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Two Days To Go Until Biden, Trump Face Off CNN; Awaiting Supreme Court's Decision On Major Cases This Week; Surgeon General Declares Firearm Violence A Public Health Crisis. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 25, 2024 - 12:30   ET




MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR: A monumental moment two days out from the first Biden-Trump debate of the 2024 election.

And joining me now, President Biden's campaign co-chair Democratic Congresswoman Veronica Escobar of Texas. She's also a member of both the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus.

Congresswoman, thanks for joining me today.


RAJU: Really appreciate it. OK, so you think about Thursday. What is your biggest concern when we head into Thursday's debate?

ESCOBAR: You know, I'm actually really excited. I don't feel feel concern --

RAJU: You have that some -- you must be losing sleep over something.

ESCOBAR: You know, I do think Donald Trump may be unhinged. We've seen him be just wildly unhinged at his rallies. And I think the American people deserve a solid policy debate because the contrast that the American people are going to see between the two competing visions for America, the President Biden's vision for all of us versus candidate Trump's dark vision for America.

I want people to see that, I want people to learn about it. So my hope is that it is focused on policy discussions.

RAJU: And what if, you know, what was your advice to the President if he gets pummeled by Trump on on any number of things, whether they're true or not true? How does he respond to that? Did you just -- do you try to fact check him on all that stuff or does he move on?


ESCOBAR: It is I think probably impossible to fact check Donald Trump in real time. This is a person who, as he breathes, he lies, literally. And as a journalist, you know that, Manu. It's impossible to fact check this person.

But I do think that it is highly likely that President Biden will be able to break through that craziness because we've seen him do it before. We saw him at the State of the Union address take on hecklers who were unhinged, some of my colleagues, who were screaming from the audience. And the American people saw a president who cares deeply about them. He cares deeply about us.

RAJU: But, I mean, are you concerned -- I mean, the State of the Union, yes, that was an unscripted moment, but most of it was on prompter. This is different. This is 90 minutes. This is someone who's 81 years old. Are you worried about his ability to stay on message?

Remember those issues given his age and concerns about some of his, you know, but maybe he's slipping. Some people have raised that concern. Do you have any of those concerns?

ESCOBAR: I don't. I don't. I have seen the President in action. The American people saw the President in action when he did deliver a really fantastic State of the Union address that hit on all of the important points, things that Americans care about and are worried about. And what he is doing to address their concerns, what he's doing to uplift American families.

Fight for our freedoms. Make sure that we have a future in this country versus the man who wants to be a dictator and the man whose economic policies have been panned by Moody's analytics, by cap 16 economists, Nobel Prize winning economists have come out to warn the American people that candidate Donald Trump's plans for the economy would create an inflation bomb. That's what I'm excited to see President Biden lay out and draw the contrast.

RAJU: But there's some concerns, you know, our colleague Kayla Tausche is reporting about, you know, the Biden layout, a number of his, you know, achievements. We'll talk about, you know, his -- what he considers his major achievements. That really not resonating with voters.

Do you have concerns if he simply lays out a laundry list of things that he believes he has achieved in office that that will may not land well, given that a lot of voters are not happy with the job that he's done in office?

ESCOBAR: You know, I think the President can do both things at the same time. I think it is really important for the American people to remember where we were four years ago, where we couldn't be together, where we had a president, Donald Trump, telling us to inject disinfectant, calling COVID a hoax, historic job losses, a catastrophic economy, and President Biden inherited that mess and has helped rebuild our economy.

Yes, there's work to be done, but it is -- and which is why we're asking the American people to let President Biden finish the job through a second term. But I do think it is important to recognize that the President has helped bring manufacturing jobs to America. Reduced the cost of prescription drugs, more to be done. But he can do both.

RAJU: But why do you think -- I mean, more voters think that Trump did a better job in office than Biden? Does that concern you?

