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Soon: Biden & Kenyan President Hold News Conference; Today: Trump Hold Bronx Rally To Court Black & Hispanic Vote; Potential Netanyahu Address To Congress Puts Dems In Tough Spot. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 23, 2024 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Any minute now we're expecting President Biden to take questions at a news conference with Kenya's President William Ruto, Kenya is the first African nation honored with a U.S. state visit since 2008. And it comes as Russia and China are both expanding their influence on the continent. Priscilla Alvarez is at the White House. Priscilla, a lot on the agenda in this three day visit.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: A lot on the agenda and all on a wide range of issues broken into three buckets here. They're talking about elevating Kenya from a regional partner to a global partner, the importance of democracy and also private sector investments. Just yesterday, the two leaders met with business leaders on this exact issue.

Today, as you see there in those images, meeting in a bilateral meeting and also having the arrival ceremony this morning. But of course looming over all of the pomp and circumstance and also over these issues is countering China's influence. Of course, the U.S. and China have been jockeying for economic and geopolitical influence. And China in particular has provided high interest loans to Africa.

So those investments and economic cooperation are really core to the conversations that the two leaders are having over the course of the day. And they're also expected to announce a spate of commitments including a document known as the Nairobi-Washington vision, that calls on creditors to ease the financial burden. And then two, President Biden is going to designate Kenya as a major non-NATO ally, so clearly trying to strengthen this relationship.


And of course, President Biden in 2022, so that he was, quote, all in for Africa, but he never actually visited the continent, in part because of the foreign conflicts that kept his attention here at home. But all of this really to reinforce this relationship with the East African nation.

BASH: Priscilla, the state dinner is tonight. Always exciting. What can you tell us? ALVAREZ: It's going to be a glitzy night here at the White House. They've been setting up over the course of the day, it is one of the highest diplomatic tools that the White House uses to honor top allies. There will be special guests. We know that country star Brad Paisley will be performing along with the Howard Gospel Choir, both of them in honor of the Kenyan president's love for country and gospel music. There will also be an infusion of American culture and Kenyan culture. So a black tie dinner and a moment to mark the occasion this evening.

BASH: Priscilla, thank you so much.

Now let's go over to the Trump side of it all and talk about where he is. In just a few hours, Donald Trump will hold a rally in one of the most heavily Democratic counties in the country. He's going to be in the Bronx. That of course, is in New York. He hopes to persuade undecided voters that Bidenomics isn't working, and that he would be better to lead the country. CNN's Kristen Holmes is traveling with the former president and joins us live from the Bronx. So Kristen, how much of this is he kind of expected to be in court today, and they wanted to squeeze in a rally? And how much of this is him actually thinking and his campaign thinking that this is an area where he can turn it red?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, look, multiple things can be true at once. It is true that Donald Trump's team believes that he can make some sort of inroads, particularly with minority voters. And we've seen polling that indicates that among Latino men and black men, there has been some movement towards Donald Trump and his team wants to seize on that. That's part of the reason that they're here. We also know Donald Trump has repeatedly said and I will let you know that this has been since 2016. That New York State is in play. It was not in play in 2016. It is not -- was not in play in 2020. And it is likely not in play now.

However, as you noted, Donald Trump's team did believe he was going to be in court. He only had those three days off Wednesdays Saturdays and Sundays and it had been scheduling events around the state of New York trying to get him out there on the campaign trail. This is at 6:00 p.m. on a Thursday. It would have been while he was out of court, and they had done a lot of extensive planning before they realized that court had wrapped up on Tuesday.

Now you're talking about this area being a deep blue area. I do want to say one more time that we have seen polling that indicates that minority voters, a large part of the demographic here in this area, are showing some interest in Donald Trump, some movement in that direction. But you look at the 2020 exit polls of Bronx County, which I think we have there for you, 83.4%. voted for Biden, that was to Donald Trump's 15.9%. That would be a lot of movement in this county for him to take in.

And we also just had a lovely resident drive by and say Donald Trump does not belong in the Bronx. Get him the F out. That has been somewhat of a sentiment we've heard from some people here. But I will also note there are people in line to see him speak later today. BASH: Welcome to the Bronx, Kristen Holmes. That's classic. Appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Up next, House Speaker Mike Johnson invites the Israeli Prime Minister to Washington to address Congress. Top Democrats are saying, not so fast.

And we are standing by for President Biden to take questions from reporters in the East Room of the White House. Don't go anywhere.



BASH: It's complicated. House Speaker Mike Johnson is inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress in the coming weeks. Now for it to be an official address, it needs sign off from the other side of the Capitol. The leader of the U.S. Senate who is a Democrat, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, that puts Democrats in a tough position. Schumer has called Netanyahu an obstacle to peace. Others who caucus with Democrats go further.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): You have a Prime Minister who has created the worst humanitarian disaster in modern history. Israel, of course had the right to defend itself against the Hamas terrorist attack. But what Netanyahu has done is gone to war against all at war against the entire Palestinian people, women and children. Why you wouldn't invite somebody who has done such horrific things to the Palestinian people is something that I think is a very bad idea.


BASH: Now, Sanders also told Kaitlan he would boycott the speech. CNN's Manu Raju is here live from Capitol Hill. Manu, I know you've been talking to other Democrats across the Capitol about how they anticipate Schumer to react and what they think you should do.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's actually a lot of pushback among Democrats in the House and the Senate. Of course, this comes about a growing rift within the party about how to deal with the war in Gaza and whether President Biden should change his posture with Benjamin Netanyahu behaved more forceful demand and demand a permanent ceasefire and all the rest. But the calls for having Netanyahu address a joint meeting of Congress has caused significant divisions within the ranks and many members on both the House and the Senate are telling me that they won't go if he comes to the Capitol.



