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Quest Means Business

White House: Biden Absolutely Not Considering Quitting Race; Hurricane Beryl Hitting Jamaica; India Crowd Rush; White House Says President Biden Absolutely Not Considering Quitting Race; U.K. To Hold Elections Thursday; President Biden Gives Medal Of Honor To Two Civil War Soldiers. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired July 03, 2024 - 16:00   ET



PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: So it was a shortened day on Wall Street in advance of US Independence Day. Got to say, pretty quiet. The Dow

closed down 23 points. Those are the markets and the main events, nothing but quiet.

The White House now says President Biden is absolutely not considering stepping down from the 2024 race.

Hurricane Beryl closes in on Jamaica.

And on the eve of the election, British voters say they desperately want change.

Live from New York. It's Wednesday, July 3rd. I'm Paula Newton, in for Richard Quest and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Good evening. Tonight, Joe Biden says no one will push him out of the US presidential race as pressure grows for him to step aside.

Now, the president was defiant in a call with his campaign earlier, telling staff that he is in the race until the end. It comes as a source tells CNN

that President Biden has privately acknowledged the next few days are critical in determining whether he can save his re-election bid. His poll

numbers sour and concerns grow among donors.

Publicly though, his team continues to say that the president will continue in this race.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is moving forward. He is moving forward as being president, he is moving forward with

his campaign as his campaign has been very, very clear about that. That's what I can -- that's what I can speak to and that's what I can say and that

is the presidents focus.

The president's focus is how does he continue to do that work and anything else that we are hearing or that is being reported is absolutely false.


NEWTON: Stephen Collinson is in Washington for us. I am sure you heard that denial. I do want to quote Joe Biden himself on that staff call today after

admitting that, yes, I've had a few tough days, he says, I am running. I am the nominee of the Democratic Party. No one is pushing me out. I am not


He is resolute as his staff says he is. Will this calm Democrats panic?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: I don't think it will. I think it may actually make it even worse because one of the reasons that

Democrats are panicking is because they believe that the president is not really listening to their concerns about what happened at that debate when

he came across as incoherent and confused and basically confirmed all the fears that voters have that he is too old to be able to serve fully a

second term.

I think the White House had to come out and say that he is running because if it hadn't we would have seen the power ebb away from him before our very

eyes. We probably would have seen the start of a pseudo-Democratic nomination race to rush to the convention, so he had to stop it. It is

losing control of this story and this crisis this, but behind the scenes, there are even more Democrats on Capitol Hill who fear that the President

could not just hand the White House to Donald Trump, but could hand the Senate and the House to Republicans and we would have an era of unfettered

Trump-MAGA government.

NEWTON: It has to be said that is a terrifying prospect for Democrats and a lot of them have been vocal about that part of it.

Voters though here, can get a say as well. What can Biden do to prove not that he has been a good president for three-and-a-half years, but that he

will be a good and capable president for four-and-a-half years to come?

We have not seen that much it has to be said.

COLLINSON: That's true and I don't think that there really is anything Biden can do to prove that. First of all, that debate was so shocking and

disturbing to many Americans that it is going to be -- the image of a confused president who seems to, at times, not even be that aware of his

surroundings. It is going to be set on the brains of all of those 50 million people that watched that debate last week.

There is no reason to believe that a president who is 81 is going to be in better shape in a year's time or two years' time in a term that would end

when he is 86.


So while the president is facing calls to do much more public events, more interviews than he has already committed to doing, to get out on the

campaign trail, to be spontaneous in public, even if he did all of that and he did it very well, the image of the debate is still going to be there,

and it is going to be relentlessly exploited every single day by the Trump campaign until we get to the beginning of November.

So there are things that the White House is trying to do. Are they going to work? It seems very difficult to believe that they will.

NEWTON: And to think that what you're saying, that situation has not changed really from the first few minutes of the debate.


NEWTON: Stephen Collinson following all of this for us from Washington. Appreciate it.

CNN political and national security analyst, David Sanger is with us as well. David, really good to see you. You and your colleagues at "The New

York Times" reported earlier that in private meetings, some did find that Biden at times wasn't -- and I am quoting the article here, ". was confused

or listless or would lose threads of conversations."

