Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

KFile: How Biden's Liberal Immigration Positions Have Changed Since His 2020 Presidential Campaign; Biden Gets Advice From Hollywood Presidents Ahead Of Speech; One-On-One With Rep. Tom Suozzi; New York's New Congressional Map Could Boost Democrats; Speaker Johnson Says Legislation Protecting IVF Is An Issue "Every State Has To Wrestle With"; Biden To Host Mom Who Waged Abortion Fight In Texas. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 07, 2024 - 12:30   ET



ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN REPORTER: And as you know, mass migration at the border is significantly overwhelming U.S. immigration resources.

The president is now grappling with the reality of one of the worst immigration crises in decades as he campaigned for re-election. We've all seen how Biden is reacting to this. He is toughening up his language and his policies.

Recently, the White House shifted its rhetoric on sanctuary cities. They're now urging those cities to comply with law enforcement agencies regarding migrants who committed a crime. And he traveled to the border last week where he called that bipartisan Senate bill which was killed by Republicans. The toughest that the country has ever seen.

Take a listen to this.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They desperately need more resources. Say it again. They desperately need more resources. Need more agents, more officers, more judges, more equipment in order to secure our border. Folks, it's time for us to move on this. We can't wait any longer.


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: The interesting thing, Andrew, is that this shift in language is him going back to a position that he held when he was senator and he was vice president.

KACZYNSKI: Well, that's right. Before he got significantly more progressive in that campaign for president, he held much tougher views so much stronger as a senator where he supported building barriers at the border, not allowing sanctuary cities to violate federal immigration law. And he even wanted to crack down on employers who hired undocumented immigrants. Now you do have to go all the way back to 2006 and 2007. But listen to what Biden said at two separate campaign events those years.


BIDEN: Folks, I voted for a fence. I voted, unlike most Democrats, and some of you won't like it, I voted for 700 miles of fence. But let me tell you, we can build a fence 40 stories high. Unless I change the dynamic in Mexico and -- and you will not like this, and punish American employers who knowingly violate the law when, in fact, they hire illegals. Unless you do those two things, all the rest is window dressing.

No great country can say it is secure without being able to control his borders. I would radically ramp up the number of border security guards we have.


KACZYNSKI: So in a statement to CNN, the White House told us that, "On the first day of this administration, President Biden has called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. We need to make significant policy reforms and to provide additional funding to secure our border and fix our broken immigration system."

So that was Biden. Then, Dana, this is him now. And it's going to be interesting to see how all of this plays out in this presidential campaign.

BASH: And it's remarkable to see the kind of twists and turns of the Biden position that really go hand in hand with the twists and turns of what's happening on the border and with the politics of immigration over the last decade and a half.

Thank you so much, Andrew. Appreciate it.

And President Biden is getting some advice ahead of his big speech tonight from a few people who've done the job before. Well, at least, they did so on screen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can tell you without hesitation, being president of this country is entirely about character.




BASH: President Biden is getting some pointers, president to president, from these commanders-in-chief.


MORGAN FREEMAN, PRESIDENT TOM BECK, DEEP IMPACT: Well, sir, in my capacity as president, all I had to deal with was a meteor. One of the things that I came out of that with -- in my speech to people -- hope. Hope is the strongest force we have in this country.

TONY GOLDWYN, PRESIDENT FITZGERALD GRANT III, SCANDAL: Looking back on my own presidency, I behaved very badly in a lot of situations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had it easy. You know, we just had invaders from outer space coming in, wanting to mess with us and that tends to unify people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Love and compassion as a leader are strengths. They're not weaknesses and are key to your character. So let that shine through in your speech. And don't forget to save a dance for the First Lady in the East Room.


BASH: Our next guest doesn't have the presidential experience of those actors, but he does have some experience getting elected to Congress as a Democrat in a swing district in a very tough year this year. I'm talking about Congressman Tom Suozzi, the newest House Democrat sworn in just last week after winning an election to replace George Santos. Thank you so much.

REP. TOM SUOZZI (D), NEW YORK: I love those movies. Those are good movies.

BASH: I know. They are. They really are. They make you feel good.

You are a Democrat in a chamber who -- in the chamber who, I don't think there's anybody who has faced voters more recently than you. And given that experience from a battleground district, what does the president need to do tonight to reach the kind of voters who you reached in your election?


SUOZZI: I think the president's starting to do what he needs to do, which is he hears the voters, what they're concerned about and talk about the things that the voters are concerned about. So the voters are concerned about the border, and the president just went down to the border.

I thought that was a very smart move on his part. Voters are concerned about the cost of living. I think he's going to talk about the cost of living tonight. Voters are concerned about the future. He's going to not just talk about all of his great accomplishments. He's going to talk about his vision for the future (INAUDIBLE).

