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CNN Live Event/Special
Biden Finishes First State Of The Union Before Divided Congress; Biden Says, The State Of The Union Is Strong; Republicans Heckle Biden During State Of The Union Address; President Joe Biden Delivers His State Of The Union Address On Congress; Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders Delivers Republican Response. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired February 07, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Let's commit ourselves to make the words of Tyre's mom true, something good must come from this, something good.
And all of us -- all of us -- folks, it's difficult, but it's simple. All of us in this chamber, we need to rise to this moment. We can't turn away. Let's do what we know in our hearts that we need to do. Let's come together to finish the job on police reform. Do something. Do something. That was the plea of parents who lost their children in Uvalde. I met with every one of them. Do something about gun violence.
Thank God. Thank God we did, passing the most sweeping gun safety law in three decades. That includes things like that the majority of responsible gun owners already support: enhanced background checks for 18 to 21-year-olds, red flag laws, keeping guns out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves and others.
But we know our work is not done. Joining us tonight is Brandon Tsay, a 26-year-old hero. Brandon put his college dreams on hold to be at his mom's side, his mom's side when she was dying from cancer.
And, Brandon, Brandon now works at the dance studio started by his grandparents, and two weeks ago during the Lunar New Year celebration he heard the studio door close and he saw a man standing there pointing a semi-automatic pistol at him. He thought he was going to die, but he thought about the people inside. In that instant he found the courage to act and wrestle the semi-automatic people away from the gunman who had already killed 11 people in another dance studio. 11. He saved lives. It's time we do the same. Ban assault weapons now. Ban them now once and for all.
I lead the fight to do that in 1994. And in 10 years that ban was law and mass shootings went down. After we let it expire in the Republican administration, mass shootings tripled. Let's finish the job and ban these assault weapons, and let's also come together on immigration. And make it a bipartisan issue once again.
We know, we now have a record number of personnel working to secure the border, arresting 8,000 human smugglers, seizing over 23,000 pounds of fentanyl in just the last several months. We've launched a new border plan last month on lawful migration on Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela has come down 97 percent as a consequence of that. But American border problems won't be fixed until Congress acts. If we don't pass my comprehensive immigration reform, at least pass my plan to provide the equipment and officers to secure the border.
And a pathway to citizenship for dreamers, those on temporary status, farm workers, essential workers. Here in the people's house, it's our duty to protect all the people's rights and freedoms. Congress must restore the right that was taken away in Roe v. Wade and protect Roe v. Wade (INAUDIBLE).
The vice president and I are doing everything to protect access to reproductive healthcare and safeguard patient safety, but already more than a dozen states are enforcing extreme abortion bans. Make no mistake about it. If Congress passes a national ban, I will veto it.
But let's also pass. Let's also pass the bipartisan Equality Act to ensure LGBTQ Americans, especially transgender young people, can live with safety and dignity.
Our strength is not just the example of our power, but the power of our example. Let's remember the world's watching.
I spoke in this chamber one year ago, just days after Vladimir Putin unleashed his brutal attack against Ukraine. A murderous assault, evoking images of the death and destruction Europe suffered in World War II.
Putin's invasion has been a test for the ages, a test for America, a test for the world. Would we stand for the most basic of principles? Would we stand for sovereignty? Would we stand for the right of people to live free of tyranny? Would we stand for the defense of democracy?
For such a defense matters to us because it keeps peace and prevents open season on would-be aggressors that threaten our prosperity.
One year later, we know the answer. Yes, we would and we did. We did.
And together, we did what America always does at our best. We led. We united NATO. We built a global coalition. We stood against Putin's aggression. We stood with the Ukrainian people.
And tonight, we're once again joined by Ukraine's Ambassador to the United States. She represents not just her nation, but the courage of her people. Ambassador -- our Ambassador is here, united in our -- we're -- and united in support of your country. Would you stand so we can all take a look at you?
Because we're going to stand with you as long as it takes. Our nation is working for more freedom, more dignity, more and more peace, not just in Europe, but everywhere.
Before I came to office, the story was about how the People's Republic of China was increasing its power and America was falling in the world. Not anymore.
We made clear and I made clear in my personal conversation, which there have been many, with President Xi that we seek competition, not conflict. But I will make no apologies that we're investing and to make America stronger, investing American innovation, in industries that will define the future that China intends to be dominating.
Investing in our alliances and working with our allies to protect advanced technologies so they will not be used against us. Modernizing our military to safeguard stability and deter aggression.
Today, we're in the strongest position in decades to compete with China or anyone else in the world, anywhere else in the world.
And I'm committed -- I'm committed to work with China where we can advance American interests and benefit the world. But make no mistake about it, as we made clear last week, if China's threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did.
Look, let's be clear, winning the competition should unite all of us. We face serious challenges across the world. But in the past two years, democracies have become stronger, not weaker. Autocracies have grown weaker, not stronger. Name me a world leader who'd change places with Xi Jinping. Name me one. Name me one.
America is rallying the world to meet those challenges from climate to global health, to food insecurity, to terrorism, to territorial aggression. Allies are stepping up, spending more and doing more.