ESCOBAR: It does. I do think that people have amnesia. And as I've been talking to communities across the country for the campaign, especially Latino communities, I have reminded them that about what we experienced for four years under Trump, what Trump left the current president, President Biden with, but also what he's promising to do, which will raise their costs.

RAJU: Why haven't the -- you know, the Biden team keep saying that when it's a contrast, people will start to recognize that, but it is a contrast and people are still, polls still showing Trump ahead.

ESCOBAR: I hope that changes and we're working to change that.

RAJU: Is the Biden team failed to deliver on these messages that you're hoping to deliver to voters?

ESCOBAR: You know, Manu, we've known from the beginning that this was going to be a tough election. The country is really divided. We're seeing that. You know, I see that on a daily basis in Congress. I see that in communities across the country, which is why we are investing and going to people where they are.

This is a long game. I mean, obviously, we've only got about four and a half months left until Election Day. This debate, this Thursday is going to be an important component of that. There will be a second debate and there's a lot more campaigning ahead. And I have faith in the American people that they will see that contrast. That they won't want to see tax increases that a Trump economy will bring or catastrophic job losses that have -- a Trump economy will bring.

RAJU: You're a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, but polls have shown that Biden has been slipping with the Hispanic voters, that he's not as strong as he was before. What do you think explains that?

ESCOBAR: I am not --

RAJU: What does Biden have to do differently?


ESCOBAR: I am not a big believer in polls, Manu. I haven't been since 2016, where we saw --

RAJU: You don't share any of these concerns about standing with Hispanic voters?

ESCOBAR: Look, I am concerned about making sure that we talk to every voter, and the campaign is committed to making sure that we do that. We are not taking anyone's vote for granted. We're not taking any group or community or state for granted. So we are putting in the hard work talking to people. We know that Trump and the GOP has abandoned Latino voters. You know, they had -- they announced with big fanfare that they were opening up all sorts of community centers. Well, they've quietly shuttered all of them, they've laid off people in Latino communities. We are doing the opposite. We're investing, we're taking the time, we're having those conversations, because we need Latinos in order to win.

RAJU: All right, we'll see how that turns out. But before we go, real quickly, Jamaal Bowman tonight, he's in a New York primary race, are you supporting him?

ESCOBAR: The -- all of the House Democratic leadership, which I'm a member, is supporting Jamaal. Regardless of where people are on either candidate, I think the American people need to be profoundly concerned by the amount of money being sent in from outside of the district to defeat, it's --

RAJU: 25 million or so.

ESCOBAR: -- enormous. And that's --

RAJU: A lot of -- most expensive house primary industry.

ESCOBAR: That's not good for democracy, regardless of who you're supporting.

RAJU: All right, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, thank you so much. Really appreciate you joining me today.

And tomorrow, Republican Congressman Mike Waltz will be here with the Trump campaign for their take on the debate.

Coming up, reading the tea leaves to the Supreme Court justices foreshadow, how they'll rule on abortion and presidential immunity.



RAJU: The High Court divided. This week, the Supreme Court is racing to the finish line to decide a handful of historic cases. Our next chance to hear decisions is tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern when the High Court meets to release opinions and divisions we've already seen this year between the justices may provide some signals on how they'll rule.

CNN's Joan Biskupic joins me now. So Joan, there are these major cases left. You've also been doing some reporting about the tea leaves that you've been reading. What do you -- what are you learning?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: OK, well, first of all, they've got 14 cases and likely 12 decisions the way they'll be --

RAJU: And I want you to tell me which day they're going to tell you --

BISKUPIC: And I'm going to tell you exactly what they're going to do and the vote counts, OK?

RAJU: Yes.

BISKUPIC: Don't I wish.

RAJU: Because they're a very transparent institution.

BISKUPIC: Oh, completely.

RAJU: Yes.

BISKUPIC: So we know they'll be in Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week. You know, they're likely, given the magnitude of the cases to be decided to go into Monday next week. But we don't know. And they don't know, Manu, this is the time of year when they're like in the final throes of decision making.

