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Clyburn: Concerned About Biden Outreach To Voters; Charlamagne Tha God No Longer Backing Biden Warns Black Voters Could Sit This Election Out; Biden Speaks At Mother Emanuel AME Church In SC. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired January 08, 2024 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST: President Biden is set to speak soon from the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. You're looking at James Clyburn, the leader -- former leader in the United States House of Representatives. He is introducing the president, so we're going to watch and listen for that, which should happen momentarily.

Of course, we should remind our viewers that this is where nine congregants were killed in 2015 in a massacre by a white supremacist.

And let's talk as we wait for President Biden to start speaking and discuss the fact that he, the president, last week, gave a big speech on democracy. Today, he is going down to commemorate what happened again almost a decade ago and to talk about extremism, to talk about hate and to obviously court black voters.

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, EARLY 202 CO-AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. First of all, I can't believe that was a decade ago.

BASH: I know. Nine years.

CALDWELL: Really incredible. But, absolutely, South Carolina is the first voting state for Democrats. Well, New Hampshire defied. Democrats rules in this going first, but President Biden knows that -- well, first of all, I'd say this is very important to him personally, of course, but also President Biden knows that black voters are also critical to his reelection.

There has been polling that has showed that black voters are not as engaged or excited about President Biden, and it also plays into an issue that President Biden has focused on as well with little results. It's also gun violence. Something that Congress has been unable to solve. So this is an issue, of course, that is important to President Biden, but it's also important politically, too.

BASH: Yes. And James Clyburn, who again is speaking now, he was on with Jake Tapper yesterday on State of the Union. Clyburn, for those who don't remember, kind of single handedly resurrected Joe Biden's political career before the South Carolina primary four years ago, endorsed him and helped get him elected and then Biden never looked back.

Clyburn talked to Jake about his concerns with the Biden reelection campaign.


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: I have no problem with the Biden administration and what it has done. My problem is that we have not been able to break through that MAGA wall in order to get to people exactly what this president has done. So this president is keeping his promises, but keep -- people keep focusing on the one or two things he did not get accomplished.

DANIEL STRAUSS, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: You always got to give it to Congressman Clyburn. You always know where he stands.

BASH: Yes.

STRAUSS: And like you said, there are only a few lawmakers who Joe Biden owes his career as much to as James Clyburn. The other would probably be former President Barack Obama. And both Obama himself, in a recent Washington Post story, and Clyburn on air have expressed concerns about how or whether this Biden reelect campaign is breaking through to voters.

I can't think of anyone else that Biden himself or Biden high command would be more receptive to than those two. And so, it's a sign that democratic concerns aren't just sort of hyperventilating as some Democrats have said about the reelect that there are serious reasons that there might need to be a course correction on the Biden campaign at this point in the cycle.


HEIDI PRZYBYLA, NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: It's a test case. He doesn't need South Carolina. He's the nominee, but it's a test case for whether he can get some of those black voters back. And I do say back with numbers because the percentages show that he slid with black voters since the last election.

And on the point, though, about course correction, I talked to some Biden folks earlier this morning, and they are over the moon that after that first democracy speech, they raised $1 million. I said, that is a very good sign that this new framework that the Biden campaign is going to be using is going to be very effective, especially when look at what happened today.

We're cutting between Donald Trump talking about civil war, using the words hostages to describe the January 6th rioters and that is going to be the juxtaposition now that's just naturally going to unfold during the campaign is that it really is about a choice between democracy and potentially autocracy and a more authoritarian type tilt in this country.

BASH: Let's look at what Quentin Fulks, who is the number two at the Biden campaign said to CNN and a piece for "We're not going to wait and parachute into these communities the last minute and ask them for their vote. We're going to earn their vote. Voters of color are the ones who have the most at stake in this election, and we need to make sure that every single one of them understands the choice in front of them."

CALDWELL: Yes, I mean, so one thing, one important element to this plan is also Vice President Kamala Harris. The Biden campaign has been intentional and think that Harris going, especially into black communities, is going to be really critical for the campaign leading in to the reelection.

But President Biden has a lot of work to do on a lot of demographics. And that goes to what your point was, is that people are worried that maybe that a course correction in your words might be necessary.

PRZYBYLA: It might need another influence or two other than Clyburn to speak to the younger black generation. Well, it was very effective last time when you talked about demographics, there's a lot of overlap there between younger voters and black voters. You put them together. That's like exactly where his problem spot is.

BASH: Yes. And-- go Daniel.

STRAUSS: If you ask most Democrats, you'll hear them say that the concern is not a big migration to Trump. It is complacency. It is that these key interest groups are going to stay at home. And that is the real worry among the Biden campaign right now. That if they do not remind these voters that propelled Biden in 2020 to come out and vote, that this is not a sure thing, they will stay home and the outcome --

PRZYBYLA: Like Hillary in 2016.

STRAUSS: Yes. The outcome will be very different.

