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CNN Live Event/Special

Biden Delivers Fiery, Political State Of The Union; Biden Confronts Supreme Court Justices: Women Are Not Without Electoral Or Political Power; Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO), Is Interviewed About Biden Calls Out GOP Over Border Bill Inaction; Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D- TX), Is Interviewed About Democratic Congresswomen Wear White For Reproductive Rights. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 08, 2024 - 01:00   ET




KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of political emotions and a very fired up President Biden. Welcome to our special coverage of the State of the Union. I'm Kaitlan Collins.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Abby Phillip. President Biden tonight sought to take full advantage of a primetime T.V. audience setting up the stakes for Election Day. He directly targeted Donald Trump quite a lot, but he refused to even say his name.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My predecessor and some of you here seek to bury the truth about January 6th. My predecessor failed the most basic presidential duty. My predecessor, promising to pass a national ban on reproductive freedom. My predecessor, a former Republican president tells Putin, quote, do whatever the hell you want. My predecessor came to office determined to see Roe v. Wade overturn. My predecessor called members of Congress in the Senate to demand they blocked the bill. But unlike my predecessor, I know who we are as Americans. My predecessor told the NRA, he's proud he did nothing on guns when he was president.


COLLINS: He said my predecessor over 13 times in that speech. And in the room tonight, the state of respectful tone that used to mark the State of the Union, gave way to what we are now so familiar with when these States of the Unions happen and kind of call it response and the chance that we expect to hear in an arena full of partisan diehards.


BIDEN: Anybody really thinks the tax code is fair?


BIDEN: Do you really think the wealthy and big corporations need another $2 trillion tax break?

CROWD: No. Four more years, four more years, four more years, four more years.

BIDEN: My fellow American --


PHILLIP: Back when Joe Biden used to sit in the background as vice president, one member of Congress actually called out in the speech with President Biden -- President Biden and it was almost unheard of prior to that. Yet tonight, you see the evolution. Republicans walked out some of them in the middle of the speech. There were interruptions so many, too many to count.


BIDEN: Check the numbers. 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 saying, oh, look at the facts. I know. I know you know how to read.


COLLINS: Oh, boy. Here with us to break it all down, CNN contributor and associate professor of history at Johns Hopkins, Leah Wright Rigueur, CNN political analyst in New York Times White House correspondent, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, CNN political commentator and former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton, Karen Finney, and CNN political commentator and Republican strategist, Alice Stewart. Karen Finney. Let me start with you. Because we went into this with everyone saying what a big night and high stakes moment it was for President Biden and it needed to show, you know, style, not just substance, how do you think he did?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: A plus, of course. But, I mean, come on, let me deliver the goods here. No, but I mean, in that clip we just played right. He was having fun with it. I mean, it was pretty predictable that Republicans were going to misbehave. And they walk right into that trap as they usually do.

COLLINS: He kind of go to them into it.

FINNEY: Yes, but he knew that it was not going to take much to get them to go there. They went there. And he was ready for it. And it's sort of interesting that now but modern, you know, State of the Union speech, you've got to be ready for that, right? But I also thought that, you know, for people who were the bar was set so high, and for people who are saying, well, he show energy, will he show fire and gusto? Absolutely. And I think he showed passion. I think he showed compassion. And I thought he won't, you know, a lot of times say that union speeches and up and having worked on them.

I can tell you, they end up it's like, oh, we have this issue in there and get that issue. And it's like this laundry list of issues. And even though there was a lot of policy and issue talk about the way they woven in to the conversation and use, the guests who were seated with the First Lady to humanize some of these issues was really important.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think the -- I will certainly wouldn't give A plus, more like a C or D out. My look -- my -- but look, he didn't stumble over words. He didn't forget anything. He stuck to the teleprompter. But he was angry. He came across very angry. And he came across as someone who talks about unity and uniting this country. He was very divisive.


And look, if his goal tonight was to win over independents, and some of the Nikki Haley voters, he did nothing to appeal to them. He yelled quite often throughout the speech, and it came across as someone who is talks about how this lifting up this country and this country is getting better. He just seemed -- he just came across as very angry. And it was, in my view, extremely partisan. For him to mention Donald Trump's so early -- his predecessor many times, for him to use his name or mentioned him early and so often, this was more of a start of a campaign speech and not a State of the Union speech.

And that is not what this is about. This is about him telling the American people, what is the State of the Union? How am I going to make this better? And, yes, this is an election year. But the fact he made it so political on all of these issues, I think did not do a service to what the State of the Union address is supposed be.

PHILLIP: Let me just play a little bit of what President Biden said, because to your point, Alice, he -- pretty early on, he went at the heart of some of these issues that he has with Donald Trump without ever saying his name. Take a listen.


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


COLLINS: And Zolan, you know, we hear from President Biden a lot in these closed door fundraisers. And he's talking about stuff like this. And he's using some pretty salty language. The question had been, should he be showing that kind of anger in public? Do you think he did that tonight?

