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Quest Means Business
US Added 216,000 New Jobs In December; Biden White House Hails Job Report, Labor Market; US Pres Biden Speaking In Pennsylvania; Biden: Our Campaign Is About Strengthening Democracy; Biden: Nation Saw "A Lot Of Hate" On January 6; Biden: Trump's Campaign Is About Trump, Not America; Biden: Trump Glorifies A Failed Violent Insurrection. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired January 05, 2024 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: There's an hour to go before the end of trading on Wall Street. Look at the markets, the trickster between. They
are, I would say, just sitting on the sidelines waiting to see, down just 55, not even worth you and me spending another second talking about it.
The main event of the day, most certainly are, President Biden preparing to tell voters US democracy is at stake in this November's presidential
Donald Trump is holding rallies in Iowa, only days to go until the states' caucuses.
And the US economy shows no sign of slowing down, the jobs numbers beating expectations.
Live from New York, Friday, January the 5th. I'm Richard Quest. I mean business.
Good evening, within the hour, we are expecting President Biden to speak and launch his campaign for the 2024 presidential election. There, you see
it. It's in Pennsylvania, the location, the speech, the significance, because in a typical election year, it is the economy, pocketbook, cost of
living issues that shape the race. As memorably defined, "It's the economy, stupid," as the political strategist James Carville put it.
This year, President Biden is telling voters, it's democracy that's on the ballot in 2024. The president will speak in Pennsylvania, and an aide says
his speech will argue. This year's election is about the question of democracy and whether it can be preserved. It's meant to mark the
anniversary of the January the 6th riot in the capitol, an event Donald Trump is accused of provoking in order to stay in office.
In both this speech and his campaign ads, President Biden will laser in on the contrast between him and Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, US PRESIDENT: There's something dangerous happening in America. There's an extremist movement that does not share the basic beliefs in our
democracy. All of us are being asked right now, what will we do to maintain our democracy?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Jim Sciutto of CNN NEWSROOM is with us. It's the economy, stupid, we are familiar with, but this is -- I mean, obviously, the economy is going
to come up, but this is a wholesale gamble on something much bigger.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF US SECURITY ANALYST: No question. Existential point, you might say, existential for US democracy. And when you look at the
president, as he begins this campaign for 2024 .
SCIUTTO: . today, the imagery, the message, even the location are dripping with what he sees as crucial to this country right now. He's going to
Valley Forge. This is where George Washington and his army took refuge in 1776 and 1777.
At the worst part of the Revolutionary War, many hundreds died there and yet, they survived. They went on to win the war. Democracy lived.
SCIUTTO: He is choosing George Washington as the model because here was the American president, of course, the first president, who had two terms,
could've stayed for longer and said, no, I'm not. You know, the country can, in fact, live without me. That, of course, in contrast to Donald
And he's doing all of it, Richard Quest, in the state of Pennsylvania, which is a key battleground state in every election. And it's certain to be
in this election.
SCIUTTO: For Biden, so central to his message. It's a choice between him, keeping American democracy on its footing and Trump, who aims to tear it
QUEST: Right. Ah, but who is it aimed at this message? If you think the -- you know, the Trump fights are not going to be moved, the far-left liberals
are not going to be moved. I agree you got this bid in the middle, but will they be moved by such place?
SCIUTTO: It's a good question. We don't know. Of course, the middle is much smaller than it used to be. We're so divided here. Landslide elections,
they just don't happen anymore, right? I mean, perhaps you're debating over 5% of the voters.
In 2020, we know that Biden did win over many -- most independents, in fact, and some Republicans who'd had it with Donald Trump, he's aiming to
do the same again here with this message, but he also has to keep his own party together here. Some of whom are not particularly excited about Joe
Biden. It's shown in the approval numbers.
So he wants to convey to Democratic voters -- reliable Democratic voters that they need to come out because this is not just any election. It's a
SCIUTTO: . once again between keeping the system as we know it and watching that system. Again, this is the president's argument, watching that system
SCIUTTO: . suffer. And listen, it's not an argument without merit as it's being made a day before .
SCIUTTO: . the anniversary of January 6th because we saw the violence that day. And by the way, that violence, as you know, Richard, was proceeded by
weeks of Trump trying deliberately to overturn the election.
QUEST: Jim, stay with me. You're with me for the hour, like it or not. We've got Arlette Saenz who's in Pennsylvania, where the president is due
to speak. Set the scene for me, please.
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, President Biden should be arriving and speaking any moment now as advisors I've spoken to
have really viewed this speech as the chance for the president to lay out the foundational arguments of his campaign. The president will warn that
democracy is under threat, and that former president Donald Trump is the major reason why it is that case.
