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Inside Politics

Biden Says No More Debate: "I Am Not Going Anywhere"; Jeffries Has Not Publicly Weighed In On Biden Staying In Race; Biden Dares Democratic Critics: "Challenge Me At The Convention"; Biden On Trump: "He Is A Pathological Liar"; Black Caucus Chair: "Million Of Voters" Chose Biden; Biden On Trump: "This Guy Is Going To Destroy Democracy"; Biden Woes Complicate Trump Convention Planning, VP Rollout; Trump VP Search Focuses On Rubio, Burgum and Vance. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired July 08, 2024 - 12:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Today on Inside Politics, I am not going anywhere. That's what Joe Biden is saying loud, clear and over and over again. As the president starts the week coming off his back heels and going on offense with a live interview and a defiant letter to House Democrats.

Plus, the Biden campaign crisis is forcing team Trump to rethink their VP rollout plans. And perhaps, even who will be the running mate? That new reporting will be coming up. And potential political paralysis. This time in France, after voters rejected a far-right majority in favor of the left. We'll tell you what the stunning upset means for a key U.S. ally.

I'm Dana Bash. Let's go behind the headlines at Inside Politics.

First up, the president of the United States has had enough. Joe Biden is engaged in a multi-pronged effort to shut down growing pressure for him to quit his race for reelection. Already this morning, he sent a long letter to House Democrats effectively saying, get on board or get out of the way. And he called into MSNBC and dared Democrats who don't want him to run against him at the convention.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (voiceover): We're not going anywhere. I am not going anywhere. I wouldn't be running if I didn't absolutely believe that I am the best candidate to beat Donal Trump in 2024. We had a democratic nominating process for the voters spoke clearly. I won 14 million votes et cetera. So, I just want -- I'm not only believe that from the beginning, but I wanted to reassert and demonstrate that is true. And I'm going to be doing that all through this weekend from here on.


BASH: That interview was not announced, it wasn't promoted. The kind of spontaneous move many of his doubters are demanding. CNN's Kayla Tausche is live for us at the White House. Now, Kayla, in addition to what we just described already happening this morning. We understand that the president is calling into a high-level donor call.

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Dana. The members of the National Finance Committee just received an email a few moments ago notifying them that President Biden would be joining that call hosted by campaign co-chair Jen O'Malley Dillon.

Now it's a call that's happened with some regularity in recent weeks. But President Biden's attendance is new. And it's just part of the full court press that he has been undertaking as he tries to put some of these growing concerns about his viability to rest that have emerged across the party.

Earlier today, in that interview that you cited, he said he didn't care what the donor class thought that he cared more about what the average voter thought. And that he wasn't in the race for millionaires and billionaires, but continuing to finance a race that is expected to bring in some $3 billion by the end of it, requires quite a bit of cash, especially going up against the recent fundraising momentum of his predecessor, former President Donald Trump.

President Biden came out swinging in that interview. He said he also believed the polls were wrong, that the pundit class was wrong, and that the party elite were wrong, likely a veiled reference to a range of op ed pieces that came out over the weekend, following his interview with ABC News that was meant to quiet critics.

And while it was certainly a better performance than the debate, many Democrats over the weekend said, that it didn't do just that, including one op ed by David Axelrod on CNN saying that he didn't believe the president was taking the race seriously enough. He tried to put those to rest. But saying in that letter to House Democrats to try to tamp down on the intra party frustration that is rampant right now, Dana. He said, we have one job to do, and that is to defeat Donald Trump.

BASH: Kayla, thank you so much for that reporting. And joining me here at the table to discuss all of this, our all-star group of CNN reporters, Phil Mattingly, MJ Lee, Manu Raju and Eva McKend. How did I get so lucky to have all of you here.



MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that was a cool enough to not wear ties and wear gym suit.

BASH: You can pull it off.


BASH: OK, not that you could. OK. Let's get serious here. You, Manu, I know you were just on the Hill, you just came there. And so, the big question right now is, are the president's efforts which have been stepped up like he went from maybe 10 miles an hour to 100 miles an hour this morning in the last three hours. How much is that going to work with the Democrats? You talk to --

RAJU: I mean, it's a great question. And everything is going to keen on what the Democratic leaders ultimately decide to say. Hakeem Jeffries has said very little, a Democratic leader has not move even in the private discussions, has not really tipped his hand one way or the other. He will be asked by reporters tomorrow. They're having a closed-door meeting.

I'm told that they're not allowed to bring cell phones into this closed-door meeting. So, they want to have a real intense discussion. So that's going to be a key sign tomorrow morning when they meet. Tomorrow afternoon, Senate Democrats will meet. Chuck Schumer, similarly, has said very little as well. How does he view things? Does he come out against the president?

