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Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Is Interviewed About Biden Attacks Trump Without Mentioning Him By Name; Biden Delivers Fiery, Political State Of The Union; Biden To Israel: "Saving Innocent Lives Has To Be A Priority"; Biden: "Freedom And Democracy Are Under Attack". Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 08, 2024 - 00:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, President Biden not only reported on the State of the Union as he saw it, he fired some opening shots in his reelection battle against Donald Trump. The President repeatedly took swipes at Trump referring to him not by name, but more than a dozen times as my predecessor including a mention, within the first very few minutes as Mr. Biden warned that democracy is under attack, and drew a connection from Vladimir Putin to Trump to January 6th. Here are some key moments of the President's frequent, not naming but specifically about Trump references.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now my predecessor, a former Republican president tells Putin, quote, do whatever the hell you want. My predecessor and some of you here seek to bury the truth about January 6th, many of you in this chamber and my predecessor promising to pass a national ban on reproductive freedom.

My predecessor, many in this chamber, want to take this prescription drug away by repealing the Affordable Care Act. And that my predecessor is watching instead of paying politics, and pressuring members of Congress to block the bill, join me telling the Congress to pass it. Unlike like my predecessor, I know we are as Americans.


TAPPER: All right, joining us now, key lawmaker who was in the House chamber for tonight's State of the Union address, Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw from the state of Texas. So your initial reaction to the speech?

REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): Well, as you said, there was a lot of opening shots. And, you know, I just wish one day that we would see the State of the Union as a State of the Union, because I could have read all that and a fundraising e-mail from the Biden campaign, about how terrible we are, about how we want to take away women's reproductive rights. I got it. You say it all the time. Not true by the way, I'm not really sure what Bill he's referring to from a Republican-led House that would do any of that. There's no bill to repeal the ACA. In fact, because I'm on the Health Subcommittee on E&C, I know exactly what we're doing on that Committee. We're doing a lot of bipartisan, great stuff to improve people's health care.

So there's some factual problems with it. But I think just from a strategy perspective, this is an election year, you're not winning over a single voter with that speech. And so maybe they -- maybe they switch the speeches, maybe that was supposed to be the Democratic convention speech. And instead they put it in the State of the Union teleprompter because it was divisive.

It was an attack out against Republicans. And I don't know how that wins you any friends when you're trying to win a general election?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's talk about one of the most important substantive issues. I know it's very important to you. And that's immigration. Listen to what the President said on that.


BIDEN: That bipartisan vote would hire 1,500 more security agents and officers, 100 more immigration judges help tackle the backload of 2 million cases, 4,300 more asylum officers and new policies so they can resolve cases in six months instead of six years now.


BASH: You could see Senator Lankford mouthing the words that's true. How do you think that's going to play particularly given I know that you and some others are trying to find another way?

CRENSHAW: Yes. You know, for the audience, don't give hope -- don't give up hope quite yet. But there's still a chance here. But that aside, look, let's get some facts straight. In the President's FY 24 budget request, he cuts CBP by 10 percent. Cut ICE funding by 15 percent. All right, we replenish that funding.

Now, he's asking for more on the supplemental. Great. Either -- there's not really a problem with Republicans on what that money is. Our problem is that doesn't come with policy changes. And look, I applaud the efforts in the Senate to try and make those policy changes. Like I said, I'm not willing to give up on trying to find a solution on those policy changes.

We need to. And I tell my fellow Republicans, I feel like this is the one time where Biden actually wants it. Now, he wants it for cynical reasons. He wants it because it helps him in his election. But, you know what, if that's what it takes to stop illegal immigration, I'm all about it.

You need a lot more than more immigration judges, though, to decrease that timeline. You need to actually stop the flow, which means you need to disincentivize people coming, which means in his case, you need to stop paroling everybody, OK? He's using loopholes in the law to parole way, way too many people. And that's what's causing this draw into the country and it needs to stop.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR & SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: -- for Republicans to, I mean, he used it as a cudgel against your part tonight. I mean, was it a mistake to not just do something even if it wasn't all of the things that you want?

CRENSHAW: Yes. So politically speaking, I don't think Biden is in a good place here. You know, he's still got a depending on what poll you're looking at, between an 18 and 30 percent approval rating when it comes to immigration on the southern border. That's not good. People know that it's his fault.

Like two things can be true at once. Republicans should be trying to get new laws in place. But also Biden has done a lot to make the situation worse. I mean, it happened as soon as he took office, because he rescinded all of Trump's old policies and rescinded those executive orders, whether that's Remain in Mexico, whether that's the Northern Triangle Asylum Cooperation Agreements, those things were working. And then there was a signal sent by the Biden administration that people should just come in. It did happen.

PHILLIP: I mean, they said, I just have to be able to correct the record. I mean, they literally said do not come. The President said that.

CRENSHAW: That's fine. But actions speak louder than words.

