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Quest Means Business

Trump Holds First Rally After CNN Presidential Debate; Supreme Court Limits Obstruction Charges Against January 6 Rioters; France Prepares for First Round of Snap Elections Sunday; Biden Reject Calls To Step Aside; Voters Cast Their Ballot In Iran's Presidential Election; Powerful Earthquake Hits Southern Peru. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired June 28, 2024 - 16:00:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": Closing bell. One, two, three solid gavels, but not a particularly impressive

number to talk about, down 41. Bit of a wobble right at the end. The market was up for most of the session.

Well done, sir. Have a good weekend.

The market is pretty betwixt than between. There are so many events that we need to bring to your attention tonight.

The tale of two Bidens. The president appears energized, telling supporters he can win less than a day after his disastrous debate performance.

Biden fumbles overshadows Donald Trump's repeated lies. The former president utters more than 30 misleading statements on the stage.

And France prepares for the first round of its snap election. The far-right is looking very likely to make gains.

We are live in London on a Friday. It is June the 28th. I am Richard Quest, and I mean business.

Good evening.

Former President Trump is taking a victory lap at a rally in Virginia. It is his first campaign speech since last night's CNN presidential debate. We

listen in to hear what the former president is saying.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Peace and prosperity or war or no war, they like a war, they love wars. You know, they love

killing people. It is so wonderful.

I am the only president in many, many decades that didn't start a war. I finished one. I beat ISIS in record time.


TRUMP: As soon as I left, we had the situation where Russia went into Ukraine. They would have never done that and where Israel is attacked, and

then we had inflation and then we had that horrible, horrible event that took place in Afghanistan, the worst -- I think the most embarrassing

moment in the history of our country, and it is a choice though, between a president who puts America first or a trainwreck who puts America last.

They put America last.

Actually the Democrats put America last. You take a look at that. Look at a guy like Senator Schumer. I've always known him. I've known him a long

time. I come from New York. I know Schumer.

He has become a Palestinian. He is a Palestinian now. Congratulations. He was very loyal to Israel and to Jewish people. He is Jewish, but he has

become a Palestinian because they have a couple of more votes or something. Nobody has quite figured it out.

A vote for Joe Biden is a vote for failure, surrender, and disaster for our country. A vote for your all-time favorite president, President Donald J.

Trump --


TRUMP: -- is a vote for stopping Joe Biden's inflation, stopping the border invasion and very simply making America great again. We will make America

great again.


TRUMP: You see these beautiful women. I am not allowed to use the term "beautiful" as a politician. In fact, it could be the end of my career.

If Glenn ever ran against me, he'd say he called women beautiful and that could be the end of my career, but they're beautiful, what am I going to

do? I can't lie.

But you see these beautiful women up here, they come from a place called North Carolina. We all love North Carolina.


TRUMP: And this is their 127th rally.


TRUMP: And it is hard to believe, I seldom see their husbands -- theirs husbands -- but they are happily married. I said, are you all happily

married? They love their husbands.

Do you love your husbands?


TRUMP: They put up with a lot, huh?


TRUMP: No, they are very happily married, but its 127th. But I will tell you, Front Row Joes even have that. There are about 200 and something,

right? They must have made a lot of money somewhere along the -- along the line.

Do my people treat you good? They better treat you good. Front Row Joes. They've become very famous.

The question every voters should be asking themselves today is not whether Joe Biden can survive a 90-minute debate performance --

QUEST: There is former President Trump during his victory lap, speaking in Virginia.

It has been a busy day following the debate, whatever you may think of how it went.

President Biden was also on the campaign trail today. He owned up to his weak performance last night. He said, "I don't debate as well as I used

to," said Joe Biden.

His performance last night has some Democrats questioning is fitness to run for re-election.

Arlette Saenz reports.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you get knocked down, you get back out.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): President Joe Biden in North Carolina looking for a reset after a halting debate

performance against former President Donald Trump.

BIDEN: I know I am not a young man, state the obvious. I don't debate as well as I used to.

Well, I know what I do know. I know how to tell the truth.

SAENZ (voice over): On the campaign trail, the president fiery in his attacks against his rival.

BIDEN: Donald Trump will destroy our democracy, I will defend it.

SAENZ (voice over): A stark contrast from Biden's time at CNN's presidential debate, which has sent Biden's advisers scrambling behind-the-

scenes to calm Democratic panic after moments like this.

BIDEN: Making sure that we are able to make every single solitary person eligible for what I've been able to do with the -- with the COVID -- excuse

me, with dealing with everything we have to do with -- look -- if -- we finally beat Medicare.

TRUMP: He was right. He did beat Medicare. He beat it to death.