Look, the bridges we're forming between partners in the Pacific and those in the Atlantic. And those who bet against America are learning how wrong they are.
It's never, ever been a good bet to bet against America. Never.
When I came to office, most assured the bipartisanship assumed was impossible, but never believed it.
That's why a year ago I offered a Unity Agenda for the nation as I stood here. We've made real progress together.
We passed a law making it easier for doctors to prescribe effective treatments for opioid addiction. We passed the gun safety law, and making historic investments in mental health. We launched the ARPA-H drive for breakthroughs in the fights against cancer, Alzheimer's and Diabetes and so much more.
We passed the Heath Robinson Pact Act, named after the late Iraq War veteran whose story about exposure to toxic burn kits I shared here last year. I understand something about those burn pits, but there's so much more to do. We can do it together. Joining us tonight is a father named Doug, from Newton, New Hampshire. He wrote Jill, my wife, a letter and me as well about his courageous daughter Courtney, a contagious laugh, his sister's best friend - her sister's best friend. He shared a story all too familiar to millions of Americans and many of you in the audience.
Courtney discovered pills in high school, it spiraled into addiction, and eventually dead from a fentanyl overdose. She was just 20 years old. Describing the last eight years with her, Doug said, there's no worse pain.
Yet their family has turned pain to purpose, working to end the stigma and change lives. He told us he wants to start a journey toward American recovery. Doug, we're with you. Fentanyl is killing more than 70,000 Americans a year.
Big -- you got it.
So, let's launch a major surge to stop fentanyl production and the sale and trafficking with more drug detection machines, inspection cargo, stop pills and powder at the border, working with couriers like FedEx to inspect more packages for drugs. Strong penalties to crack down on fentanyl trafficking. Second, let's do more on mental health, especially for our children. But millions of young people are struggling with bullying, violence, trauma. We owe them greater access to mental healthcare at their schools.
We must finally hold social media companies accountable for experimenting or doing running children for profit. And it's time to pass bipartisan legislation to stop big tech from collecting personal data on our kids and teenagers online.
Ban targeted advertising to children. And impose stricter limits on the personal data that companies collect on all of us.
Third, let's do more to keep this nation's one fully sacred obligation, to equip those we send into harm's way and care for them and their families when they come home. Job training, job placement for veterans and their spouses as they come to - return to civilian life. Helping veterans afford their rent because no one should be homeless in America, especially someone who served the country.
Denis McDonough, he's here, of the V.A. We had our first real discussion when I asked him to take the job. I'm glad he did. We were losing up to 25 veterans a day to suicide. Now we're losing 17 a day to the silent scourge of suicide, 17 veterans a day are committing suicide, more than all the people being killed in the wars.
Folks, V.A.'s doing everything it can, including expanding mental health screening, through programs that recruits veterans to help other veterans understand what they're going through, get them the help they need. We got to do more.
And fourth, last year Jill and I reignited the Cancer moon shot that I was able to start with President Obama who asked me to lead our administration on this issue. Our goal is to cut the cancer death rates at least by 50 percent in the next 25 years. Turn more cancers from death sentences to treatable diseases.
Provide more support for patients and their families. It's personal to so many of us, so many of us in this audience.
Joining us are Maurice and Kandice, an Irishman and a daughter of immigrants from Panama. They met and fell in love in New York City and got married in the same chapel as Jill and I got married in New York City, kindred spirits. He wrote us a letter about his little daughter Ava. And I saw her just before I came over. She was just a year old when she was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease, cancer. After 26 blood transfusions, 11 rounds of radiation, eight rounds of chemo, one kidney removed, given a 5 percent survival rate.
He wrote how in the darkest moments he thought, if she goes, I can't stay. Many of you have been through that as well. Jill and I understand that like so many of you. If you've read Jill's book describing our family's cancer journey and how we tried to steal moments of joy where we could with Beau, for them, that glimmer of joy was the half-smile of their baby girl. It meant everything to them. They never gave up hope. Little Ava never gave up hope. She turns four next month.
They just found out Ava is beating the odds, is on her way to being cured of cancer. And she's watching from the White House tonight, if she's not asleep already.
For the lives we can save.
For the lives we can save and the lives we have lost, let this be a truly American moment that rallies the country and the world together and prove that we can still do big things. Twenty years ago, under the leadership of President Bush and countless advocates and champions, he undertook a bipartisan effort through PEPFAR to transform the global fight against HIV/AIDS. It's been a huge success.
He thought big, he thought large, he moved. I believe we can do the same thing with cancer. Let's end cancer as we know it. Cure some cancers once and for all.
Folks, there's one reason why we have been able to do all of these things, our democracy itself. It's the most fundamental thing of all. With democracy, everything is possible. Without it, nothing is. For the last few years our democracy has been threatened and attacked, put at risk. Put to the test in this very room, on January the 6th.
And then just a few months ago, an unhinged big lie assailant unleashed the political violence in the home of the then-speaker of this House of Representatives. Using the very same language the insurrectionists used as they stalked these halls and chanted on January 6th. Here tonight in this chamber is the man who bears the scars of that brutal attack. But is as tough and strong and as resilient as they get. My friend, Paul Pelosi. Paul, stand up.