PHILLIP: The DHS Secretary said that. Just --

CRENSHAW: She whispered into a microphone in a very awkward way. You are right. The Czar went down once and said that. You are correct. But their policies said the exact opposite. Their policies were where you're going to come in, and you're going to get paroled. Heck, you can have a notice to appear in however many months. That's what the policies actually did. And that's the word that actually gets to immigrants when they come.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: So what's the right word, then, from your perspective, especially the guy from Texas who wants to get this done? Is it frustrated? Is it annoyed? That it is fair to say that this would have happened and you're right, it took President Biden maybe he's in office 1,100 days, 1,000 days, when the negotiations started maybe, took them that long to get started. But you did have a bill that would do a lot of things that you think are long overdue and Donald Trump said stop it. And the Republicans agreed that's fair, right?

CRENSHAW: I don't know that he said, stop it. I don't know that he's on the record saying stop it. I will tell you don't lose hope. There's a few good people, Democrats and Republicans. Don't lose hope that we can both beat Russia and get some decent reforms on the border. I'm not losing hope on that. We have a very limited timeframe to do it. But I'm not losing hope on that.

TAPPER: Congressman, stay right there, because we have some more results from our flash poll that I want to get, and then we'll come back to you. David Chalian?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Hey, Jake. Yes, in our flash poll, and again, this is a poll of speech watchers. We ask questions about Biden's economic policies presented tonight by the President. Do his economic policies move the United States in the right direction or wrong direction? Speech watchers in our flash poll 56 percent said Biden's economic policies move -- will move the U.S. in the right direction, 44 percent say the wrong direction.

Now take a look at the pre speech versus post speech on this, 45 percent of speech watchers before the speech said President Biden's economic policies would move the U.S. in the right direction. That goes up to 56 percent after the speech so hue make some progress with those watching the speech on the economy.

But look at his trend on the economy in the State of the Union addresses. You see that 56 percent right direction number that he gets tonight. It his lowest. It's 10 points below the 66 percent who said that, who watched the speech last year, Jake.

TAPPER: Interesting, David Chalian. And as David noted, Congressman, this is with a more Democratic audience than is representative of the nation as a whole because it's a Democratic president. John, your thoughts on the plan?

KING: But I want to ask about the language. I think part of it is the language here. When you go home, right, forget Democrat, Republican when you go home, and you're just talking to people. How do they describe what's happening here? That's a slightly better number for the President. But obviously that's an issue in which he's way underwater.

He said inflation is getting better. When I travel, people don't use that word as much they use gas or food or store. How are people talking about this at home? And just to be as fair as possible, is it better now than it was six months ago or a year ago?

CRENSHAW: It's better. But, you know, I always caution people when you give blame or credit to a president, if you're going to do that from an unemotional, analytical perspective, you need to tie a policy to that outcome. And we don't do that enough in America. And that's our media's fault. It's everybody's fault. We're not tying policy to actual outcomes.

So I want to know what Biden did exactly to bring inflation down. You can call it the Inflation Reduction Act all day long, that didn't do anything to bring inflation down. More spending does not bring inflation down. What happened more likely is the economy bouncing back because we have, you know, 250 years of history of building a dynamic economy, Americans are resilient. But the reality is, is that while inflation has come down and still higher than when he took office. And he's not doing anything from a policy perspective to make that better. He's raised taxes, that's not going to be good on inflation. He's massively increased a lot of regulations that make it harder to manufacture, make it harder to produce energy, that's not going to have a deflationary effect. It's just not.


And so the rebuilding of supply chains that were crippled under COVID lock downs, that's more likely what's -- what you can attribute to a decrease in inflation. And I don't think Biden should or is getting any credit for that.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think Senator Katie Britt did a good job with the Republican response?

CRENSHAW: I was busy prepping for this. And I didn't get a chance to really watch it. So I have --

COLLINS: You didn't do it?

CRENSHAW: I was busy prepping for you guys.

COLLINS: I follow up on something you said to Jake a second ago, you said that you weren't aware of anything. You know, the comment about taking away women's reproductive rights. You said you're not aware of anything that would do that. Former President Trump is talking about coming out in support of a 16-week federal abortion ban. Do you think it would be a mistake if he came out and supported that?

CRENSHAW: Well, by the way, that's a very different policy than I would I understood the President to say in the State of the Union, which was just an all out ban.

COLLINS: Well, he was getting it Roe versus Wade, though.

CRENSHAW: Sure. OK. But there's a massive difference, right, between a 16-week ban at the federal level --

COLLINS: But would you support that?

CRENSHAW: -- versus a zero.

COLLINS: Do you think that's a good idea?

CRENSHAW: Easily, you know why? Because 65 percent of Americans support that. I mean that -- if you want to talk middle ground, man, that's the easiest most moderate place to be, you know what, the laws are in Europe, right? Liberal Europe, they're mostly 12 weeks. And you're talking to somebody from France. And they're like -- they think it's an abomination that we would kill the baby at 20 weeks.

So you know, 16 weeks is frankly, probably too moderate. And this is long standing polling, you go to Pew Research, you see what the Americans opinions are in abortion.

COLLINS: Do you think he should endorse something shorter than 16 weeks?

