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CNN Live Event/Special

LeBron James Breaks NBA All-Time Scoring Record; Biden Sets Stage for an Expected 2024 Reelection Bid, Spars with Heckling Republicans and Projects Optimism; Governor Sanders' GOP Response: Biden Administration "More interested in Woke Fantasies than the Hard Reality Americans Face Every Day"; Biden: "My economic Plan is about Investing in Places and People that have been Forgotten". Aired 1-2a ET

Aired February 08, 2023 - 01:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Well, good evening, everyone, I'm Laura Coates and this is CNN "Tonight". And we've got two huge stories tonight that we're following, of course, right here in the nation's capital our continuing coverage of the State of the Union address. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country in Los Angeles, we have breaking news on another major story in the world of sports, entertainment, and frankly, American culture.

LeBron James tonight breaking the record to now become the NBA's all- time leading scorer passing a fellow Laker Kareem Abdul Jabbar now once he broke this record, the game was actually stopped for the celebration that was certainly due. LeBron joined on the court by his family by the man he also passed Kareem Abdul Jabbar and even the NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

In other words, everyone was watching to see whether tonight would be the night that he actually did it. He came into the game I want to watch from him and what happened that's really important powerful moment watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: LeBron James is now the all-time leading scorer in history of the NBA the King where--


COATES: Looking to see and his son Bronny of course, a legend in the making in his own right and everyone taken to the FISA court and saying the emotion is pouring out of him. I mean, really, he has done it. He came in, you know, scoring 36 points at least - the record was actually set by Kareem Abdul Jabbar in 1984. What, eight months before that man, LeBron James was even born everyone.

Joins me now CNN Correspondent Omar Jimenez is in Los Angeles along with CNN contributor, Bob Costas as well, I'm excited to talk to you both. I want to go to you first Omar on this because you were really in the room where it happened. So to speak, we witnessed that he finally did it. He was finally there. What was the mood in the stadium to see that happen?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a big question. I think going into this, was LeBron actually going to go for it tonight? Or is he going to take his time, so to speak and try to do it on Thursday. It was very clear in the first few possessions that he was going to do it tonight.

It might have been even clearer beforehand, when he walked into the arena and an all-black suit, shiny suit ready to go all about business. And when we got to just a few points left, every basket seems to bring a bigger cheer from this crowd and of course, when we were two points away from him breaking Kareem's record.

Every cell phone you could think of was out when the moment happened. He ran to Senator Cord, arms up in the air and triumph he was emotional. Fans couldn't believe that they are here to witness this true moment in history and, of course, family, friends, celebrities, Jay-Z over here as well.

Kareem was speaking to many people here in the crowd, just as the game finished up as well. So many people were waiting to see that moment. They got that moment and it was one that LeBron had said previously leading up to this. It wasn't something he thought about when he began playing basketball when he began playing professionally.

But it was a record no one thought could be broken. It ended up being him and when you look at what he's done over the course of his career, who else would it have been?

COATES: I mean I was actually at the game when he surpassed Karl Malone. And even that was a moment my son seeing him for the first time at just at the time nine years old crying just to see a legend at that time now to know that he witnessed a path to history really remarkable.

Also in the audience, his own sons who are a basketball stars in their own right. At least Bronny, who was the older of them, talk to me about what it was like to see the family to see his loved ones coming and celebrating this moment as well and in LA of all places.

JIMENEZ: Yes, there's a moment after he put his arms up in triumphant return to center court was greeted by his family. They embraced as the crowd chanted MVP over and over again. LeBron started to get emotional and who wouldn't be in that moment. He obviously is someone who is very involved in his kid's lives as much as he can be at the level that he is at this point.


JIMENEZ: And then after the game was over, just here at center court, he embraced with his family for a picture. All of them could not be more proud there were messages played by his wife Savannah, and his children, including Bronny James, who's on his own basketball path of his own, congratulating their dad.

And there's one thing I had heard talking to some of the folks over at LeBron James's Family Foundation was that, yes, this is an on the court scoring record that he has broken today. But what many know him as off the court know that his legacy is going to be so much bigger than what he accomplished on this court?