But such a heinous act should have never happened. We must all speak out. There is no place for political violence in America. We have to protect the right to vote, not suppress that fundamental right. Honor the results of our elections, not subvert the will of the people. We have to uphold the rule of the law and restore trust in our institutions of democracy. And we must give hate and extremism in any form no safe harbor.
Democracy must not be a partisan issue. It's an American issue. Every generation of Americans has faced a moment where they have been called to protect our democracy, defend it, and stand up for it. And this is our moment.
My fellow Americans, we meet tonight at an inflection point. One of those moments that only a few generations ever face where the direction we now take is going to decide the course of this nation for decades to come.
We are not bystanders to history. We are not powerless before the forces that confront us. It is within our power, of, we, the people.
We are facing the test of our time. We have to be the nation we have always been at our best, optimistic, hopeful, forward-looking, a nation that embraces light over dark, hope over fear, unity over division, stability over chaos. We have to see each other not as enemies, but as fellow Americans. We are good people.
The only nation in the world built on an idea, the only one.
Other nations are defined by geography, ethnicity, but we're the only nation based on the idea that all of us, every one of us is created equal in the image of God, a nation that stands as a beacon to the world, a nation in a new age of possibilities.
So I've come to fulfill my constitutional obligation to report in the state of the union, and here's my report. Because the soul of this nation is strong, because the backbone of this nation is strong, because the people of this nation are strong, the State of the Union is strong.
I'm not new to this place. I stand here tonight having served as long as about any one of you have ever served here.
But I've never been more optimistic about our future, about the future of America. We just have to remember who we are. We're the United States of America, and there's nothing -- nothing beyond our capacity if we do it together. God bless you all and may God protect our troops. Thank you.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): And there it is, President Biden saying the state of our union is strong. He was feisty, he was combative at times, even responsive to the crowd, his second state of the union address. He focused a great deal on kitchen table issues, some of them as small as the fine print in your hotel bills, some as big as the notion of democracy itself. He talked about unity, issues one might call liberal populism, he talked about policing reform, Ukraine, veterans, fentanyl, health care and more.
There is a lot to chew over. But, Dana Bas, I think it is fair to say one thing that I am going to remember from this night is that new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's assistance that House Republicans behave themselves and respect the presidency, if not the president, that went on unheeded. The president was heckled quite often and quite rudely by many of the same House Republicans who made the speaker's life so difficult a month ago when we were sitting.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Absolutely. And it was stunning to see the House speaker sitting behind the president on multiple occasions visually shushing members of his conference who were heckling the president. In one case, Marjorie Taylor Greene apparently just called him a liar. Remember, that was, I don't know, how long ago.
TAPPER (voice over): Joe Wilson.
BASH (voice over): How long ago was that? Ten years ago? More than ten years ago, I guess, when Joe Wilson did it. And it was an outrage, and now we are seeing it and we don't want this kind of lack of decorum to be the norm but apparently it has become the norm. The fact that they were interacting was also different because he didn't just ignore it, he gave it back.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (voice over): And that to me is the key point, because I think in recent, especially in the Trump years, Democrats would stand and respond to Trump, they would boo, they would roll their eyes, all of that. This is not both sides- ism, you can just look it up, they did some of those things too. I don't think that to me was what stood out about those interactions, it is how Biden kind of gave as good as he got.
And the White House wrote this speech knowing that they were coming to Republicans on some issues that they had been attacking Biden on, whether it is on the issue of spending cuts, on the deficit and debt, on fentanyl, these are things that were written into the speech to get a response from Republicans. And Biden in that moment, I think, showed one of the things the White House was hoping he would show, which is vigor and some fight. And I think that at the end of the day, that might be the thing that you remember, what he adlibbed in those --
CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST (voice over): I don't think there's any doubt that that was the magic moment. And the speech went, what, an hour and --
TAPPER (voice over): An hour and 12, yes.
WALLACE (voice over): -- minutes. And what everybody is going to remember, what all the clips are going to be tomorrow morning on the news are of that moment when the president -- I don't know that you could say he baited or provoked them but he certainly was very happy when he got the response he got from Republicans on issues like whether or not they're going to hold the economy hostage and not raise the debt limit, whether or not they're going to cut social security or Medicare.
And he milked that moment once the Republicans started responding and he saw people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, we couldn't hear what she said but she was shouting at him and Lauren Boebert --
BASH (voice over): She called him a liar.
WALLACE (voice over): He engaged. He loved it. And that is the moment people are going to remember and to the way the people had questions about the vigor and the resilience of this president, he did as well as he could tonight.
TAPPER (voice over): Yes, in kind contribution from Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert.
And, John, you and I were talking about this, because Biden said, and I'm just going to -- this is not the -- this is the transcript, some Republicans want social security and Medicare to sunset, that's what they yelled, liar, boo. He actually was fairly, in this part of the speech, if not other parts, careful with what he was saying.
