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State of the Race: New Biden Ad Slams Trump's Economic Vision Ahead of Debate; Surgeon General Declares Firearm Violence A Public Health Crisis; Arizona Community Dealing with Influx Of Migrants. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired June 25, 2024 - 15:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Welcome to STATE OF THE RACE on CNN. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington.

Every day this week, we're diving into the stakes of Thursday's face off between Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, the first presidential debate of 2024, and it is, of course, hosted by CNN.

Today, Biden remains locked in for debate prep at Camp David, but the campaign is previewing its message on a key issue to for voters, launching a new ad on the economy, big issue this cycle.

Have a listen.


AD NARRATOR: Donald Trump loves to attack Joe Biden.


AD NARRATOR: Because he's focused on revenge and he has no plan to help the middle class. He'd just give more tax cuts to the wealthy.

Joe Biden is working every day to make your life more affordable. Donald Trump is only out for himself. Joe Biden is fighting for your family.


SCIUTTO: So for some insight into that play, plus new details about what debate prep looks like behind the scenes, senior White House correspondent MJ Lee joins me now.

And I want to get to the economic issue because its so key in this cycle, it's key for Biden, by the way, its an issue that he is behind with Trump on actually every poll you see.

But first two days away, how is the president practicing today?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know were in the final stretch, Jim, because I am told that mock debates have actually begun at Camp David starting yesterday. This is the president literally standing behind a podium and going up against whoever is playing Donald Trump. I'm also told that there different aides playing Jake Tapper, Dana Bash standing in as the moderators.

I mean, this is the portion of the debate prep where they're trying to give the president a real feel for how those 90 minutes will go. We know that Bob Bauer, the president's attorney, has played the role of Trump before. He's likely to do that, and he's had this interesting way of describing that an art of giving him the experience of going up against Donald Trump. But you don't want sort of the theatrical to be too distracting.

So if you're doing voices or you're sort of imitating Donald Trump too much, then you're not, you're sort of getting to swept up in the theatrical and that's not the point of that --

SCIUTTO: Yeah, I mean, its not an SNL skit, right?

LEE: Exactly.

SCIUTTO: But I imagine interruption has to be a key part of the preparation, does it not? Because that's -- that's a key fact facet of the way he -- he debates, Trump debates.

LEE: Well, it has to be because he's done that once before, right? We all remember the first presidential debate back in 2020 between the two presidents. And we saw just how chaotic that scene was -- the interruptions, the name-calling, the insults.

We are told, though, that the Biden team thinks it's a very real possibility that the chaos and sort of the unhinged side of Donald Trump that we saw again in that first debate back in 2020, it's more likely that he is going to be dialing that back. So I do think this is a scenario where they're going into this, preparing for different current versions of Donald Trump to show up. They just don't know what Trump.

SCIUTTO: Right. Which, listen, you probably should, right, based on experience.

LEE: Yeah.

SCIUTTO: Okay. So let's talk about the economic message. We have a taste of it in that ad there. But he's got a lot of work to do on that issue.

LEE: He does. I think its not a surprise if you look at three issues at the Biden campaign has been highlighting before the debate, one is reproductive rights, two is democracy. The third is the economy. And I think that is obvious and sort of speaks for itself.

We know it is a top issue for voters. That ad that you just played I think is a good preview of how the president is likely to talk about this. It's one to say that Donald Trump is not good -- good for the middle-class. And two, here are some of the things that I have done to help the middle class, whether it's, you know, lowering the cost of insulin, lowering health care costs.

I think the issue for President Biden and I'm not saying anything but the campaign doesn't realize is that he might be able to say these are all of my accomplishments, but that's not reflected in the sentiment that we are seeing in polling over and over again.


LEE: And I do think he's shown a bit of a tendency to be defensive when he is told that something he has been doing is not working. I think keeping that in check is going to be important, too.

SCIUTTO: No question. I've heard that as well.

MJ Lee, thanks so much.

LEE: Thanks.

SCIUTTO: So lets bring in our expert political panel for more -- Laura Barron-Lopez of "PBS NewsHour", Ron Brownstein of "The Atlantic".

Good to have you both on.

Ron, you've covered a lot of debate in your time. Democrats, they are urging Biden to focus on attacking Trump rather than defending his policy record, which is interesting.

