people going into the Super Bowl in a predominantly, like I said, male space.

HUNT: Yeah. No -- I mean, it's the dynamics at play, all very interesting.

And she did weigh in a little bit in 2018 --


HUNT: -- around some Tennessee races.


HUNT: And, of course, she did talk about Biden in 2020.

That said -- like, things have gone a little farther this time. I mean, here was Seth Meyers last night -- watch.


SETH MEYERS, You cracked the case. America has never seen a popular musician go on to tour, sell lots of records, and date an athlete. The signs are all there.

Let me get on (INAUDIBLE). Joe Biden is the 46th president. He's running for a second term. Forty-six times two is 92. Travis Kelce's number is 87. Ninety-two minus 87 is five. What has five sides? The Pentagon.


HUNT: Meyers, of course, talking about the Jesse Watters theory that Taylor Swift is a Pentagon -- agent of the Pentagon. Like, what is going on?

MANCHESTER: Yeah. There are so many -- I don't understand the logic with a lot of these conspiracy theories, but --

HUNT: I think logic is outside -- we're outside the realm of logic.

MANCHESTER: Exactly. Maybe that's given them too much credit.

But I think if a lot of these commentators want to help Donald Trump and help conservatives down the ballot, maybe they should stop focusing on Taylor Swift and focus on, like, what we've talked about so much -- those kitchen table issues like the economy.

HUNT: Fair enough.

Julia Manchester of The Hill. Thanks very much for playing ball. I appreciate it.

MANCHESTER: Thank you.

HUNT: All right.

We're going to turn now to the dramatic and emotionally charged moment at a Senate hearing yesterday when five tech chief executives were testifying on the dangers of social media.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg stood, at one point, to address the sea of parents -- they are holding their pictures of their children there -- who they say fell victim to online child abuse. Watch this.


SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): There's families of victims here today. Have you apologized to the victims?

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, META: I've -- HAWLEY: Would you like to do so now? They're here. You're on national television. Would you like now to apologize to the victims who have been harmed by your project? Show him the pictures. Would you like to apologize for what you've done to these good people?

ZUCKERBERG: I'm sorry for everything you have all been through. No one -- no one should have to go through the things that your families have suffered and this is why we've invested so much and are going to continue doing industry-leading efforts to make sure that no one has to go through the types of things that your families have had to suffer.


HUNT: Hmm. That apology came after his denial that social media use harms mental health.


ZUCKERBERG: The existing body of scientific work has not shown a causal link between using social media and young people having more mental health outcomes.


HUNT: All right. For more on this, let's bring in congressional reporter for Punchbowl News, Mica Soellner. Mica, good morning to you.

Let's talk about what unfolded at this hearing yesterday. There were some dramatic moments here.

MICA SOELLNER, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, PUNCHBOWL NEWS: Yeah, absolutely, Kasie. I mean, this was an extremely powerful, rare moment on Capitol Hill that was a bipartisan grilling of these big-tech CEOs that I think Congress has really stepped up and has put a lot of pressure on.

I think having the parents of victims -- of the children that have been suffering and have even died from social media is extremely powerful. And you saw the apology there from Mark Zuckerberg. And then we saw, momentarily after that, Evan Spiegel, the CEO of Snap, also apologized.

So this is -- this was an intense, very emotional testimony here and I think that it was also a rare moment for lawmakers who really, really want to crack down on what some of these companies are doing in terms of online safety for children.

HUNT: Right. So I absolutely take your point. This is a bipartisan thing. Members on both sides of the aisle want to crack down on this. However, Congress has been grappling with this problem for years and they have been unable to pass any sort of meaningful legislation to address some of the issues that were presented and that were on display at this hearing yesterday.

[05:40:09] What's it going to take for Congress to figure this out?

SOELLNER: I mean, that's a great question. You know, the Senate hasn't been able to pass any kind of online safety regulations for children in about a decade.

Obviously, a lot of these issues go through the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is among the most divided committees and panels on Congress. We have Republicans like Josh Hawley, and then we have some Democrats like Mazie Hirono on that committee who clearly don't see eye-to-eye on a lot -- on a lot of issues.

But big tech is one of those rare issues where a lot of lawmakers really want to do something. But again, like everything else, the pathway forward and the solutions -- I think there's so much disagreement on how to get a solution done -- that a lot of this continues to fall through the wayside.

So I think -- you know, seeing this, things might change, especially with kind of having the parents in the room. I think that's a step forward in really seeing the impact of people. It was powerful for a lot of people.

HUNT: Yeah. I mean, I think -- I think the big question, really, in Congress has showed that they simply don't have the expertise, in many cases, when these hearings have been held to actually address this issue. And that leaves this massive opening for tech companies to write their own rules, which Zuckerberg was up there saying, like, look, we have our own legislative proposal. We want to do that. I think that's really the conundrum.

Mica, let's switch gears because I want to talk about the border bill as well that has been under negotiation in the Senate.

