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CNN Live Event/Special
America's Choice 2022; Biden News Conference After Midterm Elections; Biden Taking Questions From Reporters. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired November 09, 2022 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Certainly are very likely in the House, maybe in the Senate, and say, let's work together, let's work -- let's focus on what unites us rather than what divides us.
KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, also, I mean, to that point, elections are about the future, they are always about the future. And, by and large, the party that focuses the most on what is up next for people, is the part that wins and this election denialism stuff is not about that. It was about the past.
I mean, all those numbers that we saw, even the exit polling that showed, we are talking about last night, it showed how unhappy people were. This should have been a change election by all of our traditional metrics and it wasn't, that tells you that there was something deeply different.
I will say, if you are President Biden, I mean, I have to say, they have had various turns throughout the past three years, been able to look around at the national media and they have recovered and say, you have underestimated us, we are going to pull this out, we are seeing the things that we are seeing. We are prioritizing things we are prioritizing for a reason. I think even they were doubting it by the end, but honestly --
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It's one of the things that I've seen poster talking about this morning is really interesting is -- I don't want to take away President Biden's achievement, but one of the ways that Democrats did not have the horrible night that we feared was that people who were registered as somewhat disapproving of President Biden still voted for Democrats.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESOPNDENT: Which is a phenomenon we have been talking about I think four months. Biden, he is somewhat unpopular in a large swath of the elections. We saw that in the exits as well.
But in the polling over the summer, we saw voters basically saying, the generic ballot is more or less even between Republicans and Democrats because they're willing to cast a ballot for Democrat even while they may not approve of the president's performance. That has been the most unusual aspect of this race from the beginning.
And we can't forget about abortion here. I just think that -- we have never as a country had an election where abortion was on the ballot in the way that it was in the cycle. We saw the results.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I remember being in Arizona a couple of weeks ago, listening to Democratic voters talking about female voters, talking about the fact that they are convinced that there are going to be more people going out and voting on this issue then are telling. They are not out there holding signs, they're probably not even telling their husbands. But they feel it.
You know, maybe that was part of. It although, one thing I just want to go back to. This is a changed election in that things are going to change big time in Washington.
HUNT: Sure, that's right. But it's not a seat level.
BASH: It's not a sea change, but the approach is going to have to be different. We are going to have to kind of readjust -- the White House, most importantly, is going to have to readjust because for two years, they have been trying to jam through as much as they could of the Democratic agenda with very, very small majority.
Now, there's also going to be a small majority no matter what happens. It looks like on the Republican side that they're going to have to have control of the House. Whatever happened, you said it would be small, they're going to do it in a very different way. Maybe the Joe Biden who ran in 2020 will come out and work there.
WALLACE: You can't overstate. A Republican majority in the House, it seems likely to happen, no matter how small it is, is going to cause, it will still cause a sea change in this town. I mean, it will cause a seat change with policy, it will cause a sea change with investigations, it will cause a sea change in the budget, the debt limit, support for Ukraine. I mean, you know, Joe Biden makes a quote to declare victory, he has a much more complicated life.
HUNT: The irony is, that smaller makes it more complicated.
TAPPER: Because of the group that John Boehner once called the crazies or the walkover's. The far right freedom caucus that McCarthy, if he's a speaker, it is going to have to constantly be taken care of.
Anderson Cooper, back to you.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Jake, thank you very much. Want to check in with our folks here. Let me head to President Biden, about to speak.
David Axelrod, what do you expect here, or what do you hope here?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Those can be two different things.
Look, what I would advise would be to understand what the message was yesterday. I think it was a repudiation of extremism in all its forms. I think he should note that and understand that this wasn't an affirmation of policies so much as that. Recognize the people are still struggling with inflation and other challenges. Our job is to work together to try to solve them.
COOPER: You're talking about humility, that's what you're suggesting.
AXELROD: It's always good, humility is good. I would understand if your point in the White House because this was a far better result for them and then they anticipated.
So, it must have been an incredible relief. I would advise against being triumphant and make it not about him, but about the country, and what it says about the country, where we have to leave.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, this wasn't a mandate, a clear mandate for Joe Biden. I mean, he avoided the big red wave, which they were very afraid of. But this wasn't any kind of affirmation, you know, you have handled inflation well, you have handled everything well. He avoided disaster and he should reach across the aisle and because there is going to be a narrow majority if Republicans do take control of the House. So, he should be magnanimous in victory.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He might do all that. And h hope he does all that, but he would have the right to say, I told you so. You would have the right to say, I told you so.
COOPER: I told you so on what?
JONES: That America is better than you thought. That people are not going to go for extremism. Democracy matters to people, I told you so.
I think what is important about that is people were doubting on him. I was doubting on him. People were chewing their fingernails down to their elbows because we said, what is this guy doing?
Now, a lot of stuff happened at the grassroots level that we talk about. But, Biden had a fundamental faith that the American people were better than this nonsense and he was right.
COOPER: The last time he gave a speech, his final message to voters, it was about the best democracy, January 6th, drawing a line in the attack. He was attacked for it.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, I'll just say again, I agree with Dan here to serve extent. I do believe that this is going to go down in history. It is historic, if you're looking at trends, we all sat around here and everybody analyzed this. It's like baseball, who can throw a no hitter?
If you go back and look over the next hundred years, where the big blots dream midterms? There's going to be an asterisk for Bush, right, this is what happened, there's going to be an asterisk of this administration. What happened here is historic. I don't know if you can draw a direct line from this president to what happened. I don't know if it is that easy because this election kind of defies that.