Can you let us in on what you're hearing from your reporting? I mean, David, I know how closely you follow these things as you speak to staff at

the White House about so many policy decisions before them. So what are you learning?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So to write the story, we had our entire White House sort of, the people who see the

president within each day and then we went out to talk to diplomats who have been with him at the recent NATO, and then only at the G7 Summit just

to sort of get a picture of his condition at that time.

He said that night, he was suffering jet lag and a cold, and what we heard essentially was that these periods where he loses the thread are happening

with worrying frequency.

Now, you can ask yourself, is that because of the cold and the travel, which is what the president had sort of seemed to indicate yesterday and

what the press secretary backed up today, or is there as Nancy Pelosi asked, did not answer, some underlying condition other than the aging will

all go through.

And certainly what we found was that people believe that these are happening more often than they did and that factors into voters' view of

what he will look like a year from now or in three years?

NEWTON: Yes, so many have remarked, time does not stop for any one of us, so people are wondering what is going to improve that situation.

SANGER: That's right.

NEWTON: On that issue of health though, David, you've covered presidents for decades. We learned hours ago from the White House that President Biden

has not seen a doctor since February.

You know whether you're staff or family, what do you not want to see a doctor at this point, so you could reassure yourself and put your mind at

ease that there isn't something to be worried about here? I mean, why can't the American people demand this if the family won't?

SANGER: Well, some interesting question, how do you do define not seeing a doctor? A doctor travels with the president all the time. A doctor is

usually yet events that have played out, and so he has got eyes on him, that's a different thing than saying you're annual physical, where they are

doing specific tests and so forth.

And I think there is a lot to be learned here. Are they not do doing these because he thinks he is feeling fine? Are they not doing these because they

don't want to know if they think there is something else going on?

It is very hard to even crawl inside and understand that, I think that the White House is trying to make the case that basically there is nothing

unusual with his condition right now that would require a deeper investigation by his doctors and that is what I took away from that

briefing today and maybe that's the case, maybe they are looking at him and thinking that they are seeing just the ordinary things that happen when

you're 81.

NEWTON: Yes, the problem is so many Americans know better, if they saw their own father at a wedding, at a family dinner, or whatever, they would

think, "Huh, he was a little off, maybe we should get this checked out."

David Sanger, we will --

SANGER: Yes, we all saw what we saw, yes, that's right and there is no way to put back that in the bottle. You know, the White House until the debate

was able to say there is nothing happening here. He is physically, you know, less than he was four years before, but what do you expect at this


But now, the debate made it critical that they ask for a series of questions and get out there more. He has got an interview with George

Stephanopoulos, he is going to do it on Friday, they'll broadcast on Sunday.


He has got some campaign events and next week, they will have a very busy week. They will have the NATO Summit 75th anniversary happening in

Washington and I think all eyes will be on him for that.

NEWTON: Absolutely. We viewers, in fact that we may see President Biden within the hour at a ceremony as well.

David Sanger for us, as always, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

Now, if Biden decided to withdraw from the race, the question would then become, right, who can step in and replace him? Now Vice President Kamala

Harris is an obvious alternative. Some also mentioned, Pete Buttigieg, the US Transportation Secretary. Two other names also come up frequently,

California Governor Gavin Newsom and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, all of them face their own challenges in a race against Donald Trump.

Harry Enten is with me now.

Before we get to the candidates, I do want to have a look at these polls, right? What have you seen in the numbers post-debate that may give Biden

either some encouragement or some pause and I am sure you're going to tell me it is going to give him a little bit of both.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I mean, I am going to give you more of the less good news for the incumbent president of the United States.

Now, there is, I am sure you can find some decent numbers, but I mean, overall, these polls her an abject disaster.

I mean, just within the last few hours, we've had two high-quality polls that come out and they show the same margin. You can look at the New York

Times-Siena College poll among likely voters. Look at this, Donald Trump up by six points before the debate, that poll had shown Trump up by just by

three points, so a doubling of his advantage there.

There is also a "Wall Street Journal" poll that came out within the last hour. That poll had previously had a race that was basically too close to

call, and now, Donald Trump ahead by six points, that matches the margin that we had yesterday.

Yes, there are a few polls that aren't so bad for Joe Biden. You know, there is a Reuters-IPSOS poll yesterday that had the race tied. But when

you average it all together, try and get rid of that statistical noise, what we see as a race that has moved towards Donald Trump since the debate.

