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CNN Live Event/Special
President Biden Gave His First State Of The Union Address; Russian Planes Banned In U.S. Airspace; Russian Troops Getting Closer To Kyiv; Republicans Criticize President Biden's Policies. Aired 10- 11p ET
Aired March 01, 2022 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I signed 80 bipartisan bills into law last year-- from preventing government shutdowns, to protecting Asian Americans, from still too common hate crimes, to reforming military justice, and we'll soon be strengthening the Violence Against Women Act that I first wrote three decades ago.
It's important. It's important for us to show -- to show the nation that we can come together and do big things.
Tonight, I'm offering a unity agenda for the nation. Four big things we can do together in my view.
First, beat the opioid epidemic.
There's so much we can do. Increase funding for prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery. Get rid of outdated rules and stop doctors and -- that stop doctors from prescribing treatments. Stop the flow of illicit drugs by working with state and local law enforcement to go after the traffickers.
If you're suffering from addiction, you know -- you should know you're not alone. I believe in recovery and I celebrate the 23 million -- 23 million Americans in recovery.
Second, let's take on mental health especially among our children whose lives and education have been turned upside down. The American Rescue Plan gave schools money to hire teachers and help students make up for lost learning.
I urge every parent to make sure your school, your school does just that, have the money. We can all play a part. Sign up to be a tutor or a mentor.
Children are also struggling before the pandemic -- bullying, violence, trauma, and the harms of social media. As Frances Haugen who is here tonight with us has shown, we must hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they are conducting on our children for profit.
Folks -- thank you. Thank you for the courage you've showed.
It's time to strengthen privacy protections. Ban targeted advertising to children. Demand tech companies stop collecting personal data on our children.
And let's get all Americans the mental health services they need. More people can turn for help and full parity between physical and mental health care if we treat it that way in our assurance.
Look -- the third piece of that agenda is support our veterans.
Veterans are the backbone and the spine of this country. They're the best of us. I've always believed that we have a sacred obligation to equip those we send to war and care for those and their family when they come home.
My administration providing assistance with job training and housing, and now helping lower income veterans to get V.A. care debt-free, and our troops in Iraq faced -- and Afghanistan have faced many dangers, one being stationed at bases breathing in toxic smoke from burn pits.
Many of you have been there. I've been in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan over 40 times. These burn pits that incinerate waste, the waste of war, medical, and hazardous material, jet fuel, and so much more. And they come home, many of the world's fittest and best trained warriors in the world, never the same -- headaches, numbness, dizziness. A cancer that would put them in a flag draped coffin. I know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
BIDEN: One of those -- one of those soldiers was my son, Major Beau Biden. I don't know for sure if the burn pit that he lived near that his hooch was near in Iraq and earlier than that in Kosovo is the cause of his brain cancer, the disease of so many other troops, but I am committed to find out everything we can, committed to military families like Danielle Robinson from Ohio, the widow of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson.
He was born a soldier, Army National Guard, combat medic in Kosovo and Iraq, stationed near Baghdad just yards from burn pits the size of football fields. Danielle is here with us tonight. They loved going to Ohio state football games.
And they love building LEGOs (ph) with their daughter, but cancer from prolonged exposure to burn pits ravaged Heath's (ph) lungs and body. Danielle (ph) says Heath (ph) was a fighter to the very end. He didn't know how to stop fighting, and neither did she. Through her pain she found purpose to demand that we do better. Tonight, Danielle (ph), we are going to do better.
The VA is (inaudible) new ways of linking toxin exposure disease, already helping more veterans get benefits. And tonight, I'm announcing we're expanding eligibility to veterans suffering from nine respiratory cancers. I'm also calling on Congress to pass a law to make sure veterans devastated by toxic exposure in Iraq and Afghanistan finally get the benefits and the comprehensive healthcare they deserve.
And fourth, and last, let's end cancer as we know it.
This is personal. This is personal to me, and to Jill, and to Kamala, and so many of you. So many of you have lost someone you love - husband, wife, son, daughter, mom, dad. Cancer's the number two cause of death in America, second only to heart disease.
Last month, I announced a plan to supercharge the Cancer Moonshot that President Obama asked me to lead six years ago. Our goal is to cut cancer death rates by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years, and I think we can do better than that. Turn cancers from death sentences into treatable diseases.
More support for patients and their families, to get there I call on Congress to fund what I call ARPA-H, Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, patterned after DARPA in the Defense Department. Projects that led in DARPA to the internet, GPS, and so much more that make our forces more safer and be able to wage war with more clarity.
ARPA will have a singular purpose, to drive breakthroughs in cancer, Alzheimer's, and diabetes and more. A unity agenda for the nation. We can do these things, it's within our power and I don't see a partisan edge to any one of those four things.
My fellow Americans, tonight we've gathered in this sacred space, a citadel of democracy in this Capitol generation of generation of Americans have debated great questions amid great strife and have done great things. We fought for freedom, expanded liberty, debated totalitarianism and terror. We built the strongest, freest, and most prosperous nation the world has ever known.
Now is the hour. Our moment of responsibility, our test of resolve and conscience of history itself - it is in this moment that our character of this generation is formed. Our purpose is found, our future is forged. Well, I know this nation, we'll meet the test, protect freedom and liberty, expand fairness and opportunity. And we will save democracy.