The president has chosen the anniversary of January 6th, that insurrection at the US Capitol, as the moment to relay this argument because he believes
that this is, one, something that still resonates with voters, but also wanting to ensure that the moments of that day are not forgotten.
The president is expected to speak in very stark terms about January 6th, including what he sees as the former president's role in that matter. The
president is delivering these remarks just a few miles away from Valley Forge, that revolutionary war site where George Washington commanded his
troops during a long winter. The president stopped by there to do a little tour before the speech.
And he is expected to really lean into the symbolism and the words of George Washington in the speech today as he is making this argument.
Washington had described the mission of his troops as a sacred cause. And that is something that President Biden will try to really make a central
focal point of the campaign.
He believes .
SAENZ: . that democracy is still a, quote, sacred cause of this country. So these are all arguments the president is expected to make very shortly now.
Of course, one of the .
SAENZ: . challenges for him is whether he can get this idea of democracy sinking into American psyche at a time when many other issues are also top
of mind for voters, including economic concerns.
QUEST: And just on a TikTok, is he running on time or how late?
SAENZ: It's kind of hard to tell. With Joe Biden, he typically is a little late to events. We'll see if he actually get started on time here today.
But he was slated to start around 3:15 Eastern Time .
SAENZ: . hopefully shortly.
QUEST: He's still on the right side of being on time. We'll watch there -- you're there to watch and help us understand. I'm grateful to you.
While we wait and listen to President Biden, Donald Trump is shoring up his own support in Iowa. The Midwestern state is the first primary test for
Republicans. If Donald Trump were to score a decisive win there, it could start to clear the field in a rematch.
Again, Kristen Holmes is in the Trump campaign territory in Iowa, with me now. Is there doubt about whether he takes Iowa?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Richard, nothing is certain. They have certainly tried to make sure that this happens. One of the things
that Donald Trump is expected to say today, and that we really heard him say every single trips he made to Iowa is do not get complacent. Turn out
to vote. Do not just believe the poll numbers.
He and his advisers are nervous. That margin is not going to be as big as you're seeing in the polls because people will just stay at home if they
think that he's already going to win. So they have been really hammering that home.
Now, the other part of this is that Donald Trump has remained agitated, even now, about what happened in 2016 when he was beaten by Ted Cruz. He
came in second, despite polls showing that Trump would win. So because of that, they have built out this robust ground game, and it is really
Part of what they have done is really trying to expand the electorate in Trump's favor. I cannot tell you how many people I talked to at these
events who are people who have admired Trump, supported Trump, but had never caucused before. They essentially went through his campaign, a year's
worth of data about Donald Trump, people who have maybe fundraised or had shown interest on social media, or attended an event, but never caucused,
and then courted them and are bringing them out to do so. So they are really trying not to take any chances.
They have had their surrogates, Marjorie Taylor Greene; Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota. I just saw online that Governor Mike Huckabee and
his daughter, now the Governor of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, will be here next week in Iowa. They're really trying to hit the ground running
here and not take any chances.
QUEST: You'll watch and you'll let us know what happens as that progresses. The speech from President Biden is due to begin any moment. While we wait,
I think it's a good moment for us to take a short break.
QUEST: It's a major speech from President Biden, in a sense, launch the campaign, but it's the first major speech near Valley Forge, in
Pennsylvania. We'll talk of that.
It's the economy, stupid. That was always the phrase. Well, today, there's some good news. The US economy added 216,000 jobs in December, well-
outperformed expectations, with the unemployment rate holding at 3.7%. The labor market has remained strong all last year. 2.7 million jobs were added
and though the possibility of a much wanted soft landing isn't settled yet.
The Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaking on CNN said the country is on track to pull it off.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANET YELLEN, US TREASURY SECRETARY: We have 23 months in a row, unemployment under 40%. Haven't seen that in 50 years.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, the soft landing, did it happen?
YELLEN: What we're seeing now, I think we can describe as a soft landing, and my hope is that it will continue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Matthew Luzzetti is the chief US economist at Deutsche Bank. I mean, she's right, in a sense, the Treasury secretary, we are in the soft
MATTHEW LUZZETTI, CHIEF US ECONOMIST, DEUTSCHE BANK: Yes, I think what we've seen so far with inflation coming down substantially over the past
year or so, especially over the past six months, and given everything that we've seen it from the labor market, coming into a better balance, but job
gains being very resilient, that's kind of exactly what you would want to be in order to get a soft landing.