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: On a public stage, I mean, I understand sort of the concerns you were talking about but when I talked to Democratic voters going back to early in the presidency, one complaint of the White House and the President was, I've talked to a lot of voters who said they didn't just want to hear about unity, but also accountability, and also a way to directly sort of call out the former president. There was a point in time, when the President Biden seldom invoked President Trump, seldom tried to move on kind of as part of this sort of movement to restore normalcy. But for many people in the country, this isn't a normal time. So there -- I have been hearing more and more sort of calls for him to directly call out the President's comments.

I also know that for the White House last year, they relish some of those back and forth with Republicans. And part of the strategy of performance here was going in with an intention of confrontation almost.

COLLINS: Yes, he was trying to recreate those moments. One of the most remarkable ones that stood out to me, though, were was obviously there are Supreme Court justices in there. Some of the ones who actually, you know, wrote this opinion, overturning Roe versus Wade, were not actually seated in there, Alito, I believe was not there.

But President Biden took a moment where he kind of chastised the Supreme Court and he said, you know, with all due respect to the justices in this room, and he quoted from the majority opinion there, I think we have that moment where it was just so striking to see him try the Supreme Court. Here's what he said.


BIDEN: And with all due respect, Justices, women are not without electoral power. Excuse me, electoral or political power. You're about to realize just how much you were right about that.


COLLINS: What does that say to you just in a context of watching a sitting president of the United States say that to the Supreme Court justices in the room?

LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I mean, Biden says it -- said it in his State of the Union speech. These are not the olden days. These are the new times. These are different times. And I think one of the things that we have to take into account with the State of the Union speech is that the State of the Union speech has always evolved to reflect, you know, the context of the larger political moment.

And in this political moment, we are in uncharted territory. We are in a place where somebody like Joe Biden is damned if you do, damned if you don't. And his -- I think to your point, his base is calling for some kind of energy, some kind of passion, some kind of accountability, but also acknowledgement of them. Trump speaks to his voters. Biden voters want to be spoken to. And one of the best places where they can -- where somebody like Biden can make an intervention is on the issue of something like Dobbs of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

We already know that the American public has lost faith in the Supreme Court. So what better way than a president who needs to show that he really does care about women and that women have political power than to call out the Supreme Court justices who made Dobbs happen.


STEWART: Another instance tonight where he was able to react to a prompting by people in the audience was when Marjorie Taylor Greene asked him to say her name. And we know this, we're talking about Lincoln Riley, the nursing student at the University of Georgia, my alma mater, who was jogging and was killed, suspectedly by an undocumented immigrant from Venezuela.

People in the media and others have been after this President to say like in Riley's name, acknowledged that this is at the hands of someone who has been a repeat offender and needs to be held accountable. Thankfully, Congress acted today in passing the Lincoln Riley Act. But he just now is acknowledging her name. He has just now admitting that this did happen. Hats off to Marjorie Taylor Greene for pushing him.

But this just goes to show that there is a crisis at the border to his policies, and in my view and many persons views, are the root cause of why we're having such a tremendous border problem. And he is just now acknowledging it. And I think this has been a tremendous opportunity for him to acknowledge more of the crisis and what he can personally do to fix it and not blame this on Republicans. He repeatedly said, Republicans are to blame, they didn't pass this.

But he himself needs to acknowledge. He came into office on day one and overturned by President Trump's policies to secure the border and also build the wall and he overturned those. And three years later, he's just not doing so.

FINNEY: OK. But two things, number one, President Trump as president didn't solve the problem. And let's be honest, it has been a crisis for a long time. I can remember growing up in California talking about the immigration crisis, right? So let's just be honest about that. At the same time, President Biden on day one also introduced Comprehensive Immigration Reform. And that kind of went nowhere.

And I thought it was very powerful for him. And we've seen this actually in focus groups, when you tell people what was in the bill. They're like, oh, great. That's what I want. And so I think it was very, and it's something that many of us have been urging the White House to do more of just tell people what you were trying to do, and then put it on the Republicans who did walk away from the bill. And that was an important moment. And I think is --

PHILLIP: And that key moment was Lankford, nodding his head.


PHILLIP: And saying that's true.

FINNEY: Sure did.

PHILLIP: Cut that one for an ad because --


PHILLIP: -- that's exactly what they were hoping for.

KANNO-YOUNGS: It should be noted to I mean, when you look at that bill, I've covered immigration since the Trump administration and an expulsion authority that would rapidly turn migrants away raising the credible fear standard, to make it harder to gain asylum in the U.S. surging resources to the border. I mean, I remember Trump administration officials, talking to them and them saying these are some of the policies that we need at this time.

I do think this is a really fascinating moment for the White House here on immigration. I don't know if it will be successful, yet. You see them shifting to the offense here on immigration. There's a lot of criticism from both parties of distancing themselves from a crisis that is on the minds of American voters. I don't know, though, at this point, what the result will be essentially of saying House Republicans, you're the one who blocked this, even while it's still an issue.

PHILLIP: I'm not sure there is going to be a result. I think it's a political strategy at the end of the day, but yes.