URBAN: But I do believe that it is historic. To a certain extent, Ron Klain, and those in the White House have an opportunity to puff their chest out a little bit today. I would agree with David in terms of not being too jubilant, being a lid humble and saying, look, this is a chance for Biden to be the president that he ran on in 2020, bring America together.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Isn't the message in the exit polls we have saw, the best thing that ever happened to Joe Biden was Donald Trump. Again, the voters are not hot on Biden's policies, they're not on the direction of the country. They are not hot on the economy. But they were a little hotter on Biden the man than they are on Trump the man. So, once again, he has a political triumph because he is being compared to --
COOPER: Let's hear Alyssa.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, he has every right to take a victory lap, but to David's point, I would have some humility in this. He is running into, if Republicans take the House, it's going to be investigation after investigation, subpoenas flying to the White House, bringing his cabinet officials forward, trying to impeach him.
This is much more difficult with the slim majority for Kevin McCarthy and I think if he strikes a tone --
URBAN: I think it makes it much easier.
GRIFFIN: It actually could lead to a building more of the governing majority with some of the more moderate House Republicans who for years have been overwritten by --
COOPER: There is an opportunity.
GRIFFIN: There's an opportunity and I think that's what you should be looking for.
COOPER: But that can be done at a time when the rest of the Republican Party is having investigations?
GRIFFIN: I think that this is a wake up call for the Republican Party. I think they need to realize this was a referendum on extremism. People don't want to debate to Hunter Biden. They want to bring down gas prices. They want to put, you know, food on peoples tables.
AXELROD: My point is not that, he should be proud of what the country did, but all I'm saying is, he should make it about the country and all about himself. That's what I'm talking about.
And in terms of your point, Alyssa, I think what we saw yesterday was yes, the Democratic base was mobilized. But the reason these candidates won was because independents swung it hard to them. They were the people who also swung to Joe Biden in 2020. Some of them had lost faith in him, just to speak to fundamental kind of are stake in each other and so on.
JONES: I want to ask you, Gloria.
BORGER: This isn't Biden's first rodeo here. He knows what happened in the '90s for example. He understands that the potential for Republican overreach is huge. I think he has to kind of play cool because he knows what is sitting out there, as Alyssa is talking about.
He knows they're talking about investigation. He knows you're talking about impeachment. He knows they're talking about Hunter Biden, et cetera, et cetera.
So, he can use them as a foil and I think right now, he's got to be cool -- he's got to be cool about it.
JONES: Look, I think that's right. I agree that the independents were key here. But I don't want to take away what he does. The base actually did its job. And I think -- I hope the White House takes a lesson.
Biden came through for the base. Biden came through -- he did the climate stuff they were begging him to do. He did the marijuana stuff they are begging him to do. He did the student loan stuff they were begging him to do.
He did a bunch of stuff they were begging him to do. And people showed up. And the young people showed up. I think -- we don't know how to poll these folks, we got to poll them on TikTok, or something else.
JONES: Snapchat or something. Voters for Tomorrow, Movement Voter Project, Alliance for Youth Action, these organizations actually perform very, very well with very little money. So, I hope he also acknowledges the base.
JENNINGS: Based on everything you just said, here's a question I have. If you're Joe Biden today, do you feel emboldened to run for reelection already go out and say, I'm going out.
COOPER: That was my next question.
JENNINGS: Because I was proud for myself in his shoes. On the one hand, you could -- if you are here --
COOPER: What would you do?
JENNINGS: I'm all in, especially if I'm going to get Trump again because it's obvious I can beat (ph) Trump. On the other hand, if Republicans -- so, I don't know, it's interesting.
AXELROD: You know, I'm going to get in trouble for saying this, I think Joe Biden, for both parts of what I'm going to say, I think Joe Biden will be in the history. History will kindly on Joe Biden for what he's done as president for the United States. JONES: Amen.
AXELROD: Defeating Trump, leading the country through this pandemic. However you feel about elements of what he did, the legislative things he is accomplished, which were truly historic, some of which will have generational impact.
AXELROD: Infrastructure, I think the climate stuff.
But be that as it may, if he was 60 years old, there's no doubt that he should lean in and he should run. And nobody would question that.
I've said it a million times and say it again, the issue is not political. The issue is actuarial. He's going to have to decide, if he would be 82 years old when he became president of the United States. He would be 86, closer to 90, by the time he finished.
This is going to be an issue. And so, to say, hey, we have good midterm so I'm in.
COOPER: David, if you were advising, what would you --
AXELROD: I would take advantage of this moment, frankly. i think he's got so much to his credit. I think this would be a great moment, I mean, not today, but I think it would be much harder in certain ways for a guy who has a lot of pride to say after a bad mentor, you know what, I think it's time for me to go. He has more latitude to do that.
COOPER: You think there are advisers in the White House who, if they felt that, would actually say that to Joe Biden.
AXELROD: Yeah, I think there probably are, but I also think that he and his family are going to make.
BORGER: This is a Biden discussion. This is a discussion with his wife. We don't know where she is on this issue.
Also, you have to consider it on Trump's weakened, he also has to consider who else might he run against. If DeSantis is suddenly empowered, then that's a -- that's a very tough opponent. I wonder how that would implicate things.
COOPER: But you could also look at the other way. If it is Ron DeSantis and he looks at Ron DeSantis and thinks, is he that likable? Can he run a national campaign?
URBAN: Yeah, so 24 hours, look at this, 24 hours ago, we are sitting here and like Trump is going to be the nominee. He's announcing on Tuesday.
BORGER: Right. URBAN: Nobody's going to beat Donald Trump. Who can unseat the king, right? And this morning, the front page of "The New York Post" is like, the future, right?
GRIFFIN: But we've seen this before.
URBAN: No, I'm not so sure we've seen this before. There is a human cry I heard from people in Pennsylvania last night until I chose to turn off my phone at 5:00 a.m. They are really upset. This is not big donors, these are grassroots people.
BORGER: It is the emperor has no clothes?