I think the case remains out there about whether or not that persists. You know, we are expecting that you see a slowdown in the first half of this
year. But I think as looking back and given what we saw over 2023, it's about as good of an outcome for US labor market as we could've hope for.
QUEST: Okay. But the way inflation has come down, even on the Fed's preferred core measure, and you've got these job numbers, what is your
principal concern that it could all go a bit -- you know, a bit pear- shaped?
LUZZETTI: Yes. So I think you still have a tight economic condition. You have bank lending conditions that are very tight. The Fed has raised rates
very aggressively. That still has a way to work its way through the system.
There are some concerns underneath the hood of the US labor market. So as you noted, we had added over 200,000 jobs. The unemployment rate remain low
at 3.7%. We got big down revisions to prior months. We have very narrow job gains in the US economy. So it's basically being driven by health care,
leisure, hospitality, and the government workers.
Outside of that, the rest of the economy hasn't really added any jobs over the past seven months. So it's very narrow and that it doesn't necessarily
point to a lot of resilience at the moment.
The other point would suggest that labor force participation actually fell by 3/10 .
LUZZETTI: . today. That was a downside surprise and it's something that is a little troubling as you look ahead. It's not to take away from the data.
So far, I think we've seen fantastic outcomes for the US economy. And so far, we've gotten what you've seen that you'd want to hope for a soft
QUEST: Now, I recognize, obviously, you're an economist. We don't want to take you too deep into political waters.
But we're talking about this phrase, "It's the economy, stupid." But the reality is with the -- I mean, you've got have inflation which has hurt
people's cost of living and higher bills. But for most people, things are pretty good.
LUZZETTI: Yes. I think, certainly, when you look at (inaudible), you look at polling on the economy, there's a .
LUZZETTI: . kind of a downbeat nature out there. I think that does reflect the fact that even though inflation is coming off, the price level, how
much things cost, the cost of living does remain elevated.
I think it also reflects the things like housing affordability remain at several decades' lows. So those typical things that people are at the
forefront of their minds do remain quite constrained or pretty expensive still.
We have seen over the past several months some improvement in consumer sentiment .
LUZZETTI: . that I think that's coincided with gas prices coming off materially, oil prices coming off, and the stock market rebounding further
materially. So I think it does suggests that if you continue to get good outcomes, if inflation continues to come down, gas prices remain low, the
stock market continues to rally, that our expected consumers' sentiment follows with that.
QUEST: Yes, but that's a fascinating bit, isn't it? Because once there is a perception in people's minds that they are not that well-off or that
they're being badly hurt or whatever, even if the evidence is against them, that changing that perception is very difficult as economists have
discovered over many years of looking at sentiment versus reality.
LUZZETTI:Yes, I think the past few months do tell you that consumers and households are going to be quite responsive to the economic conditions if
you continue to see financial markets improve and rally, and wealth picks up, and gas prices come down. I'd be pretty confident that consumers'
sentiment does follow that.
You're right though, there has been this disconnect between the sentiment data and consumer spending. Consumer spending has remained resilient.
LUZZETTI: It's been a good driver of economic growth, even though consumer sentiment has remained pretty downbeat here. So there definitely is a
disconnect between the survey-based data, what we call the soft data and the hard data, which is the actual consumer spending.
QUEST: And if we now look out, I think, if I'm not mistaken you're thinking Q2 for the first cut to raise. Is that correct?
LUZZETTI: That is right. Our baseline is that the Fed first cuts rates in June .
LUZZETTI: . and they do so both because inflation is making a lot of progress on coming down to 2%, but also because the labor market weakens a
bit more than what the Fed anticipates.
I think that there's risks that can happen earlier. I don't think the jobs report today tells you that the Fed should be cutting any earlier, but I
think a lot of it will be about the incoming inflation data. Do we continue to see inflation come down pretty rapidly and aggressively?
If we do, then I think the Fed might be more willing to cut rates earlier in a way to preserve a soft landing, to ensure that they don't tighten
monetary policy too much as inflation comes off.
QUEST: Matthew, very grateful, and Happy New Year. And we're looking forward to speaking to you many times over the course of the year as we get
more data. Thank you, sir. Always grateful for your time. Thank you.
President Biden's choice of venue in Valley Forge is meant to underline the message -- the 2024 election is nothing short of a fight to save American
The remarks at Valley Forge, that's where George Washington gathered and trained his troops during the US revolution. What do you mean these
pictures? You mean, we haven't got video from 1776, whatever next.
Biden is expected to evoke history and cast his likely opponent Donald Trump as a threat to the country. The presidential historian, Alexis Coe,
is with me.