I wonder, first, Ron, to you, if you think that's the right strategy here?


RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the history is that not all presidential debates have mattered much, but when they have mattered, Jim, it's more because they reveal something to the electorate about the personal qualities and capacity of the candidates, than because one side or the other decisively wins a policy argument. I -- it's hard to go back for presidential debates that really turned on one side, convincing voters that a better plan on taxes or immigration, the moments that last are ones that seemed to say something about the character and the competence of the candidates.

And that seems to me especially likely in this campaign where you've got one candidate in Trump whose character and the questions among voters about whether they can really trust him with the presidency is his biggest hurdle. And Biden along with inflation, his other biggest hurdle is concerns about his competence and whether he's too old, he could do the job now, much less for another four years.

So I think like kind of what how they perform, maybe as important as what they say in a particular for Biden trying to tamp down some of those concerns in the electorate that whether he has the capacity has got more important than anything else on the stage. SCIUTTO: Yeah. To your point with Frank Luntz on yesterday,

Republican pollster, he was making exactly the point you did, rarely is it a policy thing. It is about -- well, how the how the candidate comes across to folks watching that debate.

Laura, I do want to play a part of Trump's rally over the weekend and Philadelphia, which could be a preview of an argument he'll make on Thursday. Have a listen, and I want to get your thoughts.


TRUMP: Now under crooked Joe Biden, the worst president of the history of our country, the world is in flames, our border is overrun, in inflation is raging, crime is out of control. Europe is in chaos. The Middle East is exploding around. Iran is emboldened. China is on the march.

And this horrible, horrible president is dragging us toward World War Three. We're going to be in World War III soon.


SCIUTTO: We can fact check that, Laura Barron-Lopez, but there is. And this shows up in the polling a sense that many voters believed that. They believe that the world is a mess right now. And listen, if you're the president, you -- you've got to take responsibility for that. So how does Biden respond to that argument, that framing?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the president is going to say that he's trying to avoid exactly that, he's trying to avoid this massive regional conflict in the Middle East that he's doing his best in that arena.

And then the other thing is that he's going to also, you know, to the question you asked Ron, he will probably be talking about his record a bit and talking about what he did to get the country out of the pandemic. And despite the fact that Donald Trump through a few lies into that clip that you just played, President Biden will be essentially probably fact-checking Donald Trump a bit, saying, look, crime is not up, crime is down. Migrants are not causing some massive crime wave. It's actually American citizens that are more responsible for violent crime than migrants are, despite the fact that I'm sure that a former president Trump will try to make this point that migrant are responsible for some big crime wave across the country, which isn't true.

But again, I think, ultimately, voters will walk away with this probably less -- less digesting the policies of the two candidates and more just getting a feel for the two candidates again, and their temperaments. And last go around when this happened, I went back and looked through the piece that I wrote after the first presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump in 2020, and the big takeaways from voters were exactly about what Ron was saying, their character, their temperament.

People were describing Donald Trump as a bully and is unhinged, and they were describing Joe Biden not necessarily super favorably, but saying that he was a nice guy that lack vision and saying that he was coherent enough.

SCIUTTO: Ron, you spoke to a Democratic strategist on this very point who said the most effective way for Biden to get on offense on the economy is to show them by fighting Trump, that projects a vibe of strength.

You know, it's interesting because I -- I've heard exactly the opposite advice from some Democratic strategists to say, you know, that in effect, Biden has to be the adult in the room and let Trump go off the rails if that's what he does. But you're saying some Democrats are saying he's got to like push back to show strength, which as you and I know is one of those issues that has been dogging him.

BROWNSTEIN: Biden has to show strength in this debate, and Biden has to show voters that he is capable of, you know, executing the job of president for the next four years.

I think that is more important for him and anything he has for Donald Trump in this debate.


I think the range of outcomes for Biden in this debate is wider. I mean, I think it goes well, it could do a lot to dispel those concerns he's facing. We've got 75 to 80 percent of Americans saying they're worried that he's too old to do the job for four years.

If it goes badly, I think, you know, Democrats are going to be very nervous.

You know, Donald Trump, that litany that you went through is a reminder that his situation is not as difficult as it is for challengers, often. You know, when you have majority disapproval of the president, as we've had for many months for Biden, the burden on the challenger to convince Americans to fire the incumbent isn't as great. The job of the challenger at that point is to convince them that he is an acceptable alternative to voters who already inclined to fire the incumbent in that way, Trump situation is more like Reagans in 1980 or Bill Clintons in '92 when you add a majority who disapproving of the current president.