And if you go to Republican Leader Rick Scott, page 38 of his rescue America Plan, quote, all federal as just nation sunsets in five years. So, what he said was actually correct, that some Republicans want social security and Medicare and every other federal program to sunset.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Yes. And there are some very conservative members of the Republican study group in the House who have proposed similar things, at least looking at looking at Medicare and Social Security, because they do drive the federal deficit.
There should be adult conversations about entitlement programs, and the president even adlibbed several times, I know it is not the majority of you, I know it is only a small number of you but they still got back in the fight.
Look, it is a reminder of the mood in Washington, number one, and the lack of decorum, but it's also a reminder that most of the policy things the president went through are not going to get past because Kevin McCarthy -- even if Kevin McCarthy wants them.
There might be a few things on which Kevin McCarthy, the congressman from Bakersfield, California, might say, okay, I can negotiate with you on that Mr. President, but he has a four-vote majority right now. And there were more than four voices there making clear they don't really want to cooperate with Joe Biden even he proposes legislation that says the days end in why. That's just the nature of Washington at the moment. So, if you like what Joe Biden was saying, if you are at home saying, I like what he was proposing, just don't expect much of it to happen.
And I think Abby's point is important. The president knows where Republicans are coming after him. So, he talked, let's give more border security, let's crack down on fentanyl, things where he knows the Republicans view him is weak and open, he is getting ahead of the curve, if you will.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A lot of the pundits going into today kept saying how today was -- he would be the oldest president to ever give a state of the union address. What we saw today, as Chris talked about, was the energy, upbeat, optimistic, but you also saw Joe Biden the politician at his best. From the moment when he came out, when he said to Kevin McCarthy, I don't want to ruin your reputation but I look forward to working with you. And then as John said, he went through a victory lap of successes.
I do want to point out what thing. When he spoke at the beginning of the evening about January 6th, and he said, our democracy faced the greatest threats since the civil war, Kevin McCarthy sat there and he did not clap.
TAPPER (voice over): Right, he didn't clap.
PHILLIP: Even though Kevin McCarthy would have said the same thing, perhaps, in those hours after the insurrection happened, he just changed his mind.
TAPPER (voice over): We just saw, by the way, President Biden talking with two retired U.S. Supreme Court justices, Anthony Kennedy, who is 86, and Stephen Breyer who is 84, President Biden, the spring chicken of the bunch bringing up at 80 years old. Anderson?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Jakes, thanks very much.
David Axelrod, what do you make of that? I mean, if the president was trying to show energy and enthusiasm, he certainly --
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (voice over): He did that for sure, in his sparring with the Republicans was really inspired. I mean, I think, you could see he was engaged and enjoying the exchange. It felt like the British parliament in that sense.
But more than that, Anderson, I said before the speech if it is just him crowing about accomplishments, that's not going to answer the mail. But if he's telling a larger story about the country and fitting the things that he has done and wants to do within that narrative, then it is a much more powerful speech. He did that tonight. He told a story about where we were and where he wants to go and how the things he is doing will help advance that vision, and it was value-laden and it was energetic where it need to be energetic, it was reflective where it needed to be reflective. Honestly, I think he did a great job tonight.
COOPER (voice over): Van?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (voice over): I agree. [22:30:00]
And, look, people had a couple of questions about Joe Biden. Is he feebleminded, et cetera? When you saw him going back and forth in real time with some of the top politicians in country and getting the best of them and being a unifier in doing it, he said, okay. You want to go back and forth with me? Do you agree with me that you're not going to cut Medicare and social security? Well, hey.
And so, he's -- is he going to be a divider, he was unifier. Is he going to be weak mind or a strong mind? I think those are very, very powerful. I also thought that he -- he was relating the real people's stuff. These corporations rip folks off and he was talking about that stuff. The airlines rip us off. Felt that was really good, but I thought the most powerful thing, he got both parties on their feet, not once but twice on police reform.
The open wound on this country is police reform. And Republicans and Democrats stood together twice to honor the family and also to honor policies that would make a difference. That was unexpected. You can handle that 12 different ways wrong, he handled that right. I thought Joe Biden did really well tonight relating to the American people. And if you had doubts about him. look, he was a sharp tonight as he could be. I thought he did a great job.
TAPPER: Alyssa Griffin.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR: Well, listen. I think that he went into this knowing and somebody used this earlier, that something he has to do going into 2024 is win back working-class voters who flocked to Donald Trump in 2016. And I think his blue-collar blueprint did just that. I was looking at some of the messaging and it could have been straight out of a Trump state of the union talking about buy American, (inaudible) American jobs.
Now, will the policies actually reflect that is the question. Will there be enough that feels like it's actually catering to that base that's called fairly alienated? So that would be my positive. My critique would be he has glossed (ph) over China. China watchers, you know, around the country and in light of the spy craft ordeal that we dealt with last week, I think it felt like a very sort of, you know, sub-point at something that is a major concern on the minds of all Americans after what we saw.
SCOTT JENNINGS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST AND CORPORATE PR ADVISER: I thought it was a really partisan campaign speech with a brief nod to his constitutional obligations as a throwaway line at the end which was really a good metaphor for his presidency in general. So, part of the course for Joe Biden, he is clearly running. I mean, I've heard no, you know, equivocation in that.