GRIFFIN: Do my fellow Republicans care more about losing or storming the Capitol, trying to overthrow the government?
GRIFFIN: But he lost his already, and they all go back to him. I'm not convinced Trump's done.
JENNINGS: I think you're right about what happened on January 6th, and he was weak then. The reason he has not been weaker than now is because there's never been a viable alternative now. At this point, Republicans can see the next lily pad. They never could see it before.
URBAN: And, listen, just take this for example, let's look at places where Trump to touch. Running away head of Herschel. DeWine runs way ahead of JD. Everywhere, you know --
AXELROD: You guys are making a logical argument. Alyssa's point is --
URBAN: My point to Alyssa was the demonstrable effect.
GRIFFIN: I bet, mark my words, in three months, Kevin McCarthy and Rick Scott are going to be down at Mar-a-Lago begging for money.
JONES: Three weeks.
AXELROD: Do you think Republicans shows Donald Trump in 2016 because they sat down and said, here is the guy who can lead us to victory? No, they did it because they had an emotional attachment.
COOPER: This is a Vegas nerve thing.
JENNINGS: Rick Scott is having a meeting in three months with Donald Trump isn't going to mean too much basically from what I'm hearing today. I mean, let's be honest, this -- the agenda that he laid out this year was an albatross in every Senate race.
URBAN: And I said, one final pithy comment, if I do say so --
URBAN: Listen, the center of the Republican Party is in Florida and it is no longer at Mar-a-Lago. It's Tallahassee, right? Ron DeSantis is where people are going to be going, not Mar-a-Lago.
COOPER: I think I just heard somebody in Mar-a-Lago screaming when you said that.
BORGER: I think it's early. I think it's early. I'm going to agree with Alyssa. That's why it looks today --
COOPER: Let's go back to Biden and what you think he's about -- well, here comes the president.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good afternoon. Well, we had an election yesterday.
And it was a good day, I think, for democracy. And I think it was a good day for America. Excuse me, I'm a little hoarse.
Our democracy has been tested in recent years. But with their votes, the American people have spoken and proven once again that democracy is who we are.
The states across the country saw record voter turnout. And the heart and soul of our democracy -- the voters, the poll workers, the election officials -- they did their job and they fulfilled their duty, and apparently without much interference at all -- without any interference, it looks like. And that's a testament, I think, to the American people.
While we don't know all of the results yet -- at least, I don't know them all yet -- here's what we do know. While the press and the pundits are predicting a giant red wave, it didn't happen. And I know you were somewhat miffed by my -- my obsessant optimism, but I felt good during the whole process. I thought we were going to do fine.
While any seat lost is painful -- some good Democrats didn't win last night -- Democrats had a strong night. And we lost fewer seats in the House of Representatives than any Democratic president's first midterm election in the last 40 years. And we had the best midterms for governors since 1986.
And another thing that we know is that voters spoke clearly about their concerns -- about raising costs -- the rising costs and the need to get inflation down. There are still a lot of people hurting that are very concerned. And it's about crime and public safety. And they sent a clear and unmistakable message that they want to preserve our democracy and protect the right to choose in this country.
And I especially want to thank the young people of this nation, who I'm told, I haven't seen the numbers, voted in historic numbers again and just as they did two years ago. They voted to continue addressing the climate crisis, gun violence, their personal rights and freedoms, and the student debt relief.
Last night, I was pleased to call Maxwell Frost, the 25-year-old who got elected -- I guess the youngest man ever elected to the United States Congress. And I told him that he -- I told him that I was the first elected -- the second-youngest person ever elected to the United States Senate at 29; that I have no doubt he's off to an incredible start in what, I'm sure, will be a long, distinguished career. And when he's President and they say, "Joe Biden is out in the outer office," I don't want him to say, "Joe who?"
But the voters were also clear that they're still frustrated. I get it. I understand it's been a really tough few years in this country for so many people.
When I came to office, we inherited a nation with a pandemic raging and an economy that was reeling. And we acted quickly and boldly to vaccinate the country and to create a stable and sustained growth in our economy; long-term investment to rebuild America itself and our roads, our bridges, our ports, our airports, clean water systems, high-speed Internet.
And we're just getting started. The interesting thing is that this is all going to really come into clear view for people in the months -- in the months of January, February, March of next year. It's just getting underway. So, I'm optimistic about how the public is going to even be more embracive of what we've done.
Historic investments that are leading companies to invest literally hundreds of billions of dollars combined to build semiconductor factories and other advanced manufacturing here in America. It's going to create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs.
And, by the way, a significant number of those jobs are going to be jobs that pay an average of $126,000, $127,000.
And you don't need a college degree to get those jobs.
We're dealing with global inflation as a result of the pandemic and Putin's war in Ukraine. We're also handling it better than most other advanced nations in the world.
We're lowering gas prices. We looking - we're taking on powerful interests to lower prescription drug costs and health insurance premiums and energy bills.
After 20 months of hard work, the pandemic no longer controls our lives. It's still a concern, but it no longer controls our lives. Our economic policies have created a record 10 million new jobs since I came into office. The unemployment rate is down from 6.4 when I was sworn in to 3.7 percent -- near a 50-year low. And we've done all this while lowering the federal deficit in the two years by $1.7 trillion. Let me say it again: $1.7 trillion. No administration has ever cut the deficit that much.
And reducing the federal deficit is one of the best things we can do to lower inflation. But while we've made real progress as a nation, I know it's hard for folks to see that project -- that progress in their everyday lives.
And it's hard to see the results from actions that we took while -- that we have to implement what we've done. But I believe we took the right steps for the country and for the American people.
In fact, if you look at the polls, an overwhelming majority -- I don't look at them much anymore, because I'm not sure how to read them anymore. I hope you are uncertain as well.