SAENZ (voice over): Donald Trump seizing on Biden's struggles.

TRUMP: I really don't know what he said at the end of their sentence. I don't think he knows what he said either.

SAENZ (voice over): Even as he made multiple false claims and hedged, yet again, when asked directly if he would accept the results of this year's


TRUMP: If it is a fair and legal and good election, absolutely. I would have much rather accepted these, but the fraud --

BIDEN: I doubt whether you'll accept it because you're such a whiner.

SAENZ (voice over): But those moments overshadowed by Biden's demeanor and delivery. Midway through the debate, aides explaining his hoarse voice was

the result of a cold.

Now, the campaign facing questions about what comes next for the 81-year- old president?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Are they going to stick by him or are they going to come with pitchforks?

SAENZ (voice over): Despite the slip-ups, many top Democrats defending Biden.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. There was a slow start, but it was a strong finish.

This election and who is the president of the United States has to be about substance and the contrast is clear.

SAENZ (voice over): Former President Barack Obama writing: "Bad debate nights happen. Trust me, I know, but this election is still a choice

between someone who has fought for ordinary folks his entire life, and someone who only cares about himself."

But in private, some Democrats less assured, questioning whether Biden should remain at the top of the ticket.

Biden's team spent part of the day calling donors and lawmakers trying to ease concerns. One adviser telling CNN: "We are in a dark place, but we are

moving forward." That path forward is ultimately up to Biden himself who so far has shown no signs of backing down.

BIDEN: I am giving my words as a Biden, I would not be running again if I didn't believe with all my heart and soul, I can do this job.


QUEST: Paul Begala.

Paul, it is good to see you again, sir, Democratic strategist and our political commentator.

All right, he did an appallingly, toe-curling, cringeworthy job last night and then comes out today and does a robust speech with auto script, with

prompter, it has to be said and no raspy voice.

How can -- how can the electorate marry those two together?

BEGALA: Well, they don't have to -- 47.9 million people saw the debate last night, Richard. 47.9 live -- 47.9 million. Hundred million more will see

the clips and you and I were to have maybe the dozens, maybe a hundred people who saw the rally this afternoon. I thought he was great.

He was great at the rally. It doesn't matter.

The debate was the most important moment in the campaign so far. It was the timing and good -- look, Trump is right. The timing and the rules were all

set by the Biden campaign and the Republicans very helpfully set the bar so, so very low and yet, he couldn't clear it.

I mean, it was just a catastrophic thing and believe me, Democrats are panic stricken. I am one of them. I am very much for Biden. I am a

Democrat, okay.

But you've got to acknowledge the reality which is his mistakes went right to the core question people have, which is, is he too old for the job?

You know, I helped Barack Obama's re-election. He had a terrible first debate as well, but it didn't matter because nobody was worried he couldn't


QUEST: It was the -- it wasn't just what he said as I watched it again and again and again.

BEGALA: Right.

QUEST: It wasn't just -- I mean, we know he has a speech impediment of many years and we know all of those things. It was the vacant look on the face.


It was that -- it was -- putting it crudely, it was like when you see an elderly relative sitting there in the chair in the corner of the room, who

has checked out don't know what is happening around them.

BEGALA: I find that inexplicable because we all watched the State of the Union Address. It was six months ago.

But he was terrific there and he -- yes, he had the teleprompter, but then he went off prompter and spontaneously responded to Republican hecklers

masterfully. And most importantly, strongly.

Here is the thing, it was one of Bill Clinton's many lines about politics, strong and wrong beats weak and right.

QUEST: Right.

BEGALA: Trump light his tail off, but he did it forcefully. Biden got most of it rightly. I think, we counted maybe nine times, he got facts wrong.

But he did it in such a weak halting manner with the raspy voice. It was a catastrophe.

QUEST: Right, so the question that many Democrats -- you, sir, are asking and grappling with. What do you do next?

So if you want a new nominee and President Biden would have to agree to step aside and he has already secured the nomination after the primaries.

Time is running out. We are looking at the timescale here for Democrats.

The party's convention is less than two months away. The election 18 weeks out, and Democrats are pushing back against the idea. The House Leader

Hakeem Jeffries has said that the president shouldn't drop out.

So even the confusion on what the president should do merely heaps more misery on your already tortured head.

BEGALA: It does. No, that's exactly right.

Probably, the most important voice that has weighed in not only Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic leader of the House, but Jim Clyburn, the longtime

Congressman from South Carolina, who really is the man who made Joe Biden president. He is so respected in South Carolina.

When he endorsed Joe, Joe went from worst to first. He is an extraordinary guy and a great guy and he is like this with Biden and today he came out

and endorsed Biden once again and said, look, I want him to stay the course. This is great. Everybody should chill.