To these symbols, these venues, is there evidence it plays into anything other than just the mere moment?
ALEXIS COE, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I hope so. I hope that it's a moment in which Biden -- President Biden and his speech reflects on Washington's role
in that first winter at Valley Forge, in which he had a Congress who was skeptical of him, who is not giving him the resources that he needed, while
the enemy was a stone throw away, has taken over the capital of Pennsylvania, British.
And most of all, I hope that the country recognizes that, at the time, George Washington wasn't pulling well either. And it was his steadfast
commitment to democratic ideals that brought everyone to his side.
QUEST: Right. We are expecting the president any moment now. So as I ask my next question, do forgive me if I had to interrupt you if you're answering
and we see President Biden.
He -- so we had this symbolism, we have a very significant speech. But how far can -- I mean, when we have the economy, stupid, as being the central
theme of all presidential elections, can it -- how risky is it to try and divert from that with this democracy call?
COE: The economy is, of course, very important to America, but so is democracy. And Valley Forge is where the American experiment began. I would
argue that that training ground, that moment for Washington, that coming together with Congress was essential to our victory.
And now we face the greatest challenge to America -- to the American experiment that we have in 250 years. The confederates never got close to
storming the capital. This is a moment in which we need to look at Valley Forge as more than just a symbol, more than just a place on a map, a place
you take a field trip to in school. It is a chance to connect America with the past because if we don't, there may not be a future.
QUEST: But you see the problem with this connection to the past and the future is Valley Forge was against a foreign enemy, I mean, my lot, the
British, whereas here, arguably, there's a very large number of Americans who will say, no, actually, he -- you know, this threat is not a threat,
it's what we want. Is that a difficulty put in presidential terms?
COE: No, because we have threats, foreign and domestic. At the time, the British called our American revolution a rebellion. They refused to call it
a revolution and refused to follow the rules of war. So I don't think it's seen that way in 1776 or for the eight long years that the revolution went
I think right now, the threat to democracy is internal. And we should accept that threat because it's been so consistent.
QUEST: So, if you were advising the president what would you say from the historical context and the present-day issues? Put that together for me.
And no, I'm afraid .
COE: I'm .
QUEST: . I'm going to have to -- forgive me. You're not going to have a moment to do that because here is the President of the United States and
the First Lady. And that's in itself the way they've come in, an indication that's important of the speech.
JOE BIDEN, US PRESIDENT: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Thank you. Thank you, please. Thank you very, very much. Today, the topic of my speech today is deadly serious. And I think it needs to be made at
the outset of this campaign.
In the winter of 1777, it was harsh and cold as the continental army marched to Valley Forge. General George Washington knew he faced the most
daunting of task -- to fight and win a war against the most powerful empire in existence of the world at the time. His mission was clear -- liberty,
not conquest; freedom, not domination; national independence, not individual glory.
America made a vow, never again would we bow down to a king. Months ahead will be incredibly difficult, but General Washington knew something in his
bones, something about the spirit of the troops that he was leading, something about the soul of the nation he was struggling to be born.
And his general order, he predicted, and I quote, with one heart and one mind, with fortitude and with patience, it would overcome every difficulty
the troops he was leading. And they did, they did.
This army that lacked blankets and food, clothes and shoes, this army who's marched and left a bloody bear footprints in the snow, this ragtag army
made up of ordinary people, their mission -- George Washington declared -- was nothing less than a sacred cause. That was the phrase he used, "a
sacred cause," freedom, liberty, democracy, American democracy.
I just visited the grounds of Valley Forge. I've been there a number of times since time I was a boy scout years ago. You know, it's the very site
that I think every Americans should visit. It tells the story of the pain, and the suffering, and the true patriotism it took to make America.
Today, we gather in a new year, some 246 years later just one day before January 6, a day forever shared in our memory because it was on that day
that we nearly lost America -- lost it all. Today, we're here to answer the most important of questions, is democracy still America's sacred cause?
This is not rhetorical, academic, or hypothetical, whether democracy is still America sacred cause is the most urgent question of our time. And
that's what the 2024 election is all about.
Choice is clear, Donald Trump's campaign is about him, not America, not you. Donald Trump's campaign is obsessed with the past, not the future.
He's willing to sacrifice our democracy, put himself in power. Our campaign is different. For me and Kamala, our campaign is about America. It's about
you. It's about every age and background that occupy this country. It's about the future. We're going to continue to build together.
And our campaign is about preserving and strengthening our American democracy. Three years ago, tomorrow, we saw with our own eyes the violent
mob stormed the United States Capitol. It's almost in disbelief as we first turned on the television.
