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Biden Remains Defiant After Disastrous Debate Fallout; Democrats Grapple With Growing Concerns About Biden's Abilities; Biden Navigating Crucial Moment That Could Define His Legacy; Trump Riding High, Could Announce VP Pick within Days. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired July 07, 2024 - 08:00   ET



ELISA RAFFA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And again, the rain stretches far inland. We'll be talking about inland flooding even up into Oklahoma and Arkansas later in the week. So things that we all need to watch as we go through the day today -- guys.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Elisa Raffa, thank you for watching it for us.

Thank you for watching us this morning.

And thank you for being in for Amira.

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for letting me join in.

BLACKWELL: All right.

MIRACLE: Have some fun.

BLACKWELL: Good to have you.




PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST (voice-over): Defiant.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the Lord Almighty came out and said, "Joe, get out of the race," I would get out of the race. The Lord Almighty is not coming down.

BROWN: The president resists growing calls to drop out.

REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX): He does not want his legacy to be that he's the one who turned over our country to a tyrant.

BROWN: As focus shifts to Vice President Harris.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is probably the most significant election of our lifetime. BROWN: With worried Democrats set to meet in the coming hours. Can

Biden hold on?

Plus, riding high after wins in court, Trump stays out of view and gears up to pick a VP as he braces for Biden's next move.

INSIDE POLITICS, the best reporting from inside the corridors of power starts now.


BROWN (on camera): Good morning and welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Manu Raju.

Well, this morning, President Biden is set to hit the trail again, taking a defiant stance amid growing calls from members of his own party to drop out of the race. The president's Friday interview with ABC News doing little to calm those nerves.

And while most members of his party have not broken with the president publicly, there are signs that could change. The top Democrat in the House, Hakeem Jeffries, is convening senior Democrats this afternoon to talk about the president's future a day before members of Congress return to Washington after their holiday break.

And a source tells CNN, Democratic Senator Mark Warner, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, plans to gather senators tomorrow to discuss Biden's reelection bid. The White House and campaign team are racing to regain Democrats' shrinking confidence, promising more unscripted appearances. A press conference this week and today, a visit to the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

And that is where we start with CNN's Arlette Saenz in Philadelphia.

So, Arlette, the president is expected to make two stops in Pennsylvania, right?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Pamela, President Biden is hitting the campaign trail here in battleground Pennsylvania as he's looking to redeem his campaign amid serious doubts within his own party about whether he can continue in this race.

Now, the president is well aware of how critical Pennsylvania will be in his path to the White House, and today he will be making at least two stops, starting here in Philadelphia, where he will speak at a church service serving a Black community in the area. The president himself has said that he knows black voters will be key to his reelection in November. And after he speaks at this church service, he will head to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for a smaller campaign event throughout the day, the campaign says he will be joined by top elected officials here in the state, including the state's governor, Josh Shapiro, the senators John Fetterman and Bob Casey.

But all of this comes as the campaign has really been hoping for some type of reset. They were hoping that that ABC News interview would start to ease the concerns, not just of voters, but also officials within their own party who have doubts about Biden remaining in this race.

But so far, it seems to have put the anxiety not completely, put the anxiety to rest and the pressure could intensify in the coming days, especially as Democrats are set to return to Washington in the House and Senate. So, President Biden today is trying to make his pitch directly to voters. Yesterday, he spoke with his campaign co-chairs, where one of the co-chairs told me that he sought their honest input and advice about the best path forward in this campaign. The campaign insists that he wants to take his voters and his remaining in this race through November -- Pamela.

BROWN: All right. Arlette Saenz, thank you so much.

Let's break this all down with our panel: Alex Thompson from "Axios", "The Wall Street Journal's" Molly Ball, David Weigel from "Semafor", and "The New York Times'" Zolan Kanno-Youngs.

Thank you all for being here with us on this busy Sunday morning.

Wow, we have so much to cover, especially as we look at the week ahead, right?

