Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Biden Refers To Xi As A "Dictator" After "Productive" Meeting; Chinese State Media Speaks Positively Of Summit; Poll: Christie Surges To 3rd In New Hampshire; Top House Dems Evacuated From DNC HQ As Police Clash With Protesters Calling For Gaza Ceasefire; Young Voters Tell CNN They Don't Like Biden's Handling Of The Israel-Hamas And Want A Ceasefire. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 16, 2023 - 12:30   ET




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, look, he is. I mean, he's a dictator in the sense that he is the guy who runs a country that is a communist country, that is based on a form of government that is totally different than ours.


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: My colleague, my tenacious colleague, MJ, is here now to talk about not just that moment after the press conference, MJ, but the other sort of notable moments that we heard from the President last night.

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Dana. I mean, we did get a fiery response from the Chinese foreign ministry to that dictator comment. They said that it was extremely erroneous and irresponsible. But I can tell you for sure that the White House has no interest in dwelling on those comments.

They are really pointing to what they say, was real progress that was made yesterday at the Biden's G summit, where they were able to sort of take the heat out a little bit from the tensions between the two countries. They, of course, were touting some of the few deliverables that they were able to announce yesterday, including chiefly that military to military communication being reestablished between the two countries, that announcement on cracking down on fentanyl.

And the press conference last night was so interesting, because even though that summit was entirely focused on U.S.-China relations, the President fielded a number of questions about the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, everything on the civilian casualties, the status of the hostage negotiations, where he said he was mildly optimistic. And then he had this to say about the duration of the war and the future of Gaza.


BIDEN: With regard to when is this going to stop? I think it's going to stop when the -- when Hamas no longer maintains the capacity to murder and bring abuse and just do horrific things to the Israelis. I can't tell you how long it's going to last. But I can tell you I don't think it only ends until there's a two state solution.


LEE: The President also answered a number of questions that had to do with Israel's claim that there is a Hamas control center under Al- Shifa Hospital in Gaza. The President said he was absolutely confident based on everything he knew that that was the case. And the White House has been saying that they have their own intelligence, making them confident in this view. Obviously, there have been a lot of questions about that claim so far. Dana?

BASH: MJ, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Joining me now is CNN's Jim Sciutto. Jim, let's go back to the discussion about China.


BASH: Because the response -- and you know this far better than I, so I want to get your take on it -- inside China, Chinese state media was really key. This is from Xinhua. "The meeting was positive, comprehensive and constructive, and has charted the course for improving and developing China-U.S. relations. San Francisco should be a new starting point for stabilizing China-U.S. relations."

And I just want to add, you heard MJ talk about the reporting there about the President, President Biden --


BASH: -- standing by the term dictator. They said this is extremely erroneous, it's irresponsible political maneuver, which China firmly opposes. It sounds like it's pretty tough, but it's nothing compared to when President Biden actually said he's a dictator in June where the Chinese said it was in a violated facts, diplomatic protocol called a political provocation.

SCIUTTO: Listen, the difference between how Chinese state media is portraying this relationship today, going back to June but go back to February in the midst of the Chinese balloon incident, there was talk of war in either direction. You had threats in Chinese state one media about shooting at us surveillance aircraft in an -- or around Chinese airspace.

So that change is dramatic in such a short period of time. And keep in mind, that doesn't happen by accident, right? Chinese state run media is run by the state. They put out glowing coverage of this because that is the government's view that this is a positive meeting for China, the leader needs it now. And they want to color the Chinese public's perception of this meeting is being justified, the right thing at the right time.

So that's not an accident, that this is China backing up the leaders decision to come and shake hands with the U.S. President.

BASH: That's the point about that this is obviously state run, they're trying to shape public opinion. And the question is why, why are they so intent on portraying this as such a positive meeting back in China?

SCIUTTO: So, a couple reasons. One -- and this is something that China shares with the U.S. -- is that neither side wants to be on a path -- on momentum towards war. And this has been a bad year between the U.S. and China with some real flashpoints the Chinese balloon but also close encounters between U.S. and Chinese warships.


SCIUTTO: Chinese jet, just a couple of weeks ago, was 10 feet off the wing of a U.S. jet which can lead to an international, possibly a deadly altercation. So it's been a tough year, both sides want to cool that down, it seems, right? Just to -- they're not going to solve all their problems, but cool it down.

But there's this added piece which is about she's domestic position. It is not strong, the economy is weak. It's not just come down to earth, but they have genuine economic fears right now of their own massive real estate bubble. And then that leads to threats to Xi Jinping's leadership.

So he needs a win in effect --

BASH: Yes.

SCIUTTO: -- and he needs -- he can't fight the U.S. on the economic front right now because of China's economic weakness. So it makes sense for him --

BASH: So interesting.

