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CNN State of the Union; President Joe Biden Delivers A Powerful State Of The Union Address. Aired 10 -11p ET

Aired March 07, 2024 - 22:00   ET




JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: It's how we invest things to make this country great, health care, education, defense, and so much more. But here's the deal. The last administration enacted a $2 trillion tax cut, overwhelmingly benefit the topping 1 percent, the very wealthy and the biggest corporation, and exploded the federal deficit. They added more to the national debt than any presidential term in American history. Check the numbers.

Folks at home, does anybody really think the tax code is fair? Do you really think the wealthy and big corporations need another $2 trillion tax break? I sure don't. I'm going to keep fighting like hell to make it fair. Under my plan, nobody earning less than $400,000 will pay additional penny in federal taxes, nobody, not one penny. And they haven't yet.

In fact, the child tax credit I passed during the pandemic cut taxes for millions of working families and cut child poverty in half. Restore that child tax credit. No child should go hungry in this country.

The way to make the tax code fair is to make big corporations and the very wealthy begin to pay their fair share. Remember, in 2020, 55 of the biggest companies in America made $40 billion and paid zero in federal income tax, zero. Not anymore. Thanks to the law I wrote and signed, big companies have to pay a minimum of 15 percent.

But that's still less than working people pay in federal taxes. It's time to raise corporate minimum tax to at least 21 percent. So, every big corporation finally begins to pay their fair share. Also on end, tax breaks for big pharma, big oil, private checks, massive executive pay when it's only supposed to be a million dollars that could be deducted. They can pay them $20 million if they want, but deduct a million. End it now.

You know, there are 1,000 billionaires in America. And you know what the average federal tax is for those billionaires? No. They're making great sacrifices, 8.2 percent. That's far less than the vast majority that Americans pay. No billionaire should pay a lower federal tax rate than a teacher, a sanitation worker, or a nurse.

I propose a minimum tax for billionaires of 25 percent, just 25 percent. You know what that would raise? That would raise $500 billion over the next ten years. And imagine what that could do for America. Imagine a future with affordable child care. Millions of families can get the need to go to work to help grow the economy. Imagine a future with paid leave because no one should have to choose between working and taking care of their thick family members. Imagine the future of home care and elder care and people living with disabilities so they can stay in their homes and family caregivers can finally get the pay they deserve.

Tonight, let's all agree once again to stand up for seniors. Many of my friends on the other side of Iowa want to put Social Security on the chopping block. If anyone here tries to cut Social Security and Medicare or raise the retirement age, I will stop you.

The working people who built this country pay more into Social Security than millionaires and billionaires do. It's not fair. We have two ways to go. Republicans can cut Social Security and give more tax breaks to the wealthy. Iowa -- that's the proposal.

Oh, no. You guys don't want another $2 trillion tax cut? I kind of thought that's what your plan was. Well, that's good to hear. You're not going to cut another $2 trillion for the super wealth. That's good to hear. I'll protect and strengthen Social Security and make the wealthy pay their fair share.

Look, too many corporations raise prices to pad the profits, charging more and more for less and less.


That's where it's cracking down on corporations to engage in price gouging and deceptive pricing, from food to health care to housing. In fact, the snack companies think you won't notice if they change the size of the bag and put a hell of a lot fewer, same size bag, put fewer chips in it. No, I'm not joking. It's called stringflation. Pass Bill Cassidy's bill and stop this. I really mean it.

You probably all saw that commercial on Snickers bars. You get charged the same amount and you got about, I don't know, 10 percent fewer Snickers in it.

Look, I'm also getting rid of junk fees, those hidden fees at the end of your bill that are there without your knowledge. My administration announced we're cutting credit card late fees from $32 to $8.

Banks and credit card companies are allowed to charge what it costs them to instigate the collection, and that's more held a lot like $8 and 30-some dollars. They don't like it. Credit card companies don't like it, but I'm saving American families $20 billion a year with all the junk fees I'm eliminating.

Folks at home, that's why the banks are so mad, it's $20 billion in profit. I'm not stopping there. My administration proposed rules to make cable, travel, utilities and online ticket sellers tell you the total price up front so there are no surprises. It matters. It matters. And so does this. In November, my team began serious negotiations with a bipartisan group of senators. The result was a bipartisan bill with the toughest set of border security reforms we've ever seen.

Oh, you don't think so? Oh, you don't like that bill, huh? That conservatives got together and said it was a good bill? I'll be darned. That's amazing.

That bipartisan bill would hire 1,500 more security agents and officers, 100 more immigration judges, help tackle the back load of two-minute cases, 4,300 more asylum officers, and new policies so they can resolve cases in six months instead of six years now.

