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Nevada's Latino Voters Signal 2024 Remains Up for Grabs; Biden Says Congress Cannot Wait to Pass Ukraine Funding and That He is Willing to Compromise on Border. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired December 06, 2023 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR OF 'INSIDE POLITICS': Welcome back. We are waiting for President Biden to speak any minute. That's a shot of his podium in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. We of course expect him to come and try to put some pressure on Congress. Congress is at a stalemate over what he calls essential funding for Ukraine. Priscilla Alvarez is at the White House. And as we wait for the president, Priscilla, what are you hearing about the specifics of what he's going to say?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Dana, he's expected to take an urgent tone and pushing for the supplemental request, and making the plea that he has made from the beginning that this is not just about assisting Israel and Ukraine, but also is imperative for national security of the U.S. And he's likely too to make the warning that his officials have made over the course of the last few days. The Office of Management and Budget saying that without congressional action, "We will run out of resources to procure more weapons and equipment for Ukraine and provide equipment for U.S. military stock." We're likely to see an extension of that in the president's remarks, which are expected momentarily.

And just to remind viewers, the president has repeated come out to push for the supplemental request which is $105 billion in total, breaking it down, it's $61 billion for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel. But he made a the call for the nation in October when this was first introduced. He has also gone to the pages of "The Washington Post." So this is a priority for the president and this White House as they try to show on the national stage, but also on the global stage that they are continuing to back Ukraine and Israel. This is important for democracy. It's important for these conflicts and above all else, it's important for the national security of the U.S.

So, we expect to hear all of that from the president in what is expected to be brief remarks and potentially also getting questions from reporters. Some of that may include what happens with border security. This is something that Republicans have pressed Democrats on. They will not pass they say anything unless there's robust policy changes, where the White House stands on that has been unclear. They have said from the podium that they will not negotiate in public, but clearly, this is a delicate issue and one that Republicans are calling for changes on, as they also try to get -- as the White House tries to get this supplemental through.

BASH: Right. Thank you so much, Priscilla. And again, as we wait for President Biden to speak, it could happen any second, John King is here. John, you came to talk about your story about Latino voters, your travels to Nevada, but we're going to take advantage of you being here. And the travels that you've done and talking to voters as it relates to Ukraine. It's amazing to see the shift in sentiment among, let's just start with Republicans. Republican leaders, and that is coming from the shift in sentiment among Republican voters when is it comes to spending taxpayer dollars to support Ukraine.


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And don't forget the Democratic pieces. The president, look, you started the show with David Chalian and the president's low poll standing right now. All of this is connected. He has a very weak hand to deal with. When he wants to push Ukraine funding, he looks to his right. And Republicans are saying, why? We don't see the reason to do this. Why are we protecting their borders when we can't protect our own? It's a legitimate question, right? The president has to make the case for democracy and he has tried to reach an agreement with the Republicans on border security here.

And he looks to his left, in his own party, not just here in Washington, out on the trail, especially young voters, don't want him to get give any more money to Israel right now. They are mad at Israel. They think Israel is somehow the bad actor against Hamas, even though Hamas attacked a terrorist strike on Israel. So, the president can look left and right, whether it's in Washington at the Congress or out in the country, and there's a problem right now. And he's trying to solve it, and he's trying to be the commander-in-chief. This is a presidential moment, not necessarily a political moment, but he has a weak hand.

BASH: You know, it's interesting. You mentioned that David Chalian came on at the beginning of the program with new polling. And one of the things that has fascinated me if you look at the trajectory of Biden approval numbers, we can put it up on the screen -- I should say, the decline, that 52 percent right there is high watermark, the downward slide came after Afghanistan. And so, at that point, people were so -- a lot of people were really disgusted with the way the United States left Afghanistan. They didn't want to be there, but they didn't like the way that the U.S. left. And now, you have him pleading for help from the U.S. taxpayers for very different places on the globe, but all about one core question, which is democracy.