You just heard Arlette break down there, Alex, what President Biden is doing today and in the days ahead to try to turn the page right from this moment, can President Biden's efforts actually turn this around, though?

ALEX THOMPSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, AXIOS: Well, if you're Democrats, there's a huge disconnect because they all feel that it's been too little, too late, that basically he went through this Thursday debate then really didn't appear much in public beyond teleprompter remarks and didn't even do his first on camera interview for over a week.

And now we know that the first two interviews he actually did with two Black radio hosts in Philadelphia and Milwaukee were sort of staged affairs where the white -- where the Biden team basically gave them the questions ahead of time.


Now, what you're going to probably see this next week is probably a lot more Democrats in Congress call for him to either step aside or sort of insinuate, well, it's his idea. It's his choice, whatever he wants to do.

Now, the thing is that Joe Biden may not care, because the thing you have to understand about Joe Biden is, and his inner circle is they firmly believe, it is a commandment in Biden world that he is the most electable Democrat against Donald Trump. And if you believe that, then that's all that sort of really matters, even if other people call you to get out, if you believe that to your core, why would you get out?

BROWN: Right. And you heard that time and time again from President Biden in this interview with ABC, where he said, you know, multiple times, I will beat him. I'm the man for the job. He was also asked, though, well, what if you don't win? What if you

don't beat Trump? Right? What how are you going to feel? What is that going to do for your legacy?

Let's take a listen. At that moment from the ABC interview.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: And if you stay in and Trump is elected and everything, you're warning about comes to pass, how will you feel in January?

BIDEN: I will feel, as long as I gave it my all, and I did the -- good a job as I know I can do -- that's what this is about.


BROWN: So did that inspire confidence among Democrats that he's aware of the stakes, Zolan?

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, no, I mean, in fact, it prompted anxiety amongst many Democrats I talked to, as well as Democratic donors, as well as just even voters talking to them over the past couple of days,

Look, when you talk about this election and the stakes of it, and you have a president that has gone out for the past couple of years saying this is a matter of democracy, that democracy is at stake, but then you have a line essentially saying, "I'm going to try my hardest here," I mean, that's -- that's not going to inspire confidence in many Democrats moving forward at this point.

Look, the interview, the ABC News interview, which was a great interview at that point, after the debate, the goal, if the goal is really to calm the anxieties that the Democratic Party is feeling right now about whether or not president Biden can carry out this campaign to victory, one interview performance by president is not going to do that. And there were still answers in that interview where he did come off as meandering and didn't -- and kind of combined multiple answers in one in a way.


Not the same performance as the debate, but you still have concern, you know, throughout the Democratic Party. I spoke to a donor yesterday, a prominent donor who was saying, look, unless there's multiple polls that come out, particularly in swing states that show him beating Trump at this point, even that won't calm concerns. But he said right now, they're still calls going around at this time where -- where folks are concerned about this.

BROWN: And what are you looking for, Molly, as members of Congress come back to Capitol Hill tomorrow?

MOLLY BALL, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yeah, I think we are all expecting that in the next week. This is going to intensify and come to a head because, you know, this has all been playing out over what is essentially a holiday week in D.C., right? With the House and Senate not here, and with a lot of people going on vacation for July Fourth, all of this drama has been occurring basically as gossip in Democratic circles over text chains between, you know, lawmakers, officials, people at the highest levels of the party. They've all just been talking amongst themselves, and, of course, talking to us.

But once they're all in Washington, that's going to be super charged all of these, you know, these letters we've been hearing about group letters that may be organized, group delegations like the one that Senator Warner is reported to be putting together. All of that is going to gain steam and momentum once they're together. And I think we're going to hear a lot more.

You know, I was watching the interview and talking to a couple of my Democratic sources while it was going on, and it was that answer in particular where he said, I will feel okay as long as I feel like I've done my best. That was really rocketing around those circles among Democrats who said, that's just not good enough, and the fact that eight days after the debate, this was all they could come up with to showcase the vigor that they claim that the president still has, that was not good enough for a lot of people as well.

