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Quest Means Business

Democrats Hold Critical Meetings On Biden's Future In The Race; Zelenskyy In Washington For Meeting Of Western Alliance; Powell: US Making Considerable Progress On Inflation; NATO Leaders Arrive Facing Political Uncertainty At Home; Talking To Voters In Wisconsin About Biden's Campaign. Aired 4-4:45p ET

Aired July 09, 2024 - 16:00   ET



PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Tight trading range with the Dow today, not much moving in the markets despite Chairman Jerome Powell making

comments on Capitol Hill today. We will have all of that and more. Those are the markets these are our main events.

A day of closed-door meetings in the US Congress. Privately, some Democratic senators express deep concerns about the state of the

presidential race. Still though publicly, all stand behind Joe Biden.

Also in Washington, NATO leaders arrive this hour for a Summit focused on furthering support for Ukraine.

And a life changing gift, a billion donation will erase tuition for most medical students at Johns Hopkins.

Live from New York. It is Tuesday, July 9th. I'm Paula Newton, in for Richard Quest and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

And good evening, tonight, it is a make or break day for US President Joe Biden and his political future as congressional Democrats meet to discuss

his re-election campaign. Now, House Democrats held talks this morning. Members described it as more of a listening session. They said no decisions

were made and no consensus was reached.

Democratic senators wrapping up their meeting about an hour ago, some of them apparently expressed deep concern about the upcoming election.

One senator said a wide range of views were shared about the best path forward, Biden insists, he won't leave the race, but top Democrats tells

CNN that the decision is in the hands of party leadership.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says the presidents still has strong backing on Capitol Hill.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We respect members of Congress. We expect their view, but I also want to say there is a long --

also a long list of congressional members who have been very clear and in support of this president, whether it is the CBC who gave full support, the

Congressional Black Caucus for folks who are watching and I am not sure what CBC is, they were very much supportive.


NEWTON: Kayla Tausche is at the White House for us and clearly, Kayla, a very busy day on Capitol Hill, busy there at the White House, especially

within the hour, we expect Joe Biden to begin that 75th Anniversary Summit for NATO.

At this point in time though, especially from what we heard from the press secretary there, they are standing firm, right, Kayla.

Joe Biden remains in this race. He will stay in this race and they want to get on with things.

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They do, and the press secretary was asked whether the president feels that he has weathered this

storm and her response was simply that he is more determined than ever. That is what's behind this spurt of activity we've seen from the president

in the last 36 hours, which began with a forceful letter to House Democrats saying that he was not going to back down, followed that with a call to

donors in participation in the Congressional Black Caucus meeting and an unscheduled interview on MSNBC.

The president is also, after he delivers his speech at NATO tonight, going to be participating in a roundtable with Democratic mayors. He is engaging

in full-court press to try to shore up support from every corner of the party, and including some organizations where there have been some

officials who have been willing to suggest that they are not fully sold with Biden's candidacy at this point and he is trying to change that.

But this week is critical. That is why he is making this all-out effort because top Democrats say that it is up to leadership on Capitol Hill to

determine whether they are willing to force Biden off the ticket if that is what their members suggest that they broadly want to do, but that that

needs to happen soon, so that Democrats can either find a new candidate and figure out what that process looks like or get behind Biden quickly and try

to limit the damage on the fallout that his reputation and his campaign has sustained in the interim.

NEWTON: But Kayla, in terms of party divisions, I mean, there is an issue there, right? This party, even if it isn't out in the open and sometimes

actually is out in the open. Behind closed doors, we heard from those meetings that there was a lot of people expressing their concerns.

TAUSCHE: There are a lot of people expressing their concerns and perhaps most notably behind closed doors, some of the top ranking in members, that

is the senior most Democrats on committees in the House of Representatives, like the Judiciary Committee, the Armed Services Committee, and the

Committee on House Administration.


But after they expressed privately some of that opposition to Biden in a call on Sunday, some of those members are walking those thoughts back.