But the overwhelming majority of the American people support the elements of my economic agenda, from rebuilding America's roads and bridges, to lowering prescription drug costs, to a historic investment in tackling the climate crisis; to making sure that large corporations begin to pay their fair share in taxes.
And I'm confident these policies are working and that we're on the right path, and we need to stick with them.
All these initiatives take hold as they do, from lead pipes being removed from schools and homes, to new factories being built in communities with a resurgence of American manufacturing. It's already created, by the way, 700,000 brand new manufacturing jobs.
You've heard me say it ad nauseam: I don't know where it's written it says we can't be the manufacturing capital of the world. We are now exporting product, not jobs, around the world.
People across the country are going to see even more clearly the positive effects on their day-to-day lives. But I still understand why they're hurting right now and so many people are concerned.
As I have throughout my career, I'm going to continue to work across the aisle to deliver for the American people. And it's not always easy, but we did it the first term. And I'll be surprised lot of people that we signed over 210 bipartisan laws since I've become president. And we're revitalizing American manufacturing; gun safety, we did it together, and dozens of laws positively impacting on our veterans.
And let me say this: Regardless -- regardless of what the final tally in these elections show -- and there's still some counting going on -- I'm prepared to work with my Republican colleagues. The American people have made clear, I think, that they expect Republicans to be prepared to work with me as well.
In the area of foreign policy, I hope we'll continue this bipartisan approach of confronting Russia's aggression in Ukraine.
When I return from the G20 meetings in Indonesia with other world leaders, I'm going to invite the leaders of both political parties, as I've done in the past on my foreign trips, to the White House to discuss how we can work together for the remainder of this year and into the next Congress to advance the economic and national security priorities of the United States.
And I'm open to any good ideas. I want to be very clear: I'm not going to support any Republican proposal that's going to make inflation worse. For example, the voters don't want to pay higher prescription costs for drugs. We've cut that now. We're going to kick into gear next year -- the next calendar year. And I'm not going to walk away from the historic commitments we just made to take on the climate crisis. They're not compromise-able issues to me, and I won't let it happen.
The voters don't want more taxes for the super we -- tax cuts for the super wealthy and biggest corporations. And I'm going to continue to focus on cost-cutting for working- and middle-class families, and building an economy from the bottom up in the middle out. I know you're tired of hearing me say that, but I genuinely mean it. That's what makes America grow. The wealthy do very well when the middle class is doing well, and the poor have a way up, and while continuing to bring down the federal deficit.
You know, as we look at tax cuts, we should be looking at tax cuts for working people and middle-class people, not the very wealthy. They're fine. I -- look, I -- if you can go out and be a multimillionaire, that's great.
Just pay your fair share. That's all. That's all. Just pay your fair share. It's like those 55 corporations in 2000 that made $40 billion and didn't pay a penny in federal taxes.
It's not right. Everybody has an obligation. So now they have to pay a staggering 15 percent. And you all pay more than that in your taxes.
So I'm going to keep my commitment that no one -- no one earning less than $400,000 a year -- and that's a lot of money, where I come from -- are going to see their federal taxes go up.
And I want to be very clear: Under no circumstances will I support the proposal put forward by Senator Johnson and the senator from down in Florida to cut or make fundamental changes in Social Security and Medicare. That's not on the table. I will not do that.
I will veto any attempt to pass a national ban on abortion.
But I'm ready to compromise with the Republicans where it makes sense on many other issues. And I'll always put the needs and interests of the American people first.
So let me close with this. On this election season, the American people made it clear: They don't want every day going forward to be a constant political battle. There's too much that -- of that going on. And there's too much that we have to do.
The future of America is too promising -- too promising to be trapped in an endless political warfare.
And I really mean it. You've heard me say it time and again for the last 20 months or so: I am so optimistic about the prospects for America. We need to be looking to the future, not fixated on the past. And that future is bright as can be.
We're the only nation in the world that's come out of every crisis stronger than we went into the crisis. And that's a fact. I mean -- I mean, I literally mean that: We've come out stronger than we've gone in.
And I've never been more optimistic about America's future than I am today. You know, I -- particularly because of all those young people I've talked about, 18 to 30. They're showing up.
They're the best-educated generation in American history. They're the least prejudiced generation in American history, the most engaged generation in American history, and the most involved.
Look, after a long campaign season, I still believe what I always have: This is a great nation, and we're a great people. And it's never been a good bet to bet against America. Never been a good bet to bet against America.
There's nothing, nothing beyond our capacity if we work together. We just need to remember who the hell we are. We're the United States of America, the United States of America. There's nothing beyond our capacity.
And I'm pretty well convinced that we're going to be able to get a lot done. Now, I've been given a list of 10 people that I'm supposed to call on. And you're all supposed to ask me one question, but I'm sure you'll ask me more.
And so let me start off with a list I've been given. Zeke Miller, Associated Press.
REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President. I have two questions for you. As you mentioned --
BIDEN: How come we never hold you guys to the same standards you hold us to?
But, anyway, go ahead.
BIDEN: I'm teasing. I'm teasing. I'm teasing. I'm teasing. REPORTER: You mentioned that Americans are frustrated. And, in fact, 75 percent of voters say the country is heading in the wrong direction, despite the results of last night. What in the next two years do you intend to do differently to change people's opinion of the direction of the country, particularly as you contemplate a run for president in 2024?
BIDEN: Nothing, because they're just finding out what we're doing. The more they know about what we're doing, the more support there is.
Do you know anybody who wants us to get rid of the change we made on prescription drug prices and raise prices again? Do you know anybody who wants us to walk away from building those roads and bridges and -- and the Internet and so on? I don't -- I don't know any --
I think that the problem is the major piece of legislation we passed -- and some of it bipartisan -- takes time to be recognized.
