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CNN Live Event/Special

Biden Addressed Tyre Nichols' Parents; Biden on Policing; LeBron James Breaks NBA's All-Time Scoring Record; Gov. Sanders' GOP Response; President Biden call on congress to codify Roe v. Wade. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired February 08, 2023 - 02:00   ET



LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: All right, we are covering -- we're covering two major stories tonight, President Biden to the Union Address and of course LeBron James aka King James, breaking the NBA's all-time scoring record.

He's done it, he has smashed the record held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar since 1984, by the way, set even before he was even born. We're going to break down the huge night in basketball in just a moment. But first --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see the relief for his face.



COATES: One of the most emotional moments with the State of the Union, the parents as you just saw, of Tyre Nichols receiving an extended standing ovation. President Biden paying tribute to their son while also pushing for police reform.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: As many of you personally know, there's no words to describe the heartache or grief of losing a child. But imagine, imagine if you lost that child at the hands of the law.

Here's what Tyre's mother shared with me when I spoke to her. When I asked her how she finds the courage to carry

out and speak out, with faith in God, she said her son was "a beautiful soul and something good will come from this."

Imagine how much courage and character that takes. It's up to us. It's up to all of us. We all want the same thing. Neighborhoods free of violence. Law enforcement who earn the community's trust. Just as every compliment pin on that badge in the morning has a right to be able to go home at night. So does everybody else out there. Our children have a right to come home safely. (APPLAUSE)

Equal protection under the law is a covenant we have with each other in America.


COATES: I want to bring in CNN Senior Political Analyst Mark Preston, National Politics Reporter Eva McKend, and Political Commentators Bakari Sellers and Kristen Soltis Anderson. Also with us, Ron Johnson, Captain of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. He's also the former Incident Commander in Ferguson, Missouri. Also here joining our panel is Civil Rights Attorney Areva Martin, a full house for an extraordinarily important issue here.

Bakari, let me begin with you because the President recognizing and again, we are not even a week from the funeral of Tyre Nichols, this poor family has joined a sorority and fraternity that nobody wants to be a part of, and everyone's fighting to ever have to be a part of, again, when you look at a divided Congress, and you see that for examples, because it didn't even stand for that notion. What do you think are the prospects?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, my heart aches for the family, and it aches for the families that will be next. Because someone else will get a knock on their door that says that law enforcement just brutally beat or shot your child, that is going to happen. And the reason it's going to happen is because many Republicans in the United States Congress don't have the fortitude or the empathy or the understanding to change and challenge the status quo.

We're having a very interesting conversation in this country about culture versus policy. Look, people have said give them body cameras, we gave them body cameras. People have said trained them. We've trained them. People have said we need more cops and higher pay. We've given higher pay. We've given more cops and this brutalization still happens at the hands of law enforcement.

It's a question about culture. But at the end of the day, I was in a room with Tim Scott, Lindsey Graham, and the families of victims along with Ben Crump. And you could see that Tim Scott actually genuinely wants to tackle this issue. The problem is that Tim Scott didn't have any help on his side of the aisle. And Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell simply don't have the warmth or the fortitude, or the empathy to understand what it's like to be black in America, to be afraid that your child is not going to come home at night, and therefore, this will never change. This is going to be cyclical. We'll have another George Floyd moment. We have another Nichols moment. I just pray to God that is not a Sellers moment, one day.

COATES: You know, when you think about what Bakari saying and really I have to tell you, as a mom, it breaks my heart to think about even the word next in this conversation but we do go from never again to once again, to never again to once again. Speaking of Senator Tim Scott, though, he is somebody who has been named oftentimes as a prospect potentially for 2024 given the challenges in terms of trying to get bipartisan buy in to change and have police reform, does that impacts the ability of Tim Scott to be considered a bipartisan ally in this particular movement.


MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I think that Tim Scott, to Bakari's point doesn't want to try to get something done. I don't think there's a will in Congress. Certainly on the Republican side, there maybe even some on the Democratic side as well. I mean, there is this belief that every police officer is evil, right? And I think that that is an incredibly destructive thing, because it's not absolutely true. It's not fair to all the good cops, but to Tim Scott, you know, Tim Scott, as somebody who has -- who has come to Congress, you know, he was the only black Republican for how many years. And he's kind of kept his head down. He's -- he's incredibly intelligent. He is somebody who -- should you choose to run for President is certainly going to get a lot of looks. If he can get the policing thing through, that's only going to be helpful to him, because he'll do it in a way that I think that conservatives, you know, will be accepting of it. Because it is true, right? There are conservatives who do want to see policing fixed as well, right? I mean, there is a movement on the conservative side. Tim Scott, if you can ride that wave then then potentially catches fire.

COATES: I want to bring in Captain Ron Johnson here and as you're speaking about this issue, it is a moment to consider that it's a singular person and a black senator who is looking at that and the Republican side, I think back to a speech not so long ago with LBJ at the State of Union talking about the race problem is not just one it's an American problem, such as to paraphrase the policing problem in this country.

But Captain Johnson, Tyre Nichols parents were in the crowds night. We saw the extended standing ovation. They have been pushing for police reform as well. But the Republican Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan says that look, this or any type of police reform, he wasn't sure that that would actually prevent an occurrence like Tyre Nichols, what do you say to that?

CAPT. RON JOHNSON, (RET.) FORMER INCIDENT COMMANDER IN FERGUSON, MISSOURI: You know, I think we are, in our country, have to be honest, that we are going to face this again. But I think we have to start somewhere. And I think it will have an impact. I think we have to start somewhere. But to say we do nothing means we're going to continue to be here. This fraternity and sorority will continue to grow. So, I think one man can start it. And then there can be people that follow. So I think Congress has to stand. I think is it's going to take that challenge. We must do it because, you know, I've got a son, you've got a son. And it's hard when we know that this is going to happen. You know, I looked at tonight, the gallery stood for Tyre's parents. But then we talked about the George Floyd mandate, they wouldn't stand. And so it makes me think, what was the real honesty and compassion and you standing when the President asked you to stand and introduce them, you wouldn't stand for something that really changed their lives and all of our lives in this country. COATES: It is really sad to think about the performative aspects of politics in this country. And, of course, what the consequences are.

I want to bring in Areva into this conversation because, Areva, thinking about Tyre Nichols parents, and we're still learning very much about the investigation. It's still unfolding. We've got these five officers charged among other crimes with second degree murder. We're also learning, though, that one of those officers that was charged with second degree murder among other crimes, actually admitted to investigators, Areva, that he took photos of Tyre Nichols on his personal cell phone after the beating, and then sent it to others.

And, in fact, this is the moment the New York Times is identifying as the photo in question, but there's still a lot we don't know. But this is incredibly disturbing to think about a photograph being taken. We don't know why, who was sent to specifically or the motivation perhaps. But what does this say to you that this moment would have been captured on a personal cell phone and disseminated. And mind you there's not a photo of him helping this person?

AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY & LEGAL AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Well, it's not a photo of him helping, Laura, because we know they didn't help Tyre Nichols, that's the sad part about this. And one of the sad parts and the inhumanity of an officer, now an ex-officer taking a picture, someone who's brutally been beaten and bruised and literally is losing their life as they are slumped up against that police car and then to have that picture go out to individuals outside of the police department. There had been rumors were on the internet that this officer had sent this picture to someone who was either an ex- girlfriend or some woman that perhaps had been involved with Mr. Nichols at some point but maybe it was some kind of love triangle but it there was rumors that this could have been in some ways personally motivated, this beating.


And we don't know if, you know, any of that will ever be verified. But we do know that depravity of someone who would take a photo like that and disseminated and we are hearing that other officers are being disciplined, and that the district attorney is looking at filing additional charges of some officers who may have been involved in falsifying police records.