As hard as those times have been, I'm more optimistic about America today than I've been my whole life, because I see the future that's within our grasp, because I know there's simply nothing beyond our capacity. We're the only nation on Earth that has always turned every crisis we've faced into an opportunity. The only nation that can be defined by a single word, possibilities.
So, on this night, on our 245th year as a nation, I've come to report on the state of the nation, the state of the union, and my report is this - the state of the union is strong because you, the American people, are strong.
We are stronger today - we are stronger today than we were a year ago.
And we'll be stronger a year from now than we are today. This is our moment to meet and overcome the challenges of our times. And we will. And as one people. One America. The United States of America. God bless you all, and may God protect our troops.
Thank you. Go get him.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice over): President Biden's very first State of the Union address delivered before a packed House chamber. It was an hour and two minutes, very strong beginning, several bipartisan moments of standing ovations for the people of Ukraine, against the invasion by Putin's Russia.
Lots of applause for holding Putin and Russian oligarchs accountable followed by a call for his domestic agenda including traditional Biden calls for infrastructure, changes to the tax code, made in America agenda.
There was the traditional laundry list of items he wanted passed and judges he wanted confirmed, Dana, and other cabinet officials that he wanted confirmed. And I have to say, you know, considering his speaking talents and challenges it was a fairly solid performance.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And it was certainly helped by the fact that he was speaking to a chamber of course divided politically but genuinely united on what everybody realizes the world is focused on right now, which is bombs falling on a democracy in Europe by -- perpetrated by Vladimir Putin. And the way that the president framed that is we were talking about
before in keeping with the themes of his campaign, democracy versus autocracy. But, you know, from the beginning when he started the speech about Ukraine to the end where he talked more broadly about unity and being together, that was genuine and it was a genuine, bipartisan moment that we have not seen in some time.
And we've talked before the speech about whether or not the United States Congress would look like NATO and the European allies have looked in the face of what Vladimir Putin is doing, which is he's had the opposite effect. He's not dividing them. He is uniting them. And for this evening, on these issues, that's exactly what happened.
TAPPER: And Abby, I have to say, every president has to say, the State of the Union is strong even when it does not necessarily feel strong. There are a lot of hurting people out there, but that's quintessential Biden to say, and he saved it for the end instead of the beginning of the speech, the state of our union is strong because you, the American people are strong. Very Biden.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, the -- where they wanted to end on was basically also where they began. The end of the speech was about American values just as it was in the beginning when he was talking about Ukraine. And Biden wanting to make the point that American unity is one of the things that he was elected to foster is still on the agenda.
That's a big part of what he needs to convey to the American public, that he hasn't forgotten about that promise, that the country's best days are ahead.
There has been a lot of criticism of this president that maybe he's trying to force people to think that things are better than they are but I think he was trying to say tomorrow will be better than today was, acknowledging the painful experiences.
EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: If you think about it, he came to office telling people I know how to do foreign policy and that rests on alliances. And what you've seen over the early days of this war is him turning not only to his personal relationship to Europe but just to a faith in the possibility of alliances, to unity broadly described on the international scale.
That was running through this speech. The idea that you couldn't respond to Putin's aggression, you couldn't respond in the name of democracy if you didn't believe that the United States is stronger when it's together with its allies.
And then on the domestic front of course as we all know he thinks about unity but tonight he made it functional. This idea of a unity agenda. These are not wildly controversial ideas, combatting opioids, investing in cutting edge health issues. These are the kinds of things that are going to be very hard for people to argue against. I think that's the phase that he's trying to get to now.
TAPPER: Let's go to Anderson Cooper. Anderson, about the first third of the speech was about Ukraine. Where you are right now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: That's right. I think a lot of people here will be interested to hear what the president had to say about it. I want to bring in our Fareed Zakaria who has been obviously listening to the president's speech as well. Fareed, how do you think U.S. allies are reacting to the president's speech?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: It was a very strong speech delivered, well started, well ended. Well, a very traditional State of the Union speech and what he said I think showed resolution, showed determination.
I do wonder, Anderson, whether there should have been more on foreign policy, more on Ukraine not so much for the allies for whom he has been supporting and reassuring, but for the American people.
I think the president will at some point need to explain in greater detail just how consequential this is. What the stakes are. Why it is so important for Americans to care about this transgression of borders, this aggression so far away. Because there may be price -- prices that have to be paid and those prices may be long term.
I wish there had been a little bit more. Maybe this is special pleading on my part. He clearly had a big domestic agenda he wanted to go through. But I felt the one -- one area where I would have loved to see more was just how important it is that the world not allow Vladimir Putin to get away with this grotesque violation of Ukraine's sovereignty.
COOPER: And Fareed, certainly if any Ukrainians were hoping that there would be more action against Russia or in support of Ukraine, really the only thing new was not allowing Russian aircraft to the United States.
The president, though, did frame the conflict as not just one between two nation states but as freedom versus tyranny as democracy versus autocracy, which is something that President Zelenskyy had spoken about as well.
ZAKARIA: That's right. And that has been a familiar Biden theme even before this invasion. He does believe that American democracy is being tested. He believes that Vladimir Putin is testing it. That Xi Jinping in China is testing and, let's face it, we have some tests internally as well.