CRENSHAW: I'm pretty pro-life. So you know, I'm good with there should never be abortions of convenience, right? You know, and then we can have harder conversations about exemptions. But look, the 16-week would be a very, very moderate stance to take. And when you're doing it from a national level politically, that's probably not a bad idea. And it also can save Republicans in many ways because it at least shows that have a position.

And so you know, Lindsey Graham proposed this, I think was a 15-week ban some while back. And he got a lot of heat from a lot of different angles on that. But there was some genius to it, because it actually shows that we at least have a position. You know, maybe not -- it may not be my favorite position. But it's certainly better than the current position of oh, yes, sure, kill a baby when they have 10 fingers and 10 toes and a heartbeat.

And you know, they're basically -- they're a baby. So I don't think that kills us. I really don't. And if it does, you know what, I'm happy to stand for what I think is right.

TAPPER: Congressman Dan Crenshaw, Republican from Texas. Thanks so much for coming by at this late hour. I really appreciate it. Erin?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Jake. And joining us now a special guest of First Lady Jill Biden, during tonight's State of the Union address in the context of reproductive rights, they were just talking about the former First Lady of California and niece of the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy, and journalist Maria Shriver.

And, Maria, I appreciate your time so much. You know, we saw you there in the audience. And you wrote to the Capitol, I know in the motorcade President and First Lady in a bit of time with them after the address. And -- what was the President's feeling, and the First Lady's feeling after the address about how he did?

MARIA SHRIVER, JOURNALIST AND WOMEN'S HEALTH ADVOCATE: Well, I didn't talk to the First Lady after the address. I spoke to her briefly before, where I was up in the White House where the guests that were going to be in the box with her. We were all congregated there. And she came by and spoke to all of us.

I've been working with her the last eight or nine months on this White House Initiative on Women's Health Research. She was excited about the announcement tonight, $12 billion for Women's Health Research. She's excited to get that going. And what he said to me when I was walking out, he came back after making his way through the Capitol at the rotunda there.

And when we took pictures, the guests that had been in the box, when I want to take the picture, he said, I want you to know that I'm going to stay on this Women's Health Research. And we're going to get the money and we're going to do the research. So he's committed to it. She's committed to it. And that was a very brief conversation. I didn't ride over with them. I ride -- rode over on the bus with the other 20 guests that were in the First Lady's box.

BURNETT: And I know that, obviously, Women's Health Research is focused on a lot of things.


BURNETT: Cardio, menopause, it's much broader than reproductive rights. But obviously --

SHRIVER: And I think that's what's really important, Erin, because I think, you know, so much of what we talk about women's health or so much of what's in the news is focused on reproductive health and abortion, but there's a whole lifespan and health span for women. There's very little research on menopause and endometriosis on heart disease, on MS on Alzheimer's, two thirds of those with Alzheimer's are women, 80 percent of those with autoimmune, women. How do women age?


SHRIVER: We don't know any of these things, because we haven't done the research. So this is going to look at the breadth and the depth of women's health issues which are vast and I hope we can have that conversation. Because as I travel across this country, that's the conversation women want to have.

BURNETT: And the President did speak forcefully tonight about women as a group talking about how they're more than half the population. I just wanted to one clip where he was particularly impassioned. Here he is.



BIDEN: Those bragging about overturning Roe v. Wade have no clue about the power of women. But they found out when reproductive freedom was on the ballot, we won in 2022 and 2020. And we're winning again in 2024.


BURNETT: There are a lot of issues for women, but abortion obviously has been one that the Democrats have been betting will fuel and fire, the Democratic women based. There was a Kaiser Family Foundation study, though, poll yesterday, Maria, that I found interesting. Only one in five Democratic women say that abortion is the top issue, and it's only the top issue for 12 percent of voters overall. Does that surprise you? I mean, do you expect that that that number would be higher?

SHRIVER: Well, I think if you look at I don't look at women just in terms of that issue. I look at women across the board. I think women are interested in the economy. Women are interested in starting their own businesses. Women are interested in family leave and women are interested in their health. I mean, talk to any woman in this country and she will talk about the story of her health, whether it's migraines, perimenopause, menopause, as I said, endometriosis. She'll talk about being gaslit by doctor. She'll talk about trying to get time off from work to go to doctor.

So I think that kind of just focusing on one issue misses the boat about what women are thinking about what they're talking about. They're talking about their mental health, their emotional health, their spiritual health, their physical health, they're, you know, taking care of children. They're taking care of aging parents. They have a lot on their plate. Reproductive Health is one thing. It's a galvanizing issue for a certain part of the female population. But there's a lot more on the plates of most women.

BURNETT: You know, the speech ended and you were there with the President talking about age and addressing and really the elephant in the room and head on in a way that Evan Osnos was just saying moments ago was a bit different than he had, right? It wasn't a joking, passing reference, it was straight on. And it was interesting in the context of your uncle, JFK, or it was the youngest president ever elected, right?