For example, you got -- you got over a trillion dollars' worth of infrastructure money, but not that many spades have been put in the ground. It's taking time.
For example, I was on the phone congratulating a Californian recently and then someone in -- up in Scranton, Pennsylvania -- the Congressman who got elected. And he said, "Can you help us make sure we're able to have high-speed rail service from Scranton to New York City?" I said, "Yeah, we can. We can."
First of all, it'll make it a lot easier, take a lot of vehicles off the road. And we have more money in the -- in the pot now already -- already out there -- we voted for -- than the entire money we spent on Amtrak to begin with.
It's the same way -- for example, I talked about, through the campaign, that we're going to limit the cost of insulin for seniors to $35 a month instead of $400 a month. Well, it doesn't take effect until next year.
So there's a lot of things that are just starting to kick in. And the same way with what we've done in terms of environmental stuff. It takes time to get it moving.
So, I'm not going to change -- as a matter of fact, you know there's some things I want to change and add to. For example, we had -- passed the most bipartisan, we passed the most extensive gun legislation, anti -- you know, rational gun policy in 30 years. And -- but we didn't ban assault weapons. I'm going to ban assault weapons. They're going to try like the devil.
So, I'm not going to change the direction. I said I ran for three reasons. I'm going to continue to stay where I'm -- and I know -- I fully understand the legitimate concern that what I'm saying is wrong. Okay?
One is that I said we're going to restore the soul of the country, begin to treat each other with decency, honor, and integrity. And it's starting to happen. People are -- the conversations are becoming more normal, becoming more -- how can I say it? -- decent.
Second thing I said is I want to build a country from the middle out and the bottom up. And that way, everybody does fine. I'm tired of trickle-down. Not a whole lot trickles down when you trickle down to hardworking folks.
And the third thing -- I know is still very hard -- I'm going to do everything in my power to see through that we unite the country. It's hard to sustain yourself as a leading democracy in the world if you can't -- can't generate some unity.
So, I'm not going to change anything in any fundamental way.
REPORTER: And just on a different topic, Mr. President. Russia today claimed that it had evacuated the Kherson region and the Kherson City. Do you believe that this is potentially an inflection in that conflict? And do you believe that Ukraine now has the leverage it needs to begin peace negotiations with Moscow?
BIDEN: First of all, I found it interesting they waited until after the election to make that judgment, which we knew for some time that they were going to be doing. And it's evidence of the fact that they have some real problems, Russian -- the Russian military. Number one.
Number two, whether or not that leads to -- at a minimum, it will lead to time for everyone to recalibrate their positions over the winter period. And it remains to be seen whether or not there'll be a judgment made as to whether or not Ukraine is prepared to compromise with Russia.
I'm going to be going to the G20. I'm told that President Putin is not likely to be there, but other world leaders are going to be there in Indonesia. And we're going to have an opportunity to see what -- what the next steps may be.
Nancy, CBS. Nancy Cordes.
REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President. I have a few questions.
REPORTER: I've been saving them up.
First of all, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said last night that: It is clear we are going to take the House back.
Do you think he's probably right about that?
BIDEN: Well, based on what we know as -- as of today, we've -- we've lost very few seats for certain. We still have a possibility of keeping the House, but it's going to be close. And -- for example, in Nevada, we won all three of those seats -- contested seats. I went out for each, and I spoke with each -- for each of those folks. But we won them all. I didn't know that last night.
So it's a moving target right now, but it's going to be very close. REPORTER: Can you -- can you describe your relationship with Mr. McCarthy? How often do you speak to him? What do you think of him?
BIDEN: I think he's the Republican Leader, and I haven't had much of occasion to talk to him. But I will be talking to him. I think -- I think I'm talking to him later today.
REPORTER: When it comes to your legislative agenda -- when you were vice president, your legislative agenda basically ran into a brick wall two years in when Republicans took control of the House, and that lasted for the rest of the Obama presidency.
Is there any way for you to prevent that same fate from happening this time around --
REPORTER: -- if Republicans take control of the House?
BIDEN: Yes, because it's going to be much closer if they take control.
Look, the predictions were -- and again, I'm not being critical of anybody who made the predictions. I got it, okay? This was supposed to be a red wave. You guys -- you were talking about us losing 30 to 50 seats and this was going to -- we're nowhere near -- that's not going to happen.
And so, there's always enough people in the -- on the other team, whether it's Democrat or Republican, that the opposite party can make an appeal to and maybe pick them off to get the help.
And -- and so it remains to be seen.
But, look, I doubt whether or not -- for example, all the talk -- I'd ask the -- I don't expect you to answer, but the rhetorical question: Do you think that, you know, Senator Johnson is going to move to cut Medicare and Social Security? And if he does, how many Republicans do you think are going to vote for it?
So, it depends.
REPORTER: And then, my -- my final question.
Republicans have made it clear that if they do take control of the House, that they want to launch a raft of investigations on day one into your handling of Afghanistan, the border. They want to look into some of your Cabinet officials. They want to investigate you. They may even want to investigate your son.
What's your message to Republicans who are considering investigating your family and, particularly, your son Hunter's business dealings?
BIDEN: Lots of luck in your senior year, as my coach used to say. Look, I think the American public want us to move on and get things done for them. And, you know, I heard that there were -- it was reported -- whether it's accurate or not, I'm not sure -- but it was reported many times that Republicans were saying, and the former president said, "How many times are you going to impeach Biden?"
You know, impeachment proceedings against -- I mean, I think the -- I think the American people will look at all of that for what it is. It's just almost comedy. I mean, it's -- but, you know, look, I can't control what they're going to do. All I can do is continue to try to make life better for the American people.
Okay. Phil. Phil Mattingly, CNN.
PHIL MATTINGY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Mr. President. I have 37 -- I'm kidding.