And I think you could feel that and the reaction to him getting this milestone that this isn't just a score, this isn't just a basketball player. This is an icon for so many people, not just in the court, but of course, throughout the world as well.

COATES: So I guess, Omar, no, don't just shut up and dribble, as one would say, right thinking about those moments. Omar, don't answer those rhetorical. We'll leave it there. Omar, nice to talk to you, nice to see you tonight! I want to turn now to Bob Costas, because Bob, I mean, look, this is so significant as Omar alluded to.

It wasn't just the idea of just points on the board. I mean, this record was set in 1984 before LeBron James was even born. Here we are with this significant moment, Kareem Abdul Jabbar watching on present in this moment, and it was done Bob after 1410 games in the NBA. What's your reaction to this monumental moment?

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, in sports, we like little, perhaps significant, perhaps just interesting coincidences. It's much has been made of the fact that he is playing at a very high level not just still in the league, but at a very high level, an elite player at age 38. And this is 20th season at age 38.

He scored 38 points tonight, as he passed the record. 36 gave him the record, he added one more basket. Perhaps it'll be a footnote, but the Lakers who are fighting for a playoff spot. He is much better as an individual than his team is overall. They're not assured of a playoff spot they lost to Oklahoma City in the end tonight 133 to 130.

COATES: Of course people won't remember and I say that, particularly when what you said is quite right and the idea of how it's viewed contextually. I mean, given that point where he's been averaging what 30 points a game this season. This has been a significant year for him already.

I mean in terms of his average terms, those stat lines, but the idea that he was driven. Some thought, well, could he do it averaging 30 had I think 27 or 29 over the weekend?


COATES: The fact that it happened tonight, an inner drive we've seen on display coming out even adds that cherry on top.

COSTAS: Yes, he has had an extraordinary career, Laura, by any measure. I've always thought that when you talk about the greatest basketball players of all time. When you include setters in that it's almost like including pitchers with position players or goalies with forwards wingers and defenseman. In hockey centers are in a separate category. I don't know how you compare Kareem or Wilt Chamberlain or Shaq or a healthy Bill Walton or Hakeem Olajuwon is the great Bill Russell. I don't know how you compare them.

So when we talk about the greatest player of all time, it seems to have come down to LeBron and Michael Jordan. But Kareem won six MVPs. His teams won six championships. LeBron's have won four. I don't think this diminishes Kareem in any way.

And I believe if you have a conversation and basketball, you have to have that conversation. You can compare a Wilt to Kareem, they played in different eras. You compare Bill Russell if you want to Shaq, but that's a separate thing. Forwards and guards are separate from centers.

Maybe this belongs on the NBA network, but it's a thought that just occurs to me and the LeBron, Michael Jordan debate will go on. For the sake of context, Jordan won 10 scoring titles. LeBron has won one. He has more total points than anybody now.

But Michael won 10 scoring titles averaged 30.1 points a game for his career exactly the same as Wilt Chamberlain. They're tied for first in that category. If you just talk about Wilt I mean, his pure numbers of points and rebounds per game are ridiculous, but they came in a different era.

Michaels' teams won six championships; he was six for six in the finals. LeBron has been to nine finals, which is a great achievement. His teams have won four and they've lost five. He won titles with three different teams, the Cavs, the Heats and now the Lakers.

Of course, Michael was identified only with the Bulls then toward the end of his career, because his competitive zones just got to him again. He came back and plays two more years with the wizards which are almost a footnote.


COSTAS: So Michael was six for six in the finals. He won 10 scoring championships and he was the MVP of all six finals in which he competed. So that is a tough resume for anyone to exceed but if anyone is in that discussion. I mean, you know Kobe is there somewhere, Magic is there somewhere, and Larry Bird is there somewhere. But if you boil it down to two non-senators, those two, I guess by consensus are Michael Jordan and now LeBron James.

COATES: I mean Michael Jordan's athleticism and skill undeniable but just think of the list that LeBron is on. I mean, Karl Malone, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, of course, Michael Jordan. But from a fan's perspective, I look at these not in terms of comparing to get the ultimate title of GOAT.