SCIUTTO: -- to make nice.

BASH: Really, really interesting. Thanks for being on.


BASH: I appreciate it, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

BASH: And coming up, some good news for former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in our brand new exclusive CNN poll out of New Hampshire. I'll get his reaction after a quick break.



BASH: Now back to our exclusive new poll out of New Hampshire, among Republican primary voters. The poll had welcome news for one candidate who is spending a lot of time in the Granite State, Chris Christie. He climbed to third but still has a pretty big mountain to climb to overtake Donald Trump, a bit more of a hill when it comes to Nikki Haley.

Joining me now from New Hampshire is Chris Christie. Thank you so much for being here, Governor. Let's start with this poll. Your reaction?

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, look, it shows what we've been feeling on the grounds here. We continue to move up, we continue to do better. I think this is really now a three person race in New Hampshire, with myself and Nikki Haley and Donald Trump. And we intend to be riding this hard all the way to January 23.

Now that the date has been put in stone, I'm here today and tomorrow. I'll be back Monday and Tuesday. And now we're going to be spending the time, the energy and the money here to be able to win this primary.

BASH: Is your campaign New Hampshire or bust?

CHRISTIE: No, it's not New Hampshire or bust. But what we want it to be is for New Hampshire to be what starts our momentum towards the nomination. And we think that's exactly what it will be. And so, there's certainly not a must win state for me. But what it is, is a must do well state. And if I do well, we're going to be in this right to the convention.

BASH: So you saw this poll, and you saw, as we mentioned, again, that a good chunk of New Hampshire Republicans list you as their first choice. But 47% of likely New Hampshire Republican voters say that they would never support you.

Now, we're showing this on the screen. I'm not sure if you can see it. That is 13 point drop, which in this case, that's good news for you. How do you --


BASH: -- turn them around the 47%?

CHRISTIE: The way I turned the 60 to 47 since your last poll. Look, you know, people in the beginning are turned off by the fact that someone's actually telling the truth about Donald Trump. Now that they hear more and more about Donald Trump, they're becoming less and less concerned about me, and more and more concerned about him.

So that number is going to continue to go down as we continue to put our message out there. I told you this, Dana, you know, when we interviewed a couple months ago, when you had the poll out that was at 60 percent. And I said, look, it's going to get less, we expected to get that kind of reaction at the beginning.

Because look, Nikki Haley, and Ron DeSantis are running for second place. They put their hand up, and they said, I'll support Donald Trump, even if he's a convicted felon. Nikki Haley, the other night said, he's the right president for the right time. You know, look, either you're running against Donald Trump or you're not, when you will get those numbers data that you had on the screen, you know that if you don't run through Donald Trump, you're going to come in second or third to Donald Trump. Maybe that's OK with them, maybe they want to run in 2028. I'm running to win right now.

BASH: Governor, I have to ask you about something that -- well, first of all, President Trump started by calling his political rivals, vermin. He did that if you remember on Veterans Day. You like in those comments to the worst of Nazi Germany.

Now another one of your primary opponents, Vivek Ramaswamy, had another take similar to Trump's. Let's listen to what he said.


VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know what's vermin? What's running around San Francisco on a given day before Gavin Newsom cleaned it up on a dime to roll out the red carpet for Xi Jinping. Picking on some word that Donald Trump said on a certain day and asking me for comments on it, give me a break.


BASH: I'm going to ask you for comment on it.

CHRISTIE: Well, my comments is the same as it was before, which was that it's the worst of what used to hear in 1930s Nazi Germany. And he knows it, by the way. This is not mistake. And, you know, look, I think it's pretty obvious what's going on here.

Vivek Ramaswamy is Donald Trump's wing man. Anytime Donald Trump says something stupid, Vivek's in there with a broom and a dustpan trying to clean up after it. You would think a guy with a Harvard education would be able to get a better job than that. But apparently he's just cleaning up on what Donald Trump drops every day out of his mouth.

BASH: Just before I let you go, I do want to ask you about the meeting that President Biden had last night. Yesterday, really all day with Chinese President Xi Jinping.


Yesterday, President Biden doubled down on calling him a dictator but also got some things done, fentanyl, reestablishing communication between the militaries. How would you have handled President Xi in a different way if you were president?

CHRISTIE: Well I don't know what we said behind closed doors, Dana, but what I would say is, on the fentanyl issue, this should have been done quite some time ago. And hopefully, the Chinese will keep their word. Now, I don't trust them. I follow the Reagan approach of trust, but verify.