Jerry Nadler, one of those members of Congress told CNN's Manu Raju today that he supports Biden and that he believes that the unifying message among

the Democratic Party should be to fight Donald Trump, not to fight the candidate of their own party, although he declined to confirm what we had

reported that he was among those who opposed Biden's candidacy earlier.

Even so, there have still been many members of Congress, many donors who have still been wringing their hands about how to proceed here, not

completely confident that Biden is the right candidate for November that can deliver a victory for Democrats.

One, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, who served with Biden in his party, in the Senate for 16 years issuing a statement yesterday, not backing away

from Biden entirely but certainly not a statement fully of support saying, like many Democratic senators have said, that they need to see an energetic

and forceful Biden out on the trail, that they are reserving judgment, and that's why these events in the next few days are so critical for the


NEWTON: Yes, and the first piece of that just getting underway as we watch the arrivals at that NATO Summit.

Kayla Tausche for us at the White House. Appreciate it.

Now as Kayla was just saying, congressional Democrats are facing a dilemma with no clear answers. Manu Raju caught up with those lawmakers on Capitol

Hill and got their reaction.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): President Joe Biden is putting Democrats in a jam.

REP. RITCHIE TORRES (D-NY): If the president declines to leave voluntarily, then he is going to be our nominee, and we have to make the best of a

complicated situation.

I think I am viewing it pragmatically.

RAJU (voice over): Some resigned to support president even they fear he may lose to Donald Trump.

REP. SEAN CASTEN (D-IL): The stakes of this are about what is the future for the country in two different scenarios, and I think there is a lot of

concern about will we be able to have that conversation in this media indictment, but my God, that's the conversation we have to have.

RAJU (on camera): Do you support keeping him on the top of the ticket? Biden?

CASTEN: That's all I have to say.

RAJU (voice over): In their first in-person meeting today since Biden's debate debacle, House and Senate Democrats aired out their grievances and

left with no consensus.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-IL): As I said yesterday, I believe we should try to make sure that we can win this election.

RAJU (on camera): You don't know if that's the case yet?

JAYAPAL: I think that there are changes that people need to see to continue to feel comfortable.

RAJU (voice over): Yet some like Congressman Jerry Nadler now say they are on board with Biden, despite privately calling for a change on Sunday.

REP. JARED NADLER (D-NY): He made very clear, he is going to run. He has got an excellent record when most existential presidents of the last

century. Trump would be an absolute disaster for democracy.

So I am enthusiastically supporting Biden.

RAJU (on camera): What did you say on that call on Sunday?

NADLER: I am not going to comment about what I said on a private call.

RAJU (voice over): Several Democrats pointedly refused to say that they supported keeping Biden atop the ticket.

RAJU (voice over): Mr. Colvin (ph), do you support Biden as your nominee?


RAJU: Do you support keeping Biden at the top of the ticket?

Do you support keeping Biden at the top of the ticket?


RAJU: Do you think that Biden just stays as your nominee?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love that tie.

RAJU (voice over): Biden has one strong support from senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): All I can tell you is I am a big supporter of Biden, I --

RAJU (on camera): What about people who believe that he is going to lose?

WATERS: I am going to work as hard as I can for him.

Biden is going to win. The team Biden-Harris is going to win, win, win.

RAJU (voice over): In the Senate, Democrats like Patty Murray, raising deep concerns about Biden's viability, while some standing firmly by him,

including Bob Casey, facing a tight race in battleground, Pennsylvania.

RAJU (on camera): Do you support keeping Biden at the top of the ticket?

SEN. BOB CASEY (D-PA): Well, I've said so numerous times. You heard my remarks over a week ago in Scranton.

RAJU: The other concerns that he could sink vulnerable Democrats like yourself. What do you say to that?

CASEY: I'll leave that to the pundits.


NEWTON: Now, that was Manu Raju.

The president set to deliver a speech to NATO allies in just under an hour from now. Leaders are gathering in Washington for its 75th Anniversary

Summit. We are looking at live pictures now of the leaders entering that Summit stage, but uncertainty hangs of course, over the future of its most

important member, the US.