For the first time in our history, insurrectionists had come to stop a peaceful transfer of power in America -- first time -- smashing windows,
shattering doors, attacking the police. Outside, gallows were erected as the MAGA crowd chanted "Hang Mike Pence."
Inside, they hunted for Speaker Pelosi. The House was chanting because it marched through and smashed windows, "Where is Nancy?" Over 140 police
officers were injured. Jill and I attended the funeral of police officers who died as a result of the events that day.
Because Donald -- because of Donald Trump's lies, they died because these lies brought a mob to Washington. He promised it will be wild, and it was.
He told a crowd to fight like hell, and all hell was unleashed. He promised he would write them everything they did. He would be side by side with
And as usual, he left the dirty work to others. He retreated to the White House. As America was attacked from within, Donald Trump watched on TV in a
private small -- of the Oval Office.
The entire nation watched in horror. The whole world watched in disbelief, and Trump did nothing.
Members of the staff, members of the family, Republican leaders who were under attack for -- at that very moment, pled with him, act, call off the
mob. Imagine had he gone out and said, stop. And still, Trump did nothing.
It was among the worst derelictions of duty by a president in American history, an attempt to overturn a free and fair election by forcing
violence, a record 81 million people voted for my candidacy and to end his presidency.
Trump lost the popular vote by seven million.
Trump's claims about the 2020 election never could stand up in court. Trump lost 60 court cases. 60.
Trump lost two Republican controlled states. Trump lost before a Trump- appointed judge, and then, judges. And Trump lost before the United States Supreme Court. All, he lost.
Trump lost recount after recount after recount in state after state. But in desperation and weakness, Trump and his MAGA followers went after election
officials who ensured your power as a citizen would be heard.
These public servants has their lives forever upended by attacks and death threats for simply doing their jobs.
In Atlanta, Georgia, a brave black mother and her daughter, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, were doing their job as election workers. Until Donald
Trump and his MAGA followers targeted and threaten them, forcing them from their homes, unleashing racist vitriol on them.
Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani was just hit with $148 million judgment for cruelty and defamation that he inflicted against them.
Other state local elected officials across the country face similar personal attacks. In addition, Fox News agreed to pay a record eight --
$787 million for the lies they told about voter fraud.
Let's be clear about the 2020 election. Trump exhausted every legal avenue available to him to overturn the election, everyone.
But the legal path just took Trump back to the truth. That I had won the election and he was a loser.
Well -- so, knowing how his mind works, now he had one -- he had one neck left. One desperate act available to him. The violence of January the 6th.
And since that day, more than 1,200 people have been charged for their assault on the Capitol. Nearly 900 of them have been convicted or pled
guilty. Collectively to date, they have been sentenced to more than 840 years in prison.
What's Trump done? Instead of calling them criminals, he's called these insurrectionists, patriots. They're patriots. And he promised a pardon them
if he returns to office.
Trump said that there was a lot of love on January the 6th. Rest of the nation, including law enforcement saw a lot of hate and violence.
One Capitol police officer called it a medieval battle. That same officer called vile -- was called vile, racist names. He said he was more afraid in
the capitol of the United States of America, in the chambers than, when he was fighting as a soldier in the war in Iraq. He said he was more afraid
inside the halls of Congress than fighting in the war in Iraq.
In trying to rewrite the facts of January 6th, Trump was trying to steal history the same way he tried to steal the election. But he, we knew the
truth, because we saw it with our own eyes. So, it wasn't accepting a story being told it was on television repeatedly. We saw it with our own eyes.
Trump's mob wasn't a peaceful protest. It was a violent assault. They were insurrectionist, not patriots. They weren't there to uphold the
Constitution. They are there to destroy the Constitution.
Trump won't do what an American president must do. He refuses to denounce political violence.
So, hear me clearly. I'll say what Donald Trump won't. Political violence is never, ever acceptable in the United States' political system. Never,
never, never. It has no place in a democracy. None. You can't be pro- insurrectionist and pro-American.
You know, Trump and his MAGA supporters not only embrace political violence, but they laugh about it.
At his rally, he jokes about an intruder, whipped up by the big Trump lie, taking a hammer to Paul Pelosi's skull, and echoing the very same words
used on January 6th. "Where is Nancy?" And he thinks that's funny. He laughed about it. What a sick --
I think it's despicable. Seriously. Not just for a president, for any person to say that.
But to say it to the whole world listening. When I was overseas, anyway -- oh, yes.