We know that the EMT individuals who showed up at the scene have been fired and there may be -- they may be also facing charges. So, I think one of the things that we're not talking a lot about is the captain in that police department. And although she got a lot of credit early on for acting quickly, in terms of firing the five officers who have been charged with second degree murder, I think she bears a great deal of responsibility for what we're seeing this drip, drip nature of the information that's coming out as well, as you know, she was responsible for putting that SCORPION Unit together. She put together a similar kind of crime fighting unit when she was in Atlanta, when she oversaw one in Atlanta. So, I think we've got to look from the top to the bottom of that entire police department and hold everyone who was involved in this accountable.

COATES: I think the word you use was depravity. And so apropos for what we have seen. Areva, thank you so much.

You know, I want to turn to someone who although we've been focusing a lot on the extraordinary celebration of becoming the leading scorer in the NBA, we also know that part of the appeal the draw and the celebration surrounding one king, LeBron James has been that he has gotten points on the board and matters that matter as well, including social justice. He's been outspoken as it relates to the idea of police encounters and trying, as so many of us are, to avoid the once again, but the news out of Los Angeles tonight is certainly something to celebrate, 39 years because that that period of time is what it took for the NBA to have a new all-time leading scorer, LeBron James taking the crowd now from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during tonight's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. And among those celebrating King James record breaking feat. Well, the man given us a Union Address, President Biden. take a listen.


BIDEN: LeBron, congratulations. With your whole heart and soul, you broke a hallowed record. You elevated the game more than that. Like Kareem and Bill Russell and others who came before you. You challenge and inspire the nation to be better, do better and live up to our full promise. Keep it going, man. Keep the faith and congratulations to you and your wonderful family. Your mom Gloria, your wife, Savannah, and your beautiful children, Ronnie, Bryce, and Zhuri. God bless you all.


COATES: I love the background music. I just say that everyone. CNN's Omar Jimenez is in Los Angeles with more on King James tonight. Omar, what's it looking like?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Truly a moment in history, LeBron James becoming the all-time leading scorer in NBA history. He would be the first to admit he didn't think he would be at this point. Yet when you look at everything that he has accomplished in his career, who else would it have been? And it's no secret. We're talking about more than 38,000 career points at the highest level of basketball over a career that spanned 20 years to this point. That's an accomplishment and itself. But when the moment finally happened, him hitting a fade away off the left elbow, almost nothing but net essentially, the entire arena erupted, anticipating that moment. That's why they showed up to this arena on a Tuesday night against a non-playoff team and the Oklahoma City Thunder. They wanted to witness history.

And there was a question about whether LeBron would do it tonight or do it Tuesday night, I should say, or whether he would wait until Thursday night to do it against the Milwaukee Bucks. It was very clear in the first few minutes of the game that LeBron was going after it tonight. And he solidified that goal over the course of the game and just really with -- with so much more to go before the game ended. He was embraced by family. There were so many others that were here who had been cheering LeBron on from before he entered the NBA and for them to witness this moment alongside the many, many fans that were here. Truly a special moment not just in NBA history but in history. Laura.

COATES: Thanks Omar so much. Listen, President Biden is not the only big-name paying tribute to James' record-breaking feat. Former Los Angeles Lakers star Earvin "Magic" Johnson tweeting his congratulations writing, "This historic moment is so special because he will never see another LeBron James. He's always been a past first leader whose ability to make his teammates better is one of a kind, which makes his record even more incredible."


LA Mayor, Karen Bass, tweeting a picture of City Hall lit up to honor James' record-breaking feat, as well as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who held the record for decades saying, "You both make us so proud. Los Angeles is and always will be a city of champions."