COLLINS: And, well, the border came later on in his speech, the thing he came out of the gate, starting with, which we were told was going to happen was democracy. And then he immediately mentioned Ukraine and talked about making sure Putin doesn't won't stop at Ukraine and talk about the importance of funding, sending Ukraine aid. Of course, as House Speaker Mike Johnson is right there.

But the other thing that was paired with all of this is that you have to think about Israel and Gaza, which is obviously, you know, President Biden, on the way to this speech had to take a different route to actually get there to avoid the protesters who were trying to block his motorcade from getting to the Capitol. He was a little bit late getting there. I wonder what you make of how he handled that moment in the historical context, but also something that could be deeply damaging to him come November with the progressive younger members of his party.

RIGUEUR: Right. So not only I think one of the things that the White House continues to do is underestimate just what kind of impact this kind of Israel-Hamas, but also Palestinian crisis, humanitarian crisis that the U.S. is now actively involved in. How that's going to play out at the polls. And so I think tonight, he did a job and apparently the CNN, you know, quick poll, supports this. Where it's said, the majority of Americans felt like he talked about Israel just enough, right, like just he did exactly what he needed to do.

With that being said, though, I think that there -- we are, again, under estimating what people in very specific areas like Michigan, like Pennsylvania, very specific target groups, how they feel about the issue. And right now, amongst those groups, particularly amongst young people, the Biden White House is not doing enough.

And I don't know that there is a solution that makes the Democratic, you know, this kind of disparate coalition of the Democratic base happy, all happy. And so what they're doing right now is trying to figure out what is the middle ground.


PHILLIP: They did time. I mean, it's a pretty extraordinary announcement that they made today that they were going to basically build a port on the shores of Gaza to get this aid in both an indictment of the Netanyahu administration's unwillingness to allow more aid overland, but also timed to address this directly. At the end of the day, this is the State of the Union. He's not going to tailor that to the far left of his party. But did he do enough to get the people that he needed to stay in the coalition?

FINNEY: Well, I think that's exactly the promise the professor is saying, there's never going to be enough. I mean, and the other problem, as we know, where the United States, it's really up to Netanyahu. There's only so much that we can do. Obviously, there's more we can do potentially with aid, but you can't make Netanyahu do what we want him to do. He's still their leader. And so I think the President was right to make the point, though, he is the person who has been pushing Netanyahu to care about the hostages, I thought was very touching to have their parents there.

And look, remember, this also comes on the heels of the Vice President's announcement this weekend. I think that was the two pieces of it in Selma. And then today is the anniversary of Selma -- yesterday was the anniversary of Selma. I think that was very powerful.

STEWART: I think for the Vice President to come out and say we support a ceasefire. That's one thing, but it means nothing if Hamas is not on board. And I think a ceasefire needs to be hand in glove with releasing these hostages and big step with helping to get the aid into Gaza. But we have to talk also about releasing these hostages first and foremost.

PHILLIP: It's a good point. I mean, the reality is, Hamas is the one at this point by not agreeing to anything that is on the table.

COLLINS: Yes. And some of those families have the hostages in that very room tonight. Everyone stick around there's a lot more to break down from President Biden's State of the Union speech.

Up next, we'll talk about how he went on offense on the issue of immigration. One of his weakest polling points, he got a rare backup from that one Republican in the crowd that we mentioned. We'll show you that moment.

Plus, as you notice the women, Democrats, were white, one of them will join us here in studio to talk about why.


[01:21:09] COLLINS: Things became animated in the House Chamber tonight as President Biden was calling on Congress to act on immigration and the border.


BIDEN: Folks it's been a simple choice. We can fight about fixing the border or we can fix it. I'm ready to fix it.


COLLINS: The deep divisions that surround these issues on full display as are the divide even within the Republican Party. As you watched President Biden say that one of the most conservative members of the Senate that you see here, that's James Lankford of Oklahoma, nodding his head mouthing, that's true. As President Biden was laying out the parameters of that bipartisan border deal that sank in recent weeks.

It didn't seem like Senator Lankford was said to be seen on camera hitting his own party. He spent months crafting that bill that former President Donald Trump in part helped torpedo. Meantime, as you watch this, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who you see here in the hat, engaged in what would be one of several spirited exchanges.


BIDEN: Oh, you don't like that bill, huh? That conservatives got together and said was a good bill. I'll be darned. That's amazing. You're saying, oh, look at the facts. I know. I know you know how to read.


COLLINS: President Biden mentioned the support that that bill had from the Border Patrol Union, including its leader who has been a vocal supporter of Donald Trump's was with him at the border in recent days. The president of the National Border Patrol Council, Brandon Judd joins me now. And great to have you here. You heard what President Biden said about this deal, the perimeters of it, kind of reminding everyone in the room of it tonight, but everyone at home. What do you make of how he addressed immigration tonight?