And I was actually thinking about this before I came on and I was trying to think, especially for some of the younger viewers at this particular point

in the cycle, they have never seen a Republican candidate this far ahead in a presidential race. You have to go all the way back, I believe since 2000,

that's 24 years ago for Republicans candidate to be doing as well in the National Popular Vote polls as Donald Trump is doing right now.

NEWTON: Yes, that is an incredible factor that you just put on the table.

So if he does drop out and again, it is his decision, we look at the chances of the candidates. So how do they stack up against Trump?

ENTEN: Yes, I mean, look, we polled it yesterday, a CNN-SSRS and look, they all trail Donald Trump, but they're not doing as bad, or perhaps slightly

better than Joe Biden was doing that. If you see here, Joe Biden trailing our poll yesterday by six points. His vice president is only down by two,

too close to call. You see Pete Buttigieg down by four, Gavin Newsom down by five, same with Gretchen Whitmer.

But the thing to me that is so interesting about those candidates like Newsom and Whitmer, nobody really knows who these folks are. The unknown,

no opinion on a Gavin Newsom or Gretchen Whitmer are through the roof.

So the fact that nobody knows who they are and they are doing better than Joe Biden if even by a little bit, than the incumbent president suggests to

me that although they may start off on the same relative level, or a little bit better than Joe Biden, their ceiling is significantly higher.

So at this particular point, when you see Joe Biden, who is basically universally well-known doing a poorly, I think a lot of Democrats

especially those behind the scenes are asking, can we really do any worse than Joe Biden? And if I am being honest, I am not sure based on the

current polling that they necessarily can do any worse.

NEWTON: And on the vice president, the fact that she is doing a little bit better than everyone else, is it statistically significant as far as you're

concerned or no? Is this basically just all up in the air for everyone?

ENTEN: Look, in our particular poll, I would say that it is one of those interesting things right, where you're basically trying to tease out, okay,

is there a 70 percent chance she would do better than Joe Biden, an 80 percent chance? Based upon what I am seeing, she is at least doing the same

level as he is and probably a little bit better.

And the fact that she isn't as well-known as Joe Biden, I think Democrats, at least a few of them are thinking in their heads, you know what? Maybe it

is worth taking the shot because we've gone six months, or eight months, or ten months with Joe Biden against Donald Trump and essentially when we knew

that this was going to be the rematch and the numbers haven't moved. And in fact, if anything, they've gotten worse.

Why not take a shot with somebody else? See if the numbers can move, because the fact is, even if they're polling at the same level, I think

there is more volatility available in the Kamala Harris equation than there is in a Joe Biden equation where we've basically seen steady polls or

steady polls that have just gotten worse for the incumbent president.

NEWTON: Yes, and even more illustrative, maybe how those candidates would be doing in swing states.

Harry, I have to go. Perhaps, we will have get your own very own magic well soon and you can just spell all of this for us.

ENTEN: Well, we're working on it.


NEWTON: Okay, good. Good. Excellent. Glad to hear it. We are going to hold you to that though. So just remember it.

ENTEN: Please do.

NEWTON: Thanks so much. We will see you soon.

Now, as we speak, Hurricane Beryl is bringing strong winds and dangerous storm surge to Jamaica. The prime minister is urging people to find a safe

place to ride this out. We will have a report from Kingston, Jamaica after the break.


NEWTON: Jamaica is getting hit this hour by the devastating effects of Hurricane Beryl. Now the Category Four storm is striking the island with

sustained winds now of 225 kilometers or 140 miles per hour.

Jamaica hasn't dealt with a storm like this for years. Prime Minister Andrew Holness has urged people to find safety.


ANDREW HOLNESS, JAMAICA PRIME MINISTER: We urge all Jamaicans to comply with notices to evacuate if and when they are issued; however, even without

the issuance of notice, if you live in a low-lying area, an area historically prone to flooding and landslides or if you live on the banks

of a river or a gulley, I implore you to evacuate to a shelter or to safer ground.


NEWTON: Rafael Romo is in Kingston, Jamaica for us and already braving the effects of this storm.

I've been watching you throughout the day. Things seem to have gotten much worse in the last few hours.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, that's for sure, Paula.

We are in the thick of things right now. This is what a Category Four hurricane feels like. You can feel the force of the winds hitting us and it

is hard to face the wind because the rain hurts in your face.