For more I want to bring in our own Champion, CNN Contributor Cari Champion, host of the Cari Champion Show. I replied you, I'm glad that you're here tonight. Cari, what a moment. You actually have one to play for everyone right now. He's given a press conference. Right now. He's actually he's responding to a question of what it was like to have Kareem Abdul-Jabbar present to watch this moment. Listen to this.


LEBRON JAMES, BASKETBALL PLAYER: I think is great for the game of basketball. You know, as we talked about for years and years and years, you know, I'm a historian of the game. So I know what, you know, guys like Kareem and Will, and MJ and Magic and Bird, Oscar Robertson, (inaudible). You know, I'm going to be up here all night talking about so many greats and legends. You know, for me, personally, you know, it's just an honor to be just named with the greats.


COATES: Cari, not just name with the greats, now the greatest scorer of all times.

CARI CHAMPION, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You have said it. Can I just explain, just take a moment. The record has been in place for 39 years, LeBron James is 38 years old, before he was born. This record was in place. And for LeBron, I don't want us to get greatness fatigue. We get greatness fatigue for 20 years he has been great. And I do believe so many times we ignore how great he is. Because we're used to it very similar to a Tom Brady, if you will. What LeBron did tonight won't, will honestly live for three, four, maybe five decades before someone will come along and break his record, because he has lived at this level. Let us not forget this. It is so special. And I am so glad that we've been able to witness in real time and having Kareem Abdul-Jabbar pass the torch.

COATES: You know, it's funny why my son's bedtime is 8:30 and my husband woke me up and said wake up he to see this moment in history. OK, the king is about to break the all-time record and be the record scorer but let me tell you the pink shoes you see in that, Cari, to your point the pink shoes have handwritten notes on them and what it says, is stay present and the kid from Akron. I mean, perhaps one of the reasons is apropos he did this on a fade away. Look, he will not fade away from our collective thoughts, one, because of his unbelievable athleticism. But two because he's always reminded us that he is the kid from Akron and has given back to a community that he came from.

CHAMPION: Well, first off, I'm glad you let your husband and you both agreed to let your son stay up, that's beautiful. It's important that he sees this if you see it, you can believe it as his sons are just as excited. LeBron sons. I sent a message today and I said it is so apropos that is Black History Month, your black history real time. I saw a shirt with JC world this is black magic. Let's take a moment to honor what this kid from Akron has done. I mean when we think of the grades, he will live in this Mount Rushmore if you will, of all grades. And what LeBron did tonight I can -- I can tell you this on the list of greats, this is probably number two or maybe number three.

LeBron has done so many amazing things on and off the court and I often believe that because he's held himself to such an excellence at such a young age, at 18 years old, show from high school to the league. We've forgotten how great he is.

His interview just the other day, a full sit down with someone say I want to win championships. Yes, this is great that I have the scoring title but I want to win chips. And I just cannot tell you how happy I am for him because there are very few who can come out and crown themselves that King and then live up to that. And we're watching it in real time. And I'm glad we had the opportunities to use (ph).

COATES: All that and he remade Space Jam in house party. I mean, there's a lot more they talked about tonight. Cari Champion I'm so glad to see you tonight.

CHAMPION: So much more.

COATES: You had almost a visual of the of the chalk coming out of over you, in celebration one LeBron James. Love it, nice to see you as always.


CHAMPION: Good to see you too Queen, thank you so much. Have a good evening.

COATES: Thank you. Listen, while that's happening on the other side of the country we've got what's happening here in Washington D.C. and the White House calling Biden's speech a win. So what other Democrats think? Well, I'm going to ask one Congressman David Cicilline is next.


COATES: President Biden giving a fiery defense of his first two years in office tonight, firing back at Republicans who heckled him during the State of the Union Address. But the question is did the President succeed in selling his agenda for the next two years?

Joining me now Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Democrat and member of the House Foreign Affairs and Judiciary Committees.