BASH: On the border because you turn that on its head, if you will, politically, which is part of the reason I think you agree that you won and you won so resoundingly last month. Does he need to just talk or is there something that you would like him to do given the gridlock in Congress using his executive action -- executive power?

SUOZZI: I think that the most important thing the president has to do is say that I am willing to compromise, I'm willing to do a bipartisan compromise. I'm not going to get everything I want the way I want it, but I'm willing to be flexible to try and solve this very real problem that exists.

And when he does that, if the Republicans go along with him, then we can finally move the country forward after having faced this issue for 35 years with no solution. If they don't go along with him, the president can say very clearly, hey, are you guys just playing politics? Are you just trying to weaponize this issue for political purposes?

So, I think he started to do that when he went down to the border. He said, listen, I'll -- you, Trump, you tell me what ideas you have. Because President Trump and the Republicans, and my opponent in my race, said it's a problem, it's a problem, it's a problem. Say, OK, well what do you want to do?

Well, it's a problem, it's a problem, it's a really big problem --

BASH: Well, they want to remain in Mexico, for example. That is something that is a very specific idea that they want. Would that be a policy that you would support?

SUOZZI: I would support it if it was part of an overall compromise. You know, the compromise that exists at center -- you can't find a more conservative, intelligent, ethical Republican than James Lankford. And he proposed a bipartisan compromise that said more border agents, more wall, more detention beds, more immigration judges, money for New York and New York City and other places throughout the country -- very reasonable solution.

And the Republicans said, no, we don't want to give Biden a victory.

BASH: OK, so this is INSIDE POLITICS. Let's talk politics for a minute or two. We are now in the general election, the 2024 general election. You have questioned whether President Biden would still be the Democratic nominee. He really appears to be -- there's nobody who's running against him anymore. Are you ready to support him now in November?

SUOZZI: Absolutely. I mean, the president -- the race has just joined now. We just had Super Tuesday. What's today? Thursday, two days ago. And so I think people are going to start paying attention.

The president has to perform tonight because the big issue about the president is his age. He can't change his age. He is his age. That's an objective fact. If he performs tonight, and people see him perform, they're going to say, wow, he's doing pretty well.

BASH: OK. In New York, the governor, your governor, signed a new congressional map into law last week. It was drawn by the Democratic controlled legislature. Give Democrats, including you, a little bit of a boost in the fall, given where the lines are. Isn't protecting incumbents, whether it's Democrats or Republicans, what is wrong with Congress, why it makes it so hard to work because of the gerrymandering?

SUOZZI: Absolutely. 100 percent. I don't get --

BASH: Are you being gerrymandered?

SUOZZI: It's very, very slight. In fact, the little improvement to my district resulted in two Republican districts getting better. So that's why --

BASH: That's yes.

SUOZZI: That's why there was a compromise with Democrats --

BASH: Incumbent protection.

SUOZZI: But there were Democrats and Republicans who negotiated this in New York State. I don't listen. I don't get involved in that stuff. I didn't pay attention at -- whatever the district is, I'll take the district --

BASH: Got it.

SUOZZI: -- whatever it is. But you are right that the biggest problem in our country, the biggest problem in our country, is that so many seats are safe seats.

BASH: Yes.

SUOZZI: And as a result, you don't have to talk to the people, and you just talk to the base, because that's who votes in the primaries. And that's what's killing our country. Because when Democrats just talk to the far left, and Republicans just talk to the far right --

BASH: Yes.

SUOZZI: -- that's what's killing our country. The people in the middle are the ones left behind.

BASH: OK. I'm pretty much obsessed with this topic. So thank you for mentioning it and come back because I want to talk more about it.

SUOZZI: OK. Thank you so much.

BASH: Thanks for coming on. Congratulations again.

SUOZZI: Thank you.

BASH: And sitting with the First Lady at the state of the union will be a Texas woman who sued her state for the right to an abortion.


KATE COX, SUED TEXAS FOR ABORTION ACCESS: The first thing we saw was a very clear issue with development of the spine and so we thought well maybe our baby will have a life in a wheelchair. You know what, and then the next week, we saw more and that continued over five weeks and that's when we got the full diagnosis. And that final ultrasound was, like, catastrophic. It was -- our baby would never survive.




BASH: House Speaker Mike Johnson is calling IVF a great technology. But in an interview this morning with CBS, he sidestepped a question about whether an embryo has the same rights as a child.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe life begins at conception, fertilization? And I know you do. Do you see that as murder?

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: It's something that we've got to grapple with. We support the sanctity of life, of course, and we support IVF and the full access to it. We know lots of families, friends of ours, who have beautiful families because of that. Alabama, I think, has a good example of that. It's something that every state has to wrestle with, and I think Alabama's done a good job of hitting it head on early on.