And the Democrats are going to obviously be saddled with a nominee who is going to be 86 at the end of his next term. He can't fix that with a speech. I agree with you Van on the timing on the Tyre Nichols section. I thought that was his best section. I was glad to see the reaction to that from the Congress.
I like the bipartisanship with McCarthy, congratulating McCarthy at the beginning. I like the nod to PEPFAR at the end. The dishonesty over entitlements is outrageous. The Democrats are proposing Medicare advantage cuts. The Republican leadership is unified against this. The idea that he baited or go to them by shouting lies about their positions to that, and by the way. If he wants to be serious maybe he'll pledge tonight not to run any campaign ads about social security or Medicare in 2024.
TAPPER: We'll talk about that in a little bit. Let's get back to Wolf Blitzer.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Yeah, we're up here on Capitol Hill right now. Kasie Hunt and Kaitlan Collins are with me. You know, Kaitlan, I've heard President Biden going back to his 36 years in the U.S. Senate, deliver a lot of speeches over the years. I've covered him for many, many years and gotten to know him a bit.
I think this was the best speech I have ever heard him deliver. He was passionate, it was extremely well written, he clearly had practiced it and he delivered a powerful message to the American people.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: And a lot will be said, Wolf, about how what the Republicans were doing when it came to heckling President Biden, how they reacted during certain parts of the speech, especially when he was talking about fentanyl and overdoses and that father was standing there and you heard someone shout, "It's your fault." A lot can be made of that.
But for the other parts, you know, Marjorie Taylor Greene and the aspects on social security and Medicare, he almost seemed to be relishing the punching and counter punching. He was lively, he was very engaged in it. And I think what we are talking about going into this speech was it being a preview of his next election run, of what the 2024 run is going to look like.
And I think we just saw it because he was engaging with these Republicans. He was going back and forth with them. He made the joke about converting them. After that, he made clear that cutting social security and Medicare was not something the majority of them wanted.
That I think is going to be when he goes to Wisconsin tomorrow, we see him on the road in the future, and once he does have this announcement, that is the 2024 message of the president. You know, looking like this political fighter as he did, I think that is going to be a takeaway that the White House is very (inaudible).
KASIE HUNT, CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yeah. I mean, this was a president who was ready to be in the arena, right? I mean, this was someone who they were concerned ahead of time, yes, we heard, you know, Phil Mattingly reporting from the White House about how they had practiced, you know, much of how the speech would be delivered, but really what they managed to do was -- I don't know if they were goading Republicans into reacting this way.
But they managed to put the president in a position where he was feeding off of the energy that he was getting back from the crowd in that room to the point where the Speaker McCarthy was literally sitting behind him and trying to get his members to quiet down. There were several points where he seemed to try and shush them, which I thought was a pretty -- I'm not sure I've ever seen that at a state of the union that I've covered in the past.
And I think it really illustrates how, you know, the political realities of this are, that Democrats could use this far-right wing of the Republican Party, this kind of MAGA crew to paint a picture for the American people of what they -- it's a very stark contrast, right, that people get to choose between.
And bonus, Biden comes across as someone who is enjoying himself and who has the energy to be in this job for another, you know, until he is well into his 80s. I think from that perspective, you know, this -- the way that the White House set this up is really an interesting study. And I, you know, I sort of was wishing I would -- I got to be in the room for this because I've been in the room for so many of them and I do feel like, you know, I want to hear what Manu Raju has to say about what it was like to actually sit in there and feel the energy. But this was a pretty unusual, the weight of the room came across was pretty unusual for a speech like this.
BLITZER: You can see the chamber, the House of Representatives, it's thinning out very, very quickly.
COLLINS: Can I say, you know, we're waking for the Republican response which is going to be delivered by the Arkansas governor, Sara Huckabee Sanders, who was obviously Trump's press secretary. I do wonder how Republicans will use that line that was not in the president's prepared remarks about oil.
He talked about how he had been meeting with oil executives and he told the companies that the United States is going to need oil for at least another decade and it was this laugh line for Republicans. That is kind of really what jump started the whole back and forth between them.
I do wonder how Republicans in their response will use that line as their overall responding to everything we just heard from President Biden there. And as you know, it is going to be Sarah Sanders. She is the youngest governor. She will be responding obviously to the oldest sitting president.
That is a welcome message that Republicans want here, but we'll see how they use that line there. One thing we should note, well, they have Sarah Sanders because they talk about this new generation of leadership. Obviously, they want that to be a reflection on President Biden, not on former President Trump which is a (inaudible).
BLITZER: Sarah Huckabee Sanders will deliver the Republican response to the one we just heard from the president. She was the press secretary for Biden at the White House, you covered that. COLLINS: Yeah. And that's why it will be --
BLITZER: For Trump, excuse me.
COLLINS: -- it will be interesting to see how they use that line. She wants to put this new generation out there. That is kind of what some Republicans have said when they don't want to support Trump.