But I look at it when Curry passed Reggie Miller the idea of a fan's perspective of how exciting it is to see this dark moment. In fact, LeBron actually commented on what this moment meant. And he was emotional, just thinking about where he would rank in really the world's history, here he is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does this now make you the greatest player of all time? Are you going to go?

LEBRON JAMES, AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL BASKET BALL PLAYER: You know, I'm going to let everybody else, you know, decide who that is, or just talking about it, but it's great. It's great barbershop talk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to hear you say--

JAMES: --me personally, myself, I'm going to take myself against anybody has ever played his game, you know, but everyone's going to have their favorite. Everyone's going to, you know, decide who their favorite is? But I know what I've brought to the table. I know what I bring to the table every single night and what I can do out on this floor.

So you know I always feel like I'm the best ever played his game. But you know there are so many other great ones that I'm happy to just be a part of the journey.


COATES: --hearing that response, his level of humility, a level of bravado, one day certainly earned in many respects. But let me just tell the audience, the pink shoes that he was wearing, in spite of that response. The pink shoes he wore tonight had handwritten notes on him and one said, stay present, the other the kid from Akron, and on his own Nike LeBron shoes. Reflect on this legacy and in that moment of him answering that own question.

COSTAS: Well, during the last hour with Donna Bass, she played a clip from an interview I did with him 20 years ago, when he was just coming out of high school in Akron. And I said to him, and I didn't mean to put him on the spot, but I think it was a fair question, because no high school player, even Kobe Bryant or long ago Moses Malone jumping right from high school to a Hall of Fame career.

No high school player had ever had the level of fame and scrutiny before ever playing a pro game that he did. It was a different media era. His games were televised his high school games were televised on ESPN. His high school games were moved out of the high school arena into bigger arenas because of the demand for tickets.

He was a national figure, not just a local figure. And then as it happened, his team the Cavaliers, his local team, which had been dreadful, was in the lottery. They won the lottery, they earned the right to draft and there was no question you wouldn't draft anybody other than LeBron James with a number one pick.

And they suffered for a long time, he immediately made them better. He was a consequential player from the start, but it took a while before Cleveland was able to win a championship and he actually took a circuitous route. He went to Miami, he won championships there. Then he went back to Cleveland, and he got them a championship and epic championship when they defeated the very, very strong Golden State Warriors. And then he came to the Lakers and managed to get one more and still counting, hoping for more as he said in the postgame interview. He said that just because he's scaled this mountain, that doesn't mean that, he wants to quit.

He thinks he can play in incredible shape. He's taking care of his body. He thinks he can play two or three more years, extend that record out but also pursue a championship now, there's always detractors. Now in a sports talk world and a social media world, people will take shots at anybody, no matter how accomplished they are.

And so the knock on LeBron for those who take Jordan's side of the argument is that he picked his teams. He went to Miami and he teamed up with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to win a championship and then he came back to Cleveland when they were strong enough. They had Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and others and then he went to the Lakers, et cetera, et cetera.

But it's a different era in the NBA. Players are more empowered; Kareem Abdul Jabbar did win one championship with Oscar Robertson in Milwaukee. He was a great player with the box starting when he was still known as Lew Alcindor, won five of the six with the Lakers. That every era is different, every circumstance is different. The best you can say of any great player is that he will always be in the argument.


COSTAS: Kareem Abdul Jabbar will always be in the discussion among the greatest senators. LeBron and Michael Jordan, if they play for 100 years, will always be in the discussion of the tiny handful of great players. And sometimes people who prefer the player from their own era.

They think that player will be forgotten. I'm old enough to remember when Hank Aaron passed Babe Ruth. And of course, there was a racial element in that regrettably, which Hank triumphed over and eventually was embraced by virtually everyone. But no one forgot Babe Ruth.

Babe Ruth remains a figure of legend. And Hank Aaron has his place everlastingly in baseball history; no one's going to forget Kareem. And the argument about LeBron and Michael Jordan will go on. It's part of what makes sports interesting.