So, it is -- it is an apt way to describe it but you're right, Anderson. There was no new policy really toward Russia. The tra -- the ban on Russian aircraft is a very small incremental adjustment. I wish there had been a little bit more on how there are probably going to need to be daily incremental adjustments by which I mean the costs have to keep ratcheting up for Vladimir Putin.
Biden framed the whole issue very powerfully. I just hope that Americans understand that this does -- this does not come cost free. And it seemed to me he was anxious to get to the very important part of his domestic agenda, where he said some very important things. But, you know, this crisis is not going away.
COOPER: Well, that is an important point, Fareed. You know, few people in the White House have talked about a timeline of this crisis and of course it is impossible to know unless one can get inside the head of Vladimir Putin and events on the ground will determine it. But this could be a very long and drawn-out conflict.
ZAKARIA: That's right. When Dr. Fauci was asked about the timeline for, you know, for ending these various measures he said you don't make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline.
Well, it is not comparable but we don't make the timeline here. It's a very complicated international crisis and Vladimir Putin has a say. The Ukrainian people have a say.
And we have to, most importantly, imagine and prepare for a long crisis because this could go on for a while and, more importantly, we have to have a long-term strategy to deal with an imperial Russia under Vladimir Putin that is determined to dominate its space. That's -- that is a huge challenge for the security of Europe and the security of the world.
COOPER: Fareed Zakaria, I appreciate it. Let's go back to you, Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thank you, Anderson. Let's continue our analysis right now. Gloria, let me start with you. His bottom line, the President of the United States, the first 12 minutes or so of this approximately one-hour speech talking about Ukraine, his bottom line is when the history of this era is written Putin's war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger. The question, though, is how long is that going to take?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
BLITZER: But this war is, by all accounts, only just beginning.
BORGER: Well, I think he made the point and he said, this is a real test. It's going to take time. He didn't say that it required any sacrifice on the part of Americans. What he did say is that I want you to know that we're going to be OK. As sort of soother, the empathetic president. Don't worry about this. I got this.
What he didn't do and I agree with Fareed, what the president didn't do is really explain kind of why we're there in the first place aside from Putin being evil, which we all understand, and I don't think he laid the groundwork as well as he perhaps could have done.
But in the end, he described what the battle is between democracy and autocracy. I wish he had gone into it sort of a little bit more about what happens when autocracies triumph.
BLITZER: It was interesting, David Axelrod, because when it came to what he was saying on Ukraine that's where he got bipartisan support.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And I think they knew he would. He should have put it first because of the moment we're in but it also was smart because that was, if you wanted to demonstrate unity that was where you were going to get it and he did get it.
You know, I agree that he didn't talk about the sacrifices involved. You know, it was a Churchillian speech that was more church than chill. He didn't give us -- he didn't give us, you know, what it would cost us. But -- and he didn't, as you say, he did not dwell enough on why it was so important to make these sacrifices.
AXELROD: I mean, he is essentially, should be rallying, and I think he did, rallying the American people. I would have spent more time on it frankly.
BLITZER: What do you think, Scott?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I was underwhelmed by the Ukrainian piece if only because he didn't tell us what other steps we can take. We've already taken military action off the table. He did condemn Putin and he did show solidarity, the American people with the Ukrainian people. That's great.
But I was hoping for something big tonight because this presidency needs a pivot, let's be honest, politically needs a pivot. He could have said we're going to ban imports of gas and oil from Russia. Like something like that, a big idea that would have really ratcheted up American resolve but he left that for a future date. And I don't if we're ever going to get there.
But I think a lot of Americans are asking how serious are we if we're still bringing in hundreds of thousands of barrels of Russian oil every day? How serious are we?
BLITZER: What do you think, Van?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I thought totally differently. First of all, I thought that was Joe Biden at his best, Uncle Joe is back. I thought he was being the leader. Listen, nobody believes in these American ideals more than Joe Biden. It showed tonight. He has spent his entire career standing for American unity at home. He stood for that. And for American ideals abroad.
And I thought, listen. I have not seen unity in this country like I saw at the beginning of that speech. I don't want to step on that. It is very, very important that we underscore to the world that every single person stood with Joe Biden tonight. Every Republican stood on their feet. And the Ukrainians are not by themselves.
Listen, I was impressed with the energy. I was impressed with -- if you didn't believe in democracy before, if you never heard of democracy and you just looked at the body language of this guy, this guy believed every word he said. And I think --
JONES: -- I'm proud tonight we have a leader like him. I'm proud tonight.
BORGER: Well, I agree with you. I agree with you on that. I think he could have, as David was saying, I think he could have spent more time on it.
JONES: You wanted more of it but it was good.
BORGER: Yes. But he did let the American people know how hard he worked on it. You know, he didn't let that pass. You know, he said, look. We've been doing this for months.
BORGER: We've been -- and he gave credit to the allies. He was a leader not only of this country but tried to present himself as a leader of the world.
JONES: Of the world.
AXELROD: Right. And he has been honestly on this issue.
BORGER: He has.
BORGER: He has.
AXELROD: He has brought -- he has brought the world together in unity around this. Yes. Look, I agree with you, Van. I thought it was very energetic.
AXELROD: I thought that he was clearly passionate. I appreciated the fact that he said this isn't just about ideals. It's also about our security.
JONES: And our safety.
AXELROD: I think that's a point that he has to make again and again and again.