Just a couple of hours ago, we heard from the prime minister here in Jamaica who said that the worst is yet to come. He also said that about 500

people are already in shelters and right here behind me, we saw how the wind tore off the roof of this building behind me.

Also, we saw a boat that was yanked away from the pier. So you can see how strong the winds are, as well as some power lines that have been downed by

the strength of the winds.

Now, this is very early in the season to be experiencing this kind of conditions. People are wondering why this is happening. And normally, they

told us, they see this kind of situation sometime in late August, maybe in the middle of September.


But this is way too early, they tell us, and the reason why this is happening according to meteorologists is because the ocean waters are

getting very warm and this is creating the perfect conditions for a hurricane like Beryl and a very active hurricane season so far this year.

The other thing is that the prime minister had been asking people to seek shelter for the last 24 hours, a lot of people, but we saw that they

flocked to the supermarkets to get food, to get basic necessities, also water. But at this time, everybody has hunkering down.

Paula, it very tough here.

NEWTON: Yes, we can certainly see that, Rafael, we will let you go, certainly in a moment. I hope you're in a safe place there.

I do want to ask you, though, is there a fear that because in Jamaica they haven't seen a storm like this in so long that people will not heed the


I think we lost Rafael.

It is actually probably likely a good thing for him to get to safety and we will continue to check in with Rafael Romo through the next few hours.

Now, in India, regional authorities formed a special team to investigate a deadly crowd crush. Authorities say more than 120 people died in the crush

of an overcrowded religious gathering on Tuesday.

Now, police say the preacher who led the event is absconding. Police have also accused the event's organizers of culpable homicide attempting to

cover up evidence and providing false information.

So far, the organizers have not commented.

CNN's senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson has more, but a warning, this report does contain disturbing images.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This wasn't supposed to happen. Victims wheeled past as grieving relatives

arrive at hospitals looking for missing loved ones.

What was meant to be a time of prayer ended in tragedy in Northern India Tuesday afternoon after a religious gathering turned into a deadly crowd

crush. It claimed more than a hundred lives.

Most of the victims, women, and some children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): As soon as the function ended, chaos ensued. Any person who fell could not get up. Everyone was crushed to


WATSON (voice over): Authorities say organizers issued permits for around 80,000 people to attend the event, but as many as 250,000 may have showed


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There was a sudden commotion due to overcrowding and excessive humidity.

WATSON (voice over): A government official said, attendees may have fallen into an open sewer and on top of each other as they tried to reach the

self-styled godman, who led the prayer event.

A day after the disaster, Subhash Lal awaits outside of main hospital, here to collect the body of his mother, 65-year-old Samdati Devi (ph).

"My son arrived first and said, Dad, your mother is no more," he says. "If there was no carelessness," he adds, "Then people would not have died like


Police are accusing the event organizers of culpable homicide and covering up evidence. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed condolences to the

victims' families, but deadly incidents like this happen all too often in India.

In January 2022, at least 12 people died in a crush at a shrine in Jammu in Northern India. Authorities say they'll pay compensation to families of the

victims of this week's tragedy, cold comfort for people who suffered a sudden and shocking loss.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


NEWTON: Our thanks to Ivan Watson there.

Now, the White House is on the defensive as it fields questions about Joe Biden's health and fitness for office.

The president is blaming his poor debate performance on exhaustion and jet lag. The White House is hoping that message will stick.



NEWTON: Hello, I'm Paula Newton and there is more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment, when will tell you why wealthy Britons are moving their money out

of the UK as the country looks set for a seismic shift to the left.

And as US President Biden weighs his future, we will speak to the CEO of a pro-democracy business group who says, it is time for him to step aside.

Before that, though these are the headlines this hour.

About 13,000 people in the US state of California are now under an evacuation order as a wildfire burns north of Sacramento. Now, the Thompson

Fire has grown to more than 3,000 acres since it started on Tuesday. The governor has declared a state of emergency in that area.

Google's greenhouse gas emissions are soaring thanks to AI. The company blames its new data centers for a 48 percent spike in emissions since 2019.

It now describes the goal to reach net zero emissions by 2030 as extremely ambitious.

A club spearheaded by China and Russia is set to expand this week, they've invited Belarus so join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The country

helped Russia launch its 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Iran became a full member last year as the bloc is presenting itself as a counterweight to the


So President Biden is due to speak this hour at a Medal of Honor ceremony. Every appearance, of course in every single solitary one, he will face

heavy scrutiny over last week's shaky debate performance.

