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Harris: "Everything Is At Stake" With Abortion Rights This Year; Biden Marks Dobbs Anniversary With Fresh Attack On Trump; Poll: 60 Percent Of Americans Say Abortion Should Be Legal; This Week: Biden With Advisers At Camp David Ahead Of Debate; "Nasty" Or "Nice"? Trump Asks Supporters For Debate Advice; Trump Says UFC Should Start A New "Migrant Fight League". Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 24, 2024 - 12:00   ET




MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR: Today on Inside Politics, the Biden administration mark in two years the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade. The president says, Donald Trump is responsible and warns that he'll go even further if he's back in the Oval Office. So how was the former president responding?

Plus, tough and nasty or nice and calm? Donald Trump is testing out those debate strategies and asking his supporters to weigh in. Joe Biden spends the week behind closed doors with top advisers, preparing for the biggest night of the campaign so far. And the good the bad and the ugly, debate nights are all about the moments that can propel or to torpedo a campaign. I'll discuss with former top aides to both candidates.

I'm Manu Raju in for Dana Bash. Let's go behind the headlines at Inside Politics.

Three days from now, the CNN presidential debate is the earliest general election debate in modern political history. It could shake up a race that has been basically tied all year long. But the Biden campaign as promised and focused on abortion rights. And today marks the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Vice President Harris is speaking about abortion right now University of Maryland. Here she is this morning on MSNBC.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: That would be called an admission.

Everything is at stake. And fundamentally on this issue, it's about our freedom. And every person of whatever gender should understand that if such a fundamental freedom -- such as the right to make decisions about your own body can be taken. Be aware of what other freedoms may be at stake.

(END VIDEO CLIP) RAJU: All right. CNN's MJ Lee is live outside the White House. So, MJ, tell us more about the president's and his campaigns plans on this day.

MJ LEE, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Manu, for Democrat, there's really nothing celebratory about this two-year anniversary of the Dobbs' decision. Before the Biden team, it is certainly a moment that they are trying to seize to deliver a political message. And that message, of course, is that abortion rights and reproductive rights have been taken away from people because of Donald Trump, and also that those very same rights could be eroded even further if Donald Trump were to return to the White House for a second term.

Now, as you mentioned, Vice President Kamala Harris, who has really taken the lead role for the administration on this issue has just taken the stage at a campaign event in Maryland, focused on this issue where we expect her to once again warn that this is about fundamental rights being at risk.

And then we also saw a new campaign ad by the Biden team released today that features a Louisiana woman who says that she was turned away from two separate emergency rooms in her state after she suffered a miscarriage at some 11 weeks of pregnancy. And she says in that ad that the pain that she suffered is the direct result of Donald Trump. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was right around 11 weeks when I had a miscarriage. The pain that I was feeling was excruciating. And I was turned away from two emergency rooms. That was a direct result of Donald Trump overturning Roe v. Wade. He's now a convicted felon. Trump thinks he should not be held accountable for his own criminal actions, but he will let women and doctors be punished.


LEE: Now this is all just part of a campaign wide effort today. We expect a number of the Biden campaign surrogates to be fanned out across the country to deliver a similar message. And while we don't expect to see President Biden himself in public because he is at Camp David still with his advisers, doing debate prep.

We do know that abortion rights certainly is an issue that the team is very much preparing for. And it is one of those top issues that they expect they can use to draw one of the sharpest contrasts that they can between the president and the former president, Manu?

RAJU: All right, MJ Lee, live outside the White House. Thanks for that. And let's bring in our great reporters, Laura Barron-Lopez at the PBS NewsHour, Matt Viser of The Washington Post, Boston Globe's Jackie Kucinich, and CNN's Steve Contorno. Thanks, guys for joining me. Nice to see you all.

Laura, you cover the White House. Talk a little bit about the strategy of the Biden campaign. Just today, Harris, as we noted that she's speaking right now in the University of Maryland. She was introduced by Kate Cox, who of course the woman who fled the state of Texas to have an abortion. Harris later than flying out to Arizona for yet another event on this issue. Obviously, this is central to their message especially, heading into Thursday.