So there is really only one vote as powerful as Jim Clyburn is and that vote is Joe Biden's because I am one of tens of millions of Democrats who

have already voted for Biden and that's a sacred thing.

So, Biden himself is the only person who can make the decision and he doesn't seem at all inclined to do so.

QUEST: Paul, when and if does somebody -- you know, like Livingstone or whoever it was, Scott -- no, Scott to the Antarctic -- when does somebody

leave the revolver at the door, walk out the room and tell them to do the decent and honorable thing? Or don't they? Or do they?

BEGALA: Here is the problem --

QUEST: I mean, you know, no, no, no.

BEGALA: Right. You will get this and your audience will get this. I don't think I could use his back home in Texas where I grew up.

There is a Michael Heseltine problem, right? Heseltine in 1990 was the first Tory to stand up and say we've got to get rid of Margaret Thatcher,

who was beloved, but past her due date, right, past her sell by date and they were going to lose to Neil Kinnock, Labour was, and Heseltine came and

said, we've got to get rid of her, and they did get rid of her and then they shot Heseltine politically and put John Major and charge instead of


So Democrats may not know that arcane British story of politics history, but they sure know that whoever stands up and goes after Joe is going to

pay a terrible, terrible price because there is a deep wellspring of loyalty to him. He delivered the Democrats from the evil Donald Trump.

QUEST: All right, you've taken me back a few years. I am old enough, Paul. I am old enough to remember. I've been walking out and coming in.

Thank you for that, sir, and of course, we have an election in the UK next week as well, so I am delighted that you've pulled all -- you are indeed

the strategist for all seasons and elections.

Thank you, sir.

And so to the Supreme Court, six-three decision: The US Supreme Court has ruled that the Justice Department overstepped when it charged hundreds of

January 6 rioters with the obstruction.

In the last few hours, a federal court in DC has already began reopening some of the cases. Donald Trump was charged with violating that same

obstruction law in 2020. His lawyers are expected to use the ruling to try to get the obstruction charges dismissed. It is thought they are unlikely

to be successful.

Jessica Schneider, our justice correspondent, six-three, need I say more?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, but this was actually an interesting split on six-three, Richard. It wasn't your typical

conservatives v. liberals. This actually had Ketanji Brown Jackson, the newest justice joining with the majority and Amy Coney Barrett siding with

the three -- well, she was one of the three with two liberals. So it was a bit of a different split than we usually see.

But yes, I mean, this is going to throw a little bit of disarray into the January 6th prosecution as it pertains to all of those rioters who stormed

the in Capitol.

We got some clarification from the attorney general and the US attorney.


I mean, it turns out that there are about 250 people rioters still left to have their cases tried, but none of them have only obstruction as their

charge, meaning their prosecution can still go forward and maybe they will kind of adjust when it comes to this obstruction charge.

There are about 50 rioters who have already been sentenced, who only had obstructions. So as you mentioned at the top, the court has already started

reopening these cases, some for re-sentencing, and some maybe even for re- trials.

But as it pertains to Donald Trump, Trump's team is going to try to use this to challenge part of Jack Smith's case, but the Supreme Court did say

in the opinion, if you go a little farther than obstruction, you can be charged here and Donald Trump went farther than obstruction. He actually

tried to send in those fake electors, so that could be the difference in why this charge might stick for him.

QUEST: I needed to just very briefly talk about the Chevron case because the Chevron case, this is a Supreme Court that is not shy about overturning

longstanding precedents and principles, which Chevron was one of them, but they have overturned this ruling on federal agencies and their ability to

do rulings.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, this was -- let's see, it has been in existence since 1984, so just about 40 years now, this precedent has been in effect. What this

overturning of that precedent does, it is really weakening the agencies and just to give your viewers perspective, I mean, agencies are in effect

sometimes what run this country.

They issue rulings on environmental policies, workplace policies, healthcare policies because Congress writes these statutes, sometimes they

lead them a bit open-ended either because they can't come to consensus or because they don't have the expertise and the people running these

different agencies, whether it is EPA or Department of Commerce, as was the case in this case, I mean, they have the expertise, so they write these

rules. That's not going to be the case anymore.

They might be able to write rules, but the judges are going to really scrutinize those rules to see if they had the authority to even do that.

So it is really going to upend the way that these federal agencies are running here in the country and probably will put a lot of regulations at a

standstill. either good or bad.

QUEST: Jessica, thank you.

I hope you've got a good weekend planned. A couple of drinks and a nice meal out because --

SCHNEIDER: We've been very busy.