NATO secretary general met with US secretary of State ahead of the Summit. Jens Stoltenberg said the organization counts on America's leadership and



JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: This Summit will be a Summit where we celebrate the most successful alliance history, but we are also

going to make important decisions for the future on deterrence and defense on Ukraine, on the partnerships in the Asia Pacific.

And of course, none of this would have been possible without the leadership of the United States, of President Biden, of you, to ensure that we have

now 32 Allies agreeing on all these important decisions we will take --



NEWTON: Jim Sciutto is in Washington for us watching all of this.

Jim, how nervous are the allies? Because when it comes to US leadership, I mean, look one way or the other, they are facing a diminished president

even though he does take credit for NATO expansion and then of course that military aid crucial to Ukraine was stalled in Congress for months.

JIM SCIUTTO CNN ANCHOR: The primary question and source of nervousness for NATO allies has been going on for months, and I have been speaking to them

well, for more than months and that is what this election in November means for US participation and alliance going forward.

And frankly, the US position in the world because you have two candidates in Biden and Trump with very different views of that. Trump, during his

first term, I've been told by senior members of his own administration that he very nearly took the US out of NATO.

He has spoken disparagingly of it. He recently said publicly that he wouldn't come to the defense of eastern-facing NATO allies and you have Joe

Biden with a -- what was a bipartisan approach to the alliance in the world keeping -- staying the course, in effect, and their nervousness is if Trump

were to win, the US role changes dramatically, and that opens up a whole series of questions for alliance members including what -- how do they

defend themselves, right?

I mean, there is even discussion of some NATO allies going nuclear in effect because they would no longer trust the US nuclear umbrella. So

that's the primary focus and the primary question for them.

The question about President Biden's health is added to that, right? Because the concern is, does that weaken his chances of being elected? What

does that mean for his leadership now, and even if he is re-elected.

It adds already to a stew of quite genuine and serious questions for the alliance going forward.

NEWTON: There are serious questions indeed, and as you pointed out, Jim, I mean, you wrote in your book, in fact, just some of the revelations on how

this could turn on a dime and be perhaps even more provocative than Trump's first term was, and yet right now, facing Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the

Ukrainian president is the here and now, right? What is going on in his country?

He said in a speech today that Ukraine will fight for more air defense systems, F-16 jets, as well as security guarantees. What are his odds of

getting that? And when he does get that, is there a way to, as some people have put it, Trump proof these security guarantees?

SCIUTTO: Yes. They've been trying to Trump proof for some time, right? Trump proof Ukraine aid, Trump proof security guarantees. The truth is, you

can't truly do that given the power that the US has in the alliance and the power as commander-in-chief that the US president has because whatever is

on paper, the commander-in-chief can just well, really almost refuse to abide by it if he is not going to send the troops to defend those NATO

allies. So it is a real question for them.

And meanwhile, you still have the largest, bloodiest war since World War II carrying out on the European continent with Ukraine very much looking at

itself as fighting for its life and as it relates to Ukraine's NATO membership, the realistic fact is Ukraine is not going to be NATO member

today, this year, they're not going to get a commitment at this Summit while the war with Russia goes on because that would immediately put the

Alliance at war with Russia, which the members don't want to do.

So the question is, what kind of language or long-term commitment can they agree on to hold that prospect in effect out there for Ukraine?

But the fact is and you'll hear this privately, it is certainly not going to happen at this Summit, there is a clear path, right? It is more a

putative path over time.

NEWTON: But it certainly has -- it certainly has affirmed the resolve of Europe, in fact, to try and be responsible for more of its own defense.

Jim Sciutto for us, as we await that crucial NATO Summit to begin. Thanks so much, appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

NEWTON: Now, a top US university is making medical school free for most of its students thanks to a billion dollar gift from Michael Bloomberg.

The CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine is with us next to talk about the donation.



NEWTON: The US Federal Reserve chair says the country is making considerable progress in the fight against inflation.

Jerome Powell was optimistic while presenting a report to a Senate committee a few hours ago, he says holding rates too high for too long

could hurt the economy, but he says the Fed isn't ready to start cutting rates just yet.