BROWN: And it really was striking how much President Biden dismissed repeatedly concerns, right? Let's take a listen to one of the moments.


BIDEN: Well, Mark Warner, I understand, is the only one, considering that no one else has called me with that.

Well, Mark is a good man. We have never had the -- he also tried to get the nomination too.

Mark's not --

Have you ever seen a group -- a time when elected officials running for office aren't a little worried? Have you ever seen that? I have not. Same thing happened in 2020. Oh, Biden, I don't know, man. What is he going to do? He may bring me down. He may.



BROWN: Of course, this moment is different from 2020, Dave. And it's interesting. He also said all the Democratic governors at the White House meeting want him to stay in. That's not true. I know from sources I'm talking to you, also, Governor Healey, of Massachusetts sent out that statement Friday, basically saying, you know, you need to Biden needs time to evaluate next steps.

Do you think his dismissal like that, Dave, of those very real concerns will actually push more lawmakers to speak out publicly? DAVID WEIGEL, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: It could, because you're

right, it's not credible. And there are Democrats we've talked to them who have this opinion that that Mark Warner has and don't want to come out yet for various reasons. There are progressive Democrats who don't want to be the face of a resistance, saying that Biden needs to go because they don't want to polarize it. There are people who have this opinion who have not spoken out yet, and they are not impressed by the president continuing to hark back to different situations.

In 2020, he was winning the election. At this point in this election, he's between the campaign and the outside groups, about $240 million to be losing to Donald Trump. They're in a weaker position than they've been in any election against Donald Trump.

This is the context that they're all very aware of. They remember panicking about Hillary. They remember panicking in 2020. But not to this extent because they were winning and because they were told -- all of them were told this debate would be the turning point where people's concerns voters, concerns about his age were going to flip around.

They did not have a break glass plan, a recovery plan after the debate. A tell -- teleprompter speech is not it. Radio speech is not it. It was supposed to be the debate and no one could get past that, just a matter of whether they're being open about it yet.

BROWN: And he really was not accepting of the polls, right? You noted that at this time in 2020, he was in a much better position in polling than he is now. As a reminder, our latest CNN poll has him at a 36 percent approval rating, which George Stephanopoulos brought up during the interview, and we know that the president's own supporters are split on whether he should stay, and an increasing number of Democrats say someone else would give them a better shot at winning.

And Trump has been edging out Biden by an even larger margin nationally. So as you see this on your screen, are Democrats risking a crisis of faith among voters who feel insulted that maybe they're concerns aren't being heard right now?

THOMPSON: Yeah, there are two types of polling denialism within the Biden orbit. There are some people on the campaign who, you know, campaign veterans that basically believe, listen, we are still behind. We're just not as behind as some of these other polls. But then the closer you get to the president, the more the sense is, actually, the polls are just wrong.

And you've heard Biden sort of articulate, you know, he'll go into polling methodology about how hard it is to get people on the phone. And Joe Biden does not believe his approval rating is in the 30s. Joe Biden does not believe he is significantly behind. And Joe Biden believes that at the end of the day, people are not going to go to that voting booth and vote for Donald Trump, which is adding to this angst among Democrats.

I think that was the other beyond what Molly was saying about this alarm at that last answer. The other thing that they were alarmed with was he does not seem to believe the depth of the crisis he is in, and that is frustrating and creating a lot of agita.

KANNO-YOUNGS: This has something to do with who Joe Biden is too, right? I mean, he has always considered himself sort of a chip on your shoulder, a public official who has overcome obstacles, proved people wrong. But now we're in a situation where it seems that's devolved into also dismissing sort of any of the criticism in this current moment, looking at the past and basically saying, well, I overcame hurdles each and every time when I was doubted. So I'm going to go into this situation and if you're questioning me on my age, my ability, my polling, my state in this race, well, the past shows that I can overcome it.