MATTINGLY: Sir, at a fundraiser last month, you said, quote, "The rest of the world is looking at this election -- both the good guys and the bad guys." You noted you're going to G20 in a couple days. You'll come face to face with many of those leaders at the same moment that your predecessor is considering launching his reelection effort. How should those world leaders, both good guys and bad guys, view this moment both for America and for your presidency?
BIDEN: Well, first of all, these world leaders know we're doing better than anybody else in the world, as a practical matter. Notwithstanding the difficulties we have, our economy is growing. You saw the last report; we're still growing at 2.6 percent. We're creating jobs. We're still in a solid position. And there's not many other countries in the world that are in that position.
And I promise you, from the telephone calls I still have and from the meetings I have with other heads of state, they're looking to the United States and saying, how are you doing? And what are you doing? What can we do together? How -- so I think that the vast majority of my colleagues -- at least those colleagues who are NATO members -- European Union, Japan, South Korea, et cetera -- I think they're looking to cooperate and wanting to know how -- how we can help one another.
And what was the other question?
MATTINGLY: I hadn't asked it yet.
BIDEN: Oh, I'm sorry.
MATTINGLY: No, no, no. So, I think the -- one way to follow up on that is you noted that you felt like there was a shift in terms of people being willing to show more decency in this moment. You've often talked about breaking the fever or kind of a transition from this moment that we faced over the last several years. Do you feel like the election is what represents that? Do you feel like the fever has broken, I guess? BIDEN: Well, I'm not -- I don't think we're going to break the fever for the super mega MAGA Republicans. I mean -- but I think they're a minority of the Republican Party. I think the vast majority of the members of the Republican Party, we disagree strongly on issues but they're decent, honorable people. We have differences of agreement on issues.
But they -- you know, I -- I worked with a lot of these folks in the Senate and the House for a long time. And, you know, they -- they're -- they're honest, and they're straightforward. They're different than mine, but they're -- you know, they're -- they're decent folks.
And so, I think that the rest of the world -- and a lot of you have covered other parts of the world, and you know -- the rest of the world is looking at the United States. I guess the best way to say this is to -- is to repeat what you've -- some -- some of you've heard me say before.
The first G7 meeting -- for the public, that's the -- the seven largest democracies -- when I went to -- right after we got elected, in February, after I got sworn in in January. And I sat down at a table -- a roundtable with the six other world leaders from the European Union, the United -- and Canada, et cetera, and said, America is back.
And one of them turned to me and said, for how long? For how long? It was a deadly earnest question: For how long?
And I looked at them. And then another one went on to say -- and I'm not going to name them -- went on to say, what would you say, Joe, if, in fact, you went -- we went to bed tonight here in -- in England, woke up the next morning and found out that thousands of people had stormed the parliament of Great Britain, gone down the hall, broken down the doors, two cops ended up dying, a number of people injured, and they tried to stop the -- the confirmation of an election? It's not the same situation, obviously, as we have.
And he said, what would you think?
And what -- I ask a rhetorical question: What would you all think? You'd think England was really in trouble. You'd think democracy was on the edge if that happened in Great Britain.
And so, that's the way people were looking at us, like, when is this going to stop? Nothing like this has happened since the Civil War. I don't want to exaggerate. But literally, nothing like this has happened since the Civil War.
And so, what I find is that they want to know: Is the United States stable? Do we know what we're about? Are we the same democracy we've always been?
Because, look, the rest of the world looks to us -- I don't mean that we're always -- like we're always right. But if the United States tomorrow were to, quote, withdraw from the world, a lot of things would change around the world. A whole lot would change.
And so, they're very concerned that we are still the open democracy we've been and that we have rules and the institutions matter. And that's the context in which I think that they're looking at: Are we back to a place where we are going to accept decisions made by the Court, by the Congress, by the government, et cetera?
MATTINGLY: So the entire genesis of that G7 conversation was tied to your predecessor, who is about to launch another campaign. So how do you reassure them, if that is the reason for their questioning, that the former president will not return or that his political movement, which is still very strong, will not --
BIDEN: Oh, yeah?
MATTINGLY: -- once again take power in the United States?
BIDEN: Well, we just have to demonstrate that he will not take power by -- if we -- if he does run. I'm making sure he, under legitimate efforts of our Constitution, does not become the next president again.
Steve, Reuters. I'm sorry. Steve Holland.
REPORTER: Thank you, sir. How do you interpret last night's results in terms of deciding whether you want to seek another term? Is it now more likely that you will run? And what's going to be your timeline for consideration?
BIDEN: Well, first of all, Jill and I have -- and by the way, this is my wife, Jill, who's a hell of a lot more popular than I am in the Democratic Party, too.
But at any rate, all kidding aside, our intention is to run again. That's been our intention, regardless of what the outcome of this election was. And the fact that we won -- we -- I didn't run -- the fact that the Democratic Party outperformed anything anyone expected and did better than any off-year presidency since John Kennedy is one that gives everybody, like, "Hoo" -- sigh of relief -- that the mega Republicans are not taking over the government again, et cetera.
And so, my judgment of running, when I announce -- if I -- now, my intention is that I run again. But I'm a great respecter of fate. And this is, ultimately, a family decision. I think everybody wants me to run, but they're go -- we're going to have discussions about it. And I don't feel any -- any hurry one way or another what -- to make that judgment today, tomorrow, whenever, no matter what the -- my predecessor does.
REPORTER: By end of the year or early next year? Or what's your -- what's you're thinking?
BIDEN: Well, I -- my guess is -- I hope Jill and I get a little time to actually sneak away for a week around -- between Christmas and Thanksgiving. And my guess is it would be early next year we make that judgment. But it is my plan to do it now. I mean, but -- you know.