The House speaker, Mike Johnson, gave his first major floor speech as speaker yesterday and he focused on border issues. Let me show you a little bit of what he said.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): President Biden wants to somehow try to shift the blame the Congress for his administration's catastrophe by design. It's absolutely laughable. No one's falling for this.

From what we've heard, this so-called deal does include -- does not include, sorry -- it does not include, from what we've heard, these transformational policy changes that are needed to actually stop the border catastrophe.


HUNT: So, Mica, it does seem like this compromise in the Senate, if they can get it out of the Senate, is dead in the House. I would say just to make sure we put some context on what the speaker was saying there, there are major policy changes, potentially, in this compromise. It doesn't necessarily go as far as some Republicans would want but it does go a lot further than a lot of progressives in President Biden's party would want.

Is the story over for this bill already? Where do things stand?

SOELLNER: Yeah. The Senate negotiations are still on thin ice. I know we saw last week that Donald Trump kind of threw a wrench in everything by publicly claiming his opposition to this bill. Conservative Republicans are still not happy. But I think a lot of senators are really, really frustrated by the stalemate of the -- of the negotiations and the work that's been going on for four months and now completely being thrown out the window, essentially.

And saying -- and a lot of leadership is saying that they need to get text out so it can combat some of what's being spread by the House and by Trump. Some of this misinformation that they claim that's being spread of what's actually in the bill. Because no one has actually seen the text, so I have to make that clear.

Meanwhile, I will add also that the only solution that the House has come up with besides their hardline bill that was passed last year that they've been pushing, is trying to impeach DHS Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas, who was impeached by the Homeland Security Committee this week and will likely be impeached by the full House next week.

HUNT: All right, Mica Soellner of Punchbowl News. Mica, thank you.


HUNT: Up next here, President Biden and former President Trump battling it out for the union vote. What each is doing to win over organized labor up next.



HUNT: Welcome back.

Just hours from now, President Biden will meet in Detroit with members of the United Auto Workers a week after he won the UAW's endorsement at their conference in Washington. It is one skirmish in the battle between Biden and former President Trump for union hearts and minds.

Yesterday, Trump met with Teamsters leaders at their D.C. headquarters as he tries to drive a wedge between Biden and organized labor. Of course, historically, they have been a loyal Democratic constituency and Trump acknowledging he's unlikely to fully win the Teamsters' support.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I think we had a very productive meeting. Stranger things have happened. Usually, a Republican wouldn't get that endorsement. For many, many years they've -- they only do Democrats. But in my case, it's different because I've employed thousands of Teamsters. And I thought we should come over and pay our respects. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: Joining us now, CNN Politics White House reporter Stephen Collinson. Stephen, good morning. It's wonderful to have you.

What's your sense of how Trump was received by the union workers he met with yesterday? And there is this divide, in some ways, between union leadership, which has stuck with the Democrats by and large, and rank-and-file members who have shown much more willingness to vote for the Republicans in the Trump mold.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I think it's a very interesting snapshot of the way that politics has shifted -- the fact that the former president would come all the way to Washington, a city he doesn't particularly like, to try and get that endorsement or at least to be shown to be looking for it.

Trump has transformed the Republican Party since he came on the scene in 2015. It's now much more a blue-collar party. He has exploited this backlash against globalization -- the loss of many blue-collar union jobs to low-wage economies abroad with his populist politics. And at the same time, the Democratic Party -- it has moved left on social issues and has left some of its union members behind culturally.

So I think what the former president was showing there is that even if he doesn't get the endorsement of the Teamsters and the UAW, he thinks he can compete for a lot of those voters. And polling really shows that he is running fairly evenly right now with President Biden on union voters. Whether that bears out in November we'll have to see. But in a close election, a few thousand union voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, or Pennsylvania could make a big difference.


HUNT: Yeah. I mean, let's dig in on Michigan. I had -- Debbie Dingell came on -- Congresswoman Debbie Dingell came on and spoke to us earlier in the week.

And I dug into kind of the exit polling from 2016 and 2020 and Donald Trump did better among union households in 2016 when he beat Hillary Clinton in Michigan than he did with union households against Joe Biden. I think some of that's the difference in terms of Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden are very different candidates. You've got, kind of, Scranton Joe. But it does show you that it's kind of -- it can be decisive, really, which way these households go.

What are you looking for in terms of -- I mean, Dingell was telling me she was in a union hall and it's clear that Biden has work to do. What does the White House think that they need to do with these households to try to make sure that they don't lose more voters this time than they -- than they had in 2020?

COLLINSON: Yeah, that's an interesting comparison between those two elections. Joe Biden, for 50 years, has made himself the candidate of unions. I've lost count of the number of times I've been -- say, Labor Day, for example, to Pittsburgh or Wisconsin, or somewhere like that where Biden has courted the union vote.