Biden has privately blamed it on jet lag from his overseas travel.

MJ Lee is at the White House with more. I mean, MJ, you've got a lot more reporting on this today. Can you just walk us through that, especially

since given your sourcing, despite the brave face that he is putting on it, and that is staff is putting on it. He may be considering his campaign at

this hour.


MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the reporting that we had earlier is that the president has acknowledged in private, that he

recognizes that the next stretch of days is going to be so crucial to determining whether his campaign is salvageable. This is according to an

ally of the president who spoke with him in private yesterday. So it just gives you a little window into the awareness that the president has, I

think about the gravity of this situation.

This ally said that the president is clear-eyed and clear on what exactly the potential scenario would look like if he were to realize that it's just

not working. The polls slipping and getting a ton of other criticism that it's going to be clear to him the efforts to save my campaign and turn my

campaign around are just not working.

I think the other thing that is, of course just looming over this White House are just the questions about the president's health and also the

medical records. For the second day in a row, I'm just coming out of the White House press briefing, the White House making clear that they don't

think that they need to release any more information about the president's health or his past medical records which really obviously raises some

serious questions about the issue of transparency here at the White House. Take a listen.


LEE: So the White House has said no to releasing the full results of that annual, said no to making Dr. O'Connor available for questions from us, no

to releasing any other information that would shed some more light on the president's health.

I guess I'm just wondering if now is not the time for full transparency, when is?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So I would say, MJ, to your question that what we have released over the past three years, every

year since he's been in office, has been transparent and it has been comprehensive. It has been one of the most transparent, we have been one of

the most transparent administration when it comes to medical records.


LEE: And the press secretary also told me that the president has not had any additional medical exams ever since his last annual physical back in

February. At that point, the doctor had released a six-page summary and had declared the president healthy and certainly fit to serve the role of


She also said that the idea of making Dr. Kevin O'Connor, this is the president's doctor, available to take questions from reporters but that

really wouldn't be in keeping with the norm, though I think it's worth pointing out that we are certainly not in normal times right now.

She also faced a lot of questions about the president's new explanation for why he debated so poorly a couple of days ago. Fatigue and jet lag coming

from the two foreign trips that he had had in the run-up to the debate, though, again, we should note there were nearly two weeks of time when the

president was back in the States and doing a lot of debate prep.

So there's no good answer for why the president may have been still fatigued and still jet-lagged some 12 days later, and no good explanation

for why this is the new sort of excuse that we're hearing from the president only last night when it's been days and the White House press

secretary yesterday are also facing questions about this, hadn't pointed to those factors. And she said that this was because she was so focused on

pointing out that the president had had a cold and that is why she had not pointed to those other factors that the president is now talking about.

We are seeing the president, I should note, doing a little bit more outreach. The kind of outreach that a lot of Democrats have been hoping to

see a little sooner. We know that he has made a couple of phone calls to Democratic leaders. We also know that he is going to be hosting a number of

Democratic governors here at the White House this evening. Of course, a lot of them are feeling very nervous right now about whether the president can

even stay in the race and let alone serve another four years here at the White House.

NEWTON: Yes, absolutely. MJ, we appreciate your reporting. Thanks so much.

Now, Sabrina Siddiqui is a White House reporter for the "Wall Street Journal" and she joins us now from Washington, D.C.

Good to see you. You and your colleagues reported weeks ago that the president seemed to be losing some vigor. The White House we should say

pushed back hard on that reporting. Why do you believe that the president's inner circle didn't see any of these risks coming before the debate?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that this White House is very protective of President Biden. He keeps a very tight inner

circle that is very loyal to the president and maintains confidence in his capabilities and his viability as a candidate. The challenge for them is

that they are out of step with not just a growing number of Democratic Party officials now following that disastrous debate, where, you know, you

really saw Biden's age as a vulnerability. But also with voters who actually from the beginning had said that they wanted someone else at the

top of the ticket.


I mean, remember, even before President Biden formally declared that he was seeking reelection most surveys showed that Democrats would have preferred

to have an alternative candidate. So, you know, this is something -- the writing has actually been on the wall for some time now.