QUEST: Well, you're going to be very -- oh, you've got more to come.


QUEST: With the elongated term -- semester -- you've got more to come.

Jessica, have a good weekend.


QUEST: Enjoy. Thank you.

SCHNEIDER: You, too.

QUEST: The debate heard around the world, the international community is reacting to Donald Trump and Joe Biden's performance. That's next.



QUEST: The international community is weighing in on Thursday's debate.

CNN's Nic Robertson with this roundup of the global reaction.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): Moscow state media lampooned President Joe Biden's debate performance.

(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)

ROBERTSON (voice over): Congratulating him for not falling going over, criticizing him for what they called a 20-second freeze up, saying he had

trouble remembering who and where he was.

If Russia was gleeful, Europe was shocked.

Newspapers agreeing, Democrats panic; British tabloids, Biden bombed; even this kick from the populist "Sun," Joe-matosed.

In France, Italy, Germany, headlines much the same. Greek and Middle East newspapers suggesting Biden step aside.

Leaders were silent. Several met him two weeks ago at the G7 in Italy, where he also seemed slow and kept them waiting. The growing reality for

them now, a Donald Trump redux in more dangerous times.

Many of them will remember those bruising days, not just physically, but verbally, too.

His tone and topics on NATO unchanged suggesting Putin is Europe's problem.

TRUMP: Well, I got them to put up hundreds of billions of dollars. It has a bigger impact on them because of location, because we have an ocean in


BIDEN: I've never heard so much foolishness. This a guy who wants to get out of NATO.

ROBERTSON (voice over): According to the Kremlin, President Putin didn't stay up to watch the actual debate because --

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I don't think you expect that the Russian president could have set an alarm clock, woken up

in the early morning hours.

ROBERTSON (voice over): He will likely now be up to speed if only through the unfriendly filter of his own media and likely pleased, too.

Trump who also hinted at cutting funding for Ukraine, potentially shortened his odds on winning the election.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will also likely feel relieved, a Trump re-election, good for him, given what Trump is saying about Israel.

TRUMP: We should let them go and let them finish the job.

ROBERTSON (voice over): And falsely accusing Biden of tying Israel's hands in its fight against Hamas.

TRUMP: He doesn't want to do it. He has become like a Palestinian.

ROBERTSON (voice over): But like America, substance, not the big takeaway overseas, everyone judging performance. Policy, a worry for another day.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


QUEST: Now, Donald Trump has just said he does not believe that President Biden will quit the race. He made the comments moments ago at this rally in


The polls and the pundits seem to agree that there is a consensus, Trump did outperform Biden, but that does not mean he offered a truthful view of

his presidency or his opponent's.

By our count, Donald Trump made more than 30 false or misleading claims, everything from abortion to taxes. And he reprised his narrative about the

2020 election.

To this day, he refuses to admit he was fairly defeated.


TRUMP: If it is a fair and legal and good election, absolutely. I would have much rather accepted these, but the fraud and everything else was



QUEST: Kristen Holmes is in Virginia. I imagine it is a true victory lap in their view.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. I mean, I have been speaking to his senior advisers since last night, they are almost giddy

with the results of the debate.

They think that it was clear cut win for the former president. Remember, despite what happens it terms of polling on voters or any determination of

who actually won or lost, for Donald Trump, he is everything in terms of winning and losing and he believes that he came out on top.

Now, what was interesting in what we just heard, this is the first time that he actually addressed the debate.

He talked about Joe Biden and said it wasn't about his age or even really his performance. He said it was about the fact that Joe Biden couldn't

defend his record.

Some of what he says, he said that Joe Biden got the debate that he wanted, the rules that he wanted, the network that he wanted. I will remind you

that Trump's team agreed to all of those things and that he still couldn't perform.

He also said that he spent a week at Camp David trying to get ready for this, but then couldn't defend his record.


SAENZ: The reason why this is so interesting is because I know that his senior advisers have been watching closely what Democrats are saying about

the performance last night. They are looking at people, various -- online or as well as lawmakers saying that they believe that Joe Biden might not

be capable of running for office.

But when I had spoken to a number of Donald Trump's allies, an orbit people outside of his immediate circle, they hoped that Trump wouldn't go into

that, but instead, he would focus on his policy.

Remember why Donald Trump thinks that last night was a win? It is not just about President Biden's performance, it is actually also about his own.

Donald Trump is often not out there staying on message. What his team had told him to do was to go and focus on policy, to not get into the personal

attacks, and that aggressive almost badgering that we saw in 2020 during that debate with Joe Biden.

So it is very interesting to see now, he appears to actually trying to stay on this path.