KING: His calling card as commander-in-chief -- his calling card as president across the board was "I will end the chaos of Donald Trump." People looked at Afghanistan and they saw chaos. They say we didn't get what we bought and that also happened right when inflation was spiking or not too -- right after. So, if you go out in the country, number one, they think because the president -- part of this is because he keeps a light schedule. His team bristles at the suggestion, but the American people do not hear him every day whether it is on inflation, whether it is on Ukraine, whether it is on these issues. So, he's coming -- he keeps coming into these fights, making these statements at moments of crisis as opposed to building up support over time in traveling the country, make you -- go make your case about democracy.

It's striking in the sense that you look at that low approval rating. I was just in Vegas. 30 percent unemployment at the peak of COVID. That's a body blow that's hard to recover from. Most of the jobs are back but people don't believe it. They can see it if you look around, but they don't feel it in their bones. David was going through, he's in Jimmy Carter and Donald Trump territory. Those were one-term presidents because people don't perceive that he is vibrant and he is vigorous at the moment, and these are tough issues.

BASH: We're going to try to take a chance and play for our viewers the story that you did out of Nevada. Take a listen.


KING (voice-over): Lunchtime in Vegas, and Antonio Munoz is happy to lay out the choices. More cautious though about a past choice.

KING: What about 2020? Biden, Trump?

ANTONIO MUNOZ, NEVADA VOTER: 2020? I'll stay away from that today.

KING: You don't want to talk about that?


KING: Why?

MUNOZ: Why? Because the nature of society right now. We're a small business and they will attack you. They will attack you just because you support a certain candidate. It's sad.

KING (voice-over): Munoz started the 911 Taco Bar after a decade in the Air Force and 16 years as a Vegas Police Officer.

MUNOZ: This was a dream of mine through the military, owning my own business. I have always had a love for food and tacos. So, I thought I could bring something special to the community.

KING (voice-over): Hispanics were a small slice of Nevada's population when Munoz was a boy who admired Ronald Reagan, more than 30 percent now.

MUNOZ: It's amazing the political power that Hispanics are creating here in the State of Nevada.

KING: This is a state that's gone Democrat in the last several presidential elections, but if you look at it today, it's right there.

MUNOZ: 50/50.

KING (voice-over): Valeria Gurr is one reason why.

VALERIA GURR, NEVADA VOTER: Our vote has been taken for granted.

KING (voice-over): A former Democrat who worked for the Teachers' Union.

GURR: How did you do today?


KING (voice-over): Now a Republican with one defining issue.

KING: Your son is how old?

GURR: He's six.

KING: And you won't send him to public schools?

GURR: I won't.

KING: Why?

GURR: Because I've worked with Hispanic families for 15 years here and I have seen it. I have seen it firsthand how teachers have classrooms that are overcrowded. They can barely get to them. I will vote for the candidate that support my views on a school choice.

KING (voice-over): In 2020, that was Donald Trump with reservations.

GURR: I will never condone racist comments towards my community if that's the question.

KING (voice-over): Now, Gurr hopes the GOP makes a new choice.

GURR: I like Ron DeSantis simply because of what he has done in Florida. I personally would love to see Nikki Haley to have another mom (ph) in the White House that supports school choice.


KING (voice-over): Inflation and interest rates worries Zoila Sanchez. She's been selling homes in Las Vegas and its suburbs for 26 years.



KING (voice-over): Her voting history tracks Nevada shift blue. Democrat in the past four presidential elections. But Sanchez is still a registered Republican, her first and second votes for president went to George W. Bush. Sanchez likes the idea of lower taxes mixed with compassionate talk about immigrants.

KING: Does that Republican Party exist anymore?

SANCHEZ: It does not exist anymore.

KING: Would you like it to? SANCHEZ: I would love it to come back. Yeah, that's me.

KING: Would you like...

KING (voice-over): Sanchez is another Haley fan.

SANCHEZ: Because I think she could bring back that real Republican feeling, that conservative -- everything that it used to be.

KING: So if it's Trump-Biden, you're for Biden?

SANCHEZ: Mm-hmm.

KING: If it were Haley-Biden?

SANCHEZ: I would vote for Haley.