And we're now facing an election, which will see the oldest president ever elected, no matter who wins. But you spend time with this president quite a bit of time. And you were there tonight. So what's your impression? What do you say to people who say President Biden is not fit to serve? He is too old to serve another term?

SHRIVER: I don't believe that. And I think this is a person who's a decent man who's devoted his life to public service, who will defend democracy, who wants to invest in women, who wants to invest in infrastructure, who wants to invest in making life better for everybody in this country. I, look, when I look at somebody who's running for Senate who's running for governor who's running for president, I know enough that you have to look at also who are the people surrounding that person who's in their cabinet, who's in their main office, who do they rely on for information, who do they rely on to make decisions?

The presidency isn't just one person, you know, in a room by themselves, it's who they surround themselves with. The two will move them forward. And I think this President is surrounded by really competent, really capable people who will defend democracy and will do the right thing for this country.

BURNETT: Maria Shriver, thank you very much. We all appreciate it.


And coming up, President Biden coming out swinging on Russia's threat to Ukraine and the world calling out Putin by name waiting until nearly the end of his speech to go address the Israel-Hamas war and the crisis in Gaza, we're going to go live to both Ukraine and Jerusalem for reaction, next.


TAPPER: Welcome back. We are getting reaction here in the United States and around the world to President Biden's rather politically charged State of the Union address. Here are some of the key moments on Capitol Hill tonight.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States.

BIDEN: If anybody in this room thinks Putin will stop with Ukraine, I assure you he will not. Now my predecessor, a former Republican president tells Putin, quote, do whatever the hell you want. That's a quote. A former president actually said that bowing down to a Russian leader. I think it's outrageous. It's dangerous and it's unacceptable.

My predecessor and some of you here seek to bury the truth about January 6h. I will not do that. This is a moment to speak the truth and to bury lies. Here's the simple truth. You can't love your country only when you win. Those bragging about overturning Roe v. Wade have no clue about the power of women. But they found out when reproductive freedom was on the ballot we won in 2022 and 2020. And we'll win again in 2024.

Because if you that tonight, we can proudly say the state of our union is strong and getting stronger. In November, my team began serious negotiation 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? Not really.

Lincoln Riley, an innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal. We can fight about fixing the border or we can fix it. I'm ready to fix it. 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 the very idea of American is that they were all created equal, 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.



TAPPER: So many different components to that speech. But let's see right now, how the President's foreign policy message played with the Americans who did watch his speech tonight. David Chalian is back with more results from our exclusive flash poll. David?

CHALIAN: Yes, Jake. And again, just a reminder, this is a poll of speech watchers. More Democrats tuned in to watch a Democrat president and a Democratic president speak. And so overall, it skews a little more Democratic than the public overall. But we asked both about Ukraine and Israel and take a look at the results.

President Biden's proposed level of U.S. aid to Ukraine. Among speech watchers tonight, 34 percent said too much of a proposed level of U.S. aid, 49 percent. The plurality here says about right, 16 percent says not enough. When it comes to propose level of U.S. support for Israel, 28 percent of speech watchers says -- said too much, 53 percent, a clear majority, says about right, 20 percent of speech watchers said not enough.

And Anderson interestingly, we see an age divide on that question. Substantially more people under the age of 45 says it's too much support for Israel, whereas if you're over 45, only 22 percent say that.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. David Chalian, thanks very much. Let's go live to two key regions mentioned during tonight's speech. CNN's Clarissa Ward joins us from Jerusalem and CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in Odesa, Ukraine. Clarissa, let's start with you. President Biden made a case for Gaza to receive more humanitarian aid and talked about building a port. How do you think that's likely to play in Israel and also just the logistics of that?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that, you know, these were some strong words that we heard from President Biden for the Israeli leadership. He talked about how aid cannot be, quote, a secondary consideration, or a bargaining chip. He impressed upon them the need to get aid into Gaza. But I have to tell you, Anderson, that is actually not a popular viewpoint here.

We attended a protest yesterday, where people are trying to block aid from getting into Gaza. And you might think that that's sort of a fringe movement. But according to the top polling agency here in Israel, some 68 percent of Israelis believe that aid should not be getting into Gaza. And that is because of a conviction that they hold the belief that there is no evidence to support but that they hold that all the aid is simply going into Hamas's hands now, the construction of this pier that President Biden talked about that obviously would provide much needed direct access to get that aid in.

You might remember that the U.S. had sent a huge ship full of flour that was sitting in Ashdod, the Israeli financial ministry -- minister rather, blocking that from getting into Gaza. So this pier would potentially circumvent the kind of politics around this. But the timeline, we're talking 30 to 60 days, potentially, that's potentially two months away, Anderson. The situation in Gaza, obviously, deteriorating by the minute, and you know, just really desperate situation. I think, for Palestinians listening to this speech, they will see it as too little too late.

And, you know, they believe firmly that Biden's policy of publicly supporting and privately pressuring Israel has failed. And that that is why we are seeing this catastrophe unfolding in Gaza, Anderson.