How does it Biden -- but is the -- is it going to be -- was actually going to be a decisive come November. This has worked as an issue in the last two election cycles post Dobbs, but general election, presidential election is to have the same effect.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR & CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They think that it will. They think that this is going to be one of the biggest issues come November. And that's why you're seeing them leaning so heavily this week and a lot of other weeks, but especially this week.

I mean, they have President Biden putting out videos on social media. They have a vice president traveling the country. They have the second gentleman traveling the country. First Lady Jill Biden was in Pennsylvania over the weekend, talking about exactly this.

And so, this is something that they say when they talk to voters, especially those independent voters, those more moderate voters, it's something that they're still very concerned about. Because even though Donald Trump has said, he doesn't necessarily support a 15-week ban. He has also said, he will allow states to do whatever they see fit and be able to restrict abortion, however they want to. And so, a lot of voters -- when I've been on the trail, talk about what they see other states doing.

RAJU: You know, since Dobbs, we have seen really still the significant amount of Americans poll say, support the idea of keeping abortion legal poll. A recent poll had from CBS show that yes, 60 percent of Americans believe that abortion should be legal. 40 percent say no.

But then the question also is, will this be a major factor in your vote for president. Economy in this same poll, still 82 percent there as you can see, inflation similarly right up there, democracy up high a portion 51 percent. So, yes, they support it. But the ones were dropped voting, are they already voting democratic or these the ones who the Biden team can pick up and flip?

MATT VISER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think it's trying to motivate some of those Democrats who may otherwise be lukewarm about a second Biden presidency. I think you'll also hear Biden, as he talks about it -- he usually talks about it in a wider frame to try to incorporate the threats that Trump poses to not only abortion rights, but to democracy or the economy.

He tries to talk about a little bit more broadly. That's also a recognition, which is why I'm interested in how he comes across on Thursday, that an 81-year-old grandfather who's a lifelong Catholic, how he talks about abortion. He struggled with this in the past. He often doesn't even say the word. So, how does he motivate people on this issue, given his own history with the topic? And you'll see the ad had testimonials. You see Joe Biden out. You see Kamala Harris out. Other people are sort of surrogates and chief surrogates on this issue in a way that Biden is enough (Ph).

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE BOSTON GLOBE: I think there's something very interesting about that ad because that ad is as much about healthcare as it is about abortion. I mean, this is someone who said, you know, she was 11 weeks pregnant and all of a sudden, she started to miscarry. That's a very different frames that I think you heard Democrats talk about abortion before Dobbs.

And the other thing is really interesting when it comes to polling, because even in 2022 going in -- like the weeks right before the election. Abortion wasn't polling anywhere near. It was like in the bottom, you know, with -- you know, some other issue.

RAJU: And Democrats really didn't want to talk about, especially in swing states and the like.

KUCINICH: But after people voted, we looked at the exit polling. Inflation and abortion were the two issues where people caught said, when they came out of voting, cast their vote. So, I think it's going to be very interesting to see if that's the case of this election because it is a -- there's a disconnect there.

RAJU: Maybe you mentioned the campaigns and how they're speaking. This is how the Biden campaign. They put on a video today, talked about this issue. And then listen to how Trump spoke about abortion on Saturday when speaking before Christian conservatives.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Decades of progress shattered just because of the last guy got four years in the White House. You know what will happen if he gets another four. For MAGA Republicans, Roe is just the beginning. They're going to try to ban the right to choose nationwide are coming for IVF and birth control next, progressive extremism. Send me back to the White House and I'll fight like hell to restore Roe v. Wade and protect American freedom.

DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks to these justices, we have also achieved what the prolife movement fought to get for 49 years. And we've gotten the abortion out of the federal government and back to the states. If the radical Democrat extremes get their way, they will have a federal law for abortion, to rip their baby out of the womb in the seventh, eighth and ninth month and even execute the baby after birth. This is now up to the will of the people in each state. Some states will be more conservative, other states will be more liberal.


RAJU: Steve, you wrote about this on Saturday. What was your takeaway from the way that former president has been talking about this issue and particularly in front of the voters who on the right who care about this deeply?


STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: Well, in privately he's very aware of what happened in the 2022 midterms. And he has been critical of how Republicans responded to Dobbs. And said that they were quote, stupid and how they responded. And you have seen that thread run through, how he has contorted himself around this issue in the year since.

Look, Donald Trump has been on every side of the abortion issue. During his time in the public eye, I think we counted 15 times. He's changed his view on abortion over the years. He has been equally tough to pin down since the Dobbs' decision, even after he came out and said that this would be an issue left to the states. He then criticized Arizona and Florida for how they have handled abortion.

When you saw yesterday -- or excuse me Saturday, where he touted his role in getting these justices that he said had courage in overturning Roe v. Wade. But he also told that crowd quote, you have to get elected. So clearly, trying to have his cake and eat it too.

RAJU: Yeah. Saying that, you know, he applauding those justices for overturning Roe v Wade, then saying it should be left to the states, but they're not owning any of those specific state laws. That's how he's going to be --

CONTORNO: He wants the Republican support for having overturn Roe v. Wade. He doesn't want any of the political fallout.

RAJU: Yeah. Well, good luck with that. Speaking of the former -- with the current president and what he's been doing this week. He is at Camp David. We're not going to -- you don't expect to actually see Joe Biden until Thursday. Just the amount of advisers that are there with them right now and look on your screen. There are at least 16 by our reporting and our count are people who are there.

Matt, you cover the White House. What are you hearing about Joe Biden's preparation and his plans heading into Thursday?

VISER: I mean, it's interesting in part because it's such a contrast with Donald Trump. It's methodical. It's mock debates. It's sort of batting around different policy ideas and sort of workshop in different lines that he may deliver.

And as you point out, there's a wide number of advisers. There's a couple on that screen that are the most crucial that are -- have his ear at the last minute. Mike Donilon will be one of those. Ron Klain has been involved heavily in his debate preparation throughout his career, really. So those guys really will be, you know, speaking to him closely. And Anita Dunn is a sort of a messaging guru at the White House and she's going to be heavily involved as well.

RAJU: What are you hearing, Laura, real quickly?

BARRON-LOPEZ: I mean, pretty much the same. Ron Klain is leading the debate preparation, and that ultimately, yes, President Biden is taking this very seriously. And it is a big contrast compared to Trump. Because we know about President Biden. He likes to fine tune things, even to the last minute as well. And so, he's going to be sharpening those attack lines.

I mean, I think, you know, you're going to see him try to hammer Trump really hard on abortion, also on immigration, something that he -- President Biden himself has been trying to balance, heading into November.

RAJU: We'll see he avoids the curse of the incumbent president who tends to struggle in the first debate, but we will check. We'll talk more about that later. First, be more discipline. Prepare for multiple scenarios. Coming up, how the candidates are making their final perhaps before the big debate.




RAJU: CNN's historic presidential debate just three days away. And while Biden does mock debates, Trump is avoiding traditional debate prep, instead opting for informal meetings with senior advisers and asking his supporters for debate advice.


TRUMP: How should I handle him? Should I be tough and nasty? Or should I be -- should I be -- but you say no. Should I be tough and nasty? And just say, you're the worst president in history or should I be nice and calm and let him speak.


RAJU: And the former president also pushing baseless claims about Joe Biden likely in an attempt to temper expectations.


TRUMP: He's sleeping now. Because they want to get him good and strong. So, a little before a debate time, he gets a shot in the ass and that's -- they want to strengthen him up.


RAJU: All right, CNN's Kristen Holmes is in West Palm Beach, Florida. So, Kristen, which are going to be. Is it going to be tough and nasty Trump, or nice and calm Trump?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Manu, if anyone tells you that, what they think it's going to be, they're likely lying to you because the only person who actually knows how they're going to behave on that stage is Donald Trump. Now when it comes to letting Biden speak, I will say, the debate rules will mute Donald Trump's mic. So, it's not going to be a traditional kind of debate that you've seen Donald Trump do where he continually tries to interrupt the person that he's sharing the stage with.