Obviously, with Donald Trump that could change at any time, but he is heeding the advice of the people around him that in order to win this

election, he needs to try and stay on message.

QUEST: Well, his microphone was cut last night when speaking. It is not cut now. So I am going to have to say thank you, Kristen because you're

competing against Mr. Trump, but he does seem to be louder at the moment. Thank you. Thank you very much.

We will talk more later. Thank you.

Voters in France head to the polls this weekend on the first round of parliamentary elections on Sunday, the second round takes place the

following week, July the 7th.

Now, a candidate needs to get more than 50 percent of the vote to win outright in the first round; if no one wins a majority, and that is not

expected, then those would 12.5 percent of the vote advance to round two. Some may drop out to give allies a better chance of victory. Whoever gets

the most votes in the second round wins.

The issue here, the far right in France has been gaining momentum in recent weeks.

Our Paris correspondent is Melissa Bell and brings us this report from Paris.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was for France's national rally, a historic win. The European elections marked the first time the

hard-right had won a poll nationally.

Now, the party is campaigning for seats in France's Parliament and a shot at government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Paris was long demonized, but that's the work that Marine Le Pen and her team have managed to do, to show

that we are a party capable of governing and a party that is democratic.

BELL (voice over): No mean feat for a woman who inherited the party from her father, the Holocaust denier Jean-Marie Le Pen who founded the National

Rally or National Front as it was known, with former French members, with Hitler's SS, a history steeped in fascism that was credited with long

keeping the party from power, even when it got close.

France is a country after all, heavily marked by the horrors of Nazi Germany.

BELL (on camera): Amongst those atrocities, what happened here at Oradour- sur-Glane 80 years ago when an entire village was rounded up by the SS and killed in cold blood.

BELL (voice over): The village, frozen in time, left exactly as it was on that fateful day 80 years ago in order for the world to remember.

But in the new village, rebuilt after the war, the European elections saw the National Rally comes first here, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, the National Rally did a big score like in other rural communities. Times have changed. The means of

communication are no longer the same.

Societal issues have evolved, too, and there has been a detoxification of the extremes of the far right?

BELL (voice over): The key also for the National Rally, the young who voted massively in favor of a party that few in the past would have admitted

voting for, but that has now gained something that long eluded it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Legitimacy, that's it. We are no longer ostracized, we are taken seriously. They said that 30 percent of

French voted for us. French people who loved the country, who don't want to see change and get eaten by globalization.

BELL (voice over): A message that looks set to resonate in a parliamentary poll that could see the National Rally gain not just legitimacy, but power


Melissa Bell, CNN, Oradour-sur-Glane.


QUEST: As you and I continue on this Friday, Joe Biden is looking to put last night's presidential debate behind him. We will speak to his former

Director of Messaging and Planning, in just a moment.

It is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS live tonight from London.



RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Richard Quest. More QUEST MEANS BUSINESS together. We'll talk about Joe Biden who is now

rejecting calls to step aside after last night's debate. You can hear from a former special assistant to the President.

Here in the U.K., the incumbent candidate's campaign has seen its own fair share of disasters. I'll speak to polling expert about Rishi Sunak's dim

prospects in next week's general election.

Only though, after the news headlines because this is CNN and, on this network, the news always comes first.

Bells have now closed in Iran where voters are choosing who will succeed Ebrahim Raisi, the former president who was killed last month in a

helicopter crash. There are four candidates on the ballot. Three of them are considered hard liners. They have all vowed to improve the economy

which has been crippled by Western sanctions, mismanagement and corruption.

A 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the coast of southern Peru early on Friday. The quake was felt as far as the capital, some 600 kilometers away. Eight

injuries have been reported across the country's southern regions.

The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, the sister of King Charles returned home on Friday morning after a short hospital stay. A royal source tells CNN, we

told she was treated for minor injuries and a concussion following an accident at her estate on Sunday. The injury apparently occurred while

walking near some horses. The Princess Royal is 70.


Now to our top story, President Biden's dismal performance last night. One of his goals -- well, one of his only goals, according to the critics, was

to dispel concerns about his age and stamina. Instead, he only reinforced them. Compare that or to another make or break moment the State of the

Union address.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're the reason we've never been more optimistic about our future than I am now. So, let's build the

future together. Let's remember who we are. We are the United States of America.

I'm going to continue to move until we get the total ban on the total initiative relative to what we can do with more Border Patrol and more

asylum officers.


QUEST: A CNN Post debate poll suggested President didn't do himself any favors last night. It's a small sample, just over five and a -- 500, 600.

Two-third thought Trump outperformed Biden. Eight percent said they're now considering voting for Trump which in the close election is very serious.