What do you guess? 100 more high-tech drug detection machines to significantly increase the ability to screen and stop vehicles smuggling fentanyl into America that's killing thousands of children. This bill would save lives in the border. It would also give me and any new president a new emergency authority to temporarily shut down the border when the number of migrants at the border is overwhelming.

The Border Patrol Union has endorsed this bill. The Federal Chamber of Commerce has -- yes, yes. You say no, look at the facts. I know you know how to read.

I believe that given the opportunity for a majority in the House and Senate would endorse the bill as well, a majority right now. But, unfortunately, politics has derailed this bill so far. I'm told my predecessor called members of Congress in the Senate to demand they block the bill. He feels a political win, he viewed it as a political win for me and a political loser for him.

It's not about him, it's not about me. I'd be a winner, not really.

Laken Riley, an innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal. That's right. But how many of the thousands of people being killed by illegals?

To her parents, I say, my heart goes out to you having lost children myself. I understand. But, look, if we change the dynamic at the border, people pay these smugglers $8,000 to get across the border, because they know if they get by, if they get by and let into the country, it's six to eight years before they have a hearing, and it's worth taking the chance of the $8,000.


But if it's only six months -- six weeks, the idea is it's highly unlikely that people will pay that money and come all that way knowing that they'll be able to be kicked out quickly.

Folks, I would respectfully say to suggest my referendum, my Republican friends owe it to the American people, get this bill done. We need to act now.

And if my predecessor is watching, instead of playing politics and pressuring members of Congress to block the bill, join me in telling the Congress to pass it. We can do it together. But that's what he apparently hears what he will not do. I will not demonize immigrants saying they are poison in the blood of our country. I will not separate families. I will not ban people because of their faith.

Unlike my predecessor on my first day in office, I introduced a comprehensive bill to fix our immigration system. Take a look at it, as all these and more. Secure the border. Provide a pathway to citizenship for DREAMERs and so much more.

But unlike my predecessor, I know who we are -- as Americans, we're the only nation in the world with a heart and soul that draws from old and new, home to Native Americans and ancestors have been here for thousands of years, home to people of every place on Earth. They came freely. Some came in chains. Some came when famine struck like my ancestral family in Ireland, some to flea persecution, to chase dreams that are impossible anywhere but here in America. That's America and we all come from somewhere, but we're all Americans.

Look, folks, we have a simple choice. We can fight about fixing the border or we can fix it. I'm ready to fix it. Send me the border bill now.

A transformational moment in history happened 58 -- 59 years ago today in Selma, Alabama. Hundreds of foot soldiers for justice marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, named after the grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, to claim their fundamental right to vote.

They were beaten. They were bloodied and left for dead. Our late friend and former colleague, John Lewis, was on that march. We miss him.

Joining us tonight are other marchers, both from the gallery and on the floor, including Betty Mae Fikes, known as the Voice of Selma. The daughter of gospel singers and preachers, she sang songs of prayer and protest on that Bloody Sunday to help shake the nation's conscience. Five months later, the Voting Rights Act passed them and signed into law.

Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you.

But 59 years later, where force has taken us back in time, voter suppression, election subversion, unlimited dark money, extreme gerrymandering. John Lewis is a great friend to many of us here, but if you truly want to honor him and all the heroes that march with him, then it's time to do more than talk. Pass the Freedom to Vote Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.


And stop, stop denying another core value of America, our diversity across American life. Banning books is wrong. Instead of erasing history, that's make history. I want to protect fundamental rights. Pass the Equality Act.

And my message to transgender Americans, I have your back. Pass the Pro Act for Workers' Rights. Raise the federal minimum wage, because every worker has a right to a decent living more than $7 an hour.

We're also making history by confronting the climate crisis, not denying it. I don't think any of you think there's no longer a climate crisis. At least I hope you don't. I'm taking the most significant action ever on climate in the history of the world. I'm cutting our carbon emissions in half by 2030, creating tens of thousands of clean energy jobs like the IBW work is building and installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, conserving 30 percent of America's lands and waters by 2030, and taking action on environmental justice fence line communities smothered by the legacy of pollution.

And pattern after the Peace Corps and America Corps, I launched the Climate Corps to put 20,000 young people to work in the forefront of our clean energy future. I'll triple that number in a decade.

To state the obvious, all Americans deserve the freedom to be safe, and America is safer today than when I took office. The year before I take office, murder rates went up 30 percent. 30 percent, they went up, the biggest increase in history. It was then, through my American Rescue Plan, which every American voted against, I'm mad at, we made the largest investment in public safety ever. Last year, the murder rates saw the stoppage decrease in the history. Violent crime fell to one of his lowest levels of more than 50 years.