And suffice it to say they are two of the very, very best, whoever played. What Tom Brady did in football didn't make people forget Joe Montana. It's not going to change Peyton Manning's place on the Hall of Fame. It's part of what sports is? So there you go we've been lucky enough in recent years, to watch some of the greatest players in their respective sports ever.

COATES: I mean, I'm just thinking to myself, if that record has been set, since, what eight months before King James was even born. I imagine eight months from now, there's some kid who's going to have his sights maybe one day on even joining the League, let alone surpassing the grades. If it takes this long to do it, we shall see.

Really great to hear you and hear your insight on a night like this so much more to come, thank you so much, Bob Costas.

COSTAS: Thank you, Laura.

COATES: We've got a lot more to come later in the show "Tonight" about King James and his big night and coming up somebody else who was trying to put some points on the board President Biden, why his team is high fiving in the West Wing during his State of the Union address tonight.



COATES: Alright, it's a pretty big night. You've got a lot to talk about here and here in the studio with me, CNN Senior Political Analyst Mark Preston also Eva McKend, CNN National Politics Reporter, CNN Political Commentators, Paul Begala, and Kristen Soltis Anderson, all here with me and to talk about this monumental night as well.

Let's begin with the atmosphere in the room where it was happening because it was not a particularly friendly audience or angry one. Well, there's some heckling listen to this.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security sunset. I'm not saying it's a majority. Let me give you, anybody who doubts it, contact my office, I'll give you a copy. I'll give you a copy of the proposal. That means Congress doesn't vote. I'm glad to see a 90 and I enjoy conversion.

You know amazing, if Congress doesn't keep the programs where they are, they'd go away other Republicans say I'm not saying that some majority of you I don't even think it's even significant. But it's been proposed by individuals. I'm not blaming not naming them, but it's been proposed by some of you.

Folks, the idea are that we're not going to be moved into being threatened to default on the debt if we don't respond. So folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security, Medicare is off the books now. Well, - alright.


COATES: Well am I had to call him the lemonade maker after that. Paul, what's your take on that?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, Joe Biden has a secret weapon, the Republicans. They showed him to be happy. While they were angry he was energetically being unhinged. I think dispelled a lot of the myths about Joe Biden, right. He's not too old. He's not, you know, LeBron's 38 and nobody calling on him to retire. Right so he dispelled and Republicans confirmed all the negative myths that Democrats would not miss. I guess negative tales that Democrats told about them. They seemed unhinged. They were rude. They do, in fact, have a proposal. Senator Rick Scott of Florida, it's page 18 of his plan to sunset, Social Security, Medicare, and the President was 100 percent right. But even more than that, the Republicans really made him look good.

COATES: Kristen, how do you feel about it?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I feel like there are a lot of folks that are kind of clutching their pearls over this who have not watched Prime Minister's questions or the way. Most parliamentary systems have this kind of sparring between the leader of the other party and the opposition. Now normally, it doesn't happen in our system, especially during the State of the Union.

I think the thing that was the most counterproductive about that whole moment for Republicans, is that President Biden set them up? He baited them into it, and they took the bait. And this was a speech that up until that moment, if you were a nervous Democrat who's a little concerned about 2024 and Joe Biden being plan A, plan B and plan C of your party.

It was a little slow, it was both rushed and low energy and then that moment happened. And that just invigorated President Biden a little bit and I think it shifted the momentum to where if you were nervous Democrat before it, you probably weren't as nervous afterwards.

COATES: I mean, there was a bit of a here ducky and then the attitude of like, no one there had been the proposal, but at least some. Did you see it that way?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: I did. And Laura, it was frankly ducky. If my mom were here, she would say these folks don't have any home training. And it allowed him to exhibit strength and really pivots to an issue where Democrats are taking a very popular position.

Listen, Republicans aren't trying to hear this, but when you ask them what programs they want to cut, they don't respond. So the natural, I think inclination is to go towards those social programs. They're going to have to answer to this President Biden tonight put this question front and center.

COATES: I mean the idea Mark, I mean, that was about what 40 or so minutes in before they started to have this sort of moment. At first everyone was trying to be very polite, a little bit stuffy and trying to show a more mature tone, but they believe.