Okay, I'm sorry. Karen. Karen Travers of ABC Radio.
REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President.
WNBA star Brittney Griner today was moved to a Russian penal colony to serve out her nine-year sentence. Do you have an update right now on her condition? What do you know about that?
And does this mark a new phase in negotiations with the Russians to secure her release? Can the U.S. now fully engage in talks on a prisoner swap? And then a follow-up, if I can.
BIDEN: Well, we've been -- we've been engaging on a regular basis. I've been -- I've been spending a fair amount of time with -- with her wife about what's going on with her.
And my guess is -- my hope is that now that the election is over, that Mr. Putin will be able to discuss with us and be willing to talk more seriously about a prisoner exchange.
That is my intention. My intention is to get her home. And we've had a number of discussions so far. And I'm hopeful that, now that our election is over, there is a willingness to negotiate more specifically with us. Thank you.
REPORTER: And, if I can, your Press Secretary had said that the U.S. government has continued to follow up on that significant offer but also had proposed alternative potential ways forward with the Russians.
Can you tell us what those "alternative ways forward" are and how Russia has responded to those?
BIDEN: Yes, I can, but I won't. Okay, I can't -- I mean, you know, it would -- it would not be a wise thing to do in order to see if they would move forward.
But it is my -- I'm telling you, I am determined to get her home and get her home safely -- along with others, I might add.
REPORTER: Of "TheGrio".
BIDEN: Of "TheGrio". Excuse me. I beg your pardon.
REPORTER: Thank you, sir.
BIDEN: I got it right last time we did this.
REPORTER: Yes, you did. Yes, you did. Mr. President, I have a couple of questions on several issues. One, the Supreme Court. As you know, the Supreme Court has before it the issue of college admissions and affirmative action. What can and are you planning in case of a rollback that is expected?
There are legal analysts that say that there will be drastic implications, there are tentacles from this, and they even say that this can impact Brown v. Board, the decision from Brown v. Board.
BIDEN: Well, you know, first of all, I asked our Justice Department to defend the present policy before the Supreme Court. And like a lot of pundits, I'm not prepared to believe that the Supreme Court is going to overrule the pre -- the existing decision. That's far from certain. And I don't -- I don't believe that.
But number one -- so, number one, what I did to try to change it is object to it before the Supreme Court of the United States, our administration.
Number two, I -- there are a number of things that we can and must do to make it -- and, by the way, this is a case involving an Asian American, in terms of getting into school, and whether there's affirmative action makes sense at all from the standpoint of those who are arguing against it.
But, you know, the fact is that we're -- we're also in a circumstance where there's a lot that we can do in the meantime to make sure that there's an access to good education across the board. And that is by doing things that relate to starting education at age three -- formal schooling at age three -- which it increases -- not daycare, but school. All the studies over 10 years show that that increases the prospect of someone making it through 12 years without any difficulty, no matter what the background they come from, by 56 percent.
And I also think that we should be making sure that we have the ability to provide for two years of education beyond that, whether it's apprenticeships or community colleges.
And we also are in a situation where I think that -- for example, I want to make sure we -- a lot of it has to do with finances as well, that we make sure that we have help for people who come from modest means to be able to get to school.
You know, the cost of college education has increased fourfold. And it used to be that a Pell Grant would cover something like 70 percent of the college tuition. Now it covers significantly less than that. So I want to increase the Pell Grants as well.
But let's see what the Supreme Court decides. And I'm -- I am hopeful. And our team and our -- the lawyers who argued for us are not nearly as certain as the people you quoted as saying it's going to be overruled.
REPPORTER: Next question, sir. The issue is inflation. TheGrio and KFF conducted a study of Black voters that said inflation was the number one issue, and we saw it in this midterm election. What can you promise concretely in these next two years that will help turn the pocketbook for the better in the midst of staving off a recession?
BIDEN: Well, a number of things. First of all, un -- Black unemployment is almost cut in half under my administration just since I began. More Black businesses have opened up -- small businesses -- than ever before.
We're now in a situation where we're providing, through the Small Business Administration, down payments for people buying homes, because most people accumulate wealth in the value of their home, most middle-class families like mine. My dad bought a home, didn't have -- just scraped together to get a home. By the time he was able to retire, he was -- he had built up equity in a home.
That's how most people do that.
And so -- but what I can't do is I can't guarantee that we're going to be able to get rid of inflation, but I do think we can. We brought -- we've already brought down the price of gasoline about $1.20 a gallon across the board.
And I think that the oil companies are really doing the nation a real disservice. They've made -- six of them made over $100 billion in the last quarter in profit. A hundred billion dollars.
In the past, if they had done the two things that they had done before -- one, invest in more refineries and producing more product and/or passing on the rebates to the gas stations that -- you know, they sell the oil at a cheaper rate than they have to -- than they are selling it now, not taking advantage. And that lowers the price of the total gallon of gas because that gets passed on.
So there's a whole lot of things that we can do that are -- that are difficult to do, but we're going to continue to push to do them.
And the other thing is that one of the things that makes a gigantic difference is what are the costs that exist in the average family and the average Black community. One, prescription drug costs. Well, we're driving those down precipitously, beginning next year.
And, you know, I'll bet you know a lot of people in the African American and -- and Caucasian community that -- that need to take insulin for diabetes. Well, we're going to reduce that cost. They're not going to pay more than $35 for the insulin instead of four -- average of $400.
And I can go down the list of the things that -- my dad used to say it a different way. At the end of the month, the things you have to pay for, from your mortgage to food on the table to gasoline in the automobile, do you have enough money to do it? And when it's done, do you have anything left over? And medical bills are a big piece of that, particularly in the African American community and the poor -- and poorer communities. They need help.
And so, we're driving down all of those costs. And we've already passed the legislation to do that; it's just taking effect.