KING (voice-over): Never Trump for Sanchez, but she says some friends who voted for Biden in 2020 talk of giving Trump a second chance.

SANCHEZ: Some of them say because look at what's happening to the economy. There's no way.

KING: And what do you say to that?

SANCHEZ: I say don't. Don't. He's going to make things worse.

KING: This trip has changed a ton since Carlos Padilla started as a Treasure Island pastry chef 30 years ago.

CARLOS PADILLA, NEVADA VOTER: To be in a job that long and actually still love it, it's awesome.

KING (voice-over): Padilla is a loyal Democrat, volunteers every election as a culinary union foot soldier, and knows even a modest Latino shift could tip Nevada Republican in 2024.

PADILLA: I think we can -- we have a good chance of stopping that.

KING (voice-over): Padilla hears complaints Biden is too old or nostalgia for the pre-COVID Trump economy. He tries to reframe the conversation.

PADILLA: Do you want somebody that's going to be for the working class people or do you want somebody that's possibly not for the working class people? As we get closer and people start getting more information and correct information, I think it will be a lot different.

KING (voice-over): Change is a constant here. So in early debates with friends, including two sons split between Biden and Trump, Antonio Munoz says do your homework and keep an open mind.

MUNOZ: People are confused. I'm not -- there's no perfect candidate out there.

KING: So we are in Vegas, would you put your money on Trump-Biden or are we going to be surprised?

MUNOZ: I think we're going to be surprised. I think we're going to be surprised.

KING (voice-over): The early odds of course suggest otherwise.


BASH: It's always so interesting to hear from voters. I was in Nevada right before the midterms in 2022 and the feeling was, I don't know, this could go for the Republican because of the Latinos being -- a lot of the Latino voters being upset about Joe Biden and the economy and that's not what happened, but that wasn't a specific Senate race, maybe this time it's different.

KING: Republican state when the governor's office.

BASH: Right.

KING: They beat Democratic incumbent there, so sort of a split decision in the midterms which is why 2024 is so urgent. So I talked about the COVID hangover, you have it on the economy. Even though many of the jobs are back, people -- 30 percent unemployment, again, it leaves a bruise. But you've heard that Latino mom. Now, she's an activist now, so some people will discount her. But we have heard the same thing from lower-income moms in Milwaukee. People who send their children to public schools, their kids are behind because of COVID and they don't see this town -- many of them don't see their governors doing anything about it. They worry about their kids and don't see any help.

BASH: And the fact that you talked to that one particular woman who is all Biden unless Nikki Haley is the Republican. Did you hear that?

KING: There's a lot of that.

BASH: More than once.

KING: Remember, George W. Bush got 40-some percent among Latinos because he was the compassionate conservative. Yes, lower taxes, less regulation, conservatives support abortion rights.

BASH: John, forgive me, here's the president.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Good afternoon, everyone. I'd like to speak to you today about an urgent responsibility that Congress has to uphold the national security needs of the United States, and quite frankly, of our partners as well. This cannot wait. Congress needs to pass supplemental funding for Ukraine before they break for holiday recess, simple as that. Frankly, I think it's stunning that we have gotten to this point in the first place. Congress -- Republican are saying Congress is willing to give Putin the greatest gift he could hope for and abandon our global leadership, not just Ukraine but beyond that. We have all seen the brutality that Putin has inflicted on Ukraine. Invading another country, trying to subjugate his neighbors to his iron rule, committing atrocities against Ukrainian civilians. Trying to plunge them into the cold and darkness of winter by bombing their electrical grid, so they don't have any heat during the winter or electricity for that matter. Kidnapping thousands in Ukraine, thousands of Ukrainian children from their parents and families and keeping them in Russia. Russian forces are committing war crimes. It's as simple as that. It's stunning.

Who is prepared to walk away from holding Putin accountable for this behavior? Who among us is really prepared to do that? For the better part of two years, the brave people of Ukraine have denied Russia a victory on the battlefield.


