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Congressional Hispanic Caucus Throws Weight Behind Biden; House Democrats Remain Divided On Biden After Meeting; WI Voters Weigh In On Biden's Campaign After Debate; First Look At San Diego Zoo's New Giant Pandas. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 09, 2024 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Last night, the chair and deputy chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus threw their full-throated support behind Joe Biden. Joining me now is the chair of that caucus, Democratic Congresswoman Nanette Barragan of California. Thank you so much for coming in. It's great to see you --

REP. NANETTE BARRAGAN (D-CA): Thank you for having me.

BASH: -- in person. So there have been six of your colleagues who have publicly called for the president to step aside. A lot more have said so in private, as I'm sure you know. Just generally speaking, can you describe this really crucial meeting that the entire Democratic caucus had this morning?

BARRAGAN: Well, it was a listening session. It was a listening session for leadership and for members to be able to hear each other out to have conversations, family conversations about how they feel. And I think it was a good opportunity to have that discussion.

And it's another testament to our leadership, that they're there to listen to the members, they're there to hear our thoughts. And at the end of the day, it's about making sure we're working and fighting to win back the House, to remind voters on House Democrats, putting people over politics, and it's House Democrats that have been able to govern, even in a time when you have us in the minority. And so, our ability to get into the majority and make sure we have a Speaker Jeffries is critical for us, and that's what we continue to do.

BASH: Well, is your ability to get into the majority threatened, even more, with Joe Biden on the ticket right now? I'll tell you, some of your colleagues have said that to me very clearly privately.

BARRAGAN: Yes, I think there's maybe differences of opinions is as you said, you've spoken to different people. I wouldn't support the president if I didn't think he can win. And I know our members in frontline seats are the best at what they do. It's going into their districts, working their districts. It's doing what the messaging is there. And so, I have -- we have to continue to support those frontline members, something that I have done both financially going out, you know, on the road and making sure we're getting at that message. Most of the time when you talk to voters, it's about what have you done, and you have to remind them.

I'll give you an example. In my district, I was talking to Latino voters about the debate, about the president.


And when you remind them, hey, look at what President Biden just did. He provided the protections for the spouses of U.S. citizens, right? Non-citizen, spouses of U.S. citizens to provide them protections, that was huge. For them, they were like, they were so grateful. What else has he done? The infrastructure, the jobs it's created, especially in the Latino community.

CHIPS and Science, there's going to be a really big effort I know to make sure that Latinos are included in STEM education and having the pipeline to those jobs. I know -- the unemployment rate, of course, is down. People may not be feeling it yet, but there's a lot of work to be done.

BASH: Are you concerned, given where you stand and what you're hearing from constituents, which you just articulated, are you concerned then that this family discussion, which is very public, will weaken the president in his fight to beat Donald Trump?

BARRAGAN: Well, my concern is having another Trump presidency. And so doing everything we can to remind people about not only what we've done, but where we're going and what our plan is, is really important. And when you remind voters about, you know, Project 2025 and the Trump plan to take over the government by Trump loyalists and what that means --

BASH: Yes.

BARRAGAN: -- especially to Latinos, the mass deportations can't be ignored.

BASH: But what you're saying, especially based on what you're saying, does this very, very public and raw, and one of your colleagues called it sad, disagreement and discussion about whether Joe Biden is the right person to beat Donald Trump, hurt Joe Biden in his quest to beat Donald Trump.

BARRAGAN: I think our family conversations need to remain that, family private conversations. Just like you and I would do that in our families and our households. I don't think it helps to have to air out any, you know, disagreements, but there clearly are, as we have seen and heard.

BASH: I want to play something from Dr. Jonathan Reiner, who was Dick Cheney's physician. He is a very well regarded physician. And I want you to listen to what he said on CNN earlier today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: The major issue, though, is has there been any effort to understand whether the president does indeed have any evidence of cognitive decline? And you only discern that if you test for it. And I'm still -- I still would like to understand why the White House won't test for cognitive issues. As I said in a piece I wrote yesterday, you only find what you look for.


BASH: Would it be helpful to assuage concerns about what people saw on debate night to take such a test as the doctor is suggesting?

BARRAGAN: Dana, I'm not a doctor. To ask me that question, I don't think it's a fair question because I'm not a doctor. And I can tell you I read the letter that was put out by the President's physician and that his checkups have included consultations with a neurologist, and I'm perfectly OK with that.

I have spent time with the President. I have seen the President. I have had conversations with the President where, you know, I express something and he responds back. I saw the interview that he did. He clearly understands, you know, what is happening. He clearly understands and is able to articulate.