But as you mentioned, Donald Trump's team says that they avoid even using the word of preparation when it comes to Donald Trump and this debate. Instead, they say they are hosting policy sessions. They've had more than a dozen where they've gone over issues like immigration, like abortion, particularly democracy. How to handle what he has said in the past about that riot insurrection on January 6.

These are all things that Donald Trump is taking into account. His team also says that his various appearances in rallies, taking questions and interviews as well as from the crowd and other events. That's all part of this quote unquote, "debate prep."

But whether or not Donald Trump is going to stay on message, which most of his advisers' allies and anyone who is rooting for Donald Trump really hopes that he will do, again will remain to be seen. You heard him kind of trying to lay out platforms this weekend ended events last week. But then also going off script. Take a listen.



TRUMP: But I said Dana. Dana, I have an idea for you to make a lot of money. You're going to go and start a new migrants fight league, migrants -- only migrants. And then at the end of the year, the champion migrant is going to fight your champion. And I hate to tell you, Dana, I think the migrant might win. That's how tough they are.


HOLMES: Now, obviously, immigration is something they've talked about in these policy sessions. But I would venture to say that that kind of language and rhetoric is not something that they went over. They were talking about answers when it came to migrants. Donald Trump, again, is going to say whatever he wants to say once they come on that stage. But I will tell you.

You mentioned this, talking about tempering expectations, we have heard from a number of surrogates who have really tried to amp up this rhetoric tempering expectations. We heard from Doug Burgum on our air over the weekend, saying that Donald Trump -- that Biden was a formidable opponent. We also heard just now from J. D. Vance on a podcast saying the bar was set too low for Biden. So, you can hear what the messaging is coming out of Trump's orbit right now, Manu?

RAJU: Yeah, all right. Kristen Holmes in West Palm Beach, Florida, tracking all things Trump. Thanks for that. And as Trump prepares for the debate, he's not shying away from his grievance fueled rhetoric. Here he is on Saturday before a group of Christian conservatives.


TRUMP: And I have the wounds all over my body. If I took this shirt off, you'd see a beautiful, beautiful person, but you'd see wounds all over -- all over me. I've taken a lot of wounds I can tell you, more than I suspect any president ever.


RAJU: He told them he's been treated worse than Abraham Lincoln, who of course was shot in the head. Our great reporters are back. OK. So, what are we, you know, this is obviously different than a rally because there's a live audience there. He tends to feed off the audience. He goes off script. He rambles and the like.

This time, he's going to be constrained by the time limits and the fact that there'll be a muted mic. There will not be a live audience. So, you're talking to the Trump campaign. What are you hearing about how he plans to approach this?

CONTORNO: Well, it was interesting. Well, when he asked the audience at that Philadelphia event, if he should be nasty or nice. You could hear one person scream out in the crowd, be presidential and I -- there are a lot of people in his one person -- one person, correct. A lot of people love the red meat.

RAJU: Yeah.

CONTORNO: But it's clear that there are people around Donald Trump who is hoping that this stage to brings some gravitas and some remembrance, that this is the highest office in the country that he's running for. At the same time at that speech, you know, he also went on a long explanation for why he cusses so much in his speeches these days. Even though Franklin Graham doesn't want him to.

So, the tempering of expectations that we have been seeing from his campaign rally has been quite dizzying. And it doesn't necessarily project confidence going into this debate that he has the upper hand over Biden.

RAJU: In some ways, Trump has a low bar to clear too, because if he acts presidential or avoid some of the things that he says, that could go over well with a lot of voters who have not been paying attention, have not focused on everything Trump has said over the last four years. I mean, frankly, for God, all the controversies, low information voters. So, in some ways, he has a little bottle to clear, but he could trip up by getting back into some of these petty grievances.

KUCINICH: This is going to be one of those the best laid plans kinds of debates. I mean, we'll see -- both of the campaigns are trying to prepare their candidate to be the best they can be. And you're right, both have fairly low bars and part because one Biden side -- because they met the -- how many months talking about how senile and how frail he was and how he's not going to be able to do this. But when it -- when it comes to Trump, yes, if he gets up there and it doesn't, you know, take the bait.