RAJU: What if Schumer signs on to this inviting Netanyahu address Congress? REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I just don't think it's constructive for Netanyahu to be addressing to be doing a joint address in this moment, period, regardless of his sentiment.

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): I think it's Republican mischief and action.

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): I think he is not the right person to come and talk about affairs in the Middle East at this moment.

RAJU: And you wouldn't go if he comes?

MERKLEY: I will not.


RAJU: Now, Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader has suggested that he would sign on to this invite, although he has not said so publicly. In fact, I asked him earlier this week, whether or not he is supportive of the idea of inviting Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress. He would not say that they were having discussions about it, although he has later privately indicated to Speaker Johnson that he would sign on to this as what Johnson himself said. Dana, but we have not seen this invite go out yet. This Schumer, of course, is the highest ranking Jewish Democrat, the first Jewish Senate majority leader, someone who has been in Israel hawk and defender for most of his career, but as you noted, at the top has gone been crosswise with Netanyahu putting them in a difficult spot here with his party at this critical moment for the -- in this war. Dana?

BASH: Yes. He went on the floor of the Senate and called for elections for the Israeli people to decide whether or not Netanyahu should stay or go and his government should stay or go. We were talking about the fact that it was 2015 that then Speaker Boehner invited the same Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu without telling the White House and at that time, it was Barack Obama, who was there. Different circumstances in the Middle East, but --

RAJU: Schumer supported that then too.

BASH: Oh, that's a really good point. Thank you for adding that. Appreciate it. Thank you, as always great to see you, Manu.

Up next, President Biden has almost no chance of winning Ohio. But thanks to a partisan standoff in the GOP dominated legislature, he may not even be on the ballot. We'll explain next.



BASH: Once upon a time in a land called Ohio, Republicans and Democrats fought tooth and nail to win the state's electoral votes because it was one of the most important swing states in the country. Then Donald Trump won in 2016 by eight points, the biggest winning margin in three decades. He did it again in 2020. President Biden now is unlikely to campaign in the Buckeye State at all.

But Republicans in the state might not even let him on the ballot. That is because of an Ohio law that requires nominees to be set 90 days before the election. That day is October, excuse me, August 7th. Biden won't become official until the Democratic Convention and that is August 19th. Jeff Zeleny is back with me. What are you hearing? Are they going to fix this?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Look, I mean, the legislative session ended yesterday and they were hoping that there would be some type of a fix in Columbus. This isn't unique to Ohio. Several other states have this as well, Alabama being among them. But they basically said both sides came together and agreed that, you know, the nominees of the parties should be on the ballot. So they just kind of let it go through. It did not in Ohio. It was caught up in other issues. So Republicans adjourned, they control the legislature.

And Governor Mike DeWine was in favor of some type of a solution, if you will, a bipartisan solution, but it wasn't up to him. So now the Biden campaign has a couple choices. One they could sue. That is a risky gambit, because it could take a long time, or they could change the nominating calendar and formally nominate Joe Biden some other time or perhaps there's some other way it could work out. But the reason it matters is Sherrod Brown, of course, is running for Senate.

You and I remember many Ohio races. Twenty years ago, when George Bush and John Kerry are running, it came down to Ohio. Things change. The population shifts in the country. That's why every presidential campaign every four years tells us something about the changing fabric of the country here. But Sherrod Brown, of course on the ballot in Ohio, desperately trying to hang on kind of running against Biden or away from Biden to touch.

BASH: Yes. I want to play one of the ads that Sherrod Brown has up on that very note.


SHERIFF DALLAS BALDWIN, FRANKLIN COUNTY: Every day, 12 Ohioans die of a drug overdose.

SHERIFF KANDY FATHEREE, SUMMIT COUNTY: And some of the most dangerous drugs are the ones brought here illegally.

SHERIFF FRED ABDALLA JR. JEFFERSON COUNTY: It's Sherrod Brown, who sponsored the law signed by President Trump to crack down on illegal drugs being smuggled across the border.


ZELENY: So like that's an example of Sherrod Brown running on policy, not politics in a respect, not talking about that he's a Democrat or in President Biden's party, but also there are a couple of very key House races. Marcy Kaptur, who, as you all know, she's been on the ballot for a long time running for 22nd term, I believe, in the Toledo area, as well as a new member from the Akron area. Without President Biden on the top of the ticket, you may think, oh, it might sort of save them a little bit from the blowback, not the case probably for them. So we'll see if this is --

BASH: Because you still need the base to come out.

ZELENY: For sure. But what it speaks to is just the increasing partisan nature even in state capitals where something like this cannot get worked out seemingly.

BASH: Yes. It's so interesting because Sherrod Brown, Marcy Kaptur we were talking in the break and those are brand name politicians and public servants in the state of Ohio. So the question is whether that would balance it out. But you think it might get worked out. We'll see.


ZELENY: We'll see.

BASH: We'll see. But it is fascinating.

ZELENY: Sure is.

BASH: Thanks. Good to see you, Jeff.

ZELENY: You bet.

BASH: Thank you for joining Inside Politics. Any minute President Biden will hold a news conference at the White House with the Kenyan president. They're going to answer questions from reporters very soon. And we are going to bring it to you live right here. CNN News Central will pick it up after the break.