COOPER: And, Nick, to you in Odesa, Russia's war against Ukraine was one of the first things that the President talked about tonight calling for more military aid to be provided that's something in the Ukraine obviously, desperately needs right now, as you had been reporting over just this last week. I mean, you've been talking to troops who are literally running out of ammunition we used to fire at shells a day are now only firing 10. NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, and I'm sure hearing that speech, they'll be heartened by the fact that it was pretty much the first thing of substance he came to a toward making comparisons to his moments on the podium there to Roosevelt in 1941, making, frankly, not particularly subtle comparison between Putin being on the March now in Europe and Hitler being on the march back then in 1941. And trying to sound the urgency, frankly, at the moment for American security and European security that we're seeing here now, because of the crisis Ukraine is facing because of the lack of funding.

But essentially, too, we didn't have some magical new policy wheeled out here to get over that Republican roadblock. And indeed, the Republicans and their buckler didn't even seem to address this heartily themselves either. So I think Ukrainians will hear some sense of backing for how prominently Ukraine was in his discussion there and how he sounded that alarm about what an imminent threat that is for U.S. security as well.


But 1941 comparison, you know, it's stark frankly to stand there and say we are on the brink of potentially another world war, not exactly the words he used. But the timing, you got to bear in mind and ascertain, you know, three years after 1941 came 1944. And while Biden said he doesn't want American troops on the ground here in Ukraine, his plan is not for that by 1944, they certainly were. So I think is a deeply serious series of comments we heard about Ukraine.

But again, no way of getting round that roadblock, the $60 billion isn't suddenly here. There are other mechanisms, potentially for frozen Russian assets that have been floated, that wasn't put out tonight. And so I think maybe some Ukrainians seeing him there essentially pointing the finger again at Republicans for not getting the aid through despite reminding everybody how utterly dire it is right now. They need that aid, not in a few months. Anderson?

COOPER: And just very quickly, Clarissa Ward, what is the status of any talks about a ceasefire or hostage -- getting hostages out?

WARD: Well, it's interesting, because previously, Anderson, we've heard President Biden say that he was hopeful that this might be imminent. He talked about it being as soon as last Monday. Now, clearly a very different story. CNN's own reporting indicates that it is unlikely that we're going to see a ceasefire by Ramadan that's expected to start here in the next couple of days.

And you did hear President Biden saying that they're doing everything they can to push to get the hostages released and that ceasefire implemented on the ground for six weeks. But as we just said, no indication that that is going to happen now anytime soon, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Clarissa Ward, Nick Paton Walsh, both thank you. Be careful.

Back with the team here in New York, I want to play just something that the President said tonight took aim at the former president over Ukraine. Let's take a look.


BIDEN: My predecessor, a former Republican president tells Putin quote, do whatever the hell you want. That's a quote. A former president actually said that bowing down to a Russian leader. I think it's outrageous. It's dangerous. And it's unacceptable.


COOPER: David?

CHALIAN: Yes, I mean, we'll look, the context of that quote was he was saying if the Europeans don't pay their fair share, if they don't pay more into their own defense, but he sort of made NATO sound like a protection racket, and it was, but still, he truncated, that quote. But I think this issue itself is, you know, one of the Biden feels very strongly about. It is one, Scott, that does speak to the Haley voters and some of those Republicans who are not are not isolationist Republicans.

COOPER: I mean it is extraordinary. You have the former president of the United States saying to Vladimir Putin, I mean, essentially --

CHALIAN: It's outrageously.

COOPER: -- saying, do whatever you want.

CHALIAN: Well, let's point out he also -- the former president also his initial reaction to the invasion of Ukraine was that it was genius. Like, if you can go in and snatch a country, why not? I mean, his attitude on these issues has been consistently shocking. And that is a distinction between them. It may not be the distinction that drives most voters one way or, you know, to Biden, but it's one that's, you know, that's certainly what the old Republican Party would have stood for.

DAVID URBAN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Listen, I'll say, I'm ex-military guy, I, you know, pro funding for Ukraine and pro NATO. But Americans are tired, right? American -- the population Americans are tired for about endless wars, right? They're tired. Afghanistan, we saw a collapse in Afghanistan. The gentleman who stood up in the gallery this evening, Steve Nikoyi (ph), son, Kareem (ph), was killed at Abbey Gate. So he stood up and yelled 19 Marines Abbey Gate.

You know, a lot of Americans think that Ukraine happened because of the disastrous pull out in Afghanistan and the world watched America kind of go to its knees. And a weak America emboldened Putin.

COOPER: Was that deal so signed by the former president?

URBAN: There's -- it's not -- but it didn't have to happen this way, Anderson, not -- didn't -- it wasn't going to go down the same way. I will tell you what -- look at the testimony of all the generals who went testified to the House Armed Services Committee from Mark Milley on down, it wasn't going to go that way. And Biden --

COOPER: But bashing two things back to back --

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Anderson, I was in those meetings. It was because of Mark Milley and Mark Esper that it wasn't a more reckless time. Donald Trump wanted to move forward.