So I'm really -- I'm saddened by the fact that we dissect every single word, every single thing that President Biden is saying. Yet we have a liar who's a convicted felon who people say, oh, did OK on the debate stage, even though he lied and lied and lied, went totally unchecked, and judge him on his performance, even though it was full of lies.

And you know what my constituents have said? President Biden has ideas. He has solutions. He has policy ideas. The other guy just lied the entire time.

BASH: Yes.

BARRAGAN: And so besides the threat that is posed by another Trump presidency, it's the fact that we have a president and administration that has gotten, as you know, the most historic investments, whether it's climate change, whether it's healthcare and making sure we're expanding access to veterans and so much more.

BASH: Yes. Well, it was -- he was debating Joe Biden, who was -- it was his provocative to -- prerogative, I should say, to check those facts. And that didn't happen, but he's done it since. He certainly went on Morning Joe to try to do it again. So that's why he has people like you to continue to do it.

Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

BARRAGAN: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: Up next, how voters in the key swing state of Wisconsin are feeling post-debate and before the Republican convention kicks off next week in Milwaukee.



BASH: The political world is about to descend on the land of cheese curds. Republicans kick off their national convention on Monday in Milwaukee, but it's the small swing districts in that crucial state of Wisconsin that could determine who will win in November.

CNN's John King visited one of those communities to see how voters are feeling after the debate. It's part of John's All Over the Map series.


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cedarburg, Wisconsin. The 4th of July. The city's legendary parade runs two hours as Middle America as it gets. Locals call Cedarburg a living hallmark movie. Picturesque. Polite.

Gina Cilento was parade grand marshal this year.


KING (voice-over): And carries the keep it civil theme over to her growing pickleball studio.

CILENTO: It just really is a place for people to forget what's going on in the real world. And they can focus on just having fun and getting along.

KING: Do you think they need a place to forget what's going on in the real world?

CILENTO: They do.

KING: Why?

CILENTO: They do. Because it's extremely -- you know, people have these anger issues. It's so polarizing what's going on.


KING (voice-over): Yes, signs of polarization even here. But anxiety among Democrats is what jumps out now.

TROY REISSMANN, WISCONSIN VOTER: I think it's last week hurt so much that he's really got to think of the party and the country before he thinks of himself.

KING (voice-over): Lisa and Troy Reissmann own a moonshine business, are Biden voters, and are still stunned by his debate disaster.

LISA REISSMANN, WISCONSIN VOTER: Quite frankly, I didn't even finish watching. I was really having a hard time watching it. T. REISSMANN: Yes, it was definitely scary. The first people that I called were my parents, who are really old, and yes, I said, what did you guys think about that? Because, obviously, I still know where I'm going to vote, where my vote's going to lie, but they don't, and they were equally as scared.

KING (voice-over): Tiny Cedarburg, population 12,000, is a new battleground community within one of America's most competitive battleground states. Not long ago, it voted lopsided Republican, but Donald Trump struggles in America's changing suburbs.

He won Cedarburg in 2016, but with just 55 percent. Joe Biden won in 2020, just barely, by 19 votes. Biden's voters say a repeat win here suddenly feels less likely.

L. REISSMANN: We just need fresh leadership, new leadership, and somebody who's a little bit more -- I like Joe Biden as a person, you know, I think he stands for good things, but I'm just not sure he's there anymore to lead the country.

T. REISSMANN: Think of the future. Think of our kids and grandkids. And maybe you should step aside only because there's a -- this future doesn't look too bright with the other side taking over.

KING (voice-over): Allen Naparalla is a fiscal conservative and social liberal.


KING (voice-over): Like many here, disgusted with the choices.

NAPARALLA: There's something wrong. You know, are we going to keep going for the better of two evils? I mean, it's -- something's going to change. We need a logical party. We need an independent party that makes sense.

KING (voice-over): Naparalla leans Biden because he can't vote for Trump.

NAPARALLA: It's embarrassing how he speaks to people, how he treats people, how he responds to other countries.

KING: What was going through your mind watching the debate?

NAPARALLA: Watching Biden try to get through his words was just bad. Just bad. Now, yes, everybody has a bad day. I get it. I get it. But the thing is, is this was a time that -- was your time to shine.

KING: Did he look to you like someone who could serve for president for four and a half more years?

NAPARALLA: I don't -- I think that what's -- let me put it this way, I'm voting for the party right now.

KING: Do you think Vice President Harris is qualified to be president?

NAPARALLA: No. I don't think so.

KING: But you might vote for Joe Biden.


KING (voice-over): Before the debate, Naparalla thought Biden could eke out another Wisconsin win. Now, big doubts. Yet he worries switching candidates might backfire.

NAPARALLA: Who's going to do it? And it's so late in the election process that, you know, Trump will be a shoe in anyway.