But we have more to do. We have to help cities invest in more community police officers, more mental health workers, more community violence interventions. Give communities the toll to crack down on gun crime, retail crime and carjacking. Keep building trust, as I've been doing by taking executive action on police reform and calling for it to be the law of the land. Directing my cabinet to review the classification of marijuana and expunging thousands of convictions for the mere possession, because no one should be jailed for simply using or having on their record.

Take on crimes of domestic violence. I'm ramping up the federal enforcement of the Violence Against Women Act that I proudly wrote when I was a senator, so we can finally, finally end the scourge against women in America.

There are other kinds of violence I want to stop. With us tonight is Jazmin, whose nine-year-old sister, Jackie, was murdered with 21 classmates and teachers in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Very soon after that happened, Jill and I went to Uvalde for a couple days. We spent hours and hours with each of the families. We heard their message so everyone in this room in this chamber could hear the same message.

The constant refrain and that was there for hours meeting with every family. They said, do something. Do something. Well, I did do something by establishing the first-ever office of Gun Violence Prevention in the White House that the vice president is leading the charge. Thank you for doing that.

Meanwhile, meanwhile, my predecessor told the NRA he's proud he did nothing on guns when he was president. After another shooting in Iowa recently, he said when asked what to do about he said just get over it. There was his quote, just get it over. I say, stop it. Stop it, stop it, stop it.


I'm proud we beat the NRA when I signed most significant gun safety law in nearly 30 years because of this Congress. We now must beat the NRA again. I'm demanding a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Pass universal background checks. None of this, none of this, I taught the Second Amendment for 12 years, none of this violates the Second Amendment or vilifies responsible gun owners.

You know, as we manage challenges at home, we're also managing crises abroad, including the Middle East. I know the last five months have been gut-wrenching for so many people, for the Israeli people, for the Palestinian people, and so many here in America.

This crisis began on October 7th with a massacre by a terrorist group called Hamas, as you all know. 1,200 innocent people, women and girls, men and boys, slaughtered after enduring sexual violence, the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust, and 250 hostages taken.

Here in this chamber tonight, our families whose loved ones are still being held by Hamas, I pledge to all the families that we will not rest until we bring every one of your loved ones home.

We also -- we will also work around the clock to bring home Evan and Paul, Americans being unjustly detained by the Russians and others around the world. Israel has a right to go after Hamas. Hamas ended this conflict by releasing hostages, laying down arms, could end it, by releasing the hostages, laying down arms, and surrendering those responsible for October 7th.

But Israel has a -- excuse me -- Israel has a added burden, because Hamas hides and operates among the civilian population like cowards, under hospitals, daycare centers, and all the like.

Israel also has a fundamental responsibility, though, to protect innocent civilians in Gaza. This war has taken a greater toll on innocent civilians than all previous wars in Gaza combined. More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, most of whom are not Hamas. Thousands and thousands of innocent women and children, girls and boys, also orphaned, nearly 2 million more Palestinians under bombardment or displacement. Homes destroyed, neighbors in rubble, cities in ruin, famines without food, water, medicine. It's heartbreaking.

I've been working nonstop to establish immediate ceasefires that would last for six weeks to get all the prisoners released, all the hostages released, to get the hostages home and ease the intolerable humanitarian crisis and build toward an enduring and more -- something more enduring.

The United States and the leading international efforts to get more humanitarian assistance to Gaza, tonight, I'm directing the U.S. military to lead an emergency mission to establish a temporary pier in the Mediterranean on the coast of Gaza that can receive large shipments carrying food, water, medicine, and temporary shelters.

No U.S. boots will be on the ground. A temporary pier will enable a massive increase in the amount of humanitarian assistance getting in Gaza every day.

And Israel must do its part. Israel must allow more aid into Gaza to ensure humanitarian workers aren't caught in the crossfire. They're announcing they're going to have a crossing in Northern Gaza.

To the leadership of Israel, I say this, humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip. Protecting and saving innocent lives has to be a priority. As we look to the future, the only real solution to the situation is a two-state solution over time.

And I say this, as a lifelong supporter of Israel, my entire career, no one has a stronger record with Israel than I do.


I challenge any of you here. I'm the only American president to visit Israel in wartime, but there is no other path that guarantees Israel's security and democracy. There is no other path that guarantees Palestinian can live in peace with peace and dignity. There's no other path that guarantees peace between Israel and all of its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, with whom I'm talking.

Creating stability in the Middle East also means containing the threat posed by Iran. That's why I build a coalition of more than a dozen countries to defend international shipping and freedom of navigation in the Red Sea.

I've ordered strikes to degrade the Houthi capability and defend U.S. forces in the region. As commander-in-chief, I will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and our military personnel.

For years, I've heard many of my Republican and Democratic friends say that China is on the rise and America is falling behind. They've got it backwards. I've been saying it for over four years, even when I wasn't president, America is rising. We have the best economy in the world.