Powell spoke about the risk of both options. Listen.


JEROME POWELL, US FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: We continue to make decisions, meeting by meeting. We know that reducing policy restraint too soon or too

much could stall or even reverse the progress that we've seen on inflation at the same time in light of the progress we've made both in lowering

inflation and in cooling the labor market over the past two years, elevated inflation is not the only risk we face.

Reducing policy restraint too late or too little could unduly weaken an economic activity and employment.


NEWTON: Catherine Rampell joins me now from Massachusetts. Good to see you and we do turn to you for a bit of translation on Fed speak. Thank you very


He added in that Senate committee hearing today that, you know, he has seen the labor market cool significantly in his words, across many measures. You

know, on Friday, we had that report that said that unemployment was up to 4.1 percent. I believe that was the first time since late 2021.

So do you think in terms of Fed speak, this does mean that they will likely cut in September?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS AND POLITICS COMMENTATOR: Certainly, the markets think that. I think the way to interpret these comments, the lens

to look at them through, is that for a very long time, the Federal Reserve was laser-focused on inflation, kind of to the exclusion of everything

else. They were very worried about price growth being as high as it was and then it might even reaccelerate.

Earlier this year, for example, the first quarter of this year, it looked like price growth might be kicking into a faster gear once again, and

Powell talked about that, but now that is not the only thing that they are worried about. It is not just the one-sided risk. He talked about a two-

sided risk that there is this concern not only about prices, price growth reigniting, but also about the labor market, potentially softening.

And we haven't, to be clear, we've seen continued job growth. It has been pretty solid. I think that was the adjective that Powell used or strong,

something like that. But when there are job losses, when there is a downturn, you can see those job losses match pretty quickly.

So they are really trying to avoid that. They are trying to avoid a recession and now there are risks not only of keeping rates too low, but

also of keeping them too high.

So I think the way to think about his comments were, yes, they're going to look at the data. They are still concerned about every possible thing that

can go wrong, but they're a little more concerned about labor markets, which means that there are more likely to cut, at least in September,

potentially a couple of times based on their previous forecasts this year.


NEWTON: In terms of how he navigates what is a very rough political season here. Obviously, he is not supposed to be getting political and no one is

supposed to be getting political with him, and yet you do see here real attention to the fact that things like private payrolls, right? I mean,

there are a lot of government hiring in the United States, private payrolls, not so much.

I mean, do you think he is really looking at and thinking there is no way we are going to let this economy tip into a recession?

RAMPELL: They don't want the economy to tip into a recession whether or not we are in an election year, but everything that the Fed is doing is going

to be -- I mean, it is always scrutinized heavily by markets, but I think it is also being more heavily scrutinized in light of the fact that it is

an election year.

The fed is politically independent, wants to remain politically independent, but of course there will be concerns that, you know, Trump is

already alleged without any evidence that Powell is calibrating policy to help Joe Biden, that maybe he will cut rates to help Joe Biden.

In fact, of course, there are a lot of people who have been calling for the Federal Reserve to cut rates more than they already have and they have been

holding off precisely because of those concerns about inflation.

So now, concerns about a softening labor market potentially, a slowdown in hiring may push the fed a little bit more towards cutting rates, but it

will not be because of the political context. It will be because the Federal Reserve has this dual mandate of maximum employment and stable


NEWTON: Yes, we will await more data towards the end of the week.

Catherine, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

Now Michael Bloomberg is giving Johns Hopkins University $1 billion to make Medical School free for nearly all its students.

Now, tuition alone, get this, cost nearly $65,000.00 a year. Only six percent of applicants, in fact, are admitted to the program. Now those

lucky few will save a lot of money.

On average, graduates leave medical school with $200,000.00 in debt. Dr. Theodore DeWeese is the CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Dean of the

Medical Faculty. And I thank you for joining us from Baltimore.

I mean, what does a donation like this mean for your medical school? How transformative will it be? And I ask you as a person who comes from modest

means, right? You yourself relied on student aid.