BRANDON JUDD, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: I was incredibly disappointed. Instead of announcing the executive actions he's going to take. He instead blamed other people for the problem. Look, if he's not going to get a bill, which he's not going to -- it's not going to happen. If he's not going to get that then he has the responsibility to step in and give us executive actions that will help us secure the border. And he refused to do that. And that was incredibly disappointing.

It was also incredibly disappointing that he mentioned our name without giving context to what exactly it was that we were supporting. Yes, we supported that the bill goes to the floor. Yes, we supported an amendment process. There was a lot of bad in that bill, but there was a lot of good. So what we walked away from after this State of the Union is we walked away with nothing. He had the opportunity to announce to the American people, he's polling very, very poorly on this, he had the opportunity to announce to the American people that these are the executive actions he's going to take. Instead, he just blamed other people, and then walked away. And now we're left with the same chaos that we've heard -- that we've been dealing with.

COLLINS: And as you know, just because he didn't announce the executive actions tonight doesn't mean he's not ultimately going to take them. We've heard reports from the White House that they are considering that since this tanked. But in the position that you're in when you look at this, do you really think executive action is the way to address this issue or is it legislation?

JUDD: So long term, I would love to have legislation, because that lives past administrations. But in this particular case, does he have to have legislation to secure the border? And the answer is no. He could secure the border with executive action tomorrow if he wanted to. And that's what we're not getting. He knows what he needs to do. I have personally met with Secretary Mayorkas on a number of occasions. And we told him, if you get rid of Remain in Mexico, this is what's going to happen.

But these are the actions that you can take to avoid that and they completely and totally just disregarded that. And so that's, again, this chaos that we're currently experiencing, it could end immediately with executive action.

COLLINS: One part of executive action though and I covered the term White House, he did a lot of executive orders on immigration. I think 94 percent of them were rejected by the court. So that's the power when you try to or the problem when you try to govern by the pen. But on the legislation itself, you liked this legislation. You didn't think it was perfect, but there were parts of it, including, you know, what he said tonight, 1,500 more border security agents and officers, 100 more immigration judges, obviously, there's a backlog dealing with that issue, a changing the credible fear standards for asylum. Those were portions that you liked and supported.


JUDD: So actually, believe it or not, the 1,500 additional border patrol agents is not something that I support, and I'm a union. I don't want to pass the burden on to the taxpayer. I believe that if we had proper policy, we have the resources right now. We have the technology. We have the infrastructure. We have the agents that are necessary to secure the border. What we don't have is we don't have policy. And so what I don't want to do is I don't want to shift the burden onto the taxpayer and cause them to pay a lot more money than what is necessary that we had --

COLLINS: But you supported elements of the bill?

JUDD: Yes. Absolutely. Like you just said.

COLLINS: If the bill had passed, would you have been happy? JUDD: I would have. I would have been happy with certain elements of that so credible fear that's extremely important. President Trump tried to do that with HARP and PACR. That was one of the things that got shut down by the courts. But the most important thing that the courts upheld, the Supreme Court upheld President Trump's right to implement Remain in Mexico. And if President Biden would go back to that, and what really frustrates me about that, is he says that it's inhumane, but yet our State Department has certified that Mexico is a safe country. Yes, there's portions of Mexico that might be dangerous. But the State Department has not come out and said that Mexico is in unsafe country.

COLLINS: And the real issue also is Mexico doesn't want Remain in Mexico. So that's the problem with having the cooperation. I know Republicans feel like the U.S. can kind of tell Mexico that they have to do it. On this thing, you are a guest of Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona who is announcing that she's not going to be running again that she's going to be retiring. But when it comes to who actually has the fate of moving immigration legislation, have you met with Speaker Mike Johnson in the House? And do you think he's willing to move on immigration legislation that will address what you're so worried about?

JUDD: I haven't. Not yet. I'm sure that I will be meeting with several Republicans speakers. It's a little bit different to meet with the Speaker of the House. But I have met with many Republicans. And, you know, Dan Crenshaw was on your earlier program. And he said, don't give up hope. There is potential hope coming. And I do believe that there's possibilities that will happen.

But you know, I've heard time and time again, I heard President Biden blamed President Trump saying that President Trump tanked this bill. The reason and they say that it's for politics, I've had the opportunity to speak with him. I've been with him. I know why he said, don't go for this bill, because he recognizes that from day one, he could implement Remain in Mexico, which will go a lot farther than what this bill would have gone.

He also recognizes that if you pass a bill right now, there's not going to be an appetite to pass a bill in his --

COLLINS: But is it a crisis? Can it wait? I mean, we don't know that it'll get reelected. And can it wait until next --

JUDD: And that's why --

COLLINS: -- January of this.

JUDD: -- so that's the reason that we supported the bill. Because in our position --

COLLINS: There's some things better than nothing.

JUDD: Yes, yes, status quo just isn't good enough at this particular time. But at the same time, if I'm looking long term, if I'm looking long term, I agree with him. I agree that long term, I would much rather have a better bill. H.R. 2 is the perfect bill. H.R. 2 is not going to get passed, because it's not bipartisan. But there's a possibility that later on down the road, H.R. 2 gets passed. But if this bill were to pass right now, the chances that it would that another border bill would get passed this is pretty slim.