And since I've come to office, our GDP is up. Our trade deficit of China is down to the lowest point in over a decade. And we're standing up against China's unfair economic practices.

We're standing up for peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits. I revitalized our partnership and alliance in the Pacific, India, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Pacific islands. I've made sure that the most advanced American technologies can't be used in China, not allowing to trade them there.

Frankly, for all this tough talk on China, it never occurred to my predecessor to do any of that. I want competition with China, not conflict. And we're in a stronger position to win the conflict of the 21st century against China than anyone else for that matter, than any time as well.

Here at home, I've signed over 400 bipartisan bills. There's more to pass my unity agenda, strengthen penalties on fentanyl trafficking. You don't want to do that, huh? Pass bipartisan privacy, let's say, to protect our children online. Harness, harness the promise of A.I. to protect us from peril. Ban A.I. voice impersonations and more. And keep our truly sacred obligation to train and equip those we send in the harm's way and care for them and their families when they come home and when they don't.

That's why the song, support and help of Dennis and the V.A., I signed the PACT Act, one of the most significant laws ever, helping millions of veterans exposed to toxins who now are battling more than 100 different cancers.

Many of them don't come home, but we owe them and their families support. We owe it to ourselves to keep supporting our new health research agency called ARPA-H and remind us, remind us that we can do big things, like end cancer as we know it, and we will.

Let me close with this. Yay. I know you don't want to hear any more, Lindsey, but I've got to say a few more things.

I know it may not look like it, but I've been around a while. When you get to be my age, certain things become clearer than ever. I know the American story. Again and again, I've seen the contest between competing forces and the battle for the soul of our nation, between those who want to pull America back to the past and those who want to move America into the future.

My lifetime has taught me to embrace freedom and democracy, a future based on core values that define America, honesty, decency, dignity, equality, to respect everyone, to give everyone a fair shot, to give hate no safe harbor.


And other people my age see it differently. The American story of resentment, revenge, and retribution. That's not me. I was born amid World War II when America stood for the freedom of the world. I grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania in Claymont, Delaware among working class people who built this country.

I watched in horror as two of my heroes like many of you did, Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated and their legacies inspired me to pursue a career in service. I left the law firm, became a public defender because my city of Wilmington was the only city in America occupied by the National Guard after Dr. King was assassinated because of riots.

And I became a County Councilman almost by accident. I got elected to the United States Senate when I had no intention of running at age 29, then Vice President of our first black President, now President to the first woman Vice President.

In my career, I've been told I was too young. By the way they didn't let me on ascended elevators for votes sometimes. Not a joke. And I've been told I'm too old. Whether young or old I've always been known -- I've always known what endures. I've known our North Star. The very idea of America is that we're all created equal. It deserves to be treated equally throughout our lives.

We've never fully lived up to that idea but we've never walked away from it either and I won't walk away from it now. I'm optimistic. I really am. I'm optimistic, Nancy. My fellow Americans, the issue facing our nation isn't how old we are, it's how old are our ideas. Hate, anger, revenge, retribution are the oldest of ideas, but you can't lead America with ancient ideas, only take us back.

You need America, the land of possibilities. You need a vision for the future and what can and should be done. Tonight, you've heard mine. I see a future where defending democracy you don't diminish it. I see a future where we restore the right to choose and protect our freedoms, not take them away.

I see a future where the middle class finally has a fair shot and the wealthy have to pay their fair share in taxes. I see a future where we save the planet from the climate crisis and our country from gun violence.

Above all, I see a future for all Americans. I see a country for all Americans and I will always be President for all Americans because I believe in America. I believe in you, the American people. You're the reason we've never been more optimistic about our future than I am now. So let's build the future together.

Let's remember who we are. We are the United States of America and there is nothing, nothing beyond our capacity when we act together. God bless you all and may God protect our troops. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, a very forcefully delivered speech by President Biden. Only a few hundred words into it when he made his first of at least a dozen references to Donald Trump, though not by name. He referred to him as, quote, "My Predecessor" which he did over and over.

And like it or not, I have never heard a State of the Union address that had so many references to the man, the political opponent, President Biden, the President will face on the ballot this November.

He started, in fact, with two issues that can be quite awkward for Republicans to talk about, issues that separate Trump from much of his party, the middle of his party for sure, such as the need to support Ukraine versus Putin, the need to oppose the January 6th insurrectionists.


He himself was the one to invoke Reagan's quest into the country in 1980. Are you better off than you were four years ago? He brought up the economic and health crisis of COVID in 2020. He accused Trump of failing what he called the duty to care about the American people. Of course, much of the speech was, you know, other issues, such as is the norm for such a speech.