I got to say, though, just knowing the way the Democrats tend to fall in line, the Democratic leaders, it would be hard to see them, breaking ranks in the aftermath of Biden's aggressive effort to shore up support within his party. If they do perhaps, is because Biden slips again, has another huge mistake, causes more concern, maybe that will change the dynamic, but it's easy to see them deciding, you know, there's no other choice here. He's staying in the race. So, let's all fall.

BASH: And that's really key because we have all -- I am sure talk to lawmakers who privately are saying, it's time for him to go. But have -- at least in my case, some of the lawmakers I've talked to have said explicitly, I don't want to say so publicly for a number of reasons.

One of the reasons was yet, was a yet at that point. One of the reasons was, I want to have the chance to talk to the entire caucus when they meet tomorrow morning. And so, will those lawmakers back down? I tend to think that Manu is right that perhaps in the short term, what the president has done, will work in the short term.

MATTINGLY: The fact that the letter to congressional Democrats was sent this morning. The fact that the impromptu call into Morning Joe, which some Democrats watch. What happening today was not an accident. They know this is a critical week. They know Democrats are going to be talking amongst themselves and they know everything hinges on where they land, as Manu laid out.

One thing that's very clear, though time is the friend of the Biden campaign right now. The longer this hangs out there, the easier it becomes to say, look, as the president said in his letter, we've aired this for more than a week. It is time now to focus on actually winning the election. The longer this hangs out, the more problematic it is for our party.

So, each day that passes that lawmakers stay on background, don't go on the record, don't raise their actual concerns is a day closer to Joe Biden being able to put this behind him at least intraparty. But one thing I would say over the weekend, Eva's feeds from New Orleans were the most important thing that happened -- throughout the course of the weekend. And that's what I keyed on all weekend and said, all right, they have a pathway here to turn this around.

BASH: Yeah. Hold that thought because I want to get to that. First, I do want to play a little bit more of what the president said this morning on MSNBC to Morning Joe. And it was really striking the way he prosecuted the case against Donald Trump the way that people expected him to do at the debate, but he didn't. Listen?


BIDEN (voiceover): He's a pathological liar. He lied about Roe. He refused to accept the outcome of the election. He refused to condemn January 6. And he says, he claim -- he spoke with Putin before he invaded. What the hell are we doing? Where the hell has Trump been? What has Trump said or done except deny and lie about what he's for. This guy is going to rip away at a woman's right to choose in a permanent way. This guy is going to make sure that the exact revenge. This guy is going to destroy democracy. This guy is going to give a blank check to the Supreme Court.


BASH: So, MJ, listening to that. My question for you is based on your excellent reporting. I mean, over the past week and a half in particular, but this story that you have out now about what's going on inside the White House -- inside a despondent White House, aides gripped by unease as Biden's political future remains uncertain. How much is that helping with them?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, you put the politics aside, and does he have a viable electoral path? Is he going to stay in the race, which we've been talking about nonstop for 10 days? I mean, there are people inside the White House who were genuinely just like shocked by what they saw on the debate stage.


They say that they hadn't seen that side of him and particularly for 90 plus minutes. And you know, there have been meetings inside the White House with senior officials. Getting their troops together and saying, look, like hang in there, we know that this was a tough moment for you all to witness. I think that gets to obviously the gravity of the situation.

I will say, you know, this morning when I looked down at my phone and saw that the president had called into Morning Joe, I was genuinely surprised to see that. And I think that gets to how rare it is for this White House and for this president to do something that themes that last minute, that spontaneous, that unexpected.

And I think that is what has some of his biggest defenders really just wanting to hit their heads against the wall. Like why haven't we been seeing this Joe Biden from day one? Because really, keep in mind as we're particularly as we're talking about, what will then leadership do? We haven't seen the president actually go out and make these kinds of moves himself until days after the debate.

We were all sort of waiting to hear directly from President Biden. He didn't even start making phone calls to Democratic leaders until a couple of days in, and that I think, has been so puzzling and so frustrated.

BASH: Which is added to the drip, drip, drip, no question about it. Phil mentioned your great reporting from New Orleans over the weekend, Essence Fest was happening there. And that speaks to another really striking dynamic here that we've all picked up in our reporting. And that is, yesterday, for example, on this private call that Hakeem Jeffries, that House Democratic leader had with the ranking members.

Maxine Waters, veteran House member from California, Bobby Scott, veteran House member from Virginia. They were untold among the most vocal and arguing that the president needs to stay in and that goes all the way through the Congressional Black Caucus and beyond. What did you hear?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, there's a different conversation happening across many communities in this country than happening in Washington. You know, I spoke with black voters at the Essence Fest. Hundreds of thousands of black voters from across the country at this festival. And they're saying Democrats need to stick with the game plan. They say, we love the vice president. We love the president.