URBAN: But my point is the advice given to Joe Biden, by Tony Blinken and others was not the same thing that happened. President Biden did not -- what he did not --

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, you say -- you said, first of all, you're right that people are war weary. There's no doubt about that. The question is, is not supporting Ukraine, leave them the sort of moral issues of supporting a democracy that is being overrun. But does it make it less likely that American troops have the issue when Putin takes over the Ukraine?


URBAN: And here's why I agree with you. I think that we should be -- in tonight the President should have said we're not handing out bags of money to Ukrainians. We're building the U.S. military industrial base. We're helping Americans go to work and resupply our own military. That's an opportunity to we missed here to defeat our enemies, right, for pennies on the dollar. And I would say this that if we don't do that, what's going to happen in January of 25, we're going to be sending people to Europe.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He had a chance to make that argument. But what did he do? He made it a partisan political argument. Now look, what Donald Trump said about telling Russia do whatever that, that's wrong. That is absolutely wrong. But instead of making the case, which is what I would think the State of the Union, and it was his first topic. Instead of making the case he turned into a partisan political, which is a missed opportunity.

ALLISON: OK. Real quick on in Ukraine is that I think he did a -- did it well, in terms of connecting Ukraine and protecting a democracy to January 6th. January 6th, was the very next thing that followed after his comments on Ukraine. And it was, what's happening in the Ukraine is because Putin is a dictator. And what can happen in America is Donald Trump could be a dictator, you know why? Because he said he would on day one.

And so making that connection highlights the ability to make that contrast, which I think he did really well. I think the other thing about the speech tonight is that Joe Biden had a really important task to talk to the issue around Israel and Gaza. We heard reporting, people don't like to see people killed on October 7th, and they certainly don't want to see innocent Palestinians killed, day after day. 300,000 and he -- and or 300,030, excuse me.

And he acknowledged that many of them, most of them are not Hamas. And so I hope we can all agree that we want to preserve life we want. We want peace. We don't want our troops to go into countries. And we need people to get aid. And we just heard reporting from Clarissa Ward that aid is being blocked. So he has people on the left are asking him to do a list of policy things that I don't think he's going to get there. But he is trying to do something here and try and be on the right side of this morally and politically.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Can I just mention one thing, I was watching Mike Johnson closely at night, someone who didn't expect to be speaker and I don't think thought he'd be governing this house. And when the issue of Ukraine came up, he seemed to subtly not along and he is the person who's single handedly holding up a bill that if put on the floor tomorrow would release aid to Ukraine, because Donald Trump has told him to.

I have a feeling Donald Trump is not going to be happy with how Mike Johnson performed tonight. And I think that's another narrative we should be following.

COOPER: Let's go back to Jake in D.C. Jake?

TAPPER: Thanks, Anderson. Now, let's go to our fact checker, Daniel Dale, who was watching for anything President Biden got inaccurate during his State of the Union address. Daniel, the President was accused by the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene and other House Republicans have saying a lot of things that weren't true. What did you make overall of the factual content of the speech?

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: I found Jake, it was quite a factual speech, at least in terms of the assertions of fact, I was able to check. Of course, I don't check the many, many subjective opinions that fill these kinds of speeches. But President Biden did make at least a few false or misleading claims that I do want to address. Listen to something he said about the federal budget deficit.


BIDEN: I've been delivering real results in fiscally responsible ways. We've already cut the federal deficit. We've already cut the federal deficit over a trillion dollars.


DALE: The President keeps making this claim, I've called it misleading on air before. It's still misleading now, Jake. Here is why. The federal deficit is indeed more than a trillion dollars lower today than it was in President Trump's last fiscal year in office. But President Biden conveniently never mentions why? And that why is overwhelmingly simply because bipartisan emergency pandemic spending from 2020 expired as planned in the Biden era. So spending skyrocketed then it fell on schedule. That's not a Biden fiscal achievement.

And especially because I think here's the key, experts at places like Moody's and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget have told me in detail that Biden's own actions, executive actions, laws, have worsened the deficit picture. So Biden is patting himself on the back for fiscal prudence, but his actions have clearly added to deficits, not improve them. A couple more claims I think we need to break down. Let's also listen to something the President said about the corporate minimum tax he signed into law in 2022.


BIDEN: Remember in 2020, 55 of the biggest companies in America made $40 billion and paid zero in federal income tax, zero. Not anymore. Thanks for the law I wrote, we signed big companies have to pay a minimum 50 percent.


DALE: So Biden made this sound like a final triumph, like every big company is going to have to pay federal income tax now, not anymore will there be anybody paying zero. But that is false. It's an exaggeration. Why? Well, Biden did sign a 15 percent corporate minimum tax into law. But here's the key here. It only applies to companies with 1 billion or more in average annual income.


So on that list he cited of 55 companies that were identified as paying nothing in 2020 will only 14 of those 55 had us income of 1 billion or more that year. So it is clear and the think tank, the left leaning think tank behind the support has confirmed to me that many big companies will still be able to avoid taxes under this new Biden law.

TAPPER: All right, Daniel Dale, thanks so much.