The difference is, that Trump comes with a lot more fully formed impressions and baggage --


BROWNSTEIN: -- neither Reagan or Clinton did.

So I think Biden's biggest job is to rebut the idea that he's too old to do this. But I think his second biggest job is to remind voters of everything else. They didn't like about the Trump presidency, other than the fact that eggs were cheaper than and gas was cheaper than, than it is now, which is fueling this retrospective improvement in Trump's approval rating point where its higher than it wasn't any point during his actual presidency.

SCIUTTO: Before we go, Laura, some good news for Biden and the polling Fox News poll asked voters who they trust more on the issue, Trump or Biden, Trump still up by five points, but that's way down from the margin that we saw earlier this year I wonder how significant is that because if he's narrowing the gap on the economic issue, which is a real driving issue this cycle, he must be given his team some hope.

BARRON-LOPEZ: It is giving them some hope, but, of course, they are -- they say that they know that they have a lot of work to do. I mean, in those polls, even though Biden is starting to move in the direction that his campaign wants him to, he still isn't doing as well with some black voters and Hispanic voters. And Trump is doing better when those polls than he did in 2020.

And so that's the gap that President Biden has to close because even though he's having steady numbers with college-educated white voters, with older voters. He needs to gain back some of those non-white minority voters and where they're upset with him, Jim, is on the economy.

SCIUTTO: Ron Brownstein, Lauran Barron-Lopez, we'll be talking about this a lot this week, thanks so much for joining.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having us.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: All right. So let's dive deeper specifically into the economy issue, the candidates' policy record, messaging, et cetera. Catherine Rampell is with us now. She's CNN economics and political commentator, and, of course, an opinion columnist for "The Washington Post".

Good to have you on. So --


SCIUTTO: So, I want to start with a very basic question here, because this is one, you know, we've kind of struggled with for months really is that the headline issues on the economy stock market at a record joblessness, fantastic for years, inflation trending downward. Those still high, but loads of jobs created et cetera are good and even gas prices are not jumping like a lot of Democrats certainly were fearing at this point.

But there's clearly a different experience of this economy for many Americans. Tell us what that different experience is and do those headline numbers or do they -- are they in contrast to how a big portion of the population is actually experiencing the economic situation or is it purely an impressions issue?

RAMPELL: It is absolutely true that the economy on paper looks very different from how Americans feel about the economy. You mentioned the unemployment rate. It's near 50 year lows. The pace of economic growth, GDP growth in the United States is exceeding even the projections made before the pandemic hit.

Beyond that, you know, we are sort of the envy of the world. We are, you know, growing much faster than basically the rest of our -- of our peers, the industrialized world, you mentioned the stock market -- the stock market on all of those traditional metrics were doing very well. Even on inflation than numbers are cooling.

Now, the question is, why do Americans feel so bummed out? And I don't think that they're making it up. And I think it's unhelpful to say, oh you know, Americans are just feeling things wrong. Your feelings are wrong.

SCIUTTO: Right, right.

RAMPELL: I think basically what's happened is even though inflation is cooling, we saw a lot of price growth obviously in 2022, in 2023, there is this perception among many consumers that at some point prices will go down, which basically never happens.


But people are still feeling that sticker shock every time they go to the grocery store.


RAMPELL: And so even though grocery prices for example, have been basically flat relative to a year ago, they're up a lot relative to a few years ago.


RAMPELL: I think it's going to take time for people to adjust to that new reality and unfortunately for Biden, there's not a lot he can do about it.

SCIUTTO: Yeah, it's a great point because if prices go up to here, right, and even if they're no longer doing this, if there's still here that's more than what folks are paying here. It's a great point but I think its often forget.

Okay. Biden is going to go after Trump on inflation. He does so every day. I'm certain he will in this debate. Tell us though, what promises Trump is making about his economic policy and the second term would do to inflation, including not just extending his 2017 tax cuts, but expanding them?