HUNT: It's a bit of tough job, though, I will say, being the person to respond to the state of the union.
BLITZER: Very tough.
HUNT: It's not always something that you necessarily want to be assigned. So, interesting that she agreed to take that on. But, you know, to Kaitlan's point about, you know, kind of the issues that set this off as well, and kind of the way that this back and forth got underway, I mean, one of the other pieces was how the president talked about the debt ceiling and really kind of framed what's going to be the fight of the next year as Republican attempts to cut social security and Medicare and holding the U.S. government -- the full (inaudible) credit of the U.S. government hostage in an attempt to do that.
I mean, you could very clearly see him lay out the argument that they are going to spend, you know, the next six or eight months fighting over and I think that that's, you know, a frame that certainly has worked for Democrats in past campaigns for sure.
BLITZER: You can see the president; he's really enjoying himself meeting with folks on the floor of the House of Representatives. And you know, one final point I just want to make, a quick point, Kaitlan, I want to know if you agree, if there was ever any doubt that President Biden was going to seek re-election? I think that went away right now. It was clear that was a very important speech, and a very important message he was sending. He's running for re-election.
COLLINS: I was -- I was messaging an adviser to him when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave that tepid endorsement to Dana Bash, asking her about it. And they said it won't make a difference if he wins and that they clarified, when he runs.
BLITZER: Let's go back to Jake. Jake?
TAPPER: Wolf, it's really unusual what we're watching here. The speech ended at 10:21 eastern time. It's now 10:38 p.m. and President Biden, who as we all know, likes people and enjoys glad handling is still in the House chambers talking to members of Congress who, it should be pointed out, are eager to talk to him. Phil Mattingly, President Biden does seem invigorated from the address. How are White House aides feeling about the speech this evening?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, I was just texting back and forth with a White House official asking when they thought the president would be back at the White House and he said, probably after everybody else leaves the chamber, at this point. You know, I think it's a reality that underscores both how the president felt about his remarks and also after, as we've heard from White House officials, since those remarks ended, one White House official (inaudible), I guess we could not have drafted a better moment than the back and forth we saw between President Biden and Republicans on the issue of social security and Medicare.
A caveated moment, one White House officials knew it was likely to come to a head when the president brought it up there in the speech, but everything you saw from the president, from, the conversion moment to the idea that there is unanimity on the issue, that was off script. That was not prepared remarks. So, one official points to is the idea that this is well-known that the president gets energy from his audience, gets energy from people.
You saw that in realtime. And I think when you talk about what this moment makes for the president going into the remarks, what it makes for not just the year ahead, but the next two or six years, watching that moment come alive in realtime and the president will get that energy from the audience, engage back and forth, not take offense to any of the heckling or any of the calls of him being a liar, but really go back and forth with it.
It was something the White House officials certainly enjoyed watching in realtime and to their minds, underscored why they believe he brings so much to the table even as others may question his age or where he stands going forward here. We heard from White House officials. One, they're very happy at the speech and how it ended up going from a drafting perspective, from a delivery perspective, I think it met their expectations and exceeded them to some degree, Jake.
TAPPER: Very interesting. Phil Mattingly, thank you so much. And Chris Wallace, the point that you and Abby Phillip were making earlier, I just keep thinking about the idea that not only did the House Republicans, and again, it was a minority of them, it was not most of them, but the ones who were unruly and yelling and heckling the president, not only did they make themselves look bad, I think really (inaudible) an opportunity to look vigorous.
CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, absolutely. I mean, they literally played into his hands. You know, I don't know if the people of the White House as they were drafting it at Camp David this weekend envisioned that happening the way it did, but it played out perfectly. And you know, I'm looking back at the end of that whole sequence where he was engaging back and forth with the Republicans, he said, so tonight, let's all agree to stand up for seniors.
And of course, one of the things that you notice in the speeches is half the House, the Democratic side for Democratic presidents stands up, the other side sit on their hands. When he said let's, all stand up for seniors, there was no politician who was not going to stand up for seniors. And so, they were standing up while he said, let's all agree not to cut social security, let's all agree not to cut Medicare.
And when they were all standing up, he said, well, apparently, it's not going to be a problem. It was a brilliant moment that, you know, it like took something that had been prepared by the speech writers and he made it his own and he made it magic. It was really quite a piece of political showmanship.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I just have to say that as President Biden was finally walked out of the chamber, he was and Irishman at heart, closed out the bar at the end of the night. The last person to leave the room. But you know, Chris is so right about that. I mean, I also -- I don't know. Look, talking to White House officials today, nobody was saying oh, they are going to beat Republicans, but as you listen to them take through what they wanted to hit in the speech, they were going right to the heart at all of the big agenda items that are there on the list of attacks from Republicans.
And that was intentional. They wanted to put a Biden agenda on the table that actually, if you're listening -- if you're an American person at home and you're not listening to all the back and forth and for the first time you are hearing anything about some of these things, you're hearing it from President Biden, giving a plan on dealing with opioids, giving a plan or saying to Republicans, let's talk about immigration, but if you don't want to talk about immigration, let's at least pay for border security. Those things will sound eminently reasonable to you.