Areas where polls show real weakness for him. He offered a new proposal to help Americans with high housing costs. He talked about the need for humanitarian relief in Gaza. There was a discussion of his record, of course, infrastructure projects, prescription drug benefits.

His presentation, his enunciation, of course, is not as clear as it once was a decade or two ago. His mind did seem fairly sharp. He ad- libbed a response to a pretty harsh moment as some heckling about the tragic murder of UGA student Lakin Riley. He got her name wrong. He called her Lincoln Riley. But as a general note, he condemned her murder, which was something that people were talking about.

Dana Bash, what did you think? You've been to a lot of State of the Union addresses. Do you think that President Biden met the moment?

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: He certainly met the moment that his members of his party, those who are really upset and worried about this coming election year, and frankly, what would happen if he didn't win another term because of their concerns about who's on the other side of the ticket. They wanted him to be a fighter. And boy, fight did he deliver.

Now, there is some criticism already that we're hearing from some Republicans that it was too political. And the retort already is, compared to what? I mean, you saw Marjorie Taylor Greene sitting there wearing a MAGA hat.

One of the things that you mentioned, that he used the word predecessor. By our count in the prepared remarks, he used the word predecessor, Jake, 13 times. And that is not only important because I don't remember that ever happening in this kind of speech, but because of what predecessor denotes. And that's in the past.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: What's so striking to me is that Republicans, I think because their whole thing right now is that Joe Biden is slow, that he's too old, that he can't do this, they walk into this trap every time that the White House sets for them. Their Speaker, Mike Johnson, tried to counsel them not to heckle, not to react in this way. And they did it.

And it creates an opening, an opportunity for Joe Biden to react. He said to them, I know you know how to read. He had he had a lot of moments where he was kind of trolling them. And that worked for him in this speech, because that's essentially, at the end of the day, this was a speech about all the things that Presidents make speeches about.

But the question before Joe Biden today that he needed to answer the most was, how does he present to the American public? Republicans, it seemed to me, really handed him a golden opportunity on multiple occasions during the speech to do exactly what his aides wanted him to do, which was show some fight, show his ability to react in the moment. He likes to ad lib. It's not always it doesn't always work out well for him. He did it a few times tonight without any major gaffes. And I think that was ultimately the bar that his aides wanted him to clear.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The American people settled this in 244 days. But it was clear to me from the beginning and the end that he and his team, whether you like that or not at home, understand the challenge. This is the 36th of these for me, State of the Union's or presidential addresses at the beginning, first one being 1989.

Never heard one so political. Never heard one that is such a campaign speech. But what do Republicans say about Joe Biden? He is weak and he has weakened America. And he doesn't have the vitality, the alacrity, the vigor to be the President of the United States. He came out hitting on Ukraine. Stand up to Russia.

Be strong, Republicans. Don't be weak. Right at the weakness argument that he's weakened America, that he's personally weak, then went right after January 6th, said, I'm going to bury the lies and took the heckling for it, and then turned to an issue that Democrats think is absolutely critical for them, IVF, reproductive freedom, the broader issue.

And he did it all with fight. He did it with punches. He came out punching and came out swinging right from the beginning. Then he did the traditional State of the Union laundry list. And then he came back at the end and took on the age issue. Does it work? Who knows? But he tried a little humor.

He took the back and forth from the floor. It was clear to me that they understand what the Republicans have done and are going to try to do to him by saying he's personally not up to it. He's not strong and he's weakened America. They came out to fight.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, and I think one of his weakest issues that he pulls on is immigration and the border.


Obviously, he knows that it came up later in the speech. But Senator James Lankford might have delivered him one of the strongest moments of the entire speech where they were talking about that bipartisan border deal.

He went into the specifics of what was in that agreement being formed by one of the most conservative senators in the Senate. He was negotiating that. And Senator Lankford mouthed, "that's true", as President Biden was speaking and then the other moment --

UNKNOWN: They were talking about the details of what was in the bill.

COLLINS: Talking about the details of what was in the bill. And the other moment where at the beginning, we watched Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene hand President Biden that button that they had made that talks about his border crisis, as you quoted what it said on the button earlier, Jake.

And she said, asked him to say Lakin Riley's name. And then he pulled -- held the button up. He's into relishing those moments that he had last year, the back and forth with Republicans and was trying to recreate that and kind of take it head on.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Relishing and prepared for them, right? There were some that were clearly understood on immigration. You're going to get some feedback. I mean, you could see how it was playing out as they rehearsed it in Camp David and the like.

John, to your point about it being a political speech, there's no doubt about it. It is. It was a reelection speech wrapped in a State of the Union. But I found it was also a speech just reflective of our times. Nothing is as it once was in American politics.