I've gotten two bills passed into law. And I can tell you that it took years for that to happen. And so I recognize what it is to get a bill passed, and it's very difficult.

COLLINS: Yes. We haven't seen federal immigration legislation in decades. Brandon Judd, thanks for coming on tonight.

JUDD: Good to be with you.

COLLINS: For this morning, I guess I could say.

JUDD: It is. It is. Thank you very much.

PHILLIP: And for more reaction to President Biden's State of the Union address tonight, I want to bring in the Democratic governor of Colorado, Jared Polis. Governor, thanks for joining us tonight. You just heard right there from the head of the Border Patrol Unit. Immigration is in crisis in a city in your state, Denver. Did you hear a path forward from President Biden tonight? And as you heard a Brandon Judd say, does President Biden have a responsibility to act unilaterally if Congress won't?

GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): Well, certainly, I mean, I'm confident the President is going to do everything he can with his executive authority to secure the border. But at the end of the day, President Trump couldn't do it. President Biden couldn't do it, because there are problems with our current law, namely, the fact that there's many frivolous asylum claims that clog up the system.

We needed to change the standard on that there was in the bipartisan bill that would reduce frivolous claims, probably by more than half but it will also speed up the legitimate claims which is making sure that people who are here who have a solid claim and asylum law are able to get their work permits and get to work to support themselves.


So there's a lot we need to do. I think President Biden really called out the opponents for standing in the way of securing the border, and then this illegal immigration crisis. And I think that's a good thing for him to continue to hit on.

PHILLIP: He just said that you were confident that there would be some executive action. I know, one of the things that's been reported is that they're considering making it more difficult to claim asylum if someone crosses the border between ports of entry illegally, do you support something like that?

POLIS: Well, I'm not sure, you know, how they can do that administratively. A lot of these depend on law. And I think what the President is working on is he wants to do something that he thinks will stand up in the courts not just sort of wave his arms around and say something that, you know, will be overruled a couple of weeks later and make the problem worse.

What I liked most about the speech is it was forward looking. It was looking forward towards a better more perfect America, as opposed to moving backwards to the really chaos in our -- a national nightmare that we went through in the last administration.

PHILLIP: He did at many, many junctures talk about his predecessor, who obviously is likely to be the person that he's facing in November. What did you make of the President's performance? We just talked about the substance. What did you make of it from a stylistic perspective, that's also something a lot of people have been talking about tonight.

POLIS: Well, stylistic, that's the, you know, that's the President Joe Biden, we love. I mean, kind of joking around with a crowd saying a lot of things off script, getting into it, very friendly. I think that's really who he is. And, you know, we all as a chief executive of my state, we do these speeches, but what really people remember are kind of how you humanize it and how you bring it down to the human level. And I think people got to see a little bit about Joe Biden as a human being today.

PHILLIP: When you hear Republicans saying it was overly partisan, they said he was shouting. What's your response to that?

POLIS: Well, I mean, there were some shouts and interruptions, you know, there's always going to be people that are that are in polite. I think the President's tone was one of unity for the country. And that's what we need right now. As Republicans, Democrats, unaffiliated, we really need to pull together and rise to the big challenge and say, let's secure the border, let's reduce health care costs. Let's make sure that people can afford to live in this great country that we have, let's improve public safety. These are not partisan issues. And I think the President is really calling on Republicans to join them on being a real problem solver around these issues.

So on the economy, which is another huge issue for so many Americans, President Biden, he basically touted a really strong American economy. He says it's bounced back. But is that the right message for what your people you're -- the people in your state are experiencing? So many Americans are still going to the grocery store and are looking at the bill and saying this is way too much money?

POLIS: Well, the economy is strong unemployment is record lows, including in our home state of Colorado, of course, people are concerned about prices. And I think the President really tackled that head on talking about some of the steps they're taking to help relieve some of that pressure from people they ruled out some policies even in the last week or two. So well, again, I think we can appreciate a strong stock market, low unemployment, the concerns around inflation, which has come down under President Biden costs, which will I think, continue to come down under President Biden in stark contrast to his predecessor, who put costly tariffs in place that jacked up prices even more, and he's -- the former presidents doubled down on that. So, I really worry about what will happen to the American consumer if President Biden doesn't win reelection.

PHILLIP: So you've also faced some protests over the Israel-Hamas war. You heard President Biden tonight call for an immediate ceasefire for at least six weeks. Is that enough to address the concerns of the voters who have been expressing themselves in this primary process, many of them voting uncommitted in Michigan, including in Colorado, to send a message to President Biden. Did President Biden do enough to address that?

POLIS: Well, I heard him strongly condemn the terrorist organization, Hamas. Of course, if the hostages were released, there'd be a ceasefire and any ceasefire that President Biden and Vice President Harris have called for -- calls for Hamas to release the hostages. I mean, Hamas obviously attack brutally killed over 1,000 people. There's still about 130 people being held hostage, probably underground, terrible conditions. And I was glad to hear the President reiterated his commitment to make sure that they're freed and reunited with their families.