BASH: Well, Charlamagne tha God, who we all know was a big supporter of Joe Biden four years ago, is now saying that he's concerned that if there's choices between Biden and Trump, that the option is to stay home and that he suspects the couch could win. And that's exactly what they're trying to try to avoid with this speech aside from the obvious which is this is a very important topic that he -- it is very personal to him and we are waiting for the president to speak there in Charleston, South Carolina.

We're going to take a quick break and hear from him probably on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we couldn't get the 60 votes because of the --




BASH: We want to get straight to President Biden speaking at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina. Let's listen.




ALL: Four more years!

BIDEN: Thank you, please. Thank you.

ALL: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

BIDEN: Thank you. Thank you.

ALL: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

BIDEN: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It's going to go to my head.


Please. Thank you. Jim --


BIDEN: -- you know -- just say one thing about what Jim has been talking about that confuses me about our Republican friends sometimes, the MAGA Republicans. No, I mean this -- I'm being sincere. Every one of the things that Jim mentioned saves the American taxpayer billions of dollars.

Realize if you have a prescription drug from any major drug company in America, I can take you to Toronto, Canada, London, Rome, any major capital in the world and buy the same exact drug for sometimes half the price that you get here.

Look, folks, when the federal government, through Medicare, doesn't have to pay out as much money, it means taxpayers pay less money, because you fund the federal government, you fund Medicare. Go down every one of these things -- it always confused me. They talk about being rational. It's just about excess profit.

But any rate, I don't want to get off on that. I'll get carried away. I don't quite get these guys.

Thank you, Jim, for your friendship and, above all, for your fellowship. And, Bishop Green, thank you for those kind words. I mean that sincerely. And thank you, Reverend Manning, for, you know -- the shepherd of this house -- to allow me to stand at this podium once again. And to all the faithful of Mother Emanuel and distinguished guests.

I was talking downstairs. I -- I've spent more time in the Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware, than I have -- than most people I know, Black or white, have spent in that church. Because that's where I started -- no, I'm serious. It started with the Civil Rights Movement.


I used to go to 7:30 mass, then I'd go to 10 o'clock service with the reverend who was then running the church, who's now the bishop. She's the bishop. And I'm told your bishop had been there before, in South Africa, because that's where he is right now.

The point is that I've been blessed to worship here before as well. You know, it's -- at moments of joy and -- great joy and moments of great pain, in moments of unbearable loss.

On June 17th, 2015, the beautiful souls, five survivors -- and five survivors invited a stranger into this church to pray with them. The word of God was pierced by bullets in hate and rage, propelled by not just gunpowder but by a poison, a poison that's for too long haunted this nation.

What is that poison? White supremacy. Oh, it is; it's a poison. Throughout our history, it's ripped this nation apart. This has no place in America. Not today, tomorrow, or ever.

From that day, this nation saw this congregation, this community demonstrate one of the greatest acts of strength I have ever seen. I mean it sincerely, from the bottom of my -- the act of forgiveness, the act of grace. It was, as President Obama sang from here, "Amazing Grace."

It changed hearts. You did something that may not have happened but for your courage. You brought down the Confederate flag in South Carolina.


You brought it down. No -- you did.


And you helped the nation heal. You showed what America can overcome, what we can be when we want to be something. I'm deeply humbled to speak from this same pulpit my friend -- and he was a friend -- Reverend Pinckney spoke from.

We all miss him, none more than his family and this congregation. But just as all the families of the Emanuel Nine miss the pieces of their soul that they lost that day. We also have been together at moments of unbearable loss for my family.

Two days after the service of Reverend Pinckney, my son and I -- my surviving son and I came back. My family worshiped with you here Sunday service to show our solidarity. But my family also needed to be healed. We didn't even realize how badly.

Just 22 days before, we had buried my son, Beau, a veteran who was exposed and died because of those burn pits in Iraq for a year. We were -- we were in more pain than we knew. We came here to offer comfort and received comfort from you. No, I'm serious.

As I listened in the pews, spent time with the families, visited Reverend Pinckney's office, visited the memorial for the victims outside, I grew stronger. My son, my family grew stronger.

We prayed together. We grieved together. We found hope together, for real -- for real. And now it reminds me that, through our pain, each of us, each of us must find purpose.

For me, that purpose was to live a life worthy of my son Beau. And I mean it sincerely. For you, that purpose is for the lives worthy of loved ones lost -- to make them proud. So many of you were there for us during that loss, including my dear friend Jim and Emily Clyburn. Ms. Emily, I miss. People of deep faith. Jim, a great public servant and the best friend you could ever have.

Jim, I'm thinking of Emily today -- and we talked about it downstairs a little bit. I know you do every single, solitary day. She was special. And that bond you shared was something to behold.

As many of you know, Jim is a teacher and a student of history. He knows the power of history. He knows the power of truth and the power of lies. He knows what happens when people are allowed to whitewash history, erase history, bury history.


He knows what the Bible teaches. We shall know the truth, and the truth shall set us free.


But the truth -- the truth is under assault in America. As a consequence, so is our freedom, our democracy, our very country because, without the truth, there is no light. Without light, there's no path from this darkness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you really care about the lives lost here, then you should honor the lives lost and call for a ceasefire in Palestine.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now!