AXELROD: But you know, they had a hard job tonight because this warranted a longer pass -- longer amount of time but they clearly had a lot of other things they wanted to talk about that had been written well in advance and --
JONES: I think -- I think a tough thing if you're the president in this situation, you're fighting many wars at the same time. You got to fight a war overseas and lead the world there. You are fighting a war against the pandemic. I think he was very unifying on the pandemic.
You got to fight a war against economic hardship here. So, he is a war time president fighting three different wars at the same time. But on this question of American unity and American resolve standing behind the Ukrainian people, you saw the Ukrainian flags throughout. You saw the colors.
JONES: All of that stuff I think as the world is looking at us, you know, are we going to be divided on this, too? Is this going to be another issue that we fall down the stairs on? I think Joe Biden made it possible for everybody on both sides to stand with him.
AXELROD: I think one of the most moving parts of the speech was the introduction of the Ukrainian ambassador.
AXELROD: And you could see the tears in her eyes --
AXELROD: -- at this demonstration of support.
JENNINGS: I just think the political reality of what we can do next, we've taken out, you know, some steps off the table. And I am really wondering. Because I want Putin to go away. I want him to lose. I want, you know, democracies in the west to defeat this guy.
JONES: That's right.
JENNINGS: And Europe, the United States, I mean, we're behind the Ukrainian people but we've got grandmas and teenagers in the streets with guns fighting off Putin's army and we're behind them but what else can we do? And I want Joe Biden to tell me something big that we can do. The airplane thing was fine but it's not a big deal.
BORGER: But he said what we're not going to do --
BORGER: -- which is we're not going -- our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine.
BORGER: They are -- they are not going to do that. But the rest, this was so telling to me. He said, our forces are going there to defend our NATO allies in the event that Putin decides to keep moving west.
JENNINGS: Have we ceded -- have we ceded Ukraine? I mean, that's the question I had when he said that.
BLITZER: Well, let me ask Van. Do you think he was tough enough personally on Putin? The Russian military is now in, it's almost a week, inside Ukraine killing a lot of civilians. Going after all sorts of targets. Ukraine has never done -- never represented a threat at all to Russia.
BLITZER: And look at what he is doing. Should the president of the United States had declared, for example, that Putin is a war criminal?
JONES: Listen, I think he did say they are moving in that direction and I think that's good. You got to -- listen, tomorrow always comes. You want to do more. He's going to be able to do more tomorrow. I think in this speech the most important thing he needed to do was establish the entire country is united behind him and he is willing to stand up for these values. I think he can be much tougher on Putin and will be but you can never accuse Joe Biden of being soft on Putin.
AXELROD: Well, you know, one thing you need to appreciate --
AXELROD: -- you know, everybody wants to tell the president of the United States what to do. He is the only one who sits at the head of the table in that situation room, the real one, not to disparage in any way the one that you run. But -- and he has to consider the back and forth with Putin, Putin's state of mind, what Putin might do next, how far he should push now, how far he should push later.
I think he has done a pretty good job throughout this crisis of trying to modulate that in the right way. I think he was pretty tough on Putin tonight honestly.
BORGER: He was, but --
AXELROD: I don't think anybody would listen to that speech and take any other message away from that.
BORGER: But there is no point in taunting him particularly as you have Zelenskyy and his people trying to sit down with the Russians and try and figure out how to get out of this mess.
(CROSSTALK) JENNINGS: He's a little bit --
BORGER: So that's not the role of the president.
JENNINGS: He is a little handcuffed too, Gloria, by the will of the American people. I mean, there is no will for military intervention here. I mean, and that is a strain running through both parties. And so, the economic sanctions are good. All of these things are good but he is a little handcuffed.
I mean, it was what the impulse to get out of Afghanistan it was the political will that we're war weary in this country and so he is also fighting that battle at home.
BORGER: Well, they're just trying to end a war. I mean, he has been trying not to start a war. A different situation totally.
BLITZER: You know, Jake, I'm going to be anxious to see what the reaction is not only from the people in Ukraine who I'm sure will be very grateful for the support that the United States and the European allies are giving but I'm also anxious to see how Putin and the Russians are going to respond.
TAPPER: Absolutely, Wolf. And let's talk about that part of the speech. Because while President Biden got bipartisan applause and standing ovations even for his very forceful condemnations of Vladimir Putin and the Russian oligarchs and the very heroic behavior of the Ukrainians, he was careful not to promise too much in terms of what the U.S. Would be willing to do.
BASH: Because the U.S. is not willing to send a single U.S. troop and he has made that incredibly clear. He said it again tonight. And he was on Capitol Hill today. The House speaker. The Senate majority leader said explicitly, that is not going to happen. And even said, polls show that the American people will not stand for that.
These are people who are trying to keep their majorities in the House and the Senate. And so, the idea of him explaining the stakes, he went far in terms of talking about democracy and autocracy, and the importance of trying to beat back Vladimir Putin but not talking about it in a way that could at least show or suggest that he as the commander-in-chief is trying to prepare America for getting involved in any way other than economic -- economically and diplomatically.
TAPPER: Abby, I mean, this is -- this is a guy, Joe Biden, when he was vice president, he once said about ISIS, we will follow them into the gates of hell --
TAPPER: -- literally he said that. You didn't hear language like that about Vladimir Putin.