RAMPELL: Yes. There are a whole bunch of things on Trumps economic agenda that if they were executed, they would greatly worse than inflation. So they include politicizing the Federal Reserve, which needs to remain politically independent in order to credibly commit the stable prices. They include deliberately devaluing the dollar. There has been

reporting suggesting that Trump's aides want to do that for, misguided trade purposes. But this literally means making the dollar purchase less stuff that is more inflation.

They include deporting potentially millions of immigrants. That major shock to the job market would not only -- to the labor force, rather, would not only cause prices to rise, but might also cause a recession.

And then you have other things like his anticipated trade wars that if, in fact, he raised tariffs globally by 10 percent and on China by six 60 percent, hundred percent, you changes his mind every day. That would actually lead to much higher costs for consumers.

So I think there is this widespread perception amongst voters that, hey, look, the economy was really good under Trump before. Why should we believe these catastrophizing claims about what it would look like in the future under Trump?

And I think you have to actually look at what he would do and how few aides would be around to restrain him that the way that they did in his prior term as president. So, a lot of these things would have very negative consequences for inflation, for the domestic economy and for the global economy.

SCIUTTO: Immigration is one of those issues, right? Because Trump has said that he would -- well, not just close the border, but also deport millions of immigrants. Tell us what the economic impact of that would be.

RAMPELL: It would be massive. It would lead to, as I mentioned, potentially much higher goods prices, services prices, you know, that the people -- the immigrants have jobs, right? If you suddenly deport a large part of the agricultural workforce who are here, some of whom are here legally and some of whom are here illegally -- and employers sort of turned a blind eye -- that's going to lead to much higher vegetable prices.


RAMPELL: Fruit prices here in the United States.

So, you'll have, you know, much higher prices and potentially the sudden shock to the economy could also lead to a general recession.

You know, none of these things are endorsed by economists for good reason. It's not because nobody's had the creative insight to propose them before. It's that other countries have tried them. Other countries have tried jacking up tariffs, you know, mass purges of the labor force, et cetera, and they have had bad outcomes.

SCIUTTO: Yeah. No question.

Catherine Rampell, thanks so much.

RAMPELL: Thank you. SCIUTTO: A reminder, we're now just two days away from the first

presidential debate of the year hosted here on CNN. Don't miss President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump, head-to-head, Thursday, at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

And ahead, what it is like mentally preparing for debate, former Republican candidate for president and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchison joins me later this hour.

First though, how third party candidates from RFK Jr. to Cornell West and more could play spoiler in November.



SCIUTTO: Welcome back.

While no third-party candidates will be on the debate stage this Thursday, they may prove pivotal in deciding the election, particularly in close state racist. Political deja vu of Trump and Biden running against each other has left many voters considering alternative options. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has reached double digits and three national polls, while others including Cornell West, are now getting on the ballot and key swing states.

Here to look at how and why these candidates are making gains in this year's elections is Margie Omero. She is a Democratic pollster with GBAO and leads a monthly focus group for "The New York Times" opinion.

Good to have you on, Margie.


SCIUTTO: So your most recent focus group published today, that focuses specifically at RFK, Jr. voters. He's now on the ballot in eight states. Campaign has submitted signatures needed for 11 more collected enough signatures for ballot access in six more states beyond that.

Can you tell us what is the biggest factor driving voters to support him?

OMERO: Well, it's interesting and we publish that the transcripts from the focus group is published in "The New York Times" opinion page, so folks can take a look and what was interesting and this really just happened was we recruited people who said they were RFK voters or RFK curious. They were open to voting for him.

And you saw a wide range of the different ways and pathways they find themselves as an RFK voter. Some of them were enthusiasts, people who knew his backgrounds, supported him on the issues. There's a since that he is fighting against corporations and that sort of thing.

There were folks who just really were sick of politics as usual and had a sense that they wanted something new beyond what the two parties could offer. Then they had folks who were, you know, maybe single issue on something and looking for something new and you could expect they didn't really know much about RFK specifically.

And as the group we're on, you saw some people who said, wait a second, I didn't know that RFK Jr. had some of these positions, people who are just learning about and really for the first time, despite saying that they were open to them, and then you have folks who were like, he's my guy. I'm with him all the way.

So this is true really, with any -- we've been country with lots of voters and people find their way to a candidate or a political party through all kinds of different pads and back again into the center and undecided. I mean, people have journeys throughout their political journeys, throughout their life.