BIDEN: That's all right. That's all right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now!



ALL: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

BIDEN: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Look, folks --

ALL: Four more years! Four more years!

BIDEN: I understand their -- I understand their passion. And I've been quietly working -- I've been quietly working with the Israeli government to get them to reduce and significantly get out of Gaza. I've been using all that I can to do that.


But I understand the passion. Look, folks, after the Civil --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're an understanding person. You're an understanding person.

BIDEN: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't realize that. You're a good man.

BIDEN: Thank you.


Look, after the Civil War, the defeated Confederates couldn't accept the verdict of the war. They had lost. So, they say -- they embraced what's known as the Lost Cause, a self-serving lie that the Civil War was not about slavery but about states' rights. And they've called that the noble cause.

That was a lie, a lie that had -- not just a lie but it had terrible consequences. It brought on Jim Crow.

So, let me be clear for those who don't seem to know. Slavery was the cause of the Civil War.


There is no negotiation about that.


Now, we're living in an era of a second lost cause. Once again, there are some in this country trying, trying to turn a loss into a lie, a lie, which if allowed to live, will once again bring terrible damage to this country. This time, the lie is about the 2020 election, the election which you made your voices heard and your power known.

Just two days ago, we marked the third anniversary of the dark -- one of the darkest days in American history, January the 6th. The day in which insurrectionists stormed the United States Capitol, trying for the first time in American history to stop the peaceful transfer of power in the country.

We all saw with our own eyes the truth of what happened. That violent mob was whipped up by lies from a defeated former president -- smashing windows, smearing blood on statues, ransacking offices. Outside, insurrectionists erected gallows, chanting "Hang Mike Pence." Inside, they hunted for Nancy Pelosi, chanting "Where's Nancy?"

We saw something on January 6th we'd never seen before, even during the Civil War. Insurrectionists waving Confederate flags inside the halls of Congress built by enslaved Americans. A mob attacked and called Black officers, Black veterans defending the nation those vile of racist names.

And yet, an extreme movement of America, the MAGA Republicans, led by a defeated President, is trying to steal history now. They tried to steal an election. Now they're trying to steal history, telling us that violent mob was, and I quote, "a peaceful protest."

That that insurrection -- those insurrectionists were -- these are his words -- "patriots." That there was, quote, "a lot of love that day." In fact, the rest of the nation and the world saw a lot of hate and violence.


For hours, the defeated former president sat in the private dining room off of my -- off of the Oval Office and did nothing, nothing -- absolutely nothing. His actions were among the worst derelictions of duty by any president in American history.


An attempt -- an attempt to overturn a free and fair election by force and violence. Let me say what others cannot. We must reject political violence in America. Always -- not sometimes, always. It's never appropriate.

The violence of January 6th was an extension of an old playbook from the threats and violence and intimidation. In Atlanta, Georgia, two brave Black women, mother and daughter -- Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, they had their lives upended just doing their jobs -- menacing calls, death threats, forcing them to literally flee their homes.

Those pushing the Big Lie have a conspiracy theory among conspiracy theories that outweighs them all that there's what -- and -- but here is the fact. There is where we don't have facts -- their whole theory has no facts, has no proof, has no evidence. That's why, time and again, they lost in every court of law that challenged the results -- 60 losses in courts of America.

There's one thing they don't have. They don't have respect for the 81 million people who voted the other way -- voted for my candidacy.


And voted to end the presidency. In their world, these Americans, including you, don't count. But that's not the real world. That's not democracy. That's not America. In America, we all count. In America, we witness to serve all those who, in fact, participate. And losers are taught to concede when they lose. And he's a loser.


And then, we all came together to put the country before ourselves. The lies that led to January 6th are part of a broader attack on the truth America today that we all have seen before. The same movement that, throughout the mob at the United States Capitol, isn't just trying to rewrite history of January 6th, they're trying to determine to erase history and your future.

Banning books; denying your right to vote and have it counted. Destroying diversity, equality, inclusion all across America. Harboring hate and replacing hope with anger and resentment and a dangerous view of America.

That narrow view of America, a zero-sum view of America that says, "If you win, I lose. If you succeed, it must be I failed. If you get ahead, I fall behind." And maybe worst of all, "If I hold you down, I lift myself up."

That's not new in America. Every stride forward has often been met with ferocious backlashes from those who fear the progress, from those who exploit that fear for their own personal gain, from those who traffic in lies told for profit and power.

But here in Charleston, you know the power of truth. Less than a mile from here was once a port where almost half of all enslaved Africans were trafficked to North America and forced on our shores. And now you have a world-class museum there to tell the truth about the original sin.


And it matters.


And I want to thank former Mayor Jim Riley for his leadership, who saw to it the museum was built, and for all of you who made that happen. And with your help, I made Juneteenth the first federal holiday since Dr. Martin Luther King Day.


This works? Why? Because the truth matters. The truth matters.

With your help, we established the national monument in honor of Mamie and Emmett Till because we heard Mrs. Till's call -- the mother of a 14-year-old son who was lynched and whose body was mutilated.