COATES: I'm sure the Republicans that Biden was challenging them and saying something untruthful. They called him a liar in that moment is there some accuracy there? MARK PRESTON, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Let me just say this. This was the perfect snapshot. These last two hours are the perfect snapshot of where we are right now in American politics. We had comedy at the beginning of the speech, we had standing ovations, you know, for the new House Speaker for the new Democratic Leader.

And then the train went off the tracks, and we got back to really where we are in American politics. You have Republicans on the floor that were arguing, Mitt Romney and George Santos, you had that going on? You have Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has become more of an establishment type.

But yet today, tonight, she did her bona fides again, and threw out some red meat. And at the very end, you had Sarah Huckabee Sanders throw out red meat in the Republican response. And I think Joe Biden didn't do it either.

But it just goes to show you how difficult the next two years are going to be to get anything done because Democrats and Republicans while they'll smile at each other, and they'll have pleasantries. The fact is I don't think they're going to be able to get together and to get anything done over the next few years.

COATES: Where the - says smile in your face all the while trying to take your place people. I guess Political Back Stabbers, so to speak. Well, President Biden is asking for bipartisanship tonight the question that Mark Preston is raising as well as will he actually gets it? Well, I'm going to ask a Republican about that very moment. Congressman Mike Johnson is next.



COATES: In his first State of the Union Address with Republicans now in control of the House, President Biden calling on Republicans to work with him to pass legislation. But he ended up sparring with some hardline members of the GOP, some of whom, well even heckled the President of the United States.

Let's get some perspective now from Republican Representative Mike Johnson from Louisiana. Congressman, thank you for joining us this evening. It was quite a night and the Speaker McCarthy also encouraged many of the members in fact all the members to be polite, for lack of a better word here.

I witnessed as you did, I'm sure inside the chamber, a number of outbursts, and I wonder if you can respond to how you felt in that moment about the atmosphere that was within the chambers this evening.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): You know I'm not one that's in the catcalls. It's not my style. But I understand the emotion that was in the room. You know, I think when you heard a lot of the outburst as it's been referred to, it's when the President was, I think blatantly saying something that he knows is not true. He suggested that the Republicans or many Republicans, I think he said, want to sunset Social Security and Medicare. And it's just simply not a fact. There's not a single member of the House Republican Conference has ever since such a thing that I know of. And it's certainly not the position that we have. We've been very clear about our intention to save those programs. And we thought that that was an unfair statement.

COATES: Well, there was that moment, of course, where he did look and talk about finally a moment of unity here and the idea of everyone agreeing that those two programs ought to remain in place. But there has obviously been some discussion by some members about ways in which to reflect on or have it come up for a vote or for appropriations purposes.

Are you clear tonight that there is absolute unity within the Republican Party that neither program will be touched?

JOHNSON: Yes, look, I'm the Vice Chairman of the House Republicans. I'm in the number five leadership position. I'm very close to all my colleagues. I do not know a single one who suggested to anything contrary to that.

We've made a commitment to say those programs, but what we understand is you've got to solidify the foundations of those programs so that we can maintain them. They're on a trajectory to go bankrupt in less than 10 years. So we have to fix it.

We need to - we need grownups in the room to make, you know, tough decisions on our budgeting going forward. And we're counting on the White House to have a good faith negotiation with us. It's not a good start to mistake the position of the other side. And I think that's what my colleagues were reacting to.

COATES: When you look at the prospects of bipartisanship, obviously, there's quite the narrow majority, as you're well aware in the House. But there's also when the President of the United States today seeming to call for an end to fighting, talking about what the American people have made clear that they want.

Obviously, there is a divided Congress and certainly, the White House of a different party than those who are in the majority of the House. Do you see an opportunity for bipartisanship, on any key efforts that you hope to promote right now?

JOHNSON: Well, we certainly hope so. I mean, that's what this - the way this place is supposed to work. You're going to have people with very different ideas and philosophies and visions for the government. But at the end of the day, we have to get together and work those things out. That's how consensus is built.