PHILLIP: All right, Governor Jared Polis thanks so much for well, it's not so late where you are but staying up late for us here on the East Coast. Thank you so much.

POLIS: Always a pleasure.


PHILLIP: And up next, we will take you inside that chamber with one Congresswoman who somehow year after year snags that coveted IOC going all the way back to the 1990s. She'll be right here.


PHILLIP: All that fanfare when the President walks into the House chamber is part of a long tradition of State of the Union addresses and there's another tradition going strong for the last 20 years, one that you may not have noticed, and that is Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

COLLINS: It's basically become an unspoken rule that the Texas Democrats snags this coveted aisle seat every year for her exclusive interaction, as the President walks down the aisle. This year was no different. She got this selfie with President Biden and tweeted it for all of us to see writing, hey, there, POTUS. And Congresswoman joins us now. It's great to have you.

And I want to talk about your speech and your seat. But I also want to talk about you're wearing all white tonight. And if you watched in the audience tonight, you noticed that there was an unmistakable group that was wearing it for reproductive rights, something that President Biden addressed pretty early on talking about IVF and what's happened in Alabama. What did you make of his message tonight on that issue?


REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Enormously strong. There are many connections to reproductive rights to Texas and I'm a Texas girl. The case for Roe v. Wade came out of Texas. The horrific anti-abortion law came out of Texas. And so for the President to speak to not only my constituents but the nation by saying if he's reelected, Roe v. Wade, will be reinstated. That's an enormous and powerful gift to women in America who are struggling against the potpourri of horrific state laws and the most heinous one in Alabama, that stopped building a family, stopped fertility ability, the right to access fertility, how outrageous the president in a rousing commitment tonight.

And the women who were there, my colleagues, we wore white to say, we're not going backwards, we're going forward. And we're going to stand for women's rights seriously. We're going to stand for reproductive rights. And we're going to write laws ourselves that are going to punish different states for laws that will punish providers in women. And many of us had guests that were in fact, either victims or women who had to move their embryos from one state to the next.

And one in particular was a constituent of mine. That was the guest of our whip. And she came from Texas and had to do the same thing to save her family.

PHILLIP: There were some 30 members brought guests who had to deal with reproductive rights. I should also say I didn't get the white memo, which is fabulous, stands here.

COLLINS: She just looks great in white.


LEE: Kaitlan made its point. Yes.

PHILLIP: But I do want to ask you, I mean, on this idea of reinstating Roe, is that realistic, given how closely divided this Congress has been, given how even an inch on reproductive rights in the Congress has been so difficult?

LEE: I think you saw a reinvigorated president tonight. And obviously, he's counting on keeping the Senate. We only five seats away from making Hakeem Jeffries, the Speaker of the House. We think we can do it. And one of the basis of that is the journey that Republicans have tried, or are determined to take, which is every moment they can take a right away from a health professional, a nurse, a doctor, or a woman or a family, a man or a woman who want to build a family.

They think, oh, he believes and we believe it, too, that we're building sort of an army of opposition that will want to vote for him as president of the United States, who want to give us the Senate or keep the Senate and then to have the House. With that in mind, we do have legislation that reinstates Roe. So we're not trying -- he's not trying to say that we're going to get it this year, unfortunately, I wish it would, because women are suffering, families are not being protected.

But he's saying that if you elect me as President, I am so committed, I'm so outraged by what has happened, that we will use that as our number one or one of our number one agenda items. I truly believe him, and it needs to be reinstated. I feel the pain of women who are hurt. But more importantly, we trained doctors to give medical care. But now we're training doctors to be incarcerated, to be jailed, to be punished. I think that is not the America we all know and love.

COLLINS: And he chose his words very carefully on that about having the majority. Can we talk about your seat because we were watching, you know, Maxwell Frost I think had one of the worst seats. He's obviously new to Congress and posted his seat laid at the back of the room. You have this coveted aisle seat, and we saw you President Bush all the way to here with President Biden. How do you get the seat, one? And why is it so important to you?

LEE: Well, you know, now it has become almost accepted that that's where I will go. In the early on, I really got trained by senior members. But that was a long time ago. And what motivated me to keep doing it is that I would get extra work done by being able to talk to the President on, I remember talking to President Bush about federally qualified health clinics. I've talked to some presidents about criminal justice reform. With respect to President Biden, we've been working for a long time on what many of you have heard and seen as H.R. 40 was commissioned to study slavery and develop reparation proposals, which I view as just knowing the history of America.

So there are many opportunities, immigration reform, which is one of the things I spoke about, because I'm from Texas, and served on the Immigration Subcommittee.

PHILLIP: That was the topic tonight?

LEE: Yes. Since coming to the United States Congress, served as the ranking member, serves as the ranking member of the Border Security Committee. So it gives you an opportunity to get that one little sentence in, that the President remembers. And he turns your staff and says, call her about this. I love it. Because you take a long time to get a phone call with the President, a long time to get a meeting.