PHILLIP: You hear what Biden is saying. You can't even hear the heckling at all. And I think that was definitely by design. They wanted to get some points on the board on those fronts so that Republicans couldn't say that Biden was not going to engage with them on this these issues. And if the American people are listening for the very first time, they are hearing it from Biden first.
TAPPER: And Jamie Gangel, Congressman Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland said that Marjorie Taylor Greene seemed to not be able to tell the difference between attending a state of the union versus attending the "Rocky Horror Picture Show," which is obviously a film where people yell at the screen.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Jamie Raskin wins the line of the night. Let's also remember, there is going to be one other difference with Marjorie Taylor Greene and others. Joe Wilson who yelled out liar, he was censured for doing that. That's not going to happen here this time around.
And just to underscore what Abby said, if you go back, as we were listening to the speech, we were also saying it -- but there was a lot of things he said that, you know, it's not controversial. Buy American. Jobs are coming back. Pride is coming back.
There was a lot of optimism in the speech that came across and he was smiling during most of it and I think people will walk away with that. JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Forgive me for interrupting. Remember, Donald
Trump ran, I am your voice? Joe Biden said I got your back. You don't need a college degree, we're going to find you a good job. We're investing across the country. So, I think the outside of Washington Park, does it work? We'll see?
But the president trying to say I know your stressed between COVID and inflation and 25 years of globalization and economic turmoil. I get it. Blue collar guy, I get it. My team gets it. Does -- can he sell it? We'll see. But that was who he was trying to talk to there.
And then remember, one of the biggest issues for the president right now, is he feels this giant disconnect. He has passed a ton of legislation. The economy has created 12 million jobs. The unemployment rate is 3.4 percent. You go out in the country and people think the country is on the wrong track and the economy is in the tank.
You can't tell people they are wrong especially when they are tired and stressed. But, one of the president's issues at the moment is the number of Democrats who say you're a superhero, you beat Donald Trump, we love you for that, but we don't want you to run again.
KING: And so, I think showing the vigor and showing the fight against the small number of Republicans in the audience will help the president with Democrats, which is what he needs most right now as you're headed to the next cycle. He needs his own party to be behind him.
TAPPER: Dana Bash, I assume you agree. He did what he needed to do tonight, the president.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, no question, and then some. And when you're talking about sort of looking ahead and beginning to craft who he is going to reach out to and how and the forgotten person they talk so much about, one of you talked about ow micro he got.
BASH: Maybe it was you who talked about the hidden language and hotel bills.
BASH: Like, that's a kind of thing that really makes people angry and not -- I'm not saying that it's something that he can actually change, but if you look at the little things in people's lives that they want to be changed, he said I hear you.
TAPPER: And we are awaiting the first public reaction to the president's address in our exclusive flash poll of people who watched the speech, but right now, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivers the Republican response. SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, GOVERNOR OF ARKANSAS: Good evening. I'm Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Being a mom to three young children taught me not to believe every story I hear. So, forgive me for not believing much of anything I heard tonight from President Biden. From out-of-control inflation and violent crime, to the dangerous border crisis and threat from China. Biden and the Democrats have failed you. They know it and you know it, and it's time for a change.
Tonight, let us reaffirm our commitment to a timeless American idea that government exists not to rule the people but to serve the people. Democrats want to rule us with more government control, but that's not who we are America is the greatest country the world has ever known because we are the freest country the world has ever known. With the people who are strong and resilient.
Five months ago, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. It was a hard time for our family. Particularly our kids, Scarlett, Huck, and George, but we kept our faith and persevered. Thanks to exceptional doctors here in Arkansas, a successful surgery and the grace of God, I am cancer free. Through it all I couldn't help but think about my mom. She was 20-years-old and into her first year of marriage when she was diagnosed with spinal cancer.
The doctors told her she might not live and if she did live, they said she would never walk again. And if she did walk, she would definitely never have children. The daughter she was told she would never have was just sworn in as the new governor of Arkansas and is speaking to you tonight.
Adversity in fear of the unknown can paralyze us, but faith propels us to charge boldly ahead. We can't stand still in the face of great challenges. You and I were put on this earth for such a time as this to charge boldly ahead. I will be the first to admit, President Biden and I don't have a lot in common. I'm for freedom, he's for government control.
At 40, I'm the youngest governor in the country. And at 80, he is the oldest president in American history. I am the first woman to lead my state and he is the first man to surrender his presidency to a woke mob that can't even tell you what a woman is.
And the radical left America, Washington taxes you and lights your hard-earned money on fire. But you get crushed with high gas prices, empty grocery shelves and our children are taught to hate one another on account of their race, but not to love one another or our great country. Whether Joe Biden believes this madness or is simply too weak to resist it, his administration has been completely hijacked by the radical left.
The dividing line in America is no longer between right or left, the choice is between normal or crazy. It is time for a new generation of Republican leadership. Upon taking office just a few weeks ago, I signed executive orders to ban CRT, racism and indoctrination in our schools. Eliminate the use of derogatory term Latinx in our government, repealed COVID orders and said never again to authoritarian mandates and shutdowns.