But the risk here is what you were just getting at that age and his ability has been a top concern for voters for many years, for multiple years now. And it continues. He's going to get questioned on it in the weeks ahead. If he continues to dismiss it and be defiant, is that actually coming off as being in touch with what voters are feeling at this point? That's going to be a challenge.

BROWN: Yeah, and it was interesting. I was talking to Evan Osnos recently. He, of course, is a biographer. And he said part of what you're seeing for Biden is also the sense of, I don't want to be pushed out again. He was pushed out of that presidential race. Of course, in the '80s, and that has stuck with him and the sense of I am not going to be pushed out again, right?

But the reality is the reality. And you see what's happening in the polls. And as I talked to Democratic sources and you look at the prospect of Kamala Harris, the vice president, being atop the ticket, there is also a lot of questions about how that might go, right? What do you make of how VP Harris has navigated this moment, Molly?

BALL: You know, I think there is increasingly a sense among Democrats that, you know, they're increasingly looking to her. They increasingly see her as the most viable next option. But I think, you know, going back to the president and the interview, they're -- they're very stuck on whether he is in touch with reality based on the way he answered those questions.


And that, you know, if you listen to the rhetoric of a lot of especially elected Democrats up to now, it's been very cautious and respectful, wanting to give the president space, wanting to not be seen as pressuring him or trying to push him out. And so, saying we need to have a conversation.

And they really thought that this was all sort of getting through to him in a subtle way. And so, the way he answered those questions and how defiant he was in that interview, really put a fresh anxiety into a lot of Democrats that if it's true that he is not getting the sort of subtle messages they've been sending, they may have to send much more overt messages.

BROWN: You have to wonder, though, how much of that was just him putting on a show of, you know, I'm in this conviction versus like how he's actually thinking and feeling behind the scenes. He held this call with the campaign co-chairs yesterday, hearing them out about the best path forward.

What do you think? Do you think the Joe Biden we saw publicly is the Joe Biden that's also, you know, having these private conversations?

WEIGEL: Oh, yeah, I think Alex put it very well. They don't they don't believe their trust. They trust this has been a problem, I think for everyone reporting on the White House, the credibility gap between the political strategists who see what is happening and have paid for this data and the people who are close to Biden and can't get it through to him.

THOMPSON: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, this is -- I mean, to Dave's point, the Biden that we saw publicly is the Biden that people have seen privately for a long time. And the there there's real agita and concern among a lot of Democrats, including people within Biden world, that Joe, that the people around Joe Biden are unwilling to tell him things he doesn't want to hear.

BROWN: All right. Stay -- stick around. We got a lot more to discuss.

Up next, Congress flies back to D.C. tomorrow as we've been talking about. So the big question, will their return compound Biden's problems with his party? We're going to continue that discussion after this break.



BROWN: Well, much of Democrats' dissent about President Biden has been aired in private so far, in part because lawmakers haven't actually been in Washington. At home for the 4th of July holiday, they have been hearing from constituents. And tomorrow they'll return to the Capitol for the first time since Biden's disastrous debate.

Performance already, five Democratic House members have called for Biden to step aside. So will more join this week? We're going to see.

Yesterday, Congressman Gerry Connolly, who was a former staffer for Biden when he was in the Senate, told me even he's grappling with how to move forward.


REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): This is a man I revere and I am not about to throw him overboard because of a bad experience. I want to give him every opportunity to try to recover. Having said that, at the end of the day, we cannot afford to make a mistake about Donald Trump. We've got to put our best foot forward and I'm hopeful that's Joe Biden. I'm open to the fact that, sadly, that might not be. I do believe that what happened at the debate was more than a bad night.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: My panel is back with me now and it is interesting. You get all different opinions, different opinions. I also interviewed Congressman Garamendi of California yesterday and he said it was just a bad night. Let's move on. This is no big deal, you know? But so far, five members, just five members of Congress, have publicly called for Biden to step aside. Dave, what's the temperature with the rest?