BIDEN: They have defeated Vladimir Putin's ambition to dominate Ukraine. And the people of the United States can and should take pride -- they should take pride that we have enabled Ukraine's success thanks to the steady supply of weapons and ammunition we provided them together with our partners and our the allies. I just did a meeting with the G7, which was one of the issues we discussed. All the European leaders, we are prepared to stay with Ukraine and our European friends are as well. Who in the united states is prepared to walk away from that? I tell you, I'm not prepared to walk away and I don't think the American people are either.

If Putin takes Ukraine, he won't stop there. It's important to see the long run here. He's going to keep going. He has made that pretty clear. Putin attacks a NATO ally and if he keeps again and then he attacks a NATO ally, when we have committed as a NATO member that we defend every inch of NATO territory, then we'll have something that we don't seek and that we don't have today, American troops fighting Russian troops. American troops fighting Russian troops if he moves into other parts of NATO. Make no mistake.

Today's vote is going to be long remembered and history is going to judge harshly, those who turn their back on freedom's cause. We can't let Putin win. Say it again, we can't let Putin win. It's in our overwhelming national interest and international interests of all our friends. Any disruption in our ability to supply Ukraine clearly strengthens Putin's position. We have run out of money to be able to do that in terms of authorization. Extreme Republicans are playing chicken with our national security, holding Ukraine's funding hostage to their extreme partisan border policies.

Let me be clear. We need real solutions. I support real solutions at the border. I put forward a comprehensive plan the first day I came into office. I made it clear that we need Congress to make changes to fix what is a broken immigration system because we know -- we all know it's broken. And I'm willing to do significantly more. But in terms of changes of policy and to provide resources that we need at the border, I'm willing to change policy as well. I have asked for billions of dollars for more border agents, more immigration judges, more asylum officers. Republicans have to decide if they want a political issue or if they want a solution at the border.

Do they really want to a solution? It cannot be sustained as it is now. We need a real solution. And my team has been engaged in negotiations with Senate Democrats and Republicans on border security. Democrats have put forward a bipartisan compromise on the table. Major (ph) Schumer and Senate Democrats also have offered to let Republicans propose a (inaudible) to that border proper but the Republicans have rejected it and said, "No, we will not change anything and introduce your proposal because we're not going to -- even though the Democrats say you can amend it any way you want -- No, no, we don't want to do that. This has to be a negotiation.

Republicans think they can get everything they want without any bipartisan compromise. That's not the answer. That's not the answer. And now, they are willing to literally kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield and damage our national security in the process. Look, I know we have our divisions at home. Let's get past them. This is critical. Petty partisan angry politics can't get in the way of our responsibilities as the leading nation in the world. And literally, the entire world is watching. The entire world is watching. What will the United States do? And think if we don't support Ukraine, what's the rest of the world going to do? What's Japan going to do which is supporting Ukraine now?

What's going to happen in terms of the G7? What's going to happen in terms of our NATO allies? What are they going to do? If we walk away now, it will only embolden other would-be aggressors. So, I'm calling on Congress to do something and to the right thing, to stand with the people of Ukraine, stand against the tyranny of Putin, stand for freedom -- literally stand for freedom. Let's get this done. We're the reason Putin has not totally overrun Ukraine and moved beyond that. You all have heard me talk about it before. If in fact we walk away, how many of our European friends are going to continue to fund? And at what rates are they going to continue to fund? This is too serious.

Like I said, I'm willing to make significant compromises on the border. We need to fix the broken border system.

[12:50:00] BIDEN: It is broken. And thus far, I have gotten no response. So I just -- we're going to vote a little bit later today. We'll know where we go from there but I wanted to make this comment before the vote. And I'm sure I will be talking with you after the vote. Thank you very much for listening. Appreciate it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, would you be OK with Democrats willing to put more on border policy to get this current package through?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What would you be OK with Democrats agreeing to?