They know the bottom line votes, but they have to see will these decisions right and who's splintering off. And that's what we've seen so much of already, even though they can rule like 8 to 1 in a second amendment gun rights case, everybody splinters off, not just on the right, the sixth justice conservative majority, which is super majority, which you know that there are variations of conservatism on this court.

But even among the liberals, the three liberals, there's some fracturing including with our newest Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson tends to write separately a lot. So, you know, back in the olden days, there'd be times when a justice would just sign on and think it's June, I'm done, but not this group. They're writing a lot.

But let me just remind you of the three biggest --

RAJU: Yes.

BISKUPIC: -- because you asked about those. Really will affect Donald Trump's, you know, probably his election campaign and whether he goes to trial over conduct from the 2020 election results that he was protesting. He has claimed immunity in the face of the charges brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith for election subversion. And the court is deciding right now whether he should be shielded and not have to go to trial potentially before the election.

RAJU: And you've been writing about Sonia Sotomayor and some of the tea leaves is there as well. She -- today's also her 70th birthday One, what do you think about those tea leaves when it comes to the Dobbs decision? And two, there are calls for her to retire.

BISKUPIC: It's not going to happen.

RAJU: And that's not going to happen.

BISKUPIC: No, it's not going to happen. She's -- frankly, 70 at the Supreme Court is still young.

RAJU: Kind of like Capitol Hill. BISKUPIC: Yes.

RAJU: Or the Senate, I should say.

BISKUPIC: So true. And Clarence Thomas, who, you know, on June 23rd, two days ago, turned 76. And he's the eldest of the group but still young. I don't think she's going to go, but what you're referring to is a piece that I did today on a real clarion call that she put -- she joined by her two fellow liberal justices made in a what would have otherwise been an under the radar immigration case.

She said that the way the majority was interpreting the framework having to do with marriage. It was a U.S. citizen who wanted her Salvadorian husband to be able to come to the country. He was denied in a visa. And Justice Sotomayor claimed that the justices, the majority, the way they wrote the decision, they were threatening Obergefell versus Hodges, the 2015 same sex marriage case.

And the way she invoked Dobbs, which is the ruling from two years ago that overturned abortion rights, was to say, you promised, court majority two years ago when you were reversed all abortion rights that you were not going to go further toward things like contraception or marriage. And that she took that case as I said a relatively low profile immigration case to suggest it was trying to signal more on marriage rights.


RAJU: And we'll see the implications of that. All right --


RAJU: -- Joan Biskupic, watching it all, thanks for coming in.

BISKUPIC: Right. Thank you.

RAJU: All right, ahead, a first of its kind advisory from the Surgeon General's office declaring gun violence an urgent public health crisis.


RAJU: ?For the first time, the U.S. Surgeon General is declaring gun violence a public health crisis. It's a move that highlights the significant physical and mental toll of gun violence on communities nationwide. Dr. Vivek Murthy spoke on CNN earlier today.



DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Our country is in a different place than it was 10 years ago. We've experienced so many mass shootings, so many incidents of gun violence in our neighborhoods and communities that it has really pervaded the psyche of our country. It has induced fear in people about regular day to day activities like going to the grocery store, going to school, going to work.

Over the last decade or two, this problem has been worsening. And we have now reached the point where gun violence is the leading cause of death among kids and teens. The leading cause of death. That is something that we should never take as the new normal.


RAJU: Now, the Surgeon General's advisory calls the consequences of gun violence in the U.S. devastating. In 2022, firearms became the leading cause of death for children and teens, surpassing motor vehicles, cancer, and poisoning. 54 percent of U.S. adults report they or a family member have experienced a firearm-related incident.

As a solution, the Surgeon General's office outlines a public health approach, including gun prevention strategies and expanded education.

Thanks for joining INSIDE POLITICS. "CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts after a quick break.