So I don't think there's one type of RFK Jr. voter, but I would say if you look at the net national polls, despite the movements he's making in some states his support and polling has dropped from where it was several months.


SCIUTTO: Yeah, I've been watching that.

Let me ask you a basic question. I'm not sure necessarily comes across in these focus groups, but is it clear to you who those voters draw more from? Do they steal more from the Trump bucket or the Biden bucket?

OMERO: I don't think it's clear yet, in part because, you know, there are voters who are learning about him still. And I think the contour of his support will change as people begin to learn more about him. He obviously has support from a lot of Trump supporters. He has a lot of Trump donors who are supporting his campaign. There has been focusing his campaign who've been out saying, you know, that they are seeking to help -- to help Trump.

So I think there are some ties to the Trump campaign from his campaign. That said, I think in terms of his voters, there are voters who, you know, lean Republican, there are voters who lean Democrat. There are voters who have been pure undecided for a long time and pure independence for a long time.

So I don't think there's one specific type are one way to answer that question right now, because I think that itself is evolving.

SCIUTTO: What can, if anything, Trump or Biden to learn from listening to what you're hearing from these third party voters, and do you have a sense that there's something they could do to win some of them, perhaps not all of them, but some of them back?

I think there are -- there are issues that some of the RFK voters talked about that I think are important lessons for anybody running for office. And that's, you know, standing up to special interests that, you know, to the extent people see that as part of what RFK, Jr. talks about. I think that's something that President Biden certainly has talked about in terms of making sure wealthy incorporations are paying their fair share. It's not something that President Trump, former President Trump has supported by contrast, his Trump tax cuts actually are big giveaways to the wealthy and corporations.

So I think that's something that can be discussed but some of the other things in terms of, you know, what RFK Jr. has said about January 6 or about school shootings, I don't think that that's something -- that those are lessons for candidates --


OMERO: -- that candidates should look to. I don't think we should be, you know, sort of denying the January 6 was an insurrection. I don't think that's a good lesson, or saying the school shooting is due to people being -- you know, taking antidepressants. I don't think those are lessons that any candidate really should take from RFK, Jr.

SCIUTTO: Yes, certainly, some of those positions out there -- far out there.

Margie Omero, good to have you on.

OMERO: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Coming up, likening gun violence to smoking and traffic safety, the multi-pronged approach the U.S. surgeon general is now recommending for preventing firearm deaths, which he is now describing as a public health crisis.



SCIUTTO: The U.S. surgeon general is issuing a new warning about gun violence in America, declaring it is now an urgent public health crisis and significantly impacts children. This new advisory is the first time that a publication from the surgeon general's office has focused specifically on gun violence.

CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard has more.

Jacqueline, so it's an important public notice here, certainly sounds the alarm but now that the adviser has been issued, what follows? What happens next?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Right. Well, like you said, it does sound the alarm, so this is a publication that lawmakers can point to. And in this advisory, the surgeon general does recommend some strategies for addressing gun violence. In the report, it says communities can take action like training some community members on how to de-escalate violence or hosting educational events on how to safely store guns or investing in mental health resources, investing in research.

So the surgeon general's office is probably hoping that what we'll see next is some actions on these strategies. And also, Jim, it's so important to mention the surgeon general himself, Dr. Vivek Murthy, he said, just this morning that as a parent, he's especially concerned about this crisis. Here's why:


DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: We have now reached the point where gun violence is the leading cause of death among kids and teens, the leading cause of death. That is something that we should never take as the new normal.


HOWARD: So, Jim, gun violence has surpassed motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death in children ages one to 19. And I know we both talked about how that's concerning you as a parent, you -- it's concerning.

And we also know, Jim, that this is impacting so many Americans, among adults. More than half, 54 percent, say they or a family member have experienced a firearm -- firearm, excuse me, related incident.


HOWARD: So this is impacting more and more of us as time goes by, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Those numbers are just amazing there, more than 54 percent, they or a family member. He makes the connection the surgeon general, between gun violence and mental health. I mean, I can certainly relate it enters my minds eye. I know my kids are aware of a two and they do these drills in school and that you understand the need for it, but it also creates stress.

So what -- what did he say specifically about mental health impacts?