As MJ Lee pointed out, there's now an all-hands-on-deck effort by the president, top White House aides, and campaign officials behind the scenes

to try and alleviate concerns among Democratic lawmakers, donors, and party officials. The question is whether or not they would -- they'll be

successful as you have at least one member, a Democratic member of Congress openly calling for him to step aside and potentially more to come.

NEWTON: And yet the president and the White House completely resolute, saying there's no way he's stepping down. What do you think at this point

would it take, if anything, I have to say, to convince him that he needs to step aside?

SIDDIQUI: I really think that it, you know, depends on the types of conversations he has as he continues to reach out to top Democrats behind

the scenes. You know, President Obama has been fielding a lot of calls from concerned Democrats. You know, I think you've had the president, President

Biden himself reach out both yesterday and today to Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, including Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, former House

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

You know, I think if there is some kind of unified effort behind the scenes to get the president to step aside, then that could be persuasive. Right

now, though, not too many people, are breaking ranks. I do think, you know, the reporting does suggest that a lot of Democrats would have preferred to

hear from him sooner. They also would have preferred to see him out in public more than he has been since the debate.

So we'll see what these efforts of -- you know, to do damage control amount to, but right now, as you note, he's insisting he's going to remain in the

race, but also if there's a fresh round of polling, I mean, there's already some polls after the debate showing that Trump is widening -- former

President Trump is widening his lead against President Biden, you know, if President Biden truly craters in some of these polls and that could, you

know, really change the trajectory of the race and perhaps his own future at the top of the ticket.

NEWTON: Yes. And so significant is the polling and what they see in those swing states that everyone says, given the electoral college, he must win.

Sabrina Siddiqui, we'll continue to following your reporting. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

SIDDIQUI: Thank you.

NEWTON: Now, there's just one day to go until voters in the U.K. head to the polls. Labour expected to win and the British millionaires are

apparently making contingency plans. We'll have that for you next.



NEWTON: Recent polling out of the U.K. suggests the Labour Party remains on track for historic win in Thursday's election, and that the Conservatives

are expected to lose their majority. Even "The Sun," a tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch is calling for a change in leadership. It's really telling

you something. Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said he welcomed the newspaper's backing. And Mr. Rishi Sunak meantime has been trying to

convince voters that his party has put the British economy on the right path.

It's hard to convince them of that when interest rates have now climbed to a 16-year high and institutions like the National Health Service are


Salma Abdelaziz reports on an expected shift in power.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two lackluster candidates in a race with a result that is all but certain. It may sound boring, but

this is a momentous election that could decimate the U.K.'s most powerful political party. In what is widely seen as a referendum on their 14 years

of leadership, the Conservatives are bracing for a very damaging defeat.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called for the snap election that almost everyone believes he will lose.

RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Over the next few weeks, I will fight for every vote. I will earn your trust.

ABDELAZIZ: But that trust is battered and bruised. From Boris Johnson's partygate scandal to leadership failings that saw three prime ministers in

2022 alone, to a very messy Brexit, many are fed up with the Tories.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, I think people are ticked off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a sense of just wanting any kind of change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their decimation, I think, can only be expected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will be the first election that I've ever voted in that I won't be voting Conservative.

ABDELAZIZ: Current polls indicate the opposition Labour Party could win by a landslide, ushering in a center-left government led by Keir Starmer.

KEIR STARMER, LABOUR PARTY LEADER: If you want change, you have to vote for it.

ABDELAZIZ: The make-up of British politics is sure to undergo a seismic shift. But because of Britain's first past-the-post system, Labour could

win but fail to gain a clear mandate.

NIGEL FARAGE, REFORM U.K. PARTY: Thanks for coming, everybody.

ABDELAZIZ: If smaller parties or the far-right gain an outsized voice.

Amid the political uncertainty, the new prime minister will inherit a mess, a cost-of-living crisis fueled in part by a stagnant economy. The country's

beloved National Health Service is understaffed and overstretched, and immigration remains an unresolved hot-button issue.

Change is coming, but can Starmer, should he win, tackle the challenges and deliver on promises?

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


NEWTON: Now be sure to watch CNN's special coverage of U.K. elections on July 4th. It starts just before 10:00 p.m. in London. That's just before

5:00 p.m. here in New York. It will be anchored by Isa Soares and Richard Quest. And on Friday the 5th we'll have full coverage of all the morning's

results and big moments. Remember, we could have a very swift change of government on July 5th.