[22:29:58] PHILLIP: No. It wasn't there. And I was told they weren't tiptoeing around Vladimir Putin in any way but I think the White House felt like the sanctions that he announced, the steps that they have taken the last few days speak for themselves, and hurt more frankly than anything that he could have said tonight.
I do think though if you read very carefully to Dana's point in the speech, he is very careful about what he is saying about the situation on the ground in Ukraine. He's not suggesting frankly that that situation is going to end up with Ukraine as the victor. He was very careful to basically say, look, we want to make sure Putin doesn't go any further west. He may encircle Kyiv but he is never going to take the spirit of the Ukrainian people.
So, this was about in some ways moral support and I know President Zelenskyy wants more than that, but that's basically what Biden was offering today, was the moral support of the American people and the idea that Americans stand with the values of the Ukrainians but not really going any further than that.
TAPPER: In fact, if you read between the lines or just the words on the page.
PHILLIP: Or the words on the page.
TAPPER: He is preparing the American people, Evan, for bad news to come. He says, we remain clear eyed the Ukrainians are fighting back with pure courage but the next few days, weeks, months will be hard on them. While he may make gains on the battle field he will pay a continuing high price over the long term. That is not exactly an optimistic preview of what's to come.
OSNOS: He's telling people to get ready for something that's going to be very, very hard and grueling. And you know, he has known that this is a risk for a long time. Back in 2014 in fact then Vice President Biden said to the president that they had to make Putin pay in blood and money as he said at the time. Ultimately, he was over ruled. They did not send larger weapons the kinds of things that he wanted like Javelin anti-tank missiles.
He has that moment now. He is the President of the United States and you are beginning to see as he said tonight a billion dollars in security aid that is going to the Ukrainians. That's going to --
TAPPER: What was the pushback by President Obama? Why he didn't want to do that?
OSNOS: The fear that this ultimately could lead to an escalatory ladder. That's always the worry when you get into a situation with the Russians. And so, what they are trying to do now is to thread that needle. They want to send things to the Ukrainians but not so much that the Russians think that this is in fact a war between the United States and Russia. TAPPER: And as tradition, the Republicans have nominated someone as
it were to give the response to the president. This is going to be delivered by the Republican governor of Iowa. Her name is Kim Reynolds and she is responding to the State of the Union address.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. KIM REYNOLDS (R-IA): Good evening. I'm Kim Reynolds, Governor of the great state of Iowa. Like you, I just watched the president's address. I listened as the governor of our state, as a mom, and a grandmother of 11, who is worried our country is on the wrong track.
We're now one year into his presidency, and instead of moving America forward, it feels like President Biden and his party have sent us back in time to the late '70s and early '80s when runaway inflation was hammering families, a violent crime wave was crashing our cities, and the Soviet army was trying to redraw the world map.
Even before taking the oath of office, the president told us that he wants to, quote, "make America respected around the world again and to unite us here at home." He's failed on both fronts. The disastrous Afghanistan withdraw did more than cost American lives. It betrayed our allies and emboldened our enemies.
North Korea is testing missiles again at an alarming rate. The speaker of the House recently warned our Olympic athletes not to speak out against China. And now, Russia has launched an unprovoked, full scale military invasion of Ukraine. An attack on democracy, freedom, and the rule of law.
Now all Americans must stand united in solidarity with the brave people of Ukraine. As they courageously defend their country against Putin's tyranny as they fight for their freedom. But we shouldn't ignore what happened in the run up to Putin's invasion. Waiving sanctions on Russian pipelines while eliminating oil production here at home. Focusing on political correctness rather than military readiness. Reacting to world events instead of driving them.
Weakness on the world stage has a cost. And the president's approach to foreign policy has consistently been too little too late. It's time for America to once again project confidence. It's time to be decisive. It's time to lead. But we can't project strength abroad if we're weak at home.
And that's what I want to discuss with you tonight. The president and Democrats in Congress have spent the last year either ignoring the issues facing Americans or making them worse. They were warned that spending trillions would lead to soaring inflation. They were told that their anti-energy policies would send gas prices to new heights. But they plowed ahead anyway. Raising the price at the pump by 50 percent and pushing inflation to a 40-year high.
Four decades ago, when our nation was last reeling from inflation, I was a young, working mom just starting out. My husband Kevin worked days while I watched our girls. And then we would literally switch. We would pass in the yard as he was coming home and I was leaving to work evenings at the local grocery store.
From across the checkout counter I saw the pain of inflation on my neighbors' faces. I saw what happens when prices rise faster than wages. The Biden administration believes inflation is a, quote, "high class problem."
I can tell you it's an everybody problem. I saw moms and dads' pay checks buy them less and less. I watched working people choose which essentials to take home and which ones to leave behind. And now President Biden's decisions have a whole new generation feeling that same pain.
When I took the oath of office five years ago, I promised Iowans that I would never lose sight of who I was working for, that I wouldn't become detached from the problems they were facing. From the problems that I had faced myself.
But you don't have to check groceries to see what high inflation does to people. You just need to step outside of the D.C. bubble. Talk to Americans about what's on their minds. Ask them, what are your concerns? What keeps you up at night? And they'll tell you.
And I can tell you what's not on that list. They won't tell you that spending trillions more and bankrupting their children is the answer to their problems. They won't tell you that we should be paying people not to work. And they certainly won't tell you that we should give billions in tax giveaways to millionaires and billionaires in Democrat controlled states like California, New York, and New Jersey.