I did, in fact, and so when this all occurred, which we've been thinking through and working with the great mayor for a while, I thought, oh my

goodness, I know what it is -- it is going to transform the lives.

This is such a great day for Hopkins and for us being able to tackle Medical School affordability for so many students. It is going to open the

aperture for us to continue to recruit the most brilliant students, but there are students out there who are so brilliant, but are a bit reticent

to apply to Medical School because of this sort of burden of cost.

And now that can be erased, that burden can be lifted, and now we can continue to recruit those most brilliant minds into Medicine, exactly who

we need because of this extraordinary gift. So we are very excited about it.

NEWTON: Yes, and that deals with recruitment, but Mr. Bloomberg made a worthy assertion with his donation saying that because of student debt,

look graduates often choose to work, he says, in the most lucrative specialties, they have to, because they have to repay those debts, even

though many of them may choose or may want to go into more public health or help communities in need.

Can you feature a class of 2028 at Johns Hopkins that is unburdened by this financial baggage and the difference it may make?

DEWEESE: That's right. Paula, and as the mayor noted, it is the burden of the debt that drives and can drive certain decisions.

So from hour lens, certainly from my lens and from my own personal experience, this will allow an easier set of career choices to be made

without having to consider how will I, as a student pay off those loans? So I think it just broadens again the aperture of opportunity for particularly

students at Johns Hopkins, the kind of Medical School we are and leaders in Medicine and Biomedicine that we have historically tried to pursue careers

across the spectrum from specialty care through primary care, again, without the consideration of that debt over their head.

NEWTON: And I will note that the community in which Johns Hopkins sits, they have a lot of needs just within a few feet of your hospital, a lot of

people that could use well-trained doctors in public health.

I almost feel like I am channeling Senator Bernie Sanders here. So bear with me. You know, his point would be, if we tax the billionaires properly,

we wouldn't have to rely on donations from billionaires to fund education. I am not asking you to get political, but educating doctors is a public

health issue, right?


DEWEESE: It is a public health issue, and I will certainly go from the Johns Hopkins -- when we -- from since our founding, a hundred and thirty-

plus years ago, we have a societal compact that we must maintain and that is about training the best and brightest students to deliver on exactly as

you said, I am looking out my window right now, the neighborhoods around here in East Baltimore and for the world.

And if Mike Bloomberg and other -- I would say he would love to rally other similarly inclined philanthropists who can join forces to continue to

provide the kind of resources that he has provided to us here across the country to again, reduce this debt burden and allow really what American

needs most.

America needs its doctors. America needs, from my lens, all the best and most brilliant minds in Medicine. You just saw what happened with COVID.

What do we need? We need the best and brightest.

And this transformational gift from the mayor thinking about our future as a country is exactly, I think what we need and certainly what Johns Hopkins

can help deliver on.

NEWTON: And we will leave it there. Doctor, thanks so much really. We appreciate you being with us about this important donation.

DEWEESE: Thank you for having me. Thank you, Paula. Good day.

NEWTON: Now, Democratic lawmakers met today to discuss President Biden's campaign. John King asked voters in the swing state of Wisconsin for their

thoughts. You will want to hear this, that's next.



NEWTON: NATO leaders streaming into the Mellon Auditorium in Washington for the NATO summit. We are looking at live pictures right there.

President Biden scheduled to arrive shortly now. His actions there will be under very heavy scrutiny. Not only is he facing calls to step aside from

his own party but he's also dealing with doubts about his ability to lead NATO's efforts in Ukraine.

Now "The New York Times" reported the president misstated the purpose of new aid in a meeting with Zelenskyy. The U.S. secretary of state spoke

about Ukraine's importance alongside the country's foreign minister a short time ago. Listen.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: As we start the NATO summit, a summit that will further strengthen Ukraine's ties to the North Atlantic

Treaty Organization and its path to membership. We've done a lot of work in recent weeks and in recent month on that. And I think you'll see a very

strong package from the NATO summit for Ukraine.