And I think this speech, the demeanor from the folks in the House, the President going into raw politics, it -- him calling on his -- calling out his predecessor all these times. Yes, that's unprecedented. It's also unprecedented to be running against a guy who once served as President, who you defeated, who's trying to come back.

It's also unprecedented, you know, that he's facing all these trials and what occurred in this -- in this very chamber on January 6th. All these things are -- and I just think if we apply our sense of what State of the Union addresses have been, it's not -- that's just not where our politics are anymore.

And so, while I know the Republicans will criticism -- criticize him for being political here, it seems to me he actually gave a speech that -- that is of this moment.

BASH: No question.

KING: I agree. I agree 100 percent.

BASH: That was my point when I said compared to what? Yeah.

KING: But it's often Joe Biden in the past who has tried to go back to those moments. I remember those moments. Mitch McConnell's my friend. We can do bipartisanship deals. Joe Biden tonight realizes we don't live in that world anymore. In the past, he has tried to pull to go back to that world. He's realized that world doesn't exist.

TAPPER: Yeah, I think what's interesting, Jamie Gangel, is -- is what David touched on -- on the preparedness. He wanted -- he wanted and was prepared for the Lakin Riley moment. Again, Lakin Riley, the UGA student tragically murdered by a Venezuelan undocumented immigrant who should not have been in this country and should not have been free.

He obviously had been told they are going to bring this up. This wasn't news, by the way. I mean, like we you know, we all learned a few hours ago that the Marjorie Taylor Greene was going to have these pins. And also, obviously, this has been a horrible story in the news and one that a lot of people have been talking about, including Republicans. And he not only did he did he say her name, he mentioned that he had

lost children, too. And he lost his daughter when he was in his 30s and he lost his son, Beau, a few years ago, talked about their misery, repeated something Marjorie Taylor Greene said about like killed by an illegal, although he's already getting some blowback from -- from immigration advocates about using the term illegal to talk about undocumented immigrants.

And then he talked about how the compromise on the border would have disincentivized people crossing illegally because instead of staying -- staying around for five or six years until their hearing, it would be six weeks. And so, it would stop the incentivization of crossing the border. Talked immediately about it. And then said, do you want to debate the border or do you want to fix the border?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I think this is a critical point, because, Jake, you're absolutely right. There is no question they prepared for those moments in the White House. There is also no question that Congress, the Senate, this is Joe Biden's home. And he likes to spar in moments like this. We have seen that. That is classic Joe Biden.

Yes, he was prepared on specific topics. But from the -- from the very beginning where he said, funny, if I -- if I was smart, I would go home now. And everyone laughed to the end where he said, I'm almost wrapping up. That's what we see with Joe Biden. I want to point to a couple of things.

I heard from a Democratic source who, like we've been told, many in the White House was worried about how Joe Biden would do today. And the source said he under-promised and over-delivered the two things that we never like to talk about. High energy and his age.

He addressed his age. He came across with high energy. All the Republicans have a phone full of Republicans saying that was a campaign speech. But even they admit that he delivered.


TAPPER: So, let me just let me just say -- I misspoke. I said something on Lakin Riley. She was found on the University of Georgia campus. She is a nursing student, but she's not a University of Georgia student per se. And I apologize for forgetting that -- for confusing that detail. Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Jake, thanks very much for the team here in New York. Van Jones, you were watching this closely.

VAN JONES, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Man, very proud. Very proud. Look, strong at the beginning. Strong on Ukraine. Strong about January 7th --January 6th. Strong in the middle. He was, well, he put his chest out to those Republicans. He ain't scared of the Republicans. He said, hey, let's -- fight right now about the border. Let's fight right now about these tax cuts for gazillionaires. Strong at the end. Owning his age issue. I thought that was a remarkable, fiery, powerful, vigorous guy. And I

think it gives people a lot of confidence that this guy might be able to go. And by the way, he's still standing there talking to people. He came in slow. He talked to everybody. He was at the beginning, strong in the middle, strong at the end.

COOPER: Ashley, what did you think? Because before the speech, a lot of folks on this panel were saying that there were two missions, not only about his agenda and what his second term would look like, but perhaps even more importantly, is he all there? Is he vigorous?

ASHLEY ALLISON, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE SENIOR POLICY ADVISER: Yeah, I mean, we said it was also about performance, right? And I think tonight he showed that he could give a very long speech. And if you come for me, you know, don't come for me unless I send for you. You know, one of those moments.

And so, I was getting texts throughout the speech from progressive leaders, from folks who are adoring the speech, talking with black men in Michigan. And they were saying, I can get behind this agenda. I will say I did hear from some voters on the Gaza issue who were unsatisfied. But there is still eight more weeks. And I think that there is an opportunity. But tonight, I think Joe Biden did what he was supposed to do.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He talked about Snickers and snack chips before he ever got to the border. He was obsessed with his political rival more than he was obsessed with the condition of the American people. It was so weird.