WEIGEL: A lot of them, after the debate, were telling me how glad they were that they were out of the country and didn't have time to comment yet. That will change, as was discussed on Monday.

I think Gerry Connolly said it, these are people who also think they are defending democracy by broaching the topic of whether they need a new nominee. They see this election as existential as -- as a question of whether they can stop the rise of Trumpian fascism. And a lot of them are taking it seriously, but trying to couch what's the most effective way to do that?

You saw two members say that, that they think he's going to lose and they're going to run their own campaigns in Washington and Maine. The rest of the Democrats who have been more quiet are wondering how -- how to say this.

I've heard much less I've heard from Bernie Sanders and a few other people, much less of the "we just have to run with Biden unable to deliver a good debate performance or a good speech, we have to work around this", much less of that in the last few days.

And flashing back to 2019, 2020, when he was winning the nomination, they were overjoyed that Joe Biden was going to lead the ticket. This really has been a night and day shift in the last -- in the last week among Democrats and how they feel about him. It's from hoping the best for him to this panic that you've seen.

BROWN: Right, and only one of the five, though so far, is from a vulnerable district, right? So you have to wonder if more of those vulnerable Dems will come out this week.

BALL: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I spoke to a Democrat in a frontline district over the weekend who's grappling with this question and may in fact, come forward in the -- in the coming days.

But look, most members of Congress are not profiles in courage. They're looking around at everyone else and they want to follow the leader. And in moments like this, when there's a crisis, a political crisis, it's every man for himself. And that is a very disconcerting and difficult situation for politicians who are used to having someone to follow and some clear path to the correct answer.

And so I think when they're all together and, you know, we also saw the temperature change over the course of this week, right immediately after the debate, it was, well, surely they have a plan to do something about this. And we're all going to watch and see what that is.

And in the days after the debate when nothing changed and the campaign just tried to sort of hunker down and stay the course, that was when people became both alarmed and a little bit angry that there was not a recognition within the campaign and the White House of how serious this was.


And there -- and they weren't mounting basically a full court press to try to, to turn things around.

So I think all of this has been percolating while they've been out of Washington. And again, I think it's going to be very intense once they're all together.

BROWN: Yeah. And Hakeem Jeffries, for his part, is meeting with House Democrats today. There's reporting that Senator Warner is trying to mobilize a group in the Senate to ask Biden to step down.

Do you think that Democrats will find a consensus on their message, or are we going to kind of see this sort of splinter?

THOMPSON: I think you're going to see splintering, and it's going to be sort of chaos. I think we're in a sort of period of rolling chaos, both within the White House, within the campaign and within every Democratic campaign who are trying to figure out the political implications.

Now two things have been really striking about what we've seen so far. One is you just played in that clip right there. They're saying if they're now acknowledging it's more than a bad night, well, then why weren't you saying anything before? If there's questions about Biden's mental fitness, why didn't you mention them before 50 million people saw it on the stage.

The other thing that I found really striking is that they are every single statement. Really the first half of it is all. Joe Biden is an amazing president. We revere him. He has done such a great job.

And that to me is they're trying to coax him into it, right? I mean, appeal to his ego. Yeah they are tiptoeing around Joe Biden's ego and all of their statements and I don't know if that's the most effective, but it's just a striking thing that's similar.

BROWN: Yeah, and they all talk about his record. He's done so much. But this isn't about his record, right. It's about can he beat Trump and the next four years and you know, to add to this picture of what members of Congress are facing is, of course, their constituents, right? They've been at home. Most of them, you know, during this holiday, many of their constituents did cast their ballot for Biden to be their nominee.

Here's what Congresswoman Debbie Dingell told me today.


REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): I got screamed at and reminded of how many millions of people had voted to nominate Joe Biden. That small group of people could not take away from the will of the people. This is a very complicated issue.