And, you know, one poor debate does not negate all that he is doing for our community. And so, we see -- I think many members of the CBC, especially the older members. We know that there is a generational divide, coming out in support of him in such a forceful way because that mirrors what you hear from black voters just going to read you another quote that I heard over the weekend. It just seems like they aren't giving Biden a chance.

Keep the ticket the way it is. Her time will come about the vice president. Stick with the game plan. You had a plan, stick with the plan. The plan worked before it will work again. That is what these voters are saying.

BASH: It's so fascinating. And you heard the president and his phone call this morning reference that, not only African American voters, other voters of color, but union voters. So, it's the core people who he believes I mean, rightfully so, because these voters have his back that he has done a lot for them. Not just in the White House, but over his many years in the Senate.

MCKEND: And that's not to say that they don't have real concerns. When you spoke to some of these key coalitions a few months ago, they had economic anxieties, they passionately, especially the faith community disagree with President Biden's policy in Gaza. But now that they feel as though, the choice is between President Biden or potentially the erosion of our democracy under former President Donald Trump. In their view, they feel like the choice is clear. They even told me it was a no brainer. RAJU: And, you know, today, the Congressional Black Caucus Chairman, Steven Horsford, came out in support of Biden. That is a key signal. And what are the rest of the members of the CBC, they're the largest caucus within the larger House Democratic caucus.

If they start to call for Biden to stay in that closed-door meeting tomorrow, that could shift the tide internally, like the way Jim Clyburn doing in that closed-door meeting. People will be watching very closely, and that could change how the leadership approaches.

MCKEND: Congressman Horsford is also a frontline member. That's really important as well.

BASH: Right, which speaks to another dynamic that we have to talk about, which is, the concern isn't just about Joe Biden and who will be in the White House. The concern among the lawmakers that we have all talked to is they won't win back the House, and they're going to lose the Senate. So, what that means if Trump wins is across the board, Republican rule? That is where the panic button is being hit.

MATTINGLY: The stakes are enormous. And I think, you know, you guys would know as well, as I do based on conversations. What I have found to be the potential trigger for Democrats to actually start to talk publicly about their concerns to ask for -- perhaps have a meeting with the current president is, if the erosion in polling is so dramatic, 10, 15 points where they believe that there is no path.


And so, long as they don't see that -- explicitly not saying that there hasn't been an erosion but that there hasn't been such a dramatic erosion, and the time continues to pass. You give Biden the opportunity and his team the opportunity to find coalitions that support him, not just any coalition, that's the cornerstone. That's -- if you want to draw an analogue to 2020, that's South Carolina. That's what led him to the Democratic nomination and eventually the presidency.

You can't -- if you're a Democratic Party, you cannot try and fracture that at this point. That's why I keep saying, as each day goes by, and support starts to build, and no one comes out publicly with any real power behind them to challenge him. It looks better for the Biden team. And it also underscores the fact, they have a massive chip on their shoulder. You know, this better than anybody.

They have been through 2020. They went through 2022. The president was citing it today in his interview. They believe that everyone is wrong, and they are right, and that they have been proven out to be that -- that that is the case over and over and over again, you can quibble with that. But that's where they're at. It's certainly where the president is. Right now, I think you're seeing that play out in public.

LEE: OK. The two names I heard over and over and over again, all weekend, every single person I spoke to Chuck and Hakeem, everybody is looking this week to see what they say. I think it is, though important to make the distinction. This isn't about what Chuck Schumer and Hakeem Jeffries necessarily personally believe should happen with Joe Biden and his political future.

It is about how they channel all of the incoming that they have been getting, and that they will be getting this week. To put the message out there on this is what the party has decided is the right way to move forward.

BASH: Which is as we go to break, I just want to emphasize the way we started this, which is precisely why Joe Biden put his foot on the gas this morning, because everybody's coming back to town. Senators -- there's a leadership meeting tonight. There's a Democratic caucus meeting tomorrow --

MATTINGLY: Manu is going to be chasing around.

BASH: And Manu is going to be leading the pack, chasing them around, and he wanted to get the pressure on in a way they hadn't yet before they have those discussions really, really fascinating. They say, you should live in interesting times.

RAJU: Yeah.

BASH: Yeah. Coming up. I am going to talk with Congressman Jake Auchincloss about President Biden's new offensive. Is it enough to convince, wavering Democrats to stick with him? But first, will the turmoil at the top of the Democratic ticket impact the Republican convention new reporting on that, next.




BASH: This week was supposed to be huge for Donald Trump with the potential VP announcement just days before the Republican convention. But my colleagues, Kristen Holmes and Steve Contorno are reporting. That's all in flux now. As the former president's team calculates how to navigate the Biden campaign turmoil. My friends and colleagues are back here now.