Let's talk more with our panel. And Manu Raju joins us fresh from Capitol Hill. So Manu, you've been talking to Republicans, Democrats, all sorts of folks. Tell us your basic take on the response, especially from the opposition.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. And so look, there's been -- it's been very partisan, as you can imagine, coming out of the chamber, Republicans in particular, going after the speech saying its way -- it was way too political and the like. Democrats saying it's fine, that he was political. Look at the way Donald Trump talked about this as well.

But there was also some criticism to from some members of the President's own party, including from Congressman Jamaal Bowman, just to listen to the sampling responses I got over the last hour or so.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I think the State of the Union address has become more and more political and other chants going on in the chamber. The President obviously making a very strong political pitch. And, you know, I would rather go back to having a actual address that talks about the State of the Union. But he passed the first test, which is a show and get up there and speak a lot of energy and I'm sure he feels good about it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So other members that when I could tell, I asked Congressman Jamaal Bowman. He's a member of the far left faction of the House Democratic Caucus about President Biden's comments on Israel. He says, I wish he would have called for an immediate ceasefire. And he went on to say that the President should have done more this could actually hurt him come November.

So you're hearing some milder criticism from the members of the President's own party from that faction. But overall, Jake, the response has been pretty party line. Democrats liked what they heard inside the chamber. They were cheering, Republicans were jeering. Many Republicans I witnessed actually leaving the speech early, which I'm not -- I'm sitting in lots of chambers during the State of the Union address. I don't really remember that happening. But that happened in this situation.

TAPPER: So Speaker Johnson, the new Republican Speaker was very hopeful, Dana Bash, that there would be -- the jeering would be to a minimum. There's always groaning and applauding by the opposite sides or the supporting sides, depending on who the president is.

I remember when Obama was president and Congressman Joe Wilson from South Carolina, yelled out you're lying or you lie. It was a big moment. I think I heard at least four or five different moments like that during this speech. You interviewed one of the individuals and there was Marjorie Taylor Greene. There were other moments. I can't recall another time when there were so many heckling incidents, Dana Bash, can you?

BASH: No. I can't. And, you know --

TAPPER: I guess, it's the new normal.

BASH: Well, yeah. It kind of -- it is. And I was thinking about that Mike Johnson discussion that he had with his conference this morning saying, you know, remember decorum and so on and so forth. And obviously, it was the other side of that coin when the President walked in, and the Democrats were -- they were cheering. They weren't jeering. But they were cheering. And they were saying for more years.

So the sort of the court came out of the bottle, the minute the President walked in there when it comes to the political sentiment, that was just bursting at the seams. And it was only a matter of time before the Republicans had a rejoinder.

TAPPER: And, John, you talked about what the President needed to do tonight. And, you know, I think we can all agree that he didn't have any major horrible incidents that are going to necessarily affect, I mean, just stylistically, that are going to affect his reelection. But he's got a lot more nights like this that he needs to deliver.

KING: Yes. It's got 241 more nights until people are voting. I mean, early voting obviously starts in September in some states, so you can't you -- but it's game on. Look, the President started, we talked to the beginning to show his approval ratings at 38 percent. His approval rating has to get up above 40. Most smart people do politics, Democrats are opposed, say you got to get to 43 or 45, if you're looking at it, then you're looking at a national map where you can get 270 electoral votes, right?

So he's at 38. He has to go up. It looks like from our polling, again, the people watching the speech who are only Democratic. So this is you know, you have to put that into context. But among the overwhelmingly Democratic audience, he made some gains. The question is, can he sustain them. Sometimes two or three weeks down the road that fades. The question, he needs to build. I mean, he needs to go up.

I would argue needs to go up just about every day. I mean I suppose you can have a day or two a plateau. But you need to go up from where you are. I'm looking -- this is incoming from a dozen of our all over the map voters around the country and it's fairly predictable in the sense that the Republican said he was yelling at us. You know, he was yelling, he was shouting. We don't like most of what he said he was too political in criticizing Donald Trump.


The Democrats are more interesting. Among the Democrats with who have problems with him or say he has problems in their communities. Angela Lang (ph) runs a community organizing group in Milwaukee, they do remarkable work, knocking on doors, staying active with people. And when I visited with them, the President clearly has a problem in the African American street.

She said it was a great downpayment. She said it was a strong and forceful speech. She liked a lot of what she heard. She wished she heard more about policing, which is a big issue in the black community. But she said, you know, here -- the big takeaway here. Now he needs to back it up and keep the same energy all the way into the November election.

Jade Gray student at the University of Michigan, among the students we talked about there who is very upset with the President's conduct that they she believe pro -- is too pro-Israel in the war between Israel and Gaza. Again, said some progress. She wants an immediate ceasefire. And again, she says she liked the President's energy, needs to see it out there. So I think from this, anecdotally, the President checked some boxes. He's got a long way to go.

TAPPER: All right. Still ahead, did President Biden convince enough Americans that he has plenty of fight in him to serve four more years? We're going to get more results from our exclusive flash poll.

Plus, biographer Evan Osnos will share something President Biden told him that he has yet to reveal. Stay with us.