It's how the founders set this system up to work. And we've strayed away from that. And I think that - I think there's a willingness on both sides of the aisle to do that. But we have to come together on ideas that make sense. And what we heard tonight largely was, in our view, a speech that was really detached from the reality that I think most American people are actually feeling with regard to rising cost and rising crime and the open border and all the problems we're facing.

We didn't hear the President actually addressing those directly and, and talking about the reality of those problems. So you have to agree on what the problems are before you can come together and fix them. And I think that's a big concern we have tonight.

COATES: What were the areas you thought that there was that detachment? Because he did mention, of course, the idea of the border and fentanyl, there was a moment, I think, perhaps caught some people off guard within the chambers that the President was speaking about fentanyl, and about the overdosing in this country and the tragic numbers that we are seeing.

And then he agreed with the idea of the chanting that the border was a contributing factor there. Were you surprised by any moments with the President seemed to agree with your party on these issues?

JOHNSON: We were shocked to hear a couple of those lines. I'm sure a speech writer put them in for political purposes. But that's not been the position of this President. Clearly it is his policies that created the immigration catastrophe that we have right now.

We've had hearings over the last 48 hours here in the Congress in the House, where experts and border patrol agents and people directly involved on the ground have come to tell their stories about the horrors that they're facing every day because the Department of Homeland Security and the Biden Administration and the President himself because of the policies they have enacted.


JOHNSON: And so it was not a speech that matched reality. And that was our concern with it. We heard more tonight about cracking down on junk fees than we did illegal immigration and the threat from China. You know, there were some lines in there that they of course inserted for applause. But it doesn't match his actions. And that's what we're deeply concerned about.

COATES: Well, Congressman, if you were only glass half full, maybe they were in there just to actually reflect what he thought. I hear your overall sentiment. But I think we can both agree the idea of not a single President has created the full immigration crisis we are seeing, but I understand the point that you're making.

There was a response, of course, from the Former Trump Press Secretary and current Arkansas Governor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivered, of course, the rebuttal today in this evening, and she seems to make clear that there is a strong push. And so he's making one for a generational and a cultural change that needs to take place.

I wonder is that the argument that you think is going to be the most effective for convincing voters why Republicans should lead? JOHNSON: I believe that's a big part of it. I believe we have to cast our vision and present our message to the American people. But the thing about conservatives in the Republican Party is that we stand for tried and true principles. They don't change.

Ronald Reagan said in his farewell address, they call me the great communicator. But it really wasn't that I was communicating great things the same great things that have guided our nation since its founding, because we believe in individual freedom and limited government and the rule of law and peace through strength and fiscal responsibility and free markets and human dignity.

These are the things that made us great. And that's what we stand for. So I believe when we make that case, the American people, they agree with us. I believe we're still a center right country, and they want sanity return to our public policy.

And we look forward to presenting that to the people over the next two years in the House Republican majority that we've been given here, and to making that case as we head into the 2024 cycle. We're excited about that. I'm very optimistic about the future.

COATES: Well, I love the optimism. We hope to hear the arguments soon. Thank you so much for joining us this evening.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

COATES: And President Biden telling the country that he wants to "Finish the job" multiple times in his address. The question is will voters give him the chance to do so in 2024? My panelists back after this.



COATES: President Biden giving an impassioned defense of his first two years in office in the State of the Union Address tonight. He was touting his legislative wins asking for bipartisan cooperation and asking the American people to let him "Finish the job".

But with tensions high on Capitol Hill, the question is what will the next two years really look like? We're back now with Mark Preston, Eva McCann, Paul Begala and Kristen Soltis Anderson. Listen to this guys, because Biden said this no less than what 12 times by my account, the idea of let him finish the job, listen to this.


BIDEN: We've been sent here to finish the job in my view. I signed a bipartisan bill to cut shipping costs by 90 percent, helping American farmers, businessmen and consumers, let's finish the job. Let's finish the job and close the loop over loud, very wealthy to avoid paying their taxes. So my plea to some of you at least in this audience, let's finishes the job and makes the savings permanent. Expand coverage on Medicare. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: You know, in a way, Eva the idea of let's finish the job was a different way of saying like, give me more time, give me more time to connect the dots between how you're feeling and how you ought to feel? What was your take?