But that's what the Biden administration has been pushing for over the last year. And that's all part of build back better. Thankfully, the president's agenda didn't pass because even members of his own party said enough is enough.
Well, the American people share that view. Enough is enough. And it's not just with D.C. spending. Americans are tired of a political class trying to remake this country into a place where an elite few tell everyone else what they can and cannot say. What they can and cannot believe.
They are tired of people pretending the way to end racism is by categorizing everybody by their race. They're tired of politicians who tell parents they should sit down. Be silent. And let government control their kids' education and future.
Frankly, they are tired of the theater where politicians do one thing when the cameras are rolling and another when they believe you can't see them. Where governors and mayors enforce mandates but don't follow them. Where elected leaders tell their citizens to stay home while they sneak off to Florida for sun and fun. Where they demand that your child wear a mask but they go maskless.
So, you've heard the excuses. They were just holding their breath. But it's the American people who are waiting to exhale, waiting for the insanity to stop. We now live in a country where violent crime is out of control. Liberal prosecutors are letting criminals off easy. And many prominent Democrats still want to defund the police.
You know, it seems like everything is backwards. The Biden administration requires vaccines for Americans who want to go to work or protect this country but not for migrants who illegally cross the border. The Department of Justice treats parents like domestic terrorists but looters and shoplifters roam free.
The American people are left to feel like they're the enemy. This is not the same country it was a year ago. The president tried to paint a different picture tonight, but his actions over the last 12 months don't match the rhetoric.
It's not what he promised when he took office. But it doesn't have to be that way. There is an alternative. Across the nation, Republican governors and legislators are showing Americans what conservative leadership looks like, what it means to respect the people we serve, to hear them out, to stand up for them, and walk alongside them.
We know that our problems require bold action but we also know that bold action doesn't have to mean government action. It's Americans making their own decisions for their own families and future.
Republican governors face the same COVID-19 virus head on. But he honored your freedoms and saw right away that lockdowns and school closures, they came with their own significant cost that mandates weren't the answer. And we actually listened to the science especially with kids in masks and kids in schools.
What happened and is still happening to our children over the last two years is unconscionable. Learning loss, isolation, anxiety, depression, and so many states our kids have been left behind and so many will never catch up.
That's why Iowa was the first state in the nation to require that schools open their doors. I was attacked by the left. I was attacked by the media. But it wasn't a hard choice. It was the right choice. And keeping schools open is only the start of the pro-parent, pro- family revolution that Republicans are leading in Iowa and states across this country.
Republicans believe that parents matter. It was true before the pandemic and it has never been more important to say out loud. Parents matter. They have a right to know and to have a say in what their kids are being taught.
Families also have every right to live in a safe and secure community. And that begins with a safe and secure country. But the Biden administration has refused to secure our border. They've refused to provide the resources to stop human trafficking. To stop the staggering influx of deadly drugs coming into our neighborhoods. They've refused to protect you. With Texas and Arizona leading the way, I, along with Republican
governors from several states have sent resources to the border, and we've actually gone to the border. Something that our president and vice president have yet to do since taking office.
On the economy the contrast couldn't be more stark. While Democrats in D.C. are spending trillions, sending inflation soaring, Republican leaders around the country are balancing budgets and cutting taxes. Because we know that money spent on main street is better than money spent on bureaucracy.
Today, I signed legislation that eliminates Iowa's tax on retirement income and sets our tax rate at 3.9 percent. That's less than half of what it was just four years ago. And it shouldn't come as a surprise that out of the top 20 states with the lowest unemployment rates, 17 have Republican governors.
Republicans may not have the White House, but we're doing what we can to fill the leadership vacuum. And on the issues that are affecting Americans, Republicans are leading. We're standing up for parents and kids. We're standing up for life. We're keeping our communities safe and thanking those in uniform.
We're fighting to restore America's energy independence and that includes biofuels. We're getting people back to work not paying them to stay home. Most of all, we are respecting your freedom.
Behind me stands Iowa's capitol where we display our state motto, our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain. And those aren't just empty words. It's a belief that the greatness of this state and this country lies in our people not government.
You shouldn't have to wake up every morning and worry about the next thing the government is going to do to you, your business, or your children.
If we as elected leaders are doing our job, then the government is working well but operating in the background. It's supporting the ingenuity and spirit of our people not drowning them out. It's keeping them safe, not restricting their freedom. That's what I believe. That's what Republicans believe. And that's what Republicans are doing.
I am so blessed to be the Governor of Iowa where people are humble, hardworking, and patriotic. We take care of each other and, yes, we are as they say Iowa nice. But you don't have to be from Iowa to see that those are the values of America at its best. All of America.
Over the last few years, I put my faith in Iowans and they haven't let me down. I encourage this president to do the same, to put his faith in you, the American people, who have never wavered in your belief in this country regardless of who leads it because you know you've shown that the soul of America isn't about who lives in the White House. It's men and women like you in every corner of this nation who are willing to step up and take responsibility for your communities, for your neighbors, and ultimately for yourselves by that most important measure at least, the state of our union is indeed strong.
Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.
TAPPER: Republican Governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, with a harsh critique of President Biden and his speech. She, too, Dana, like President Biden, started off talking about foreign policy and then quickly pivoted to a speech largely focused on domestic policy.