Trump's assault on democracy isn't just part of his past. It's what he's promising for the future. He's been straightforward. He is not hiding the
His first rally for the 2024 campaign opened with a choir of January 6th insurrectionists singing from prison on a cellphone, while images of the
January sixth riot played on the big screen behind him at his rally.
Can you believe that? This is like something out of a fairy tale, a bad fairy tale.
Trump began his 2024 campaign by glorifying the failed violent insurrectionist, insurrection at our -- on our Capitol.
The guy who claims law and order sows' lawlessness and disorder. Trump is not concerned about your future, I promise you. Trump is now promising a
full-scale campaign of revenge and retribution, his words, for some years to come.
They were his words, not mine. He went on to say he'd be a dictator on day one.
I mean, if I were writing a book of fiction, and I said an American president said that, and not in jest.
He called and I quote, the terminate -- quote, this is a quote, the termination of all the rules, regulations, and articles, even those found
in the U.S. Constitution should be terminated if it fits his will. So, it's kind of hard to believe. Even found in the Constitution he could terminate?
He's threatened the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with the death penalty. He says he should be put to death because the chairman put
his oath to the Constitution ahead of his personal loyalty to Trump.
This coming from a president who called, when he visited his cemetery, called dead soldiers, suckers and losers. Remember that?
Sometimes I'm really happy the Irish in me can't be seen.
It was right around the time was at Beau's grave. Tommy.
How dare he? Who in God's name does he think he is?
With former aides, Trump plans to invoke the Insurrectionist Act, Insurrection Act, which would allow him to deploy - he's not allowed to do
it in ordinary circumstances, allow him to deploy U.S. military forces on the streets of America.
He said it.
He calls those who opposed, oppose him vermin.
He talks about the blood of America is being poisoned, echoing the same exact language used in Nazi Germany.
He proudly posts on social media the words that best describe his 2024 campaign. Quote, revenge, quote, power, and quote, dictatorship.
There is no confusion about who Trump is, what he intends do.
I placed my hand on our family Bible, and I swore an oath on the very same steps of the Capitol just 14 days after the attack on January the sixth.
As I looked out over the capital city, whose streets were lined with National Guard to prevent another attack, I saw an American that had been
pushed to the brink.
America that had been pushed to the brink.
But I felt enormous pride, not in winning. I felt enormous pride in America, because American democracy had been tested. American democracy had
And when Trump had seen weakness in our democracy and continued to talk about it, I saw strength. Your strength, it's not hyperbole. Your strength,
your integrity, American strength and integrity.
Ordinary citizens, state election officials, the American judicial system, had put the Constitution first, and sometimes at their peril -- at their
Because of them. Because of you. The will of the people prevailed. Not the anger of the mob or the appetites of one man.
When the attack on January 6th happened, there was no doubt about the truth. At the time, even Republican members of Congress and Fox News
commentators publicly and privately condemned the attack.
As one Republican senator said, Trump's behavior was embarrassing and humiliating for the country. But now that same senator and those same
people have changed their tune.
As time has gone on, gone on, politics, fear, money, all have intervened. And now, these MAGA voices, who know the truth about Trump on January 6th,
have abandoned the truth and abandoned the democracy. They made their choice.
Now, the rest of us, Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans, we have to make our choice.
I know mine, and I believe I know America's. We'll defend the truth, not give in to the big lie. We'll embrace the Constitution of the declaration,
not abandon it. We'll honor the sacred cause of democracy, not walk away from it.
Today, I make this sacred pledge to you: The defense, protection, and preservation of American democracy will remain, as it has been, the central
cause of my presidency.
America, as we begin this election year, we must be clear: Democracy is on the ballot. Your freedom is on the ballot.
Yes, we'll be voting on many issues: on the freedom to vote, and have your vote counted. On the freedom of choice. The freedom to have a fair shot.
The freedom from fear. And we'll debate and disagree. Without democracy, no progress is impossible. Think about it.
The alternative to democracy is dictatorship. The rule of one, not the rule of we, the people.
That's what the soldiers of Valley Forge understood. And so was me, we have to understand it as well.
We've been blessed so long with a strong, stable democracy. It's easy to forget why so many before us risked their lives and strengthened democracy.
What our lives would be without it.
Democracy means having the freedom to speak your mind, to be who you are, to be who you want to be.
Democracy is about being able to bring about peaceful change.
Democracy. Democracy is how we open the doors of opportunity wider and wider with each successive generation, not notwithstanding our mistakes.
But if democracy falls, we'll lose that freedom, we'll lose the power of we, the people, to shape our destiny.