I think what the White House and the campaign will be looking to do is to make the argument that although the Republican Party and Donald Trump are perhaps in line with some of those union voters culturally, that Trump's policies on tax and other issues would actually hurt union households.

So you've got this kind of divide opening up between economics and cultural issues and I think that is somewhere that the Biden administration will be trying to stress. And also, the centrality of President Biden's economic policies and domestic policies, and even what he calls his foreign policy for the middle class is to try to drain some of the intensity out of that populism in the Midwest, for example, that Trump has been able to exploit.

You see him talking a lot about his infrastructure package. Over and over, he does these visits to areas where the infrastructure package is benefitting local industries. They're talking about how they've tried to boost manufacturing.

All of this is part of a wider political strategy that's not just anchored to this election to try and shore up the Democratic vote in those areas and to exploit perhaps the contradictions in some of Trump's policies.

HUNT: Very interesting.

CNN's Stephen Collinson. Stephen, thanks very much for being with us today.


HUNT: All right. Up next on "CNN THIS MORNING" the money race in 2024. Which candidates have the cash that they need to run their campaigns? That's next.



HUNT: The Portland Trail Blazers spoiled their former star Damian Lillard's emotional homecoming.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Andy, good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yeah, good morning, Kasie.

So, for the first time in his 12-year career, Damian Lillard was playing in Portland as a visiting player. And he said he didn't know how to get to that locker room when he got to the Moda Center last night. Lillard was traded to the Bucks before the season.

So many great memories there in Portland. He greeted some of his old fans before the game. And then the entire arena gave him a one-minute standing ovation when he was introduced. They also played a tribute video of all of his highlights with the Blazers and another of all of his work in the community there in Portland.

Lillard scoring 25 points in his return and said he was touched by the reception he got.


DAMIAN LILLARD, GUARD, MILWAUKEE BUCKS: You just feel the appreciation and the love and I just kind of stood in it. It was like, man, this is -- this is a big deal, you know? Just to take that moment and to have everybody in the building just show me that type of love is acknowledgment of a lot of things during my time here, so I appreciated it.


SCHOLES: Now, this game was a good one. In the closing seconds, Bucks get the steal and Lillard finds Giannis for the alley-oop to put Milwaukee up by one. But Anfernee Simons, the floater here, put the Blazers back on top with 17 seconds to go. And they would hold on to win this one 119-116.

All right, Kevin Durant also playing his first game back in Brooklyn since being traded to the Suns. This reunion not as emotional, Kasie. He played just three seasons with the Nets and it didn't end very well. Nets fans did give K.D. a mix of cheers and boos throughout the night. He scored 33 in his return.

Phoenix would win this game easily 136-120.

K.D. had said he didn't want a tribute video but they played one anyway. And afterwards, K.D. -- he was asked if he watched it.


KEVIN DURANT, FORWARD, PHOENIX SUNS: Of course. I mean, I had some great moments here. A lot of stuff that flew under the radar. But everybody in this organization and my teammates -- we understood what the moment was like. It's something I'm always going to remember playing here. And I'm glad we got the W tonight.


SCHOLES: All right. In college hoops, Iowa superstar Caitlin Clark continues to make history. She moved into second place on the women's NCAA all-time scoring list last night, finishing with 35 points in the Hawkeye's 110-74 win over Northwestern. Her 3,424 points are the most in Big Ten history and she's just 104 points away from setting the NCAA record held by former Washington Huskie Kelsey Plum.


CAITLAN CLARK, GUARD, IOWA HAWKEYES: You don't really think about it too much. I think you just come out every single night and play your game and have fun. And that's -- this is what kind of comes with it. It's cool to be in the same -- the same vicinity as some of those names -- a lot of people I grew up idolizing and looking up to. So it's definitely special for me.


SCHOLES: All right. And finally, the Seattle Seahawks have a new head coach this morning. The team reportedly giving Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Mike McDonald a six-year deal. The 36-year-old becomes the youngest head coach in the NFL, replacing 72-year-old Pete Carroll, who was the oldest.

McDonald's Ravens were the first team ever to lead the league in scoring defense sacks and takeaways in the same season.


The hiring leaves the Washington Commanders as the only team with a head coaching vacancy. And Kasie, you're there on the ground in D.C. What are the -- what are the fans saying? Are they worried they're never going to get a coach?

HUNT: Uh, the Commanders have been through a lot, Andy.

SCHOLES: They have. They have.

HUNT: They really have.

Hey, can I ask you, though -- honestly, the thing I'm obsessed with is Travis and Taylor. Travis was on his podcast saying, like, he's got to get his head in the game.

What do you make of it?

SCHOLES: Yeah. Oh, you know, I'm sure at this point --

HUNT: You hate me.

SCHOLES: -- he's used to all of this and he'll be able to be fine. It's the Super Bowl and he's done it before. I'm not worried about Travis Kelce.

HUNT: He sure is.


HUNT: I'm not either.

All right, Andy Scholes. Thanks very much.

SCHOLES: All right.

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