MCKEND: Yes, it is a tough sell to make that argument to sort of say, listen, I'm working here and you might be hurting now. But give me more time. I will say this, though, you know, President Biden, he's always been this person that sort of tries to speak in a regular way to regular people.

And so that is his strength here. And maybe he is able to make this argument in a way that others cannot. He talked about the popular programs tonight, right? Like the Child Tax Credit, basically saying corporations need to stop playing in our face and pay their fair share of taxes.

And I think that that is ultimately sort of what helps him make this this argument. But it is a difficult one to make, as many Americans are still hurting. And he did actually speak to that as well.

COATES: He gave a list of consumer grievances as well trying to blame the American people. But the idea of trying to convince and we have a whole lot of arbitrary deadlines set up for a president the first 100 days, I mean, two years, and he's still fighting to be reelected possibly. The idea that he's saying, look, give me more time. Even with insulin, hey, this was taken to a fact it hasn't been actually coming into implementation yet. How you see it?

PRESTON: So a couple of things. One is he saying give me more time because all these great things that I've done, haven't really hit you yet in the pocketbook.

COATES: Right.

PRESTON: So give me some time there is also saying is we talked a lot about balloons this past week, was this trial balloon, right? He floats it up finish the job sounds like a great campaign slogan. You can see him, you know, standing in some arena somewhere a few years from now and everybody has a sign that says finish the job because that's what you know, political types.

Do they like grabbing onto a slogan and running with it? Question is, is does he have enough horses in Congress right now to get the job finished? And I would argue that he doesn't. Just look at the Democratic Party right now.

We saw Kyrsten Sinema she didn't sit with the Democrats sat with a couple of Republicans. Oh, and by the way, she made sure people saw that she was sitting with the Republicans with her choice of wardrobe, this bright yellow dress where she totally stood out. So Joe Biden wants to finish the job. I don't know if he has the horses in Congress they're going to help him finish the job. COATES: Speaking of slogans on that point, and by the way, I think she's wearing a bit of a lime neon green, but that's fine. Maybe it's not true. She may have been wearing but let me ask you Paul on this point, because speaking of slogans, Former President Donald Trump picking up on the idea of finishing a job and saying I am running for President to end the destruction of our country and to complete the unfinished business of making America great again. He saw a slogan tried to capitalize.


BEGALA: Yes, that's the highest compliment he could be paying Joe Biden. I actually think it's masterful because, you know, if things were going great in the country, you cruised reelection, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, like it was basically stay the course.

Well, Joe Biden can't say stay the course because most people think we're not going in the right direction. But he can't say it's time for a change, because he wants to be reelected. So I think that's really brilliant. And actually, I think his path forward is really easy, really clear. Not easy it's obvious.

And it says, he proposes these popular things that Eva talked about. $35 insulin, free community college, make corporations pay their fair share, get rid of those awful, hidden fees. And then poor Kevin McCarthy has an impossible choice.

He either has to pass them and give Biden accomplishments to run on or kill them and give him issues to run on. It's a win-win for Biden, and it's a lose-lose for poor Kevin McCarthy. He's going to - he's going to call for an 18th ballot speaker and hope somebody else gets the job because he can't do it. He can't win. There's no way to win.

COATES: Does that match what the polls say? Or how people feel about it, though?

ANDERSON: So when voters are asked, do you think that Joe Biden has accomplished a lot? Two thirds of independents say no. They actually don't think that he's done very much during these first two years of his presidency. So his problem is saying, look, you've got a fever, and the only prescription is more Joe Biden.

But that's the answer that's going to solve all of the problems that voters are clearly saying they're experiencing when you see only a quarter of Americans believe the country is headed in the right direction.

Republicans, on the other hand, they're actually going to push back not by saying Joe Biden hasn't done enough, but actually that he's done too much that finished the job is him saying I want to do more of what I've been doing the last two years, when Republicans would love nothing more than to say you want to do more spending that drove up inflation?