KING (voice-over): Naparalla moved here to care for his aging mother. His wines are made in California and sold in small town Cedarburg with a flashy slogan that draws fewer complaints now and when he first opened shop five years ago.

NAPARALLA: I've seen the demographic change a little bit. So now you're kind of getting on a, you know, an even keel between conservative and liberal.

KING (voice-over): Gina Cilento calls herself an independent libertarian. A good teacher. Very competitive. A past Trump voter, very unhappy with the present.

CILENTO: This is the best our country can do. There's certain things I feel just overall sadness for. And to me, the biggest issue is that, a house divided cannot stand. That's just -- there's truth to that. And I'm seeing our country erode instead of thrive.

KING (voice-over): Cilento can't see herself voting Biden, but won't commit to voting Trump. Proof there, Biden's setbacks aren't automatically points for Trump. But in politics like pickleball, it helps to set the pace.

Nothing interrupts treasured tradition here. But as the election year calendar turns another page, the mood change in this battleground is stunning.


BASH: John's back from Wisconsin here with me now. We can talk about pickleball in a second. But what is really striking in watching that and also reading the piece that you wrote is you can -- the sort of sadness and frustration is palpable --

KING (on-camera): Right.

BASH: -- from people, not just in their lives, but in their politics and who their choices are.

KING (on-camera): Right. There is disgust, disdain, dismay for both of these choices across the country, everywhere we've gone. We've been in 10 states now, 11 states now, and you find it everywhere. However, in this case, you know this from covering elections, enthusiasm matters at the end, and Democrats are demoralized right now. The debate took all the air out of the balloon. Yes, those Democrats, even the Democrats saying, Mr. President, please step aside, they say they would vote for him in the end. So Team Biden says, well, we're not losing their votes. But these are people in the hospitality industry. They talk every day to their suppliers, their customers, their employees.


A lot of independents there, a lot of soft republicans, Haley voters, who might be available to Biden, who might have voted Biden in 2020, after voting for Trump in 2016. They say the conversation pre-debate and post-debate is black and white. Pre-debate, they thought Biden could win again. Post-debate, they are beyond nervous.

BASH: So can you just put this all in the context of everything that you've seen in your few decades covering campaigns, the moment that we are in right now?

KING (on-camera): Well, I've never seen this close to a convention, a party thinking do we have to go to our president and ask him to get out of the race. And the president's digging in and the clock is ticking and Democrats, voters too, voters too.

This is what's stunning. Voters are way ahead of -- you heard Allen Naparalla, well can they do it this late? What's the process? At this picnic after the parade, people approaching me, asking me what the process is. Can we still get Biden out of the race? Can this work that way?

This is just a fascinating -- look, every day that passes, the President wins, if you will, in the sense that people understand how messy it is to replace him. However, you just had the chair of the Hispanic Caucus here. You know, there are people, Hakeem Jeffries, right?

Does he play to the loyal people who want to stand by Biden, or does he play to the people who would make him speaker more quickly, if they can keep the House?

BASH: Right now it's the former.

KING (on-camera): Yes. That's the -- but the fear among Democrats is, look, they're loyal to Biden. Biden's the guy who kicked Trump out of the White House. They love Joe Biden. But they think that he's going to lose. They think he's going to -- their chances of taking the House back are dwindling, and they're going to lose the Senate. I mean, that's the problem.

When you saw Patty Murray and others just saying --

BASH: Yes.

KING (on-camera): -- Mr. President, think about it, they're doing the math, and they don't like the math. BASH: Yes. And we don't -- we are talking to swing voters. We can't underestimate the true passion for Joe Biden and Donald Trump in their respective bases, in their key coalitions that can --

KING (on-camera): In the bases, but --

BASH: Yes.

KING (on-camera): -- you need people to work the phone banks, you need people to knock on the doors. Enthusiasm among Democrats is in a serious funk right now.

BASH: Thank you so much. Great piece as always.

And on this 20th anniversary of the movie "Anchorman", we have some breaking panda news out of the San Diego Zoo. We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go to Brian Fantana who's live on the scene with a Channel 4 News exclusive. Brian?

BRIAN FANTANA: "Panda Watch." The mood is tense. I have been on some serious, serious reports, but nothing quite like this.



BASH: We could all use a political palate cleanser right about now. Luckily, the San Diego Zoo is revealing the country's newest pandas. You are looking at the first giant pandas to enter the United States in more than two decades, according to the zoo. We're told the pair will spend several weeks acclimating to their new home after the long trip from China.

This news comes 20 years to the day after the movie "Anchorman" gave "Panda Watch" the recognition it deserves. It is a favorite movie here at Inside Politics, so of course you know we're going to end the show this way. Just like Ron Burgundy, stay classy, San Diego.

CNN News Central starts after the break.