BASH: Johnson's remarks come ahead of the State of the Union tonight, where reproductive rights will be a focal point.


Among those on the guest list from the White House, an Alabama woman who was in the process of IVF treatment until a recent state Supreme Court decision there. And also Kate Cox, the Texas mother who waged a legal battle with her state three months ago over her right to have an abortion.

I sat down with Kate and her husband, Justin, whose emotions are still understandably raw.


BASH: How many weeks pregnant were you when you first heard trisomy 18 and that you're at risk for your baby having that, which is a rare chromosomal disorder?

K. COX: I think I was around 13 weeks when it first came up as a risk. The first thing we saw was a very clear issue with development of the spine. And so we thought, well, maybe our baby will have a life in a wheelchair, you know? And then the next week, we saw more and that continued over five weeks. And that's when we got the full diagnosis. And that final ultrasound was catastrophic. It was -- our baby would never survive.

BASH: The moment as a parent, as a mother when you learn that there's something wrong with your pregnancy, I know what that's like. And it's etched in your memory forever.

K. COX: I asked the doctor best case scenario if she survived the pregnancy because trisomy, the full trisomy 18 babies often miscarry or are stillborn. And so if we survived the pregnancy and we survived the birth how long best case scenario did she think we could have with her? And she said the longest would be a week.

I asked my doctor what do women do when they receive a diagnosis like that, like this. And she told me some women choose to continue the pregnancy and some choose not to. And I asked her if that was an option in Texas. If I chose not to do the pregnancy and she told me it's not.

BASH: So you filed a lawsuit and the court granted the restraining order on the law saying that you could legally obtain an abortion and that you would not be at risk for driving your wife, that the doctor would not be at risk. But then the next day, the Texas Supreme Court temporarily blocked the decision. What were those days like?

JUSTIN COX, SUED TEXAS FOR WIFE'S ACCESS TO ABORTION: Well, we -- when we got the ruling from the judge, we were excited and hopeful. We thought, well, you know, maybe everybody will see, you know, common sense that comes with this issue like we do, that this is medical care, this is -- and this is what's needed, going from hopeful to feeling like, OK, this isn't going to be as easy as we thought.

K. COX: It was really crushing. Pregnancies are complicated, and it's difficult sometimes to build your family, so it's really terrifying when that's left up to politicians and judges.

BASH: You did make the decision to travel outside of Texas. You went to New Mexico to have an abortion. Tough decision.

K. COX: Yes.

J. COX: We were on a strict timeline and we couldn't wait any longer. So, the decision had to be made.

K. COX: It's the hardest thing we've ever been through in our lives. And the laws today added a lot more pain to what was already the most painful time in our lives. That's why I want to share our story and that's why I hope it'll be different one day.

BASH: Abortion has always been a very political issue, even more so since Roe was overturned. Were you a particularly political couple or were you a political person before this?

K. COX: Not at all. I was not a political person.

J. COX: We've both have voted in the past, but we've never been very enthusiastic about the process.

BASH: And you are now?

K. COX: Yes.

J. COX: We certainly are now. Yes.

BASH: I'm guessing you're going to vote for Joe Biden.

K. COX: The number one thing we're both voting for is protection of abortion rights because women and families deserve medical care. This -- I don't want to see others continue to be hurt. How many women have to tell their most heartbreaking journey publicly? How many have to speak out before something changes?

BASH: In 2012 I was covering the Santorum campaign, Rick Santorum's presidential campaign, and I remember not long before that, they had a little girl, Bella with trisomy 18 and she survived and she's now a teenager. I'm sure you saw that he posted something and wanted you all and people with those circumstances to see Bella's story.

K. COX: I love to see Bella's story. She's absolutely beautiful. I'm so happy for their family.


Not every pregnancy and every case of trisomy 18 is the same. Our baby's circumstances, she would never survive. That wasn't the case for us. At the end of the day, he made the decision for his family. And we made the decision for our family.

BASH: You are here because you are going to be guests of the First Lady in the First Lady's box at the President's State of the Union Address. What was it like getting a call from the White House?

K. COX: It was an incredible honor. I'm so grateful to Dr. Biden and President Biden for shining a light on this important issue. In true mom fashion actually, I was chasing kids and so I missed the call. And when I looked, I saw that caller ID said I had missed a call and caller ID showed Joseph Biden.

So I didn't think it was real. And I said, grandma, we need you going to watch the kids. I got to have this phone call. So -- and he said some really kind words. I'm grateful to share our story and I hope others can learn from what we went through as well.


BASH: Thank you to Justin and Kate for sharing their story with us.

And a quick reminder, join CNN for special live coverage of the State of the Union Address tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern or stream on CNN Max.

Thank you so much for joining INSIDE POLITICS. "CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts after the break.