You may get it or long time to get with his staff for it to come back. And this President is very personable, very welcoming and very eager and takes what you say and turns to a stamp person. I expect to get a phone call, so we can move forward on some of these issues.


PHILLIP: Window into how Washington works, right?

LEE: That's the best way to do it. I love it.

COLLINS: Congresswoman, thank you so much.

PHILLIP: Thank you.

LEE: Thank you. The President was very strong tonight. We're going forward. We're not going backwards. And he listed all of the things that suggest that we should stay with Joe Biden for the next president of the United States.

COLLINS: Well, let us know when you get that call. We'll have you back on and talk about that.

LEE: I will. Thank you.

COLLINS: Congressman, thank you for joining us so early.

LEE: My pleasure.

COLLINS: And still ahead for the rest of you, Republican response from Katie Britt, Senator of Alabama tonight, the junior senator. Also how did Speaker Mike Johnson fare in his first State of the Union in that role? And also Biden came face to face with his heckler and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. We'll tell you what elicited that face right there.



BIDEN: Not since President Lincoln in the Civil War. Our freedom and democracy been under assault at home as there are today. What makes our moment rare is a freedom and democracy are under attack at both at home and overseas.



PHILLIP: President Biden delivering a fiery address to the nation fighting to frame his November rematch with Donald Trump as a battle for the future of American democracy. All the while weathering a flurry of pretty boisterous Republican exchanges and interruptions, right in the middle of a crucial speech to reignite enthusiasm for a second term. The question now though is, wasn't enough?

Joining me now to talk about this is senior -- CNN senior political analyst and senior editor for The Atlantic, Ron Brownstein. Ron?


PHILLIP: Because you are so senior, I'm going to go straight to your great analysis. You have a headline in the piece tonight that says, can Biden begin a reset tonight? Do you think he did that?

BROWNSTEIN: I don't think he did as much resetting as many people in the party might have liked. I think what he did was show that he had a lot of vigor and energy to deliver a case against Trump. But I think it is pretty much the case that he has been delivering. And I, you know, I mean, three big elements Trump's a threat to democracy, Trump's a threat to your rights, particularly on abortion.

And I'm on your side, and he's on the side of the rich and powerful. You know, he did not do some things that he might have done tonight, like talk more directly, as you are noting to the governor, to Americans who feel squeezed in the economy, despite all the good news that he legitimately highlighted, you know, things -- the basic necessities of life do cost more on groceries and rent and others than when he took office.

And there are a lot of people who feel unhappy about it. He didn't really reposition himself on Netanyahu. He did on immigration. But I think overall, this was a speech of a man and a campaign that believes that they are on a trajectory to win based on the contrast they are drawing and the vulnerabilities Trump presents. And that really is the question, you know, are other Democrats as confident as they are that they basically have the right formula and just need to drive home the message.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, that is the big bet that they're making. I mean, Biden didn't say the word Trump, but he said my predecessor 13 times.


PHILLIP: It seems like they made a decision pretty early on just the way that the speech started. They decided this was going to be about showing fight. It was going to be about engaging in the confrontation more than it was going to be about trying to, you know, make this case about uniting the country. Do you think that was the right call?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think was the right call in the sense of alleviating concerns about whether he was up to the task of being the nominee. But, you know, I think there is a limit to how far their case against Trump can take them. There's no question. We saw in 2022 an unprecedentedly large number of voters who said they disapproved of Biden, and we're down on the economy still voted for Democrats, because they viewed the Republican and accept -- alternative as unacceptable.

There's clearly a pool of people who will say, I'm not satisfied with the way things are going, I'm not satisfied with Biden, but I'll vote for him anyway, because Trump is such a threat to what I believe. But adding, it is not an infinite pool of people, right? I mean, you know, he is already running higher in the head to head -- further ahead of his approval rating than we've ever seen a president do and it is not enough in most of these polls.

You know, Biden ultimately has to raise his own standing. I mean, his approval rating now is at a level where incumbent presidents who've been at this level have all lost. And so I think he -- I thought he made some progress tonight and kind of giving people a better idea of what a second term would be. But ultimately, while I think the case against Trump is his major, you know, asset, he is going to have to improve his own standing for that outcome decisive.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, in terms of President Biden's standing with voters in the middle of the electorate, who are ultimately going to decide this thing, do you get the sense that anything that he said tonight, is going to change where he stands with those voters who have actually those are the ones who have receded so far, he's got to get them back. Has he changed his standing with them?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think the biggest calculated risk was basically sticking to such a positive vision of the economy. We are the envy of the world. And anyways we are, the job growth is incredible. He pointed out the investment boom that the big three bills he passed in his first three years, two years have provoked a trigger. But, you know, there are a lot of people who are feeling the color is pretty tight from the cumulative increase in inflation since he took office. And he really did not show a lot of empathy or awareness of the concerns that they are going through.