Coming up for us, Joe Biden is publicly defiant amid growing calls to step aside. And at this moment actually we're going to break to the White House

where there's a medal ceremony going on. Let's listen in.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Fighting raged across the states. The fate of the nation hang in the balance. President Abraham

Lincoln created an award to honor ordinary Americans who showed extraordinary courage in the battle to save the Union.

The award was a star-shaped medal made of copper and coated in bronze. The first it was called the Army Medal of Honor. In time, to capture the full

capacity of our armed forces, it became known simply as the Medal of Honor.

Today is our nation's highest military honor. Secretary Austin, Secretary McDonough, Secretary Wormuth, Chairman Brown, General Milley, previous

Medal of Honor recipients are here. Distinguished guests.

The very first recipient of the Medal of Honor were or a small band known as Andrew's Raiders. Named for a spy for the Union Army. James Andrews who

led one of the most daring operations in the entire Civil War. Every soldier who joined that mission was awarded with the Medal of Honor except

for two.


Two soldiers who died because of that operation but never received this recognition. Today we right that wrong. Today they finally received the

recognition they deserve. Private George Wilson, born in Belmont County, Ohio. In his early 30s, not long after the Civil War began, he enlisted in

the Union Army. He joined the Second Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He was a father, mechanic, and he was a hell of a debater. He always was ready

to persuade, argue, and as one family member put it, dress anyone down if the need be.

Private Philip Shadrach, born in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. By the time he was a teenager, Philip was an orphan, a laborer, did everything he could

to get by. And from what we know, he was a free spirit, always searching for adventure, excitement, intrigue. In his 20s, Philip enlisted, joining

the Ohio regiment as George did, the same one.

With us today are members of those families. Theresa Chandler, Georgia's great, great granddaughter, Gerald Taylor, Philip's great-grandnephew. They

shared with us how the stories of their brave ancestors were passed down for families for generation after generation.

For Philip and George, and their brothers in arms serving our country, meant serving our country, our country, fighting and even dying to preserve

the Union and the sacred values it was founded upon. Freedom, justice, fairness, unity.

George and Philip were willing to shed their blood to make these ideals real.

Folks, it was April 7th, 1862 James Andrew, a Union spy, who regularly sneak behind Confederate lines, was preparing to lead a daring scheme. A

group of two dozen soldiers, including George and Philip, would travel 200 miles deep into the Confederate territory and steal a Confederate chain --

a train near Atlanta, and drive it north to Chattanooga just over the Georgia border which Union troops were preparing to capture. That is


Along the train journey, they would destroy enemy bridges, railroad tracks, telegraph lines, disrupting communications and vital supply lines,

sabotaging the railroad that the Confederate army used to move troops. All of that would make the Union capture Chattanooga much more likely. And that

would cut off the Confederate army from both Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys. A huge, a huge strategic victory, could bring the war to a swift


The risk of this mission and the risk of all this mission were enormous. If caught, they would certainly be killed. Philip, George, all the men were

given a chance to walk away. Not one of them did. Not one of them walked away. Instead, they changed into civilian clothes, got a few hours' sleep,

and set out for Georgia. Several days later, nearly all of them including George and Philip made it to the rendezvous point, a train station just

north of Atlanta.

They gathered at midnight and waited until morning when the conductor and passengers disembark for breakfast. That's when they made their move.

Quickly and quietly, they detached three box cars and a locomotive. Hopped in, began moving in full speed north to Tennessee. Almost immediately their

problems increased. Rain made it nearly impossible to burn the tracks and the bridges along the way.

There were other trains on the track that were not supposed to have been there, slowing them down considerably. By then, Confederate forces were in

hot pursuit. But George and Philip and the rest of the Raiders didn't quit. They kept going nearly for seven hours, destroying as much track as they

could along the way and cut it as many telegraph wires as they could. They almost made it to Georgia.

But about 15 miles from Chattanooga, they ran out of fuel and the Confederates closed in. The Raiders took off on foot running and hiding in

the woods. They survived there for weeks but one by one Confederate soldiers, supporters and their bloodhounds rounded them up. They were taken

to a confederate prison, held in a tiny underground room, chained by their necks and their wrist, starved.