This guy lectures us all on unity, the soul of the nation. And he gives the most partisan convention speech in place of a State of a Union that I've ever heard. It's the literal opposite of unity. It's so partisan.

He's obsessed with taunting Republicans. It's not statesmanlike. Let me say one more thing on Israel. A little too much. Got to hear both sides on Israel and Hamas for me. No, you don't have to hear both sides. Israel's our ally. Hamas is the enemy.

He lied about our ally and implied that they are not delivering humanitarian aid. They are delivering humanitarian aid. I do not like every week this administration is going back on our commitment to Israel. And it was in this speech. And it's going to get worse.

DAVID URBAN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I would just say this, too, you know. Whoever coached the speech, loudness doesn't equal energy, right? It was the loudest State of the Union. I had to turn my IFB down because my ears were bleeding. It seemed like, to me --

COPPER: What's interesting is both of you guys who are Republicans are not talking about, he didn't seem like he knew where he was.

URBAN: No, no, let me finish. He seemed like Walt Kowalski. He talked about this like Walt Kowalski in Gran Torino screaming at kids, get off my lawn, like an old guy screaming at kids. DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: My guess is that

when he got into the heart of his agenda, the things that you ridicule about the cost of food and, you know, price gouging and so on, I bet you that scored with a lot of people. I think that the populist economic agenda is a powerful, powerful thing for him.

Look, there are parts of it. I'm not sure that the attacks all landed exactly, they may have landed well in that room for sure. And they landed well with base voters for sure. I'm not sure with those swing voters that they landed, as well.

But I do think that the agenda he -- I also, by the way, think that probably what doesn't land well is his proclamation that our economy is the envy of the world and that, you know, inflation is under control.

UNKNOWN: I would say --

COOPER: You had also raised the question of his performance and the importance of that. I'm wondering what you think.

AXELROD: Oh, I -- listen, I think that he passed the first test, which was -- he did command the room, he was in the moment, he did respond. You know, I think Marjorie Taylor Greene walked right into a trap there, it was kind of fun to see.

No, I think this was his setting and he did very well. And I think his people will be really pleased with it.

COOPER: Alyssa.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Listen, Donald Trump did Joe Biden a huge favor. He set the expectations on the floor. Joe Biden basically had to show up and not keel over on the dais tonight.

And he massively outperformed that. Just objectively, there was some stumbling, there was some the coughing, he's prone to sometimes a stutter, but he did show energy, he showed the ability to get through a long speech.


Now, I think he was smart to start with setting the stakes very high at the top, to talk about Ukraine, to talk about the threat to democracy, where he starts to wane is in the middle. When he's talking about the economy, it was like patting himself on the back, sort of, it's actually better than you feel that it is.

The border, the substance of it was quite good, that should have been at the front end of the speech, the number one issue for a plurality of voters. But overall, I think most people are going to say that looks like a man who's up to the job.

COOPER: Let's go back to Erin on Capitol Hill. Erin. ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thanks, Anderson. All right. You

both know him so well. You've been here preparing for three State of the Union speeches with him. What did you just see?

KATE BEDINGFIELD, FORMER BIDEN WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I thought that was terrific. That was vintage Joe Biden. He gave an incredibly forceful performance, which is, as everyone's been discussing, was what he needed to do tonight. He needed to show that vitality. He showed how comfortable he is in this environment.

We were talking about that before he started to speak. He loves the Congress. He loves the Senate. He loves the opportunity to go back and forth. He loves the House. And so, this was really a moment for him to show command, which you saw him do as he was going back and forth on immigration and a couple of other issues.

You know, he really likes to engage. And so, him having the moment, having the opportunity to do that, you really saw kind of the best of him. You saw somebody who was on top of his game and very comfortable. And I think that was probably the single most important thing.

You know, the other thing I thought was interesting is that he really he used a lot of language that really painted Trump and the Republicans as weak. I mean, he said, you know, right at the top, you know, we're not going to bow down in talking about supporting Ukraine.

BURNETT: Like in all caps. Right. Yeah.

BEDINGFIELD: It was really -- he did a lot to sort of frame the Republican position on a lot of issues as weak. He obviously you know, he talked about you can't only love your country when you win. And so, I thought it was interesting that he kind of wove that narrative through the speech, because that's obviously, you know, that's an important piece of kind of the case that he's making.

BURNETT: And you, Evan, having chronicled his career and spent so much time with him in recent days, back to your description in that time, right, that you felt his mind was there, but his voice was clotted. His voice was not clotted tonight.

EVAN OSNOS, BIDEN BIOGRAPHER: No, this is a guy who came out with a very clear intention to show Americans what he thinks people around him see. And this is what you often hear described from people who've spent time with him behind the scenes.