Definitely not on my bingo card for, you know, Donald Trump could be kind of standing back and trying to figure out how to navigate the chaos on the Democratic side. But that does seem to be what's going on.

MATTINGLY: Which I think every political supporter appreciates on some level, and clearly --

BASH: His political support.

MATTINGLY: His political support.

BASH: Yeah. MATTINGLY: And I mean, I think that was the interesting thing, when James Comer, who was the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter, trying to -- I think interview the president's position or something like that. The number of Republicans that were sending me the link to that saying, like, please stop, just like don't do anything. We don't have to do anything to accelerate what is an intra- party work at this point in time.

And the former president seems to have taken that advice as well, minus a couple of truth, social postings over the course of the last week, like the reality is those -- that's about to change in a very dramatic way, whether they want it to or not, because his moment as once again being the Republican nominee is coming forth. His selection for who would be his vice president is coming forth. He is going to be centerstage, no matter what's happening in the Democratic Party.

BASH: So, I had one of the potential running mates on yesterday, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. And one of the things that has been really interesting to watch over the past few weeks even longer, was to see the way the potential pigs have effectively auditioned on television. And Marco Rubio, let's just pick an issue and that is abortion.

Marco Rubio when he ran for reelection, you remember this. In 2022, he endorsed a national abortion ban, this Senator Graham's legislation. And so, I asked him about the fact that right now, as we speak in Milwaukee, the Republican Party are working. They're working in their platform to change the platform, move it away from a national ban, and to a state ban, which is what Trump wants. Let's listen.


BASH: Do you support changing the official party platform to Trump's position that it should be a state issue?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): Well, I think our platform has to reflect our nominee and our nominees' position is actually happens to be one grounded in reality. The reality of it is the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade. And what that basically means is that now it's not states, it's voters at individual states who will get to decide how and to what level they want to restrict abortion, if at all, some states will have restrictions, some states will not.


BASH: Now when he ran in 2022, the Supreme Court had already overturned Roe, and he supported a national ban not anymore.

RAJU: It's interesting because I wonder how much Rubio's position on abortion will impact Trump's thinking about him on the ticket because Rubio is very anti-abortion. He has been further out there than a lot of people within his party. And Florida, of course, has a six-week abortion ban as well.

[12:25:00] So, that's going to be an interesting issue, but we'll see if this works to placate their base about saying, no national abortion ban. And doing this by the state level because there are a lot of folks, those activists who are within the party who do want the national abortion ban.

LEE: It's exactly as you said, though, I mean, these guys all know. They've seen the reporting. They're aware that they are on Donald Trump's shortlist to be picked as his running mate. Until that announcement gets made, I mean, every time we see them in public, doing an interview, saying anything in public.

Yeah. They're going to have to do some verbal gymnastics on certain issues, to make sure that they are not outright clashing with Donald Trump or disagreeing with him. And on issues like this or other issues, like you know, things Donald Trump has said about paying political retribution. It is going to be really challenging for them to strike that right balance.

BASH: Let's talk a little bit more about our colleagues reporting Kristen Holmes and Steve Contorno, talking about the top three choices. Rubio being one of them. And then J. D. Vance, apparently. We don't know what Donald Trump is going to do. But apparently, and J. D. Vance, Senator from Ohio, Doug Burgum, Governor of North Dakota.

Vance appears best positioned to campaign as an heir to Trump's MAGA movement, if that is the former president's preference. Rubio's proximity to donors and the governing class is viewed as stabilizing to Republicans in Washington, while Trump's continued fixation on Burgum suggests he may be more interested in casting for the role of running mate than in picking a successor.

MCKEND: Yeah. I think that this is a critical choice because this person also has to appeal to some of those Nikki Haley voters. You know, and depending on who he chooses, maybe some of those voters that I was speaking with on the campaign trail earlier this year that said that they were either not voting at all if Trump is the nominee or backing Biden, maybe a running mate that is more palatable might get them to change their mind.

But listen, whoever ultimately Trump selects, Democrats are eager for the conversation to steer back to the Republicans because they feel as though ultimately the policies that they run on aren't popular or too extreme. And no matter the running mate, they believe that they can convince Democrats that it is about supporting the Democratic team over the policies of Republican -- a future Republican administration.

BASH: OK. Everybody standby. You're coming back. You have some time backstage to trash talk each other about whatever it is --


BASH: Trash talk about, because coming up. As we said the president said, he's not going anywhere. So, the question is, what do Democrats who are not quite sure if he's up for another campaign, say to their constituents, say in public. Democratic Congressman Jake Auchincloss will be here at the table next.