Congressman, I'm so glad that you're here with us this evening. Welcome. I really want to have a sense of your impression of a really powerful well set of moments during -- during today's interview and address. And it had a lot to do with some of the heckling that was going on inside of the chamber. What was your impression to the moment that seemed to string together where the President had to deal with being heckled by members of the Republican Party?

REP. DAVID CICILLINE, (D) RHODE ISLAND: Yes, look, I think the President did a magnificent job. It was a very strong speech and I think in all those instances where he was heckled which is profoundly disrespectful. This is the President of the United States giving an address to the nation, not just to the Congress, about the state of the United States, you know, State of the Union, and to see members of the Republican Party heckle and shout out in interrupt the president. I thought it was terribly disrespectful.


The good news is, the President handled a masterfully and pushed back hard and in very kind of funny ways. And I think he made his point about the economic progress we've made. He spoke about creating 12 million jobs in two years more than any other president has done in for the lowest unemployment rate in a generation, the renaissance of American manufacturing, bring down the cost of prescription drugs for to the cost of insulin, you know, and recounted the investments made to rebuild American infrastructure, be sure we can compete in chips manufacturing.

So, it was a great speech, where he recounted a lot of the work that he's done, but he called on us to finish the job and continue to get our work done on behalf of the American people. I think the behavior of the Republicans, particularly those that haggled was a distraction, but it didn't take away in any way from the President's strong performance tonight. And it's really powerful message.

COATES: You are correct that he had this sort of dual message this evening. One, in part on saying that there has been a lot that has already been accomplished under his watch, but also the idea that the job is not finished. I wondered if you saw that statement and interpret it to mean, look, this was him talking about reelection, or the idea of was it simply look, there is still more work to be done among this chamber of Congress of Congress and with myself as well? How did you see it?

CICILLINE: I think it was definitely the latter. I think the President was -- was really properly taking credit for a lot of the work that he's led that has brought real results and improve the lives of the American people. But he acknowledges there's more work to do, there's still too many people that are struggling with the high cost of food and gas and other sort of, you know, things in their lives. And he understands that we have to do more to move forward on things like paid family leave, affordable childcare, reducing gun violence, taking on big tech, securing our borders. So there's a lot of work to be done. But I thought that's what was so masterful about the President's remarks. He acknowledged the tremendous progress we've made and the difference that these policies have made in the lives the American people. But he quickly acknowledged as a lot more to do. And he was calling on us to work together in a bipartisan way to deliver results to the American people. And I think he was talking about -- he was talking to us and to the country that we have a job to do to continue to deliver results for the American people.

COATES: When you mentioned the word bipartisan, I have to go back to the atmosphere that seemed to be apparent from the audience watching all this happening. You were inside the chambers when you heard the continuous heckling, when you heard his comments about him being a liar, when you heard statements being made that were blaming him for a number of issues. He certainly didn't have a retort and one that did not shy away from addressing what was so obvious in the room. But did it give you a sense of pessimism or optimism about the ability to work together if this was one of the ways in which members of Congress were treating the head of the executive branch?

CICILLINE: Yeah, no, I mean, makes me sad. Look, I think whatever you think about the president, whatever political party you come from, you hope that people respect the office. And this was the president United States, as I said, not just speaking to Congress. But speaking to the American people. This is a very special occasion where the President comes before the entire country and delivers a speech on the State of the Union.

What I found disappointing was not only the heckling, but also their failure to even applaud and stand up for things like make it in America or for our veterans or for creating good paying jobs, or paying teachers or applauding our health care workers. I mean, things that because I think there was so much partisanship on their part that they couldn't even manage to applaud things that everyone agrees with. That's, I think, disappointing, and I'm afraid it signals a lack of willingness on the part of my Republican colleagues to work with this President.

I'm hoping tonight was just theater, and that they're willing, in fact, to work to get things done for the American people. But it makes -- it doesn't I think, for I think it's concerning, because I think they are reflecting a certain unwillingness to work with the President, which I think is unfortunate, because the American people need us to get things done to improve their lives. And the President has shown that he knows how to do that. He knows how to bring people together in a bipartisan way. But there wasn't a lot of evidence tonight that Republicans were willing to do that.