[00:50:18] BIDEN: Let me close with this, yehey, I know you don't hear anymore, Lindsey. But I 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.


BURNETT: President Biden at that moment making light about the age questions that are swirling around him as he wrapped up his State of the Union address. And the question is, did the President's performance inspire the confidence of voters on this crucial issue that is clearly top of mind for many. David Chalian is back with more of our flash poll of people who did watch tonight's State of the Union address. So what did they say David?

CHALIAN: Yeah. And they were just remember, as you noted, it's a poll of speech watchers, more Democrats watch a Democratic president speak and so it doesn't represent the country overall. So keep that in mind as you see this. We asked, do you have confidence in President Biden's ability to protect American democracy, 36 percent of speech watchers said they have a lot of confidence in his ability to do that, 27 percent said they have some confidence in his ability to do that.

So if you add those two up there, I think that's like 63 percent, nearly two thirds have competence for him to protect U.S. democracy, 37 percent Just over a third say none. They have no confidence in Joe Biden to protect U.S. democracy. What about confidence in his ability to carry out his duties? Thirty-one percent said a lot of confidence, 28 percent said some. So again, that adds up to 59 percent, nearly six in 10 have a lot or some confidence in his ability to carry out his duties, 41 percent said no competence at all.

And look at how those numbers change from pre-speech to post speech. So pre-speech, it was just 25 percent that say they have a lot of confidence that he can carry out his duties. Erin, that goes up to 31 percent, some confidence 27, that stayed about the same. And 48 percent before the speech said no confidence that went down to 41 percent. So clearly made some progress on that score, Erin.

BURNETT: Oh, that is incredible. Just to see how quickly things -- those perceptions could change. All right here with two people who know the President so well. Evan Osnos is it -- this issue of democracy and his being ready to protect it, this is something that he has made a signature issue. And you over the many years that you have been covering him and writing about him have found this to be a new sense of purpose.

EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's quite distinct. You can hear it when he talks about this issue of democracy at home and around the world. Attack on Ukraine, attack on free societies. He calls it the central cause of my presidency. And, you know, Joe Biden's been in Washington for 50 years. He's worked on a lot of issues, foreign affairs. He was head of the Judiciary Committee.

He never had something that was the central cause of his political life. And he's really come to it now, in many ways, sort of in this third act of his political life. It's quite noticeable, because I think it organizes his thinking.

BURNETT: And you have been here the past three State of the Unions with him. Let me say the unions that you did not expect to be a part of because you were -- you thought that the career was over.

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Exactly right. I worked for him at the end of his time as Vice President, we spent time that last year really thinking about how we wanted to submit his legacy, what kind of communications plan we wanted to put together to really put an exclamation point on the things that he cared the most about a lot of his foreign relations work. Work that he did on campus sexual assault, the It's On Us campaign. We really spent a lot of time thinking about how he would sort of be remembered.

I mean, he truly thought that he was done. And, you know, then Donald Trump's election really, for him just catalyzed a feeling that we were really at a tipping point in history. I remember traveling with him in 2017, he was reading how democracies die, a book by two Harvard professors who were studying the way that democracy erodes as our institutions erode, as the press erodes, as the courts erode. So this was something that really consumed him and has absolutely become the cause, really, of his career which is a fascinating --

BURNETT: So you think you're done, you got a biographer, you do the whole thing, you think you're done. And then all of a sudden, you're back. And you're back with a worldview that is not the way the world, things have changed, right? He gets elected on I'm going to be the guy to bridge the differences and work across the aisle. And something he shared with you that you haven't yet shared with the public. He realizes the world's change.

OSNOS: Yeah, he's come to the conclusion that something profound has changed in the Republican Party. He said I don't see it as just Donald Trump is leading the Republican Party. He said to me as I see it the Republican is gone. That's a huge change for him. For years, he prided himself on the relationships he had with Republican leaders.


But look, Mitch McConnell stepping aside from the leadership role, many of the people who he knew and could make deals with, they're gone. And I think as you see him making strategic decisions, how is he going about trying to relieve student debt? They're doing it by using the Department of Education and working around the GOP majority and conservative majority in the Supreme Court. So in a sense, he's saying, if the GOP is not going to work with me, I'm not going to pretend that we're going to make deals, so I'm going to try to go around him.

BEDINGFIELD: I think it's I think it's also important to understand why he felt that way, you know, there was a lot of criticism that his, you know, perspective that you could continue to work across the aisle was naive or that he didn't understand the political moment. But, you know, I think to understand his thinking, it's important to know that he really felt that holding on to that kind of last vestige of being able to work together was actually about holding on to our democracy. In some ways, I think he kind of saw this moment in a broader historical context, you know, that was sort of a bigger lens than just the kind of immediate, you know, scoring a political point. So to him it really is, this is really a historic moment.

BURNETT: Well, and it's been amazing to have both of you who know him so well and have worked with him for so long with us for this night of special coverage. Thanks so much to all of you. And all of you and please stay with CNN for more State of the Union coverage ahead.