Still the men remained unbowed and unbroken. Eventually eight escaped, six were exchanged for Confederate prisoners. The rest including Philip and

George were tried as spies and both sentenced to death. That fateful day came as they approached the gallows. Philip and George stood tall. A crowd

gathered around them. Private Wilson turned to face the crowd. Summoned the ultimate measure of grace. And according to reports from that day, this is

what he said. Looked to the crowd and he said, he believed they were wrong but he did not harbor hostility toward the people of the South.

He said it was not them, but their leaders who were responsible for the rebellion. And he said the time would come when the Union would be restored

and the American flag would wave over the entire nation once again.

Ladies and gentlemen, until the very end, George and Philip believed in the United States of America, the only nation on earth founded on an idea.

Every other nation in the history of the world is based on geography, ethnicity, religion, or some other attribute. But we're the only nation

founded on an idea. That idea where all men are created equal, deserve to be treated equally throughout their lives.

We haven't always lived up to that, but like George and Philip, we've never walked away from it either. Their heroic days went on acknowledged for over

a century, but time did not erase their valor and they want to fight for what they fought for and they died just as precious today as it was then.

Unity over dis-Union. Freedom over subjugation. Progress over retreat. Truth over lies. Let me add with this. Tomorrow is the Fourth of July.

Another reminder of why it's so important to know our history, not to erase our history. To remember the sacred cause of American democracy and not

make up a lost cause to justify evil of slavery. To remember the nation that George and Philip fought for and died for. The United States of


That's who we are. That's who we are. The United States of America. There's nothing, nothing beyond our capacity in the United States if we work


God bless you all. May God protect our troops. With that I'd ask the military to read the citations. Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gerald Taylor accepting on behalf of his great, great uncle, Private Philip Shadrach and Theresa Chandler accepting on behalf of

her great, great, grandfather, Private George Wilson.

Attention to orders. The president of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3rd, 1863, has posthumously awarded in

the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Private Philip G. Shadrach and Private George D. Wilson, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and

intrepidity at the risk of their life above and beyond the call of duty.

Private Philip G. Shadrach and Private George D. Wilson distinguished themselves by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call

of duty while serving with the Second Ohio Volunteer Infantry in Georgia on 12 April 1862. Private Shadrach and Private Wilson were two of 22 Andrew's

Raiders who by direction of Major General Ormsby and Mitchell penetrated nearly 200 miles south into enemy territory.

Upon capturing a railroad train at Big Shanty and Georgia the group set out to complete their mission of disrupting enemy supply lines, by destroying

bridges and tracks between Chattanooga and Atlanta. Private Shadrach and Private Wilson's gallant actions in close contact with the enemy were in

keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon themselves, the army of the Ohio, and the United States Army.


NEWTON: And we are watching President Joe Biden there presenting the Medal of the Honor posthumously to two civil war soldiers. He spoke for about 10

minutes. It again was a scripted speech and he had a teleprompter to look at.

We're going to bring in our Stephen Collinson here who's been watching all of this.

I mean, Stephen, thousands, he's done literally as a senator, thousands of these speeches. I Mean, what did you think looking at him there.

COLLINSON: I mean, I'm not sure that we learned anything about the president's capacity or mental state or, you know, ability to serve a

second term from these events. As you pointed out, it was a teleprompter speech. A lot of it was very familiar rhetoric from the president when he

talks, for instance, about the United States being the only nation founded on an idea.

But what that debate disaster did a few weeks ago will mean is that every time that he appears in public, he's going to be scrutinized from now until

the election. Every time he hesitates or stutters or appears to make some kind of verbal mistake that will be highlighted. His problem now is that he

created the impression that he was diminished in that debate. And every time there is something that doesn't quite work, it's going to fill into

that template politically. So he's going to be under a great deal of pressure here going forward.

NEWTON: Yes. I've only got a few seconds left here, Stephen, but the scrutiny is just unbelievable. I mean, in terms of us parsing every word. I

have to say, he did look a little bit tired and did kind of not -- wasn't as clear as he would have been in other speeches that we've seen in recent


COLLINSON: Yes. I mean, he looked -- he's 81. He looks his age. The next few days is going to have to do events which are far more spontaneous than

this one to try and dispel the image that he gave 50 million voters in the debate. And it's going to be probably the most critical moment of Joe

Biden's 50-year career over the next week and days.

NEWTON: And we will be watching as well as you.

Stephen Collinson, thanks so much for sticking around for us. So appreciate it.

This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm Paula Newton in New York. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Jake Tapper. In a moment the dire situation in which President Biden finds himself.