COATES: Well, as you say, legislation certainly cannot be performative and actually be effective. Congressman Cicilline, thank you for joining this evening.

CICILLINE: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

COATES: Up next, the blistering Republican response to President Biden's address delivered by Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders and she's accusing Biden of stoking the so-called Culture wars.



COATES: And the Republican rebuttal to the presidency of the Union address, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders giving a blistering response actually accusing President Biden of failing to protect the nation and also engaging in the so-called culture wars.


GOV. SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, (R) ARKANSAS: 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 and a left-wing cultural war. We didn't start and never wanted to fight.


COATES: Back with me, Mark Preston, Eva McKend, Bakari Sellers, and Kristen Soltis Anderson.

Bakari, first of all, the day that it is Biden who has provoked the culture wars is interesting. How do you see that?


SELLERS: That's a different reality. I mean, I just -- you know have to give props to Governor Huckabee Sanders because she's done some amazing things since being governor of Arkansas like, banning usage of the word Latinx. She's also examined the AP curriculum for their woke ideology and indoctrination. So she's really tackling the issues that affect the pocketbook of those people who live in Arkansas.

COATES: I can sense your sarcasm. It's received.

SELLERS: Yeah. The sarcasm went over better than it does on Twitter. I can say that much. But the fact is, I don't think it was a bad response speech. Like I said earlier, though, it was just -- it was very weird. She used a lot of hot culture wars, a lot of these woke indoctrination, just terms that if I asked her to define, that's why I don't really get into debates with many Republicans about what is woke and these type of critical race theory because they can't define it. They really don't know what it is. But she used these things. And as we were talking off air, I think Mark is right. And I think that the right wing of the Republican Party is probably going to eat up her speech, although most Americans will look at it and say, she said a bunch of nothing. And it was decently weird.

COATES: Can she peg Biden to the woke left, given a lot of his speech centered around the American middle class strictly has led to the economy obviously, it wasn't a precise rebuttal. These never are? PRESTON: She was incredibly successful at doing that to the 88% of Republicans or whatever it could, because what that number is right now that support Donald Trump to be the next nominee. She was speaking to a to a segment of America that she was very specific about, and she was playing the culture wars, to the base of the Republican Party.

For Kevin McCarthy, it was a smart thing to have her come and do it, took away any of the pressure on -- on Capitol Hill. He didn't have anybody that could really could come up and deliver the response after what he went through just a couple of weeks ago. I think that she was successful in what she was trying to do. And let's not forget, like we're saying, while she's pushing the culture wars, her father was a minister, like she grew up this way. So we shouldn't be surprised that she would go to this bucket and use it, you know, this evening to try to, you know, you know, look at her own political path, I think in the future, and that I think, is to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, or at least that's what she thinks, yes.

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, bear in mind who the audience is for something like this. The vast majority of Americans who had their televisions on by the time her response has been given, we're probably watching the basketball at that point, right?

This is something that the clips are going to get shown the next day in conservative media. And, you know, you had former White House Press Secretary, Dana Perino, saying this was the best State of the Union response that I think I've seen. It is something that I think is going to make a lot of conservatives give her a second look, I think the contrast was interesting. She said, I'm the youngest governor in the country at 40, contrasting that with Biden, who's much older, what's interesting, Donald Trump's also pretty old. And she talked a lot about the former president, but she never actually used the T word, which I thought was kind of interesting.