One item she had to say about the items leading up to the run in, the run up rather of Putin's invasion, she said waiving sanctions on Russian pipelines while limiting oil production at home. That's a reference to the fact that there was a big effort in the Congress and bipartisan supported, to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany which Biden and the White House pushed back on because they felt like that would alienate Germany, a key ally in NATO.
Ultimately, everybody got to where, Ted Cruz was even happy, but it took a long time and, yes. It was more important to the Biden administration to have Germany onboard with their coalition than to impose the sanctions at that point.
BASH: And if you look at what has happened over the past week, that strategy from the Biden administration was right because had the Biden administration listened to -- mostly Republicans but some Democrats on Capitol Hill saying be more aggressive first and foremost about Nord Stream 2 about the pipeline that is built from Russia to give natural gas to Germany, but also even more broadly so many voices on the Republican side. But even the chairman of the --
TAPPER: Sure, Democrats do.
BASH: -- foreign relations committee saying we have to be more robust in sanctioning. The Biden administration said, we're not going to do it and it's because they were trying to make sure that the European allies and the U.S. were in lockstep. And by waiting, they actually made that happen.
Because the E.U., the NATO allies, everybody came together in a much more intense, aggressive way with these economic sanctions than every -- anybody ever imagined.
PHILLIP: This is such an interesting dynamic because I think you've seen that play out in a number of ways. The Biden administration basically saying we're working behind the scenes. And we're getting everybody together. We're letting the E.U. and European leaders announce first what they are going to do before we -- before we do that and Republicans see that and they say, Biden is leading from behind.
But the White House, their strategy has been to not get ahead of Europe, not to announce things unilaterally but to wait until there is broad consensus and that means that some of these things have been slower when it comes to sanctioning, for example, the Russian Central Bank and removing Russia from the SWIFT international banking system.
These were things the White House did wait until Europe was there. President Biden said on Thursday Europe is not there yet. And it wasn't until Saturday that those moves were made. But Republicans are taking that and accusing the Biden administration of being behind the eight ball.
But you know, I do think that people who are watching closely, observers of this crisis, will see the tactics here in not getting ahead of Europe when they're not ready and waiting until Germany does a complete about-face in their foreign policy on oil and gas, on SWIFT, and on Russia writ large as they did this weekend.
TAPPER: And this is a legitimate policy difference. I think it's fair to say among Republicans versus Joe Biden. Joe Biden, who ran for president talking about wanting to restore the alliances, the European alliances, the Pacific alliances, the Latin American alliances were shattered in his view during the Trump years.
And he's wanting to work as a group where as I am sure there are -- perhaps if Governor Reynolds becomes president Reynolds perhaps, she would have imposed sanctions on her own before Europe without the participation of NATO allies or the E.U. or maybe hoping that they would follow and perhaps that would have been more of a deterrent from the United States but it wouldn't have been as many countries at the same time. So, I guess it's a question of wit versus speed.
OSNOS: Exactly. I mean, from the beginning the Biden administration's approach was we have to go back and do a reset with our allies in NATO, get into Europe and start to say to people, look, we are here. We're going to be present for the big problems, not just Russia but also China.
And I think it's worth reminding people that there was one other moment of unity tonight which was when he talked about the possibility of these kinds of innovation acts, investing in competitiveness at home. That's something that's popular with Republicans too. Hasn't gotten a lot of attention.
But you didn't hear much about it, actually, in the Republican response. But it's something that you get -- there is support for it. This is part of Biden's plan, is to say it's not just authoritarianism in Russia, we're dealing with a crescent, an arc of authoritarianism.
PHILLIP: Although interestingly he did not mention China really tonight, which is surprising given how important he views China in the big scheme of things in terms of authoritarianism versus democracies.
And that has to do with Ukraine too. I think the White House is treading very carefully when it comes to China.
PHILLIP: They don't want to antagonize China. They want China to help rein Putin.
TAPPER: He mentioned Xi Jinping and he mentioned China but it was in the context of economic competitiveness.
PHILLIP: Right. Not in the context --
TAPPER: Not in the way he went after Vladimir Putin as an authoritarian aggressor causing a war in Ukraine. Let me go to Anderson Cooper in Ukraine.
COOPER: Yes, Jake, I'm standing by with our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto. I'm not sure how many Ukrainians were actually listening in to this obviously given what's going on and it's also the middle of the night here.
There wasn't a lot -- there was certainly a lot of praise of Ukraine, Ukrainian efforts against Vladimir Putin. There wasn't really anything new except banning Russian flights from U.S. airspace.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: They want more. They want more help. You've heard that from the Ukrainian president. You and I have heard that when we go in the streets. Because they do feel like they're fighting on their own. They appreciate the words, the support. They appreciate the economic suffocation or attempts to suffocate the Russian economy, penalizing them.
They appreciate the weapons coming in and more weapons are coming in. Particularly the ones that have been really helpful to the Ukrainian resistance, right? The shoulder-fired missiles targeting tanks and aircraft but they want more.
You heard the Ukrainian president call out for immediate membership in the E.U. today. Right? They want that kind of association with Europe that they think will give them greater strength.
COOPER: Unlikely that -- they're not going to be fast-tracked for membership in the European Union.