BIDEN: I have already laid out in our negotiations, with Lankford and others, what we're willing to do, significantly more, particularly based on (ph) equipping the border capacity that we need on the border, from judges to more border security, in addition to making substantive changes. But, they are unwilling to do it. We thought we -- I really thought -- I felt good for a while. I thought we were making some real progress. Lankford is a decent guy, it looked like he was prepared to move in a way in a direction that we could come up with a compromise, both changing in the substance, change in policy on the border, as well as security at the border.

But they walked away. It's take everything we have here, their one proposal which is extreme, or nothing. In the meantime, the nothing means we don't get any support for our friends and our innocent people of Ukraine. Anyway, I'll talk to you more after the vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Biden, on Ukraine and also China, there's polling by the Associated Press that shows that almost 70 percent of Americans, including 40 percent of Democrats, believe that you acted either illegally or unethically in regards to your family's business interests. Can you explain to the Americans amid this impeachment inquiry, why you interacted with so many of your son and brother's foreign business associates?

BIDEN: I'm not going to comment on that. I did not. That's just a bunch of lies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't interact with the business associates?

BIDEN: I did not. They are lies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, do you think there's any Democrat who can beat Donald Trump other than you? You do believe there are.

BIDEN: I'm not the only one (inaudible) but I will defeat him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who else do you think could beat Donald Trump, Mr. President?


BASH: Wow, a lot more to unpack there than we thought. Let's just start on the message that the president was giving extremely forcefully, using dire urgent language saying that if the United States does not give more money to the Ukraine war effort, Putin is going to get a gift. If Putin takes Ukraine, he won't stop there. He will go after NATO. He has urged the members of Congress to take the long run here. He said history will judge and much, much more.

John King, what do you make of that and will it have any impact. And I should also note, important note, that the reason why this is being held up is Republicans want to include pretty significant immigration policy, not just funding for the border but policy changes, along with it.

KING: And they haven't been able to reach an agreement on that. Look, if you just read the transcript, right, everybody out there -- most people out there watch this through their partisan lens. That was an incredibly strong moral argument for defending and standing with Ukraine at this moment. The president is also right on the facts that if the United States walks away, either cuts funding completely or significantly reduces funding, the European governments will be under all sorts of pressure and other governments around the world that have joined helping the NATO allies in other ways will be under all kinds of pressure to reduce it as well.

So the question is, Mitch McConnell is the big player here. He agrees with the president 100 percent about supporting Ukraine but he wants something. He wants more on the border. He has to deal with his own conservatives in the Senate and he also knows in the wild west that is the House of Representatives right now, if you want Republican votes, you got to give more on the border. So the question is, can the president take that moral argument and then get in a room and negotiate on the border in ways that -- again, he didn't even mention Israel. Israel is part of the -- money for Israel is part of this package as well. Will he give the Republicans so much on the border that he creates a political problem for himself on the left? That's the president's dilemma. How does he negotiate this?

BASH: Before we go, I want to get your views on what I think it was MJ asking the question, sounded like it, before he went out the door about comments that the president made last night at a fundraiser that the only reason he's running for a second term is because Trump is running on the other side.

KING: He said that at the fundraiser, then he came back to the White House and he was asked, is it true? He said not now. He's not going to get out now. People took that as timing. It's too late to get out there. She asked him, are you the only one who could beat Trump? He said no. He doesn't think he is the only one who could beat Trump, but then he said but I will beat Trump. So, he's not going anywhere.


BASH: Just go back quickly to immigration. You mentioned border security and border funding and he said that that is something that he is OK with, but it is pretty significant change in policy that they are trying to do really quickly after there has been a stalemate for like 15 years on this, or more.

KING: Twice that, yeah.

BASH: Yeah. And so, but he said that he wants -- that he is willing to give. We don't know how much he has said, but that really is where things stand right now and it is all connected.

KING: And he mentioned Senator Lankford of Oklahoma, conservative, said he was a good guy, said he was a reasonable guy (inaudible). You know the president knows him from the thing (ph), but there are other Republicans more conservative than Jim Lankford. Lankford is conservative. There's Tom Cotton and others who want even more than he does.

BASH: OK, thank you so much. Appreciate it. And thank you for watching "Inside Politics" today. "CNN News Central" starts after a quick break.