81 percent said the debate won't change their vote. The election is likely to be sided by voters in a handful of swing states like Michigan.

After the debate, we spoke to some people there expressing concern about Biden's performance in comparison to Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that his mental acuity is a lot better than Biden's. Biden seems to be very tired.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm concerned he was hesitant, very not cognitive. Seemed like his data, he was missing his numbers. So, very concerning.

That's somebody I don't think that needs to lead our country.


QUEST: Meghan Hays is DNC convention consultant. She was also one of President Biden's director of messaging and planning. All right, Meghan.

Message that one, if you will.

MEGHAN HAYS, CONVENTION CONSULTANT, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION: Look, you know, the President did not have his best night last night. That has

been made very clear. Everyone sees that. But you know what? The President, you can't judge one night on the last 3-1/2 years. The President has done a

lot for the American people. He's done a lot and, you know, he's done a lot of bipartisan things for the American people as well, like the

infrastructure bill and the CHIPS and Science Act.

So, you know, you can't just judge him on one night. He has -- you have to be judged on a whole and so I, you know, it wasn't a great night for him,

but I do think that voters will see and judge on --

HAYS: Well -- all right, let's just pass that out a bit. You're right. You can't judge somebody on one night but you can basically say that one night

when you had to be on your top form, you were pretty dreadful. And what will you be like in two or three years time when you're now 83

and things don't get better, they usually get worse.

HAYS: Right. If you saw him today at the rally he gave in Raleigh, North Carolina, he was strong, he was concise, he was very articulate with his --

with his speech. So, I just -- it was a different night last night for him. It was not his best performance, but today, he was -- the Joe Biden that

we're all used to seeing, the Joe Biden that showed up at the State of the Union. So, I just, you know, I just don't think that he can just be judged

on one night.

QUEST: No. But -- OK. I'll grant you that. I'll give you that. But it's the inconsistency because now you're putting to an electorate this idea of,

well, you know, we're not sure which Biden you're going to get next Thursday. You may get the energetic one of State of the Union, or you may

get the dodgering one from the first debate. Toss a coin. I mean, you see what I'm saying. It's incumbent upon Democrats to actually instill

confidence that he can do the job.

HAYS: Absolutely. And I do think that he's proven for the last 3-1/2 years that he can -- the job. I think that the choice is up to the American

people, whether they want someone who's lied 30 times in the debate last night or someone that they think is too old for the job. I just don't think

that there's really a choice there. There's someone who denied the election results and will not continue to say that he'll believe the election

results in 2024 and he did that four times.

He doesn't think that the January 6 folks need to be, you know, prosecuted the same way. So, I just think that people, the electorate has a choice in

November and the choice is, you know, age over competency.

QUEST: Would you -- would you -- all things being equal, all things being equal. Be in favor of him stepping down and handing to somebody else.

HAYS: Absolutely not. Joe Biden will be a great president for another four years. There's just no question.

QUEST: All right. So, then we come to the, you know, we're having an election in the U.K. as well as I'm sure you're aware. And the last

question at the debate of the leaders last week, a man in the audience stood up and looked at all of them on the stage and said, for God sake, is

this the best that our country can come up with? And I thought of that when I watched last night and again, when I watched him in France, the French

election. Is this the best we can do?

HAYS: Well, I mean, that's how, why we have primary elections and, you know, and I don't know the answer to that because that's what the voters

elected for the primaries. And Trump went through a primary, Joe Biden went through a primary, and this is what we have.


So, it's, you know, I understand the sentiment of like, no -- these aren't the best choices for folks but this is -- this is what we have and this is

what our democracy provided.

QUEST: Be honest, are you -- well, of course, you're always honest. Aren't you a little bit incy, wincy, teeny weeny bit nervous about how this is

going to play out?

HAYS: Look, I think that people and especially the Democratic Party right now, they are in a little bit of a panic state unnecessarily, but this is

just what the chattering class does. I don't think that this is what impacts the voters. Joe Biden had his best fundraising day yesterday after

the debate since he announced that he was running for President -- for running for reelection. So that says something.

Also, in the focus groups, people were leaning towards Joe Biden. I mean, the CNN poll said only right percent are considering changing their vote.

So, I just -- I just don't think this hits voters the same way that it hits pundits and, you know, the D.C. chattering class

QUEST: Really good to have you. Thank you so much.

HAYS: Thank you.

QUEST: Thank you. I appreciate it, Meghan, thank you.

The U.S. and France aren't any countries in the midst of a major election, Britain goes to the polls next week. The voters here most certainly are not

happy with the candidates either.