COATES: What do you think?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Yeah, to me, it seemed off for the moment. But Kristen is right. The part about the generational, there needs to be a new generational leadership was arguably the most interesting part of the speech. But -- but honestly, when she started, I was like, gosh, that does not really seem like a rebuttal to what I just heard. This seems totally someplace else. But ultimately, that speech, I think she gave it to who she needed to give it to, right? It's going to resonate, probably with who she wanted to give it to. But I think also these rebuttal speeches are an opportunity for folks to introduce themselves to the country. A lot of folks already know her from her time at the White House. But if this is the first introduction to a wide swath of the electorate, I'm not really sure it's the proper channel to have this like base cultural argument.

COATES: Well, there was this moment, I want to come back there was like there was a moment to either respond to Bakari where she did tap or there was, especially from President Biden, where he spoke about a very big issue in terms of a cultural war that is continuing to grow. It's about Roe v. Wade. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Congress must restore the right was taken away in Roe v. Wade and protect Roe v. Wade. The Vice President is doing everything to protect access to reproductive health care, safeguard patient safety. Already more than dozen states are unfortunate extreme abortion bans. Make no mistake about it, if Congress passes a national ban, I will veto it.


COATES: There's the cultural wars, of course, and there's the hot button issue that continue to be, what do you make of this moment?

SELLERS: Now, that was a strong woman for Joe Biden. I think that and this is the problem with Sarah Huckabee Sanders' speech, contrasting it to what Joe Biden was talking about. And he gaslit the Republicans a little bit tonight, I must admit, and it was kind of interesting to see. But on the side of ensuring that we do not tear down Social Security, for example, on the side of making sure that people know that Roe v. Wade is very nuanced for many Americans and a federal abortion ban is just a balloon that won't fly. And saying he will veto it, you take that and you look at the box that Sarah Huckabee Sanders, her speech was in, shows the Republican Party's problem with growth.


Because I really think that I could close my eyes and Marjorie Taylor Greene could have given the speech that Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave tonight, would it have been as eloquent? Probably not, but the same points would have been hit. And that's the problem the Republicans had, they had it in November, and they're going to have it in 2024. Because that box of woke ism, and you're indoctrinating our kids to run around and watch The Proud Family, you know, is just that is not enough to win over the majority of Americans. I don't think.

PRESTON: All right, but in order to get to the second race, which is the general election, you got to win, you got to win the first race.

SELLERS: And that's the problem.

PRESTON: Which is the primary.

SELLERS: Yeah, you have to go through the first hurdle which puts you behind, especially if Democrats run somebody like Joe Biden, who you can't by any stretch, Joe Biden ain't woke. He just -- that's not what he is. He's never been. He's been up here 60 some odd years. He just ain't never been woke and he never will be.

COATES: Well, I'll tell you he was energetic today. Everyone will think about that. And there were some lighter moments at the State of the Union. Lawmakers starstruck by the presence of rock and roll royalty. We'll tell you what was, next.



COATES: While there were a lot of powerful people in the room as President Biden delivered his first State of the Union address, but many of the lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were noticeably focused on someone else at the menu looking at right now.

Mano, CNN's Manu Raju says that member who's taking photos of U2 Lead Singer who was invited as a guest of the First Lady for his activism and fighting HIV/AIDS, and extreme poverty.

I want to bring in now CNN's Political Analysts, excuse me, Ron Brownstein. I guess I got a little tongue tied looking at Bono. I don't know, there's a moment there. Let me ask you a huge movie about music, tell me, you must have been a little bit starstruck seeing him there?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I wrote a book a long time ago called The Power on the Glitter and the history of the relationship between Hollywood and politics. And going back all the way to the 1920s there really has not been a celebrity who has been quite as politically effective over the years as Bono. He was kind of renowned for being able to work with both Republicans and Democrats, built a relationship with the late Jesse Helms. And I think he was there. You heard the President Biden as part of his -- the outreach part of the speech, praise former President George W. Bush and his work on combating HIV/AIDS in Africa and that was something that Bono was very involved in.