If you doubt me, look around the world. Travel with me as I meet with other heads of state throughout the world.
Look at the authoritarian leaders and dictators Trump says he admires. He out loud says he admires. I won't go through them all. It would take too
Look, remember how he first, how he refers to what he calls love letter exchanges between he and the dictator of North Korea?
Those women and men out there in the audience who's ever fought for an American military. Did you ever believe you'd hear a president say
something like that?
His admiration for Putin? I could go on.
And look at what these autocrats are doing to limit freedom in their countries. They're limiting freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom to
assemble, women's rights, LGBQ rights, people are going to jail. So much more.
It's true. The push and pull of American history is not a fairy tale. Every stride forward in America is met with ferocious backlash, many times, from
those who fear progress and those who exploit that fear for their own personal gain.
From those who traffic in lies, told for power and profit. For those who are driven by grievance and grift, consumed by conspiracy and victimhood.
From those who seek to bury history and ban books.
Did you ever think you'd be at a political event and talk about book banning, for a presidential and a presidential election?
The choice in contest between those forces, those competing forces, between solidarity and division, is perennial. But this time it's so different.
You can't have a contest. You can't have a contest, if you see politics as an all-out war instead of a peaceful way to resolve our differences.
All-out war is what Trump wants. That's why he doesn't understand the most fundamental truth about this country.
Unlike other nations on Earth, America is not built on ethnicity, religion, geography. We're the only nation in the history of the world built on an
idea, not hyperbole, built on an idea.
We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal.
It's an idea, declared in the Declaration, created in a way that we've viewed everybody as equal and should be treated equal throughout their
We've never fully lived up to that. We have a long way to go, but we've never walked away from the idea. We've never walked away from it.
And I promise you, I will not let Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans force us to walk away now.
We're living in an era where a determined minority is doing everything in its power to try to destroy our democracy for their own agenda.
The American people know it, and they are standing bravely in the breach.
Remember, after 2020, January sixth insurrection to undo the election in which more Americans had voted than any other in American history?
America saw the threat posed to the country and they voted them out in 2022. Historic midterm election. In state after state, election after
election, the election deniers were defeated.
Now, in 2024, Trump is running as the denier-in-chief, the election denier- in-chief.
Once again, he is saying he won't honor the results of the election if he loses.
Trump says he doesn't understand, or he still doesn't understand the basic truth. That is, you can't love your country only when you win. You can't
love your country only when you win.
I'll keep my commitment to be president for all of America. Whether you voted for me or not, I've done it for the last three years and I'll
continue to do it.
Together, we can keep proving that America is still a country that believes in decency, dignity, honesty, honor, truth.
We still believe that no one, not even the president, is above the law.
We still believe the vast majority of us still believe that everyone deserves a fair shot at making. We're still a nation that gives hate no
I tell you from my experience working with leaders around the world, and I mean this sincerely, not a joke, that America is still viewed as a beacon
of democracy for the world.
I can't tell you how many, how many world leaders, and I know all of them, virtually all of them, grab my arm in private and say, he can't win. Tell
me. No, my country will be at risk.
Think of how many countries, Tommy, you know that are on the edge.
Imagine. We still believe in we the people, and that includes all of us. Not some of us.
Let me close with this.
In the cold winter of 1777, George Washington and his American troops to Valley Forge waged a battle on behalf of a revolutionary idea, that
everyday people like where I come from, and the vast majority of you, not a king or a dictator, that everyday people can govern themselves without a
king or a dictator.
In fact, in the rotunda of the Capitol, there is a giant painting of General George Washington, not President Washington.
And he is resigning his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.
A European king at the time said after he won the revolution, now is the time for him to declare his kingship.
But instead, the mob that attacked the Capitol, waving Trump flags and Confederate flags, stormed right past that portrait.
That image of George Washington gave them no pause, but it should have.
The artist who painted that portrait memorialized that moment because he said it was, quote, one of the highest moral lessons ever given to the
world, end of quote.
George Washington was the height of his power, having just defeated the most powerful empire on Earth.
Could have held on to power as long as he wanted. He could have made himself not a future president, but a future monarch, in effect.
And by the way, when he got elected president, he could have stayed for two, three, four or five terms until he died.
But that wasn't the America he and the American troops at Valley Forge had fought for.
In America, genuine leaders, democratic leaders with a small D don't hold on to power relentlessly.
Our leaders return power to the people and they do it willingly because that's the deal. You do your duty. You serve your country.
And ours is a country worthy of service as many Republican presidents and Democratic presidents have shown over the years.