BROWN: What do you say to that?

KANNON-YOUNGS: It is complicated in a way, and I do think that you are going I mean, we talked about whether you're going to see a consistent message from Democrats. I agree, I just don't think that that's going to happen here because you do have the factor of yes, I mean, Joe Biden does have three more than 3,900 delegates. You are getting closer to the convention as well.

We've talked a lot about the Democrats that have come out and expressed concern or called for him to step aside, but also you put that next to also the governor's meeting that was at the White House and governors coming out and pledging their support for the president.

But you made an important point just now as well. They the playbook, when faced with questions over Joe Biden's age and his ability to carry out the next four years, has essentially been two things. It's been pointing to Donald Trump as the alternative, even though many of the people that are concerned here are also concerned about Donald Trump and the ability of him to beat him.

And the other thing in that playbook has been pointing to the past three and a half years of legislative accomplishments, but the issue here is pointing to the past three years doesn't provide reassurance for the next four years for voters. And that's the real concern here at this point.

BROWN: Yeah, it's interesting because just going back to constituents and voters, as we try to take a pulse on where voters are, you have the polls, but then you have the reporting, right, from our reporters out in the field. You had Evan McCain at this event with Kamala Harris yesterday who was saying, she was talking to Black females, who, of course, the Biden campaign views as the backbone, right, for Biden to win another election.

And they were all saying he should stay in, he should fight. I interviewed, Earl Ingram, the radio host who interviewed President Biden after the debate. And he also said he was like, it's 70, 30, 70 percent of my callers are calling in very fiery and saying Biden needs to stay the course. He needs to stay in office -- you know, not just stay in office, but obviously stay at the top of the ticket.

I wonder what you say to that, Dave, because we were talking earlier during the break about how President Biden has been vindicated in the past, right. And he might view this moment as, hey, I'm going to be vindicated again, as he kind of hinted at in that interview with ABC.


WEIGEL: Yeah, I found a complicated move with voters, too. I found when I was in Wisconsin after the debate, the mood reminded me a little bit of November 2016, after the election. That amount of shell shock with the recovery of what's going to happen -- what's going to happen next, different situation because people are thinking, how can we prevent a November 2016?

But no, I found real dread among Democrats and real among Democratic voters. They had a permission structure, which was the press. Everything from late night to the newspapers they trust to their local Democratic politicians saying he'd be okay and he wasn't.

So they're all wrestling with that in different -- in different ways. And there's not a unified message certainly from voters.

You saw in Wisconsin even one of the groups, one of the groups urging Biden to leave the ticket holding a sign saying "Pass the torch". That is starting to percolate. There's nothing really that leading Democrats can do to stop that.

BROWN: And my next guest says President Biden is dangerously out of touch. David Axelrod is here, up next.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Seems to me, I have a choice. I have to choose between running for president and doing my job. Keep the Supreme Court from moving in a direction that I believe to be truly harmful.


BROWN: So that was then-Senator Joe Biden dropping out of his first bid for the White House nearly four decades ago. And now Biden finds himself in a new moment that could define his legacy.

And joining us now to discuss the latest developments this weekend is CNN senior political commentator and former senior adviser to President Obama David Axelrod.

David, nice to see you.

So right after President Biden's interview aired Friday, you posted on X that he is dangerously out of touch. Why do you say that?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: well, because listening to the interview, he seemed to deny where he is in the race. He and he seems not to grasp what is the big concern that people have.

You know, let me just say about the president, Pam, that his whole life, he has overcome tremendous loss and tremendous odds. I mean, you know, his personal loss is well known extraordinary, and horrible. And he fought his way back from that. He's fought his way back from political defeats and against the odds.

And so his psyche is that he can beat anybody and any long odds. What he can't beat is Father Time and that's really the concern here. It's not about his record. Every time he's asked about whether you can do the job until he's

closer to 90 than 80. He says, well, look at what I did the last four years. That's just not the way it works. He can -- Donald Trump is almost unprecedentedly presidentially a flawed candidate in so many ways and represents, I do believe, as the president says, a real danger to democracy.