SCIUTTO: No. They won't. Some of those things that they're asking for frankly are just not going to happen. That's --
COOPER: Right. And no-fly zone.
SCIUTTO: And the no-fly zone. And we talk about it, and folks at home say why can't we do a no-fly zone? We've done them elsewhere. The sad fact is that that would put U.S. and Russian forces into direct and potentially deadly conflict with the potential for a much broader war.
COOPER: A no-fly zone only works if you're willing to shoot down the opposing aircraft. SCIUTTO: Exactly right. We're used to no-fly zones against places
that don't have near the military capabilities that Russia has. You do a no-fly zone over Iraq, American planes aren't really, except in rare circumstances, going to get shot at or shut down. Russia has formed a surface-to-air missile. Right? So, it's a great risk. But it also is a risk of further escalation. So, some of those things aren't going to happen.
On the flip side, though, to have an American president begin the state of that union, the American union, and talk at length about standing up for Ukraine and get -- and get bipartisan support repeatedly, I was thinking earlier, Putin has not only united Europe and NATO in a way it hasn't been united before, he's united arguably the most divided assembly in the world.
SCIUTTO: On that issue. Right?
COOPER: Well, I mean --
SCIUTTO: On that issue.
COOPER: Well, it's also extraordinary, I mean, he has united the European Union in a way that we haven't seen.
COOPER: Switzerland coming off their neutral -- you know, their historic neutral stance. Willing to have sanctions against Russia. Sweden sending arms to Ukraine.
SCIUTTO: Germany. I mean, think of Germany. Germany had a former chancellor who's been basically a lobbyist for Russia. Russia in Gerhard Schroder for a number of years here now and Germany resisting some of these biggest economic pieces like canceling Nord Stream 2 or also like sending lethal weapons. A week ago, Germany was sending only helmets.
SCIUTTO: And -- to Ukrainian -- Ukrainian military. And now is on board with a lot of this NATO support that we're seeing now.
COOPER: I mean, if -- you know, if the attack on Kyiv begins in full force very soon, the question is, you know, will those weapons continue to flow? Will they be able to get into Kyiv?
COOPER: Which is clearly, you know, from both the Russian perspective and the Ukrainian perspective a critical city to hold.
SCIUTTO: It is. And for the country as a whole. My understanding, speaking to U.S. military officials, is the supply lines are being maintained, that the U.S. and NATO are able to get crucial lethal assistance still into this country. U.S. doesn't want to advertise that. They don't want to talk about it because they know Russia's aware of it and they don't want Russia to attempt to cut it off.
But they're still getting it. Now, that doesn't necessarily last because Russia is sadly controlling more of the country over time. And I thought that as the president said today Russia ran into this wall of resistance. It didn't -- it didn't expect. That is the Ukrainian people.
I think we should acknowledge tonight that, one, the Ukrainian civilian population is facing greater danger than at any point in this conflict and will face more. It's my reporting that Russia will attack civilian targets more going forward. There's that.
And also sadly, again, it remains a David versus Goliath conflict here, that the math is not in support of the Ukrainian military resistance despite the bravery and the enormous successes they've had so far.
COOPER: Which is something President Zelenskyy acknowledged with Matthew Chance earlier today.
COOPER: Our Jim Sciutto, I appreciate it. I want to go to Kyiv and Clarissa Ward, who is standing by. Clarissa, you spent obviously a lot of time talking to people in Kyiv. I'm wondering what you think they will make of the remarks by President Biden tonight.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, as you said, it's really early here. It's coming up to 6 in the morning. It's been a relatively quiet three hours or so, which will be a welcome break for the people of Kyiv. I think that you and Jim really touched on it, though, there will be great appreciation for the solidarity, for the support.
I think Ukrainians have been very touched by this massive international outpouring. And I know also that the leadership has been pushing so hard for robust sanctions, particularly on oligarchs and elites close to President Putin.
So obviously, there will be gratitude for that. But the reality is that what the Ukrainians have been calling for, a no-fly zone, heavier weapons, admission to the E.U., those things are not going to happen. And to be honest, I don't think anybody here expected them to happen.
I think there is a realization that they are fighting this on their own to a certain extent. But the reality is on the ground when you look at what's happening, when you see that, you know, Russian forces are driving all over the southern city of Kherson, they are getting closer to potentially taking the southeastern city of Mariupol, they are launching what appears to be a major offensive on Ukraine's second city of Kharkiv, they have been upping the ante hugely here in Kyiv. There have been a number of strikes, some of them hitting civilian
targets. One of them hitting, you know, next to a Holocaust memorial. And with that column, that 40-mile column of tanks and armory and heavy weaponry heading closer and closer to the capital and the potential of it entirely encircling Kyiv, cutting it off, laying siege to it, and then frankly God knows what happens next.
There is of course the realization here that despite the support and the good words and the sanctions that more is needed from their perspective if they are actually to have a chance of being able to defeat the Russian army.
Now, there are more talks scheduled for what is now today here. And we'll see whether they even happen. The Ukrainian side had not really committed in full to those because they weren't sure if they wanted to attend them given the consistent bombardment.
And the question becomes even if those talks do happen, Anderson, what is the potential exit ramp at the moment? Where can there be a de- escalation? What concessions can be made by both sides? In reality it would have to be for this conflict to come to an end.
And I think for now it's not clear what that is.