RAJU: Which the Biden will try to --

KUCINICH: Exactly. And both of these candidates are prone to taking the bait and to going off the rails if they're -- if they're triggered. And so, I mean, you know, we'll see.

BARRON-LOPEZ: What else we've seen is, you know, actually what he says on the policy, right, which is that, you know, I'm sure Jake and Danna are going to try to pinpoint him more on abortion. How exactly does he handle those questions? How exactly does Trump answer questions about his rhetoric about migrants? I mean, including what you just played is saying that he proposed a migrant fighting league.

And the mics being cut off could very well benefit Trump, just as much as they benefit Biden because of the fact that in the 2020 debates, Trump was seen in focus groups afterwards that I (inaudible) they called him a bully. They called him rude. They thought he was unprofessional and cutting off the mics, you know, potentially makes it. So, he doesn't appear or come off that way.

KUCINICH: But don't you think the criminal cases are going to be more of fodder for making Trump angry, right, because we know how angry he was for this conviction. I'd be shocked if that is not a question in this debate. That seems to be -- not saying this, you're absolutely right. There will be abortion questions. There will be discussions about that -- potentially about that migrant fighting league. But it seems the criminal cases are something he takes very personally and could be potentially, you know tough for him to answer.

RAJU: And as we talked about Trump on-message versus not on-message. I see his advisers want him to say things like he did on Saturday in Philadelphia when he was talking about the economy and about Joe Biden.



TRUMP: Less than four you years ago our border was secure, inflation was nowhere to be seen, the world was at peace. They respected your country and America was strong, like never before. Now under crooked Joe Biden, the worst president in the history of our country, the world is in play. Our borders overrunning, inflation is raging, crime is out of control. Europe is in chaos. The Middle East is exploding. Iran is emboldened. China is on the march.


RAJU: I mean, that is the Trump that is Biden want. How does Biden's team respond to that?

VISER: I mean, it's interesting, Trump and Biden do not share many characteristics between one and another. But when did they do is going off script from what their advisers want. And I think that's so much of what this debate is going to be about. Trump's advisers want him to speak like he was just speaking, trying to prosecute the case against Joe Biden. And Joe Biden's advisers are going in with the certain things that he -- they want him to say, but both men frequently veer off script. And advisers have to clean up after both of them often spin. So today -- you know, on Thursday, that's going to be a test, I think for both of them and getting under each other's skin and getting them off of whatever preparations they came into that debate trying to focus on.

RAJU: Speaking of going off script, also from Saturday in Philadelphia.


TRUMP: You know what the green new scam is? No water in your faucets. You ever try buying a new home and you turn it on, they have restrictors in there. You want to wash your hair. You want to wash your hands. You turn on the water and it goes drip, drip, the soap you can't get it off yet. So, you keep it running for about 10 times longer you're trying.

The worst is your hair. I have this beautiful luxurious hair that I put stuff on. I put it in lather. I like lots of lather because I like it to come out extremely dry. Because it seems to be slightly thicker that way. And I lather up and then you turn on this crazy shower and the thing drip, drip, and I'll just say, I'm going to be here for 45 minutes. They put restricters and they put them on in places like here, where there's so much water you don't know what to do with it.

You know, it's stored rained, and rains it a lot in certain places. But know their idea -- you know, did you see the other day, they just went. I opened it up and they close it again. I opened that they close it. Washing machines to wash your dishes. There's a problem. They don't want you to have any water. They want no water.


KUCINICH: Panning your answer. That's a throwback that an windmills. But right, these things when -- exactly what Matt was talking about, when they get when either Biden or Trump in that case, gets off script, goes into these completely untrained describable tribes. That that can be problematic and is exactly what you Trump advisers don't want to happen. One thing is a rally audience.

RAJU: Yeah.

KUCINICH: Another thing entirely for a presidential.

CONTORNO: I was at that rally and it's he spoke for 80 minutes. It was much closer -- the entirety of 80 minutes is much closer to that clip and the first quarter. All right, let's see how you deal with that. Thursday, of course will be confined by time limits and moderators but you know, can say what he wants was asked a question. All right, coming up, Can Steve's ban transgender care for minors? The Supreme Court says it will weigh in.