Americans want common sense from their leaders. But in Washington, the Biden administration is doubling down on crazy. President Biden inherited the fastest economic recovery on record. The most secured border in history, cheap abundant homegrown energy, fast rising wages, a rebuilt military and a world that was stable and at peace.
But over the last two years, Democrats destroyed it all. Despite Democrat's trillions in reckless spending and mountains of debt, we now have the worst border crisis in American history. As a mom, my heart breaks for every parent who has lost a son or daughter to addiction. A 100,000 Americans a year are now killed from a drug overdoses, largely from fentanyl pouring across our southern border.
Yet, the Biden administration refuses to secure the border and save American lives. And after years of Democratic attacks on law enforcement, and calls to defund the police, violent criminals roam free while law-abiding families live in fear.
Beyond our border from Afghanistan to Ukraine, from North Korea to Iran, President Biden's weakness puts our nation and the world at risk. And the president's refusal to stand up to China, our most formidable adversary, is dangerous and unacceptable. President Biden is unwilling to defend our border, defend our skies and defend our people.
He is simply unfit to serve as commander-in-chief. And while you reap the consequences of their failures, the Biden administration seems more interested in woke fantasies than the hard reality Americans face every day. Most Americans simply want to live their lives in freedom and peace. But we are under attack in a left-wing cultural war we didn't start and never wanted to fight.
Every day we are told we must partake in their rituals, salute their flags and worship their false idols. All while big government collude with big tech to strip away the most American thing there is, your freedom of speech. That's not normal. It's crazy and it's wrong. Make no mistake, Republicans will not surrender this fight. We will lead with courage and do what's right.
Not what's politically correct or convenient. Republicans believe in an America where strong families thrive in safe communities. Where jobs are abundant, and paychecks are rising. Where the freedom our veterans shed their blood to defend is the birthright of every man, woman and child. These are the principles Republican governors are fighting for, and in Washington, under the leadership of Senate Republicans and Speaker Kevin McCarthy, we will hold the Biden administration accountable.
Down the street from where I sit is my alma mater, Little Rock Central High. As a student there, I will never forget watching my dad, Governor Mike Huckabee and President Bill Clinton hold the doors open to the Little Rock Nine. Doors that 40 years earlier had been closed to them because they were black.
[22:54:57] Today, those children once barred from the school house are now heroes memorialized in bronze at our state house. I am proud of the progress our country has made and I believe giving every child access to a quality education, regardless of their race or income, is the civil rights issue of our day. Tomorrow I will unveil an education package that will be the most far-reaching, bold, conservative education reform in the country.
My plan empowers parents with real choices, improves literacy and career readiness and helps put a good teacher in every classroom by increasing their starting salary from one of the lowest to one of the highest in the nation. Here in Arkansas and across America, Republicans are working to end the policy of trapping kids in failing schools and sentencing them to a lifetime of poverty.
We will educate, not indoctrinate our kids and put students on a path to success. It's time for a new generation to lead. This is our moment. This is our opportunity. A new generation born in the waning decades of the last century, shaped by economic booms and stock market busts, forged by the triumph of the Cold War and the tragedy of 9/11. A generation brimming with passion and new ideas to solve age-old problems.
A generation moored to our deepest values and oldest traditions, yet unafraid to challenge the present order and find a better way forward. If we seize this moment together, America can once again be the land of the free and the home of the brave.
During my two and a half years at the White House, I've traveled on every foreign trip with the president. A trip I will never forget was on December 25th 2018. My husband Brian and I had just cleaned up wrapping paper that was shoved into every corner of our house thanks to our three kids.
When I had to walk out on my own family's Christmas, unable to tell them where I was going that night because the place, I'd be traveling was so dangerous, they didn't want anybody to know that the president was going to be on the ground even for a few hours. We boarded Air Force One in complete and total darkness. There were no lights on the plane, no lights on the runway, our phones and computers shut down and turned in. We were going completely off the grid.
Nearly 12 hours later, in the pitch black of night, we landed in the war-torn part of western Iraq. It was again a similar scene. No lights on the plane no lights on the runway. The only thing you could see was coming from about a mile away, in a dining hall where hundreds of troops who were in the fight against ISIS had gathered expecting to celebrate Christmas with senior military leadership from around the region. They had absolutely no idea that the president and first lady were about to walk into that room.
And when they did, it was a sight and a scene and a sound I hope I never forget. The room erupted. Men and women from every race, religion and region, every political party, every demographic you can imagine started chanting in perfect unison. Over and over and over again. USA! USA! USA! It was an absolutely perfect picture of what makes our country great.
One of the young soldiers yelled from the back, "Mr. President, I re- enlisted in the military because of you." And the president said, "Son, I'm here because of you." Shortly after, that young soldier came up to me and he said, "Sarah, you have a tough job." I told him what I do is nothing. You take bombs and bullets, that's a tough job.
And in a moment that I know I'll cherish for the rest of my life, that soldier reached up and he pulled the Brave Rifles patch he wore on his shoulder.
And he placed it into my hand, a sign of ultimate respect.