QUEST: This week on Call to Earth. We embark on a mission with the South African explorer Steve Boyd. It's part of the Rolex perpetual planet

initiative where Steve's leading a series of expeditions where they will document Africa's river basins. It's called The Great Spine of Africa. And

today, Steve visits communities along the Zambezi River. They're facing devastating drought and we'll explain how research can help them in the



BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the largest curtain of water on Earth, over a

mile wide, with a plume of mist that reaches to the heavens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is absolutely powerful, the largest waterfall in the world. It is extraordinary, but experiencing that power that does make you

believe in water, spirits. Nyami Nyami that protects these waters.

WEIR (voice-over): Known to the locals as Mosi ao Tunya-The Smoke that Thunders. Victoria Falls is a natural wonder of the world and one of the

greatest displays the power of water anywhere on the planet.


Call to Earth guest editor Steve Boyes has returned to Victoria Falls where last year he met fellow Expedition member George Matomola on the banks of

the Zambezi River.

STEVE BOYES, PROJECT LEADER, GREAT SPINE OF AFRICA: I was on that small canoe and I was worried about these rapids, so I came to here to ask you.

GEORGE MATOMOLA, BOAT CAPTAIN, GREAT SPINE OF AFRICA: Yes. I saw him paddling, paddling and I went there. I started talking, talking with Steve

and we met the (INAUDIBLE) and the all the community in the village and he promised to come again to do the research and teach us how to use the


WEIR (voice-over): Zambia is in the midst of its worst drought in 20 years.

On the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the largest curtain of water on Earth, over a mile wide, with a plume of mist that reaches to the heavens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is absolutely powerful, the largest waterfall in the world. It is extraordinary, but experiencing that power, it does make you

believe in water spirits. Nyami Nyami that protects these waters.

WEIR (voice-over): Known to the locals as Mosi ao Tunya-The Smoke that Thunders. Victoria Falls is a natural wonder of the world and one of the

greatest displays the power of water anywhere on the planet.

Call to Earth guest editor Steve Boyes has returned to Victoria Falls where last year he met fellow Expedition member George Matomola on the banks of

the Zambezi River.

BOYES: I was on that small canoe and I was worried about these rapids, so I came to here to ask you.

MATOMOLA: Yes. I saw him paddling, paddling and I went there. I started talking, talking with Steve and we met the (INAUDIBLE) and the all the

community in the village and he promised to come again to do the research and teach us how to use the water.

WEIR (voice-over): Zambia is in the midst of its worst drought in 20 years. In January 2024, the rains stopped as the El Nino climate phenomenon

triggered an extended dry spell that is wreaking havoc on the livelihoods of Zambian people. By February, it was declared a national emergency.

BOYES: How big did the (INAUDIBLE) get?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This year, they just reached about (INAUDIBLE)



WEIR (voice-over): For miles around field after field of dead crops. And for this community, the loss of a full year's income.

BOYES: It's a crisis. It is. Their entire economy has fallen apart. They have no access to food, no access to making money as a farmer or a

fisherman. So, now we're going to see an escalation in charcoal production. So, young men are going to go out into the remote bush. They're going to

cut down old-growth trees, hardwood trees, that is devastating to forest habitats. And rivers are not just rivers. Rivers are the forests

surrounding them. That's what pushes the water in.

And without that, you get erosion gullies. You get the rivers filling up with salt, you get pollution. The whole system falls apart, and people have

been forced to do that. Our understanding, from our research of the rivers --

WEIR (voice-over): Steve's hope, is that the Great Spine of Africa expeditions can help to provide forewarning of these kinds of climatic

oscillations in the future.

BOYES: It takes us three to five years to fully understand the nature of threats in our river system and to be able to model them. We will be

deploying hydrological and meteorological rainfall monitoring stations throughout this river basin, as we've done in the other river basins, and

that allows us to build robust models that can start to predict these events.

Us, looking at the border security, understanding these rivers from the sources upstream from these communities, is so incredibly important,

because we can help them prepare. But this is a very, very important site. This is one of the natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls, and these

communities are the custodians of it and we need to support that and celebrate them.


QUEST: For more from Steve and his team this weekend, Call to Earth, the Great Spine of Africa.


It's all this weekend on CNN.


QUEST: In the U.S., the choice is between two older men to octogenarians they will take. In the U.K., the Prime Minister and the Labor Party leader

are from a much younger generation. And yet the voters don't see much more enthused. The U.K. General Election is only days away. It's expected to be

a disaster for Rishi Sunak and his conservative party. Roughly 20 percent, points behind with labor and six days killer, 42.

I mean, this is -- well, we'll find out in a second. These are the numbers with the interesting one reform. We're going to be talking about that. Keep

an eye on that number as well. And my guest -- my next guest is regarded quite rightly as one of Britain's most trusted election gurus. It's Sir

John Curtice, the politics professor at the University of Strathclyde, senior fellow at the National Center of Social Research.