NEWTON: President Biden isn't the only leader arriving with political baggage. French President Emmanuel Macron lost seats in the national

assembly after calling for snap elections. He'll now have to share power with the far-left.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is also in a weaker position after his party took a beating during the European parliamentary elections. And the new

British Prime Minister Keir Starmer is untested in power. His Labour Party was just given its first opportunity to govern in 14 years.

Sir Peter Westmacott served as British ambassador to the U.S., France and Turkey. He's also the author of "They Call It Diplomacy," and he joins me


We can surely use some during this meeting. A lot to navigate here. Either way, though, U.S. leadership, if we start there for NATO allies is in

jeopardy. At the moment, the Democratic White House is in crisis. I note that before that they had trouble getting military aid for Ukraine through

Congress and then of course there is the issue of a Trump presidency take two.

You know, by your estimation, how nervous are NATO allies right now? And do you believe they should be?

PETER WESTMACOTT, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Well, thanks for giving me the chance to talk a little bit about these issues, Paula.

I think a lot of your visitors are arriving in Washington with some concern not only about how the alliance is performing on the really big issues that

matter strategically at the moment. The immediate one of course the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but there's also the Middle East, which is not going

well. And there's the big issue which is on many people's minds of what to do about China or what to do about the really very strong alliance that has

now developed between China and Russia, with a bit of North Korea stirred into the mix as well.

But as you've rightly pointed out, a lot of the leaders are arriving either with their own baggage or with just having arrived in power and many are

looking, probably don't really want to, but looking inevitably at the question of who is going to be the Democratic candidate for the U.S.

presidential elections on the 5th of November. So this is not really what foreign heads of government want to do.

They want to talk about how to strengthen NATO, how to deal with the global crises, how to work more effectively together, how to do something about

capabilities, how to stand up more and more effectively to the Russians who are invading Ukraine. So all those issues should be on the agenda. But

inevitably, the way the news cycle operates, people will be saying, well, how is President Biden actually performing?

So it's obviously a big issue for him, but it's also something that's on the mind of the 32, I think it is, heads of government from NATO countries,

who have been turning up in Washington, in the nation's capital tonight and tomorrow.

NEWTON: Yes, absolutely. And yet really at the crux of this all, center stage is Russia and its war against Ukraine. President Trump, perhaps being

the one who does not buy that NATO's existence right now is to deter Russia from further aggression. But there are others, even around the table, and I

point out whether it's Turkey or Hungary, that perhaps might be a bit difficult to persuade.

How important do you believe it is that NATO really buy into that and say, look, we need to do all we can to make sure that we are strong enough to

act as a deterrent against further Russian aggression?

WESTMACOTT: I think it's of critical importance. The Russian technique for many years, whether it's a czar or whether it's the communist, or whether

it's Vladimir Putin, has often been let's demand what isn't ours, let's push and push until we run into firm steel and then we might withdraw. We

make no concession.


We expect, we rely on the democracies and public opinion to demand some sort of compromise. And we end up then getting something that's not ours to

which we had absolutely no claim but because the rest of them run out of energy, run out of resilience to stand up to us. It's a tactic they've used

for a long time. It is something that all the former subject states of the Warsaw Pact felt very strongly if you talk to Pols or the Baltic States or

Romanians or Bulgarians.

They're all pretty sick of having been ruled by Russia for which they had absolutely no respect. These countries are very adamant that the NATO

alliance must find ways of standing up more resiliently. We're doing quite well but we have been a bit too slow about it. And as a result of that, the

Russians are putting it out, the time is on their side, that the Ukrainians must compromise, that there would be Ukraine fatigue setting in the United

States and elsewhere amongst Western countries.

And if that did happen, then the result would be that Putin ends up with a chunk of or a large chunks of Ukraine to which he has absolutely no

legitimate claim. We have to help Ukraine to stand up to Russia so that Russia not only doesn't get what it's asked for, but it's demanding. But

(INAUDIBLE) countries including, let's remember, NATO allies because there are a number of countries which used to be dominated by, ruled by the

Soviet Union, who are now members of NATO. And if they were invaded by Russia then the rest of us would be obliged to go to war.