You want to do more of what you haven't really been doing at the border? I mean, there are lots of ways that Republicans I think, can take this and turn it back on him and say more Joe Biden is not what the country needs.

COATES: In fact we saw a little bit of that, obviously with Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Governor of Arkansas talking about the idea of sort of big government in the idea of what was failing among the Democrats.

Everyone stay with me we're going to come back to these points and more tonight, because the President and Republicans had a moment of agreement. They agree that the border is a problem. Now the question is can they agree on what the solution ought to be? What President Biden said about all that, is next?



COATES: President Biden addressing security at the U.S. Mexico border during his State of the Union speech this evening specifically the increasing amount of fentanyl crossing the border and even calling for more funding to address the crisis.


BIDEN: 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.

Unlawful migration from 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 passed my plan to provide the equipment and officers to secure the border.


COATES: Back with me Mark Preston, Eva McKend, Paul Begala and Kristen Soltis Anderson. Let me ask you on this, Mark. I mean, he turned it back on Congress, and they've been accusing him all this time that you haven't done enough to secure the border. He's saying actually look to a different branch.

PERSTON: You know, I mean, this argument goes all the way back to McCain, Kennedy. You know, I mean, this just - this is an argument that Congress should be able to get together on. They should be able to figure it out.

I mean, there should be more enforcement on the border. There should be better resources to take care of those who are seeking solace in a country that was built upon the backs of immigrants, and the fact that politics are just going to get in the way.

And I would argue that Democrats and Republicans have got to come to the table together equally, to try to get something done. And I just again, not to be negative nelly here, but I just don't see that happening. I don't see it this state how Democrats or Republicans can get something accomplished that is so easy, but yet it's so far away--

COATES: So Speaker McCarthy is faced seem to agree with his statement.

MCKEND: But this is a perennial argument, because this conversation has become a racialized cultural battle, right? That is really devoid of common sense. I was just in Vermont a few weeks ago. They have a labor shortage there.

The business community there really wants there to be a pathway to citizenship, or at the very least a way for some of these undocumented folks who have really become members of the community to have some sort of process to get work authorization, so they can fill a job need a business need.

So you know, yes, you know, we hear this argument time and time again. We heard of course, the backlash from Republicans tonight screaming the border, the border. We've seen Democrats really take inconsistent positions on immigration. And we are in this loop. That really doesn't make any sense.

BEGALA: I think he was right. Biden is now flipping the script. The Democrats had begun with the compassionate agenda. And it hasn't worked, right? If people - if there's disorder at the border, and there is. There's chaos at the border and there is.

People won't be open to your compassionate message until you can bring order to the border. So I looked it up. Customs Border Patrol personnel in the Southwest and Mike - but I'm from Texas, in my part of the country, right?

The U.S. Mexico border peaked in 2013 under Barack Obama. It actually dropped personal the border dropped 10 percent under Donald Trump dropped. Democrats never called him on it. Why not? Finally, I think Biden has got the ordering right.

We have to avoid at the border now. I've talked to Biden aides. They think they won't get it because I said well; surely you'll get order at the border. You'll get more Border Patrol. They think they won't get it and this is very harsh, but some of them have told me that they think the Republicans want chaos at the border.

COATES: Last one--

BEGALA: They want it for a political issue.

ANDERSON: Well, this idea of you has to sequence that you do border security first and then you can have the broader conversation about that things like pathway to citizenship.


ANDERSON: That's what Republicans have been saying for almost two decades now since the McCain bill that Mark brought up. And so if this is Biden trying to call Republicans on it and say, OK, this is what for decades, you have said you want.

BEGALA: Right.

ANDERSON: Part A and then Part B, if he really means it, Republicans are on record for a long time and you have to secure the border first before you can do anything else.

MCKEND: But it's a false choice. I feel like it's never - it's never that way. I think even when President Obama made concessions, you know, immigration reform was never really in play.

COATES: The illusory choice of politics everyone stay with us much more live coverage of tonight's big news, President Biden giving his State of the Union Address and LeBron James becoming the NBA's all time scoring record.