But the one person that no one can outrun is Father Time. You know, Tom -- tom brady won a Super Bowl three years ago and he's out of football ok. Why? It doesn't detract from his greatness or what he's done. It's just there are certain immutable facts of life and those were painfully obvious on that debate stage.

And the president just doesn't seem to come to -- he hasn't come to grips with it. He's not winning this race. He's more likely if you just look at the data and talk to people around the country, political people around the country, it's more likely that he'll lose by a landslide than win narrowly this race.

And if the stakes are as large as he says, and I believe they are then he really needs to consider what the right thing to do here is.

BROWN: (INAUDIBLE) because you mentioned, you know, the fact that there's nothing you can do about age. It only goes in one direction, right? And what this comes down to is public perception as well. And a lot of people bring up well, Trump is only a few years behind Biden.

But when you look at the public perception in the polls 42 percent of those polled said that Trump would be too old for office; 74 percent -- 74 percent said that about Biden.

And you have to wonder, we played that clip of when Joe Biden, when he was, you know, then senator, dropped out of the presidential race in 1987 I was speaking to Evan Osnos that Biden biographer recently, he said, you know, he was pushed out of politics then. He's not going to be pushed out of politics again. That is one of the driving factors here of why he's digging in his heels.

Is that how you see it as well? What else do you think is at play here with as you -- with what you think is sort of a state of denial.

AXELROD: He should not view it as being pushed out of politics. Look Pam, I really have a very high regard for Joe Biden. I served with him in the White House. I thought he was a great vice president.

I was glad every day that he was there. He was an important voice in the Obama administration. I think he's done some historically important things. And history will be much kinder to him, than voters are being right now.

But the question is, what will his reputation be like? What will his legacy be if he persists in this race and loses and loses badly, which is really possible at this point.

You know, we elect presidents by the electoral college. I know there's some polls that speak otherwise. [08:39:46]

AXELROD: I've looked at a ton of data and no one in those states who are -- who is knowledgeable would say he's ahead in any of the battleground states.

But now you we have states like Virginia, Minnesota, Maine. The governors of New Mexico and Maine reportedly told him in that meeting last week that they're not sure he can carry their states, which were presumed to be in his column.

So he could lose and take the House and the Senate with him. That's not the legacy that he wants. He has a great, great record and a great history.

So I think if that's what he's thinking, he's looking at this the wrong way. The only thing that's pushing him out of politics is the immutable march of time.

BROWN: So he was asked by George Stephanopoulos about this prospect of what if you lose to Trump. And here's what he said. Let's listen.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: And if you stay in and Trump is elected and everything, you're warning about comes to pass, how will you feel in January.

BIDEN: I'll feel as long as I gave it my all and I did a good job as I know I can do. That's what this is about.


BROWN: In this moment we're in right now, do you think Biden is putting country above self.

AXELROD: Yes, well this is not what this moment is about. This moment is about what exactly what he described -- has described. You know, Donald Trump doesn't believe in rules or laws or norms or institutions. He's already shown that he's willing to -- he's willing to flout even the most sacred laws, most sacred norms of our democracy by trying to overturn a free and fair election.

And, you know, there's more at stake than whether or not Joe Biden feels at the end of the day that he gave it his all. If his all is not enough, maybe someone else can give more because they have more energy and they have a longer runway in the future.

BROWN: All right. David Axelrod, thanks for sharing some of your time with us on this Sunday morning. Great to see you.

AXELROD: Great to see you Pam. Thank you.

BROWN: So who will it be? The Republican National Convention is just eight days away and Donald Trump's pick for VP could come even sooner. More on the coming announcement, next. [08:42:08]


BROWN: While the political conversation this past week centered largely on President Biden's troubles, the former president got good news for him, too.