How bad is it going to be for the Tories, Sir John?

JOHN CURTICE, PROFESSOR OF POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF STRATHCLYDE: That's the question to which to honest, least in terms of seats. We don't know the

answer. We know two things. One is that their support is very low and that they've actually gone backwards during the election campaign, more than

forward. And it looks as though they're heading for -- but easily their worst share of the vote.

The uncertainty lies in how much the electoral geography of conservative support is going to change. One of the things that the big, mega polls have

picked up, that they're trying -- they're trying to predict the outcome in terms of seats, is that support for the conservative seems to be falling

more heavily in places that they're trying to defend. And that, of course, if that is what happens, that is really bad news under the first part of

the post electoral system, because it simply means you are going to lose more seats than would otherwise be the case.

And that's the reason why some of these polls have been anticipating very low numbers of seats for the conservatives, indeed.

QUEST: And we're going to see cabinet ministers lose their seats?

CURTICE: Oh, yes.

QUEST: And so, even -- there were some suggestions it might even -- the Prime Minister might even which will be somewhat remarkable in his

constituency where they just weighed the vote.

CURTICE: Indeed. But there was one -- once but suggesting that, you know, things for conservatives could be particularly bad in their safer seats

that the Prime Minister might lose. But -- I mean, there are two basic reasons why we have this expectation. One is, you know, conservative

support according to polls is down nearly 25 points. There are about 100 constituencies where they don't have 25 percent of the vote to lose from

last time.

So, they must be losing more elsewhere. And the second is the impact of reform which is particularly sharp in constituencies where the

Conservatives are defending because the reform party's predecessor, the Brexit party, did not contest conservative health constituencies in 2019.


QUEST: So, is it likely that reform gets enough first past the post system to get seats, or just completely spoils it for the Tories to allow even --

to have an even bigger?

CURTICE: Yes. Reform will primarily be playing a sporting role because they're probably going intellectual geography, their vote is expected to be

relatively evenly spread, and if you're getting about 16 percent of the vote, then the truth is that you're not going to pick up very many seats.

In contrast, there were Democrats who will get fewer votes than them. Look as though they may do very well this time because their votes very heavily

concentrated and they're going up seemingly in the places that the Tories are trying to defend against them.

QUEST: The -- we've got three great elections going on.


QUEST: You've got the U.S., you've got the French, you got -- there are others, of course, and the U.K.


QUEST: But they have very -- you know, the U.K. and the U.S. both have a version of first past the post in terms of the Electoral College. The

French are very different system.

CURTICE: Well, it's also ultimately first past the process, just that you have two pilots before you get there. They're all majoritarian systems.

None of them are using proportional representation.

QUEST: Except the Europeans and what was interesting there is the same sort of trend is seen even if you use first -- Parliament.

CURTICE: Well, I mean, we can argue about whether or not Nigel Farage's Reform Party is a far-right party.


CURTICE: It's clearly at the more socially conservative end, and to that extent, at least, there is a seeming similarity with Europe, although just

bear in mind, whereas in Europe, it's often younger people are voting for the far right. Here it's definitely older people who are voting for reform.

QUEST: Do you see any similarities between what in the U.K. and the U.S. at the moment, other than an electorate that's at it?

CURTICE: Well, we've been looking at the similarities for quite a while. So, in the U.S., issues about morality, religion, abortion, et cetera,

essential. Now, not all of those issues are central here but issues about empire, transgender people, immigration, which gave big issue in the

states, which are all about whether you are social conservative or social liberal. There are aspects of our politics and aspects United States which

in both countries, those kinds of issues have become more important in our politics.

QUEST: Very grateful to have you, sir. Thank you very much indeed. I'll be here with our U.K. election coverage on election night. I hope you'll join

us. Whenever -- we start just before 10:00 when the -- when the polls close. Bong 10:00. We'll have a profitable moment after the break.


QUEST: Tonight's profitable moment. Last night, I was talking about whether or not debates make any difference. Well, in the long run, this will

certainly be one that we'll remember, but I'm not sure as we -- as the polls show. It will make that much of a difference. There is a long way to

go in the U.S. system. But next week, of course, we have the British general election, and there, I think it's a lot more clear cut, as you just

heard from Sir John.

Whatever the majesty of the moment as the voters speak, it'll be next week here on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.


I'm going to take a few days off. Going to have a bit of rest and enjoy the sun. So, I'm Richard Quest. That's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight.

Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, have a good weekend and I hope it's profitable. I'll see for the election.