So there's a lot of things we can do to affect the things that people need on a monthly basis to reduce their inflation, their cost of living.
And so -- but I am optimistic, because we continue to grow and at a rational pace, we're not anywhere near a recession right now, in terms of the growth. But I think we can have what most economists call a "soft landing." I'm convinced that we're going to be able to gradually bring down prices so that they, in fact, end up with us not having to move into a recession to be able to get control of inflation.
REPORTER: And , Mr. President, last question on humanity. I know, everybody else got some.
REPORTER: Not everybody else.
REPORTER: Well, you're coming.
BIDEN: Okay, go ahead.
REPORTER: Last question on humanity. Sir, you can't legislate and you can't executive order out the issue of empathy or the lack thereof in the midst of this rhetoric -- this heated political rhetoric. What's next?
BIDEN: Part of what I think leadership requires -- and I hope I meet the standard -- is letting people know you understand their problem.
Again, my dad used to have an expression. He said, I don't expect the government to solve my problems, but I expect them to at least know what they are, understand them.
And like a lot of you, we've been very fortunate as a family, but we've also been through a lot of fairly tough times. And it's not -- and I've had the great advantage of having a family to get through them.
When my first wife and daughter were killed when a tractor trailer broadsided them and killed my wife and -- killed my -- my first wife and killed my daughter, and my two boys were expected to die; they were in the -- it took the Jaws of Life three hours to get them out. They were on top of their dead mother and dead sister.
I understand what that pain is like.
And when Jill and I lost Beau after a year in Iraq, winning the Bronze Star and Conspicuous Service Medal, a major in the United States military, came home with Stage 4 glioblastoma because, he lived about 200, 5 -- between 200 and 500 yards from burn pit that's 10 feet deep and as big as a football field, burning every toxic waste you could find. You know, I think that we -- we understand what it's like to lose family members, mothers, fathers, to can -- all of you have been through that kind of thing.
We've been fortunate, though. We've had each other. We've had strong families -- Jill's sisters, my brothers, my sister.
And so what we can do to deal with that empathy is make sure there's help available, make sure there's people who are there to help -- whether they are a psychologist or whether they're medical doctors or whether they're social workers -- to be there to help, to help just hold a hand.
And, for example, we can do an awful lot for a lot of families, the families you're talking about, if we re -- reinstate this child tax credit. It cut child poverty by 40 percent when it was in place. I couldn't get it passed the second time around.
So there's a lot we can do. And the empathy is not just talking about it, it's communicating to people you genuinely understand. And I hope a lot of people don't understand, because they -- I don't want people having to know the pain.
But the second piece of that is: Let them know that you are there to help. You're there to help.
And one of the things I've talked with Vivek Murthy about -- and a lot of you have written about it, and you've written it well about it -- is the need for mental health care in America. You know, when we got elected, there were something like, I don't know, 2, 3, 5 million people who had gotten their -- their COVID shots.
Well, in the meantime -- I've got over 220 million people all three shots. But in the meantime, what happened? We lost -- over a million dead. A million dead.
I read one study that for those million people, they had nine people who were -- each one of them had, on average, nine people close to them. A relative, someone they're married to, a child -- someone close. The impact has been profound. It's been profound. Think of all the
people -- think of all your children or your grandchildren who didn't have that senior prom, who didn't have that graduation party, who didn't have all the things we had that we took for granted -- the impact on their psyche.
So, there's a lot we have to do. And empathy reflects itself not just on what a person demonstrates they understand -- of knowing what people need and helping to make it happen. And we're trying to do that. And a lot of Republicans are trying to do it, too. I don't mean this is a partisan thing. A lot of people are trying to do it because they know we got a problem.
Okay, excuse me. These 10 questions are really going quickly.
(LAUGHTER) REPORTER: Stick around for more.
BIDEN: Well, I've got to meet with some of my -- talk to some of the Republican leadership soon. But -- anyway.
Jenny Leonard, Bloomberg.
REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President. Two questions. One, shifting back to your trip to Asia. When you meet with President Xi Jinping of China, will you tell him that you're committed to defending Taiwan militarily? And what are you hoping to get out of this meeting that will make it a success? Are you willing to make any concessions to him?
BIDEN: Well, look, I'm not -- I'm not willing to make any fundamental concessions because what I -- what I've told him in the beginning -- and this is -- we've -- I've spent over 78, I think they told me, hours with him so far -- 67 in person, when I was vice president.
President Obama knew he couldn't spend time with the vice president of another country, so I traveled 17,000 miles with them in China and around -- and the United States. I've met with him many times.
And I've told him: I'm looking for competition, not -- not conflict.
And so what I want to do with him when we talk is lay out what the -- what kind of -- what each of our red lines are, understand what he believes to be in the critical national interests of China, what I know to be the critical interests of the United States, and to determine whether or not they conflict with one another, and if they do, how to resolve it and how to work it out.
And so -- and the Taiwan doctrine has not changed at all from the very beginning -- the very beginning. So, I'm sure we'll discuss China -- excuse me, Taiwan. And I'm sure we'll discuss a number of other issues, including fair trade and relationships relating to his relationship with other countries in the region.
And -- and so, anyway. So there's a lot we're going to have to discuss.
Do you want another question?
BIDEN: Everybody else got one.
REPORTER: You didn't say if --
BIDEN: Or two or three.
REPORTER: You didn't say if you will tell Xi Jinping personally that you are committed to defending Taiwan.
BIDEN: I'm going to have that conversation with him.
REPORTER: That wasn't my second one, sorry.
REPORTER: Sorry, I actually have an unrelated question too. Mr. President, do you think Elon Musk is a threat to U.S. national security? And should the U.S. -- and with the tools you have -- investigate his joint acquisition of Twitter with foreign governments, which include the Saudis?