And I think that is still a huge cloud for him over all the other positive developments in the economy that he can point to. He chose not to address that tonight in this kind of broader sense of not really reframing or repositioning very much. I suspect that if the polls stay where they are today, in two months, we may hear a different tone on some of those issues.


PHILLIP: You know, I'm also concerned about the size of the bag of chips that I ate earlier today, but I'm not sure that's quite enough to address the economic concerns of Americans. Ron Brownstein, thank you very much. Good to see you tonight.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me.

COLLINS: No, sure enclosure there. And our panel is back with us. And let's talk about the other person who was in that room tonight, Speaker Mike Johnson. And one thing that we noted earlier, President Biden has delivered three addresses to Congress. This is the third House speaker who's been behind him, because first it was Nancy Pelosi. Last year was Kevin McCarthy. And tonight, there was Speaker Mike Johnson over his left shoulder.

And, you know, he was someone who urged his conference to tab to quorum earlier in the room. You know, we watched his face and his expressions, I think he only stood one time. What did you make of how the new speaker handled this?

STEWART: Look, I mean, that's a difficult seat to be sitting in, when all eyes, the eyes of the world are on the President. And I think he did a good job. I think I might have seen one or two times when he clapped and realize, oh, I should not be clapping and put his hands down. But I think he is a man of great character and integrity.

And really, I think it was wise of him to encourage his Republican colleagues to show respect and show decorum for the venue that they're in. Unfortunately, not everyone followed that. But I think he understands the respect that that speech deserves. And I think he did a good job doing it.

FINNEY: But I think he also understood though, that given how dysfunctional Congress had been, you did not want to put that on the air tonight. Marjorie Taylor Greene gave it a little bit but it was actually for her that was actually pretty contained right to say.

PHILLIP: There was one moment where President Biden was talking about Selma and Mike Johnson kind of had to decide whether he was going to stand up or not. I was like, OK, all right.

COLLINS: And they did stand up.

PHILLIP: He did eventually stand up for John Lewis. But there was a moment there, he wasn't so sure, on Marjorie Taylor Greene. I mean, first of all, you know, he she could have listened to Mike Johnson and kept it civil. But then it almost seemed like she handed President Biden a pretty key moment tonight. Do you think he handled that the right way notwithstanding that he's kind of gotten some criticism from his base about using the word illegals. But how did he handle that? That was a pretty key moment there.

KANNO-YOUNGS: The big question for me going into the State of the Union was will House Republicans once again, go with the heckling after it delivered, what many would say was the highlight for the White House and President Biden last year? And the answer was, yes. They went with it again.

I -- in terms of your question, I know that President Biden handled it in the way the White House wanted him to. They will -- they had an intention to go in and engage with any Republicans at this point. That has when I talked to Democrats been one of the -- their defenses and one of the examples they point to when there are concerns about his age and what have you. So it definitely was what the White House intended to do.

RIGUEUR: So I actually think that the Republican Party doesn't just have a Donald Trump problem. I think they have a Marjorie Taylor Greene problem. There's this clip that is now floating around. It's from when Joe Biden is walking into the State of the Union. It's the moment where Marjorie Taylor Greene hands him the button.

But what everybody is focusing on is how she is dressed head to toe in this kind of MAGA reelect Trump, all of -- most of her colleagues, you know, follow the decorum rule. There are several points where she was heckling, the President of the United States, and they asked her to shush. And I think part of what the White House is really leaping at right now, is that in the midst of this moment, where people are saying, you know, does Joe Biden have energy? Does, you know, does Joe Biden age appropriate, what have you?

He is showing a contrast with somebody like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who frankly looks insane. And it's such a startling contrast, particularly because it's a reminder of what Americans don't want to go back to, right, this idea of going back to that kind of, you know, that kind of landscape that kind of, you know, partisanship. No, I'm not interested in that. So I think, you know, the Republican Party has to figure out -- the Republican Party needs to figure out how they're going to handle this.

PHILLIP: She doesn't really do herself a whole lot of favors. I mean, maybe this work -- maybe this is a fundraising thing, and it works but she's --

COLLINS: What caused him to say her name, he messed it up, but he did say her name and otherwise he may not have said it.

STEWART: So that Congressman from Georgia, this case, she's talking about rip the heart out of many people in Georgia, so I commend her for calling attention to it.

FINNEY: At the same time, that's click bait for her. That's why and it's ironic that they're saying Biden was too political while she sat in the chamber with her political gear on but OK.


COLLINS: Yes, I think we have moved past that point.


COLLINS: Thank you all for staying up late with us to break this down, A very important speech from President Biden.

Before we go, as we have noted tonight, House Democratic women, as you saw, dressed in all white for President Biden's speech, a unified show of support for not just IVF, but also abortion rights. As you know, tomorrow, four Democratic women will join me to talk about reproductive rights in America sharing their emotional personal stories, sending a warning to women about a second Trump administration tomorrow at 9 o'clock Eastern on The Source.

PHILLIP: And thank you for joining us. CNN's coverage of President Biden State of the Union address continues right now. Have a good night.