NEWTON: Yes. And we say that that is something that even at this hour Donald Trump perhaps is not convinced of, that he should stick to that NATO


Peter Westmacott, thank you so much. Really appreciate it, as we continue to watch the arrivals here for that NATO summit.

Now, as we have been discussing, we've been watching for top Democrats to share their views on Joe Biden's campaign. But obviously what's important

here is how the voters feel.

John King asked people in key swing state Wisconsin about the president's recent struggles.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cedarburg, Wisconsin, the Fourth of July. The city's legendary parade runs two hours.

As middle America as it gets. Locals call Cedarburg a living Hallmark movie. Picturesque, polite.

Gina Cilento was parade grand marshal this year and carries the keep its civil theme over to her growing pickleball studio.

GINA CILENTO, WISCONSIN VOTER: It just really is a place for people to forget what's going on in the real world and they can focus on just having

fun and getting along.

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

CILENTO: They do. They do.

KING: Why?

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

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

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


KING: Lisa and Troy Reissmann of Moonshine business are Biden voters and are still stunned by his debate disaster.

LISA REISSMANN, WISCONSIN VOTER: Quite frankly, I didn't even finish watching. I was really having a hard time watching it.

T. REISSMANN: Yes, it was definitely scary. The first people that I called were my parents, who are really old, and yes, I said, what did you guys

think about that because, obviously, I still know where I'm going to vote, where my vote is going to lie, but they don't. And they were equally as


KING: Tiny Cedarburg, population 12,000, is a new battleground community within one of America's most competitive battleground states. Not long ago

it voted lopsided Republican, but Donald Trump struggles in America's changing suburbs. He won Cedarburg in 2016, but with just 55 percent. Joe

Biden won in 2020, just barely, by 19 votes. Biden's voters say a repeat win here suddenly feels less likely.

L. REISSMANN: We just need fresh leadership, new leadership, and somebody who's a little bit more -- I like Joe Biden as a person. You know, I think

he stands for good things. But I'm just not sure he's there anymore to lead the country.

T. REISSMANN: Think of the future. Think of our kids and grandkids. And maybe you should step aside only because there's a -- this future doesn't

look too bright with the other side taking over.

KING: Allen Naparalla is a fiscal conservative and social liberal. Like many here, disgusted with the choices.

ALLEN NAPARALLA, WISCONSIN VOTER: There's something wrong. You know, are we going to keep going for the better of two evils? I mean it's -- something's

got to change. We need a logical party. We need an independent party that makes sense.

KING: Naparalla leans Biden because he can't vote for Trump.

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

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

NAPARALLA: Watching Biden try to get through his words was just bad. Just bad.


Now, yes, everybody has a bad day. I get it. I get it. But the thing is, is, this was a time that was your time to shine.

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

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

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

NAPARALLA: No, I don't think so.

KING: But you might vote for Joe Biden.


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

might backfire.

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

KING: Naparalla moved here to care for his aging mother. His wines are made in California and sold in small town Cedarburg with a flashy slogan that

draws fewer complaints now than when he first opened shop five years ago.

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


KING: Gina Cilento calls herself an independent libertarian, a good teacher, very competitive. A past Trump voter, very unhappy with the


CILENTO: This is the best our country can do? There's certain things I feel just overall sadness for. And to me the biggest issue is that a house

divided cannot stand. That's just -- there's truth to that. And I'm seeing our country erode instead of thrive.

KING: Cilento can't see herself voting Biden, but won't commit to voting Trump. Proof there, Biden's setbacks aren't automatically points for Trump.

But in politics like pickleball, it helps to set the pace.

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


John King, CNN, Cedarburg, Wisconsin.


NEWTON: All right. Before we go, an update on the Euro semifinal. Spain leads France by a score of two-to-one. Just minutes ago, Lamine Yamal of

Spain became the youngest goal scorer in the history of the Euros. 16 years old and he tied up the game. Spain added another one five minutes later to

take the lead.

Stay with CNN as we update the Euros for you. And that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. Up next, "CONNECTING AFRICA."