Believe it or not it was less than a week ago when the Supreme Court ruled largely in his favor on his claims of presidential immunity, resulting in further delay to his trial on federal election subversion charges, the postponement of his sentencing after his hush money trial, and now pausing some deadlines in his classified documents case.

And that comes just ahead of the Republican National convention in just 8 days, and with Trump expected to announce his choice for running mate any day now.

We are back with our panel.

So Molly, announcing a running mate, it normally gives a candidate a big boost. Do you have any insight on whether the recent developments with President Biden had changed Trump's calculus on that front.

BALL: Yes, absolutely. I think there was some chatter that he might want to pop this earlier, particularly if Trump had a bad debate, right?

There were people in the Republican orbit saying maybe this is something that we want to make an early announcement and shift the narrative on our favor turn people's attention for the convention.

All of that went completely out the window after the debate. And you know, it is political campaigning 101 to stay out of the way when your opponent is self-destructing.

Normally, Trump does not follow political advice in that way. But they have done a pretty commendable job of just really staying out of the way, staying out of the spotlight while the news cycle has just been consumed with Biden and with the crisis in the Democratic Party.

So they are staying as far from this as possible and sticking to what they have said was their original plan, which was to announce the vice-presidential pick either out or very close to the Republican convention in a week's time.

BROWN: All right. So who do we think he's going to pick? Any insight?

Trump has a rally in Florida on Tuesday. He's going to Pennsylvania Saturday.

THOMPSON: Well, I think they political calculus are shifted with the debate because now they're not quite sure who they're going to be running against.

BROWN: That's interesting, yes.

KANNO-YOUNGS: My colleague, my vendor also has written about this. I mean, you have someone like Doug Burnum who obviously could come in and has experience governing. But also, you know, you have to think about who could go up and be effective potentially in a debate against Vice President Kamala Harris as well.

Could that be somebody like Marco Rubio? I mean -- there's somebody like Cy Vance as well. There's a lot of questions and factors to consider here as we move forward.

And man, I mean, if there's a potential debate, vice presidential debate, I mean, that that also kind of has shades to 2012 right now, when you talk about the urgency for the Biden campaign and really a first debate not going in favor of your incumbent.

And suddenly an increased sense of urgency for the vice president.

BROWN: Go ahead.

WEIGEL: And if it is Vice President Harris, if this is the same ticket, then they have an opening to talk about whether Joe Biden trusts her to take over the country.

As after him a masterclass (INAUDIBLE) they got right now of questions about whether Harris is ready and whether Democrats think she is.

And if it's a new candidate, yes, it is an uncharted territory. The president has been very -- the former president is very impressed by JD Vance's ability on TV. You heard more the guys were good on TV in the last few days. Vance and Rubio and Burgum --


WEIGEL: -- all of them, but they'd be either debating a weakened Kamala Harris or somebody they'd never debated before or thought about before.


BROWN: All right. Thank you all so much.

Coming up, it's been more than half a century since a sitting president decided to not run for reelection. How that surprise announcement was made. Up next.


BROWN: Now, if President Biden did decide to step aside rather than seek reelection, he wouldn't be the first president to do so.


BROWN: Most recently in 1968, Lyndon B. Johnson shocked the nation when at the end of an Oval Office address he made a surprise announcement that he would not seek another term. Johnson was facing divisions within the Democratic Party and concerns

over his health.


LYNDON B. JOHNSON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With America's future under challenge right here at home with our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office, the presidency of your country.

Accordingly, I shall not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president.


BROWN: A remarkable moment in American history.

Well that's it for INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. You can follow me on X @PamelaBrownCNN, and the show @INSIDE POLITICS, also on Instagram, you can find me on that same handle.

And if you ever miss an episode you can catch up wherever you get your podcasts, just search for INSIDE POLITICS.

Up next "STATE OF THE UNION" with jake tapper and dana bash. Dana's guests include Senators Marco Rubio and Chris Murphy.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. We're going to see you next time.