We're not perfect, but at our best, we face on -- we face head on the good, the bad, the truth of who we are.
We look in the mirror and ultimately never pretend we're something we're not.
That's what great nations do.
And we're a great nation. We're the greatest nation on the face of the earth. We really are.
That's the America I see in our future. We get up. We carry on. We never bow. We never bend. We speak of possibilities, not carnage. We're not
weighed down by grievances. We don't foster fear. We don't walk around as victims. We take charge of our destiny. We get our job done with the help
of the people we find in America, who find their place in a changing world and dream and build a future that not only they but all people deserve a
We don't believe, none of you believe America is failing. We know America is winning. That's American patriotism.
It's not winning because of Joe Biden. It's winning.
This is the first national election since January sixth insurrection placed a dagger at the throat of American democracy. Since that moment.
We all know who Donald Trump is. The question we have to answer is who are we? That's what's at stake. Who are we?
In the year ahead, as you talk to your family and friends, cast your ballots, the power is in your hands.
After all we've been through in our history, from independence to civil war to two world wars to a pandemic, to insurrection, I refuse to believe that
in 2024 we Americans will choose to walk away from what's made us the greatest nation in the history of the world.
Freedom, liberty. Democracy is still a sacred cause, and there is no country in the world better positioned to lead the world than America.
That's why, I've said it many times, that's why I've never been more optimistic about our future, and I've been doing this a hell of a long
Just to remember who we are. With patience and fortitude, with one heart, we are the United States of America, for God's sake. I mean it.
There is nothing. I believe with every fiber there's nothing beyond our capacity if we act together and decently with one another.
Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
I mean it. We're the only nation in the world that's come out of every crisis stronger than we went into that crisis. And that was true yesterday.
It is true today. And I guarantee you will be true tomorrow.
God Bless you all. And may God protect our troops.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Right. Straight to Jim Sciutto and Maria Cardona. We've got about four minutes left. I just -- never mind, the
Jim Sciutto, Is democracy still, America's sacred cause? You can't love your country only when you win.
This was -- I mean, this was an extraordinary speech.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF UNITED STATES SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Powerful, meaningful. And listen to the words he used. He said that the topic of his
speech today is deadly serious. He said that we nearly lost America on January 6th. And that, in his words is what the 2024 election is all about.
He directed, stinging criticism at Donald Trump that. He called his lack of action on January 6th, one of the worst derelictions of duty by a president
in U.S. history.
And the words that also stuck out to me, Richard, where Biden saying, I won the election and he, Donald Trump was a loser. Stating a fact. It's true,
he won. Trump lost. But in terms that are certain, I would expect to spark a reaction from Trump himself, and perhaps intentionally.
QUEST: Maria, what -- I mean, normally, it's the economy. But this time he has gone full throttle.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
QUEST: And this is going to be an election like no other.
CARDONA: Absolutely right, Richard. And I think it was exactly the perfect moment to remind people, just how much of our democracy was hanging by a
thread on January 6th? And importantly, how much more fragile it can be, and perhaps on the brink of destruction, if through our vote, we allow
Donald Trump to get anywhere near the Oval Office again.
thought it was incredibly powerful, incredibly compelling. It brought back imagery, Richard, of that day on January 6th, and I was on a CNN panelist,
so many of us were, looking at those images with our jaws on the floor, not understanding the gravity of what we were facing.
And Joe Biden -- President Biden took us through that, even as level as dreadful ass it was, to remind us how we need to avoid it with our vote in
QUEST: What was interesting, Jim? He said, on this question of sacred cause, he said it's not rhetorical. It's not academic. It's not
hypothetical. It is the most important question of this campaign. But this is going to rely on people who don't like Biden, and think he's too old and
think he's a bit past it, and doddery.
Putting all of that aside, because of this larger question, Jim Sciutto.
SCIUTTO: He's trying to make it more than about him. He is trying to make it about the country a sacred cause, echoing those words of George
Washington at Valley Forge, close to 250 years ago.
And I will say at the end, despite starting on those quite deadly serious notes, as he described them, a resounding finish there. Bringing it back to
a positive message, saying he believes America is the greatest country, that we, in general are better than this. Going from the severe to a
positive message at the end.
QUEST: Grateful to you both, the hour is upon us. And thank you for listening and being with us.
A remainder of the speech, we just heard from the president. He said the choice this year is different. You can't -- you can't love your country
only when you win. I will not let Donald Trump defeat the -- all that we stand for.
The denier in chief, is what he called him. And that's our coverage for the hour. Obviously, we will have much more details as the analysis of the
speech gets underway.