Look, he got out there and from the very beginning, he was comfortable in that chamber. He wanted to get up there on the lectern. He was not rushing, spending time with people. And then he gets up there and he begins to speak.

And what you heard, I think this is very important, was a kind of comfort with the issues and a level of emphasis that the clear thing was, if you turned off the sound on that speech and you just watch that person at the lectern, you wouldn't have had a lot of questions about whether they were in command of that chamber, whether they were in command of the material. And very many people out there are going to be seeing that speech in

that. They're looking to see, am I reassured? You know, the number of people who said to me in the days before this speech, I'm nervous. I'm nervous because any moment could become fodder on social media. There was no moment tonight that becomes, you know, a day-long story. This is -- that speech speaks for itself.

BURNETT: And the ad libs, Kate, were frequent, but yet would, you know, circle back purposefully.

BEDINGFIELD: Exactly, exactly. And you had asked earlier if he was nervous. Absolutely not.

BURNETT: All right, Jake.

TAPPER: Thanks, Erin. And we're watching President Biden make his way out of Statuary Hall. And it is definitely a moment where he seems to be, I'm sorry, making his way out of the House chamber is definitely a moment where he seems to be relishing what he just did. He seems to be enjoying it. A lot of congratulations from Democrats standing.

BASH: You know, speaking of Democrats, while this speech was going on, I was getting texts from a couple of senior Democratic leadership aides saying, you know, what Republicans did was lower expectations.

TAPPER: Okay, let's interrupt right now. We're going to listen to the Republican response. Senator Katie Britt of Alabama.

KATIE BRITT (R) ALABAMA: Good evening, America. My name is Katie Britt, and I have the honor of serving the people of the great state of Alabama in the United States Senate. However, that's not the job that matters most. I am a proud wife and mom of two school-aged kids.

My daughter, Bennett, and my son, Ridgeway, are why I ran for the Senate. I'm worried about their future and the future of children in every corner of our nation. And that's why I invited you into our home tonight.

Like so many families across America, my husband, Wesley, and I just watched President Biden's State of the Union address from our living room. And what we saw was the performance of a permanent politician who has actually been in office for longer than I've been alive.


One thing was quite clear, though. President Biden just doesn't get it. He's out of touch. Under his administration, families are worse off, our communities are less safe, and our country is less secure. I just wish he understood what real families are facing around kitchen tables just like this one.

You know, this is where our family has tough conversations. It's where we make hard decisions. It's where we share the good, the bad, and the ugly of our days. It's where we laugh together. And it's where we hold each other's hands and pray for God's guidance. And many nights, to be honest, it's where Wesley and I worry. I know we're not alone. And so, tonight, the American family needs to have a tough

conversation because the truth is, we're all worried about the future of our nation. The country we know and love seems to be slipping away, and it feels like the next generation will have fewer opportunities and less freedoms than we did. I worry my own children may not even get a shot at living their American dreams.

My American dream allowed me, the daughter of two small business owners from rural enterprise Alabama, to be elected to the United States Senate at the age of 40. Growing up sweeping the floor at my dad's hardware store and cleaning the bathroom at my mom's dance studio, I never could have imagined what my story would entail.

To think about what the American dream can do across just one generation, in just one lifetime, it's truly breathtaking. But right now, the American dream has turned into a nightmare for so many families. The true unvarnished state of our union begins and ends with this. Our families are hurting. Our country can do better.

And you don't have to look any further than the crisis at our southern border to see it. President Biden inherited the most secure border of all time. But minutes after taking office, he suspended all deportations, he halted construction of the border wall, and he announced a plan to give amnesty to millions.

We know that President Biden didn't just create this border crisis. He invited it with 94 executive actions in his first 100 days. When I took office, I took a different approach. I traveled to the Del Rio sector of Texas. That's where I spoke to a woman who shared her story with me. She had been sex trafficked by the cartels starting at the age of 12.

She told me not just that she was raped every day, but how many times a day she was raped. The cartels put her on a mattress in a shoebox of a room, and they sent men through that door over and over again for hours and hours on end.

We wouldn't be okay with this happening in a third-world country. This is the United States of America, and it is past time, in my opinion, that we start acting like it. President Biden's border policies are a disgrace. This crisis is despicable.

And the truth is, it is almost entirely preventable. From fentanyl poisonings to horrific murders, there are empty chairs tonight at kitchen tables just like this one because of President Biden's senseless border policies. Just think about Laikin Riley.

In my neighboring state of Georgia, this beautiful 22-year-old nursing student went out on a jog one morning, but she never got the opportunity to return home.


She was brutally murdered by one of the millions of illegal border crossers President Biden chose to release into our homeland.