COATES: Well, I mean, with or without him, we can't live with or without them. So they're just now as a whole lyric anyway, I want to move to another point about this here, because, you know, I want to know how you thought the other be in the room Joe Biden was performing in his address. How do you think he handled himself tonight?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, Biden was in the same position that each of his four immediate predecessors have found themselves in at one point, during their presidency, all of them were elected, Laura, with unified control of Congress, both the House and the Senate. And at some point in their presidency, voters signaled their dissatisfaction with the way things were going by revoking that unified control and turning over one or both chambers to the other side.

And, you know, I have recently gone back and looked at the first State of the Union that each of those four predecessors, Clinton W. Bush, Obama and Trump delivered after immediately after that, and they all involve a mix of conciliation and confrontation. I thought Biden tonight was very effective. I mean, he started off talking about where the parties have worked together, and where they might be able to work together going forward. But as the speech went on, he leaned more into what he would not negotiate with Republicans, he would not negotiate because Social Security for Medicare. He would not accept a nationwide ban on abortion. He would not accept a debt ceiling increase, that imposes cuts as part of the price, forgetting that. And that reflected, I think, what you just put up on the screen, the increased confidence that he had relative to Clinton and Obama, who suffered much bigger losses in the midterm election, their first bid.

And clearly felt that they had to send a stronger signal to voters that they were changing course. You did not get that from Joe Biden tonight. He did not give off the vibe of someone who felt that he had to kind of recalibrate and reposition himself to get ready for a reelection. Instead, he felt very comfortable drawing clear lines of distinction with a Republican Party that is still operating in the shadow of Trump as all of those cat calls from the audience. Trumpian politics, at least as all those cat calls in the audience demonstrated.

COATES: And he was quite comfortable in sparring. I mean, he doesn't -- it wasn't as though he heard the different heckling from the crowd and became a little bit more, you know, I'm in shutdown. He went right back at him showed a level of energy. I wonder if that surprised you to see I mean, this was in some respects a maybe a dipping one's toe into the reelection pond. Did he make a case at least for the notion that he was going to have that joie de vie when it came to tackling and going against some members from across the aisle?

BROWNSTEIN: Do you think they say joie de vivre in Scranton?

COATES: I can't smell it, but I tell you I can pronounce it, like, you know.

BROWNSTEIN: Yeah. This was a State of the Union like no other as other people have said it was something closer to the question hour in the British parliament where you had an interaction between the, you know, the leader of the executive branch and the opposition party and he did show a lot of energy that I thought was -- was really interesting was the way -- the core of Biden's speech really reflects his vision of how he wins another term


Although he did mention abortion well into the speech. He talked about LGBTQ rights. By and large, he downplayed culture war issues and confrontations, as you were just talking about and really placed his bet on convincing working families that he will improve their economic prospects. He talked again about his agenda as a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America. He emphasized how many jobs his program would create that do not require a college or it was something that Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama never would have talked about.

By contrast, you saw in the Sarah Huckabee Sanders speech how invested Republicans are in ginning up these demographic and cultural resentments and anxieties, that is the principal fuel that motivates their coalition the sense that they are being displaced in a diversifying secularizing and urbanizing America.

And so in some ways, they are talking past each other, but it's easy to imagine whether it's Donald Trump or Ron DeSantis, the eventual Republican nominee, trying to gin up turnout among their base by hitting many of the same themes that she did tonight, and Biden responding not so much in kind, but by trying to shift the focus toward his ability through things like semiconductors bill, the infrastructure bill and the Clean Energy Provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act to create more economic opportunity for people without a college degree. I felt like I was getting a fast forward to what we may see a year and a year and a half now.

COATES: Well look, patience is a virtue, will it be a winning campaign strategy? More time is needed. We'll have to wait and see. Ron Brownstein, thank you. We'll be right back everyone.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me.



COATES: Well, thanks for watching our special coverage of two major stories this evening. President Biden State of the Union Address and, of course, LeBron James, now becoming the MBAs highest scoring player of all-times. Our live coverage continues, next.