We'll see if they comply with what they said they're going to do on fentanyl. And, by the way, on the issue of military to military communication, that's always a good thing to have. What you don't want to have ever are circumstances where there are miscommunications between the two largest militaries in the world that lead to a problem that will be difficult, if not impossible to fix.

So I think that's a good thing. But in the end -- and calling him a dictator is, by the way, what he is. It's not like they have free elections in communist China. So, you know, I saw some of his staff members got weak in the knees because he said it.

Well, good for Joe Biden that he said it. He is a dictator. He doesn't have free elections and fair elections. And so he called them exactly what he is. The way it would be in my administration, quite frankly, would be we're going to be even more direct with the Chinese about the things that they need to do in order to maintain a positive productive relationship with the United States.

Joe Biden, I'm glad they met. But it's probably a little bit too little at this point, given all the time he's had as president already.

BASH: Governor, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it. Good to see you.

CHRISTIE: Dana, thanks for having me on. Appreciate it.

BASH: And coming up, members of Congress, including top House Democrats evacuated after violent struggles between the police and protesters right here in Washington, D.C. What it says about the politics of the President's own party as he is facing a reelection bid.



BASH: Now to an anti-war rally that turned violent. This was the scene outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters right here in Washington last night. Protesters were demanding a ceasefire in Gaza, but ended up clashing with police.

The top three House Democrats were all inside the building at the time and had to be evacuated. It's another sign of the growing divide among Democrats over President Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

Our great reporters are back. And Laura, I mean, that is it quite an image. We haven't seen an image like that since January 6. Totally different topic, totally different kinds of people. I mean, I don't want to at all, compare the sort of substance of it, but the --


BASH: -- idea that there was violence and that there were Capitol police officers actually hurt there.

BARRON-LOPEZ: I believe there are about six Capitol police officers that were injured, according to the Capitol Police that put out -- BASH: Yes.

BARRON-LOPEZ: -- that report last night. But there is a -- there are key differences. I wouldn't compare it to January 6, but it was a clash. And the protesters or the ralliers were standing outside and blocking the entryways and the exit ways. And that's why police confronted them and tried to get them to move because people couldn't exit or enter the building.

BASH: And not just people.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. The lawmakers.

BASH: Like is most in the House Democrat.

BARRON-LOPEZ: The most senior House Democrats and lawmakers --

BASH: Yes.

BARRON-LOPEZ: -- who were there for an event. And so that's what ultimately led to the clash. Look, as you said, Dana, this is showing the fissures among Democrats, and among the left that are very frustrated with President Biden --

BASH: Yes.

BARRON-LOPEZ: -- that feel as though he's not doing all that he can to try to ensure that the violence stop, that the attacks on civilians in Gaza stop. He was questioned about that yesterday. And so that's something that he's going to have to address more, especially as he heads into the campaign cycle.

BASH: And -- thank you. And, Jeff, you have such an interesting and important take on this based on the very important reporting that you've been doing all over the country. And we're just going to give one example of an interview that you did with some students in Georgia, it was this week, about what's happening in the Middle East and how they view the President.


AYLON GIPSON, MOREHOUSE COLLEGE STUDENT: They don't like how he's handling that war. I think it is crucial for us to call for a ceasefire. And a lot of people in my generation, they want to see senators across the border, step up and call for a ceasefire, especially the President.

NABILAH ISLAM PARKES, GEORGIA STATE SENATOR: I think that young voters recognize you can't bomb your way to peace and security. And so we do feel comfortable to that.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Look, that was a prevailing sentiment talking to young voters and the youngest woman ever elected to the Georgia State Senate who's Muslim-American. And so she's been hearing from a lot of young voters and others she said.

And look, civilians is the word here, as you just said, or that is what is the -- yes, just the central point, and Democrats are furious and frustrated. And we -- this is going to be a central part of this campaign for the next year. For House races. Senate races as some primaries are becoming part of this. So this is something the administration President will have to address more which they know that the feelings are very raw on college campuses and far beyond that,

BASH: And usually you made the point that anti-war protests are against Republicans. In this case, it's a Democratic president.


ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: That's exactly right. And I think, I mean, both of the points that you are making are true. It's showing the cracks in the party right now. And also, I do think that the Biden administration is having a lot of difficulty with how to address this and how to do it right, especially obviously, given the sensitivity of what is happening, but also because there's a lot of diverging opinions.

And I agree with Jeff, that they're going to have to come out more forcefully and, you know, have him be the leader on this.

BASH: Yes. Except that from all my reporting, President Biden fundamentally believes we heard this last night again, that Hamas needs to be destroyed, that they are a terrorist organization. And if they aren't destroyed, that they will just attack again in Israel next. And the question is, where else?

Thank you all. Great discussion.

Thank you for watching INSIDE POLITICS today. "CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts after the break.