HOWARD: Yeah, I think that's so important, Jim, because obviously we all know the impact on physical health, the wounds, injuries, and lives lost but in this advisory, the surgeon general does also point out an impact on mental health. It's even known that nearly six in ten adults say they worry about a loved one being a victim from gun violence, six in ten. So this just shows again the impact.

This is having mean on public health, not just from a physical aspect, but when we think about our mental health as well.

SCIUTTO: No question. Jacqueline Howard, thanks so much.

Coming up next, while politics play out here in Washington, we're going to show you a Native American community that straddles the U.S.- Mexico border and is now bearing the brunt of illegal immigration.


[15:38:50] SCIUTTO: Ahead of Thursday's CNN presidential debate, one issue stands out as a key concern for many voters, and that is immigration. In a major policy move, President Joe Biden this month announced an asylum ban to reduce crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border, and the speed at the remove -- the removal of undocumented migrants already in this country.

But for a Native American community right on the border, patience is wearing thin and concerns about rising crime grow by the day.

CNN's David Culver reports.


CHAIRMAN VERLON JOSE, TOHONO O'ODHAM NATION: Here, of a mile, you're going to start to see a lot of debris, a lot of trash.


JOSE: Just the migrants. The migrants because their -- they just leave all that. I see clothes, I see trash.

CULVER (voice-over): The Tohono O'Odham Nation's sacred land is bearing the brunt of migration.

JOSE: Your heart feels for the migrants and so forth like that, but then other part says, look at the destruction that they're causing us. Look at the trash that they're leaving -- what that jargon --

CULVER: About 30 miles west of Tucson, Arizona, the reservation essentially straddles the U.S. southern border, which is marked by a simple cattle fence.

JOSE: This is a semi-go gate, traditional crossing.


CULVER: The tribe's chairman, Verlon Jose, says a border wall here would ruin their traditional land.

JOSE: This is where the Creator had put us.

CULVER: You don't see a boundary.

JOSE: And we don't see a boundary.

CULVER: But migrants do. And so do cartels, which used the Tohono O'odham's land as a profitable crossing ground.

JOSE: There's an area right up here where they just turn around, drop them out of town (ph), just go across there.

CULVER: We see that for ourselves.

Oh, look, crossing, write your company this right there. Go ahead. (SPEAKING SPANISH)

CULVER: To request asylum. They're from Mexico.

Dropped off with her three kids, Norma says she was told to walk towards a makeshift camp, even in the scorching desert heat. She believes where she's headed will be better than what she's left behind.

She works for a political party directly in Mexico and she says her political party lost. She said the surge in violence and danger is so much so that she and her --


CULVER: Her kids have decided to cross than to the U.S.

So, the tribe allowed to Border Patrol to set up a structure for the folks who do come over until they're processed.

Everyone we meet here, mostly families from the same country.


CULVER: Even the chairman intrigued with how they ended up in such a remote part of the border.

JOSE: Where exactly --

CULVER: I asked and that's the thing. I said, do you know where we are? She didn't even know --


CULVER: She has no idea where -- where we are right now.

Chairman Jose believes cartels are behind it.

JOSE: It's a business. It's a business that doesn't play by the rules.

CULVER: It's in part where the tribe coordinates with Customs and Border Protection, allowing them to set up substations on Tohono O'odham land, along with several towers armed with far-reaching high- definition cameras.

So they're searching from the air as well as the grounds here.

The Border Patrol often deploying to stop threats or to rescue stranded migrants.

Members of the tribe have noticed an increase in violence and crime, motivating some to turn to their Catholic faith.

Prayers for safety and security echoed more than 1,000 miles south of tribal territory in the outskirts of Mexico City. (SPEAKING SPANISH)

CULVER: It's here we again meet Norma, days after we watched her and her kids cross the border good.


CULVER: It's really emotional for her the Virgin of Guadalupe and she carries this card with her and her constant prayer to the Virgin was to protect her kids more than anything else.

Forty-eight hours after crossing into the U.S., Border Patrols send Norma and her kids back to Mexico just days after the Biden administration took executive action on the border, allowing for swift deportation of most migrants after a daily cap is reached.


CULVER: And it wasn't until they were physically at the border that she realized they were going to be sent back to Mexico.

The sixth day journey cost Norma more than $8,000 and ended where it started, back in the neighborhood where she still feels the threats of political oppression.


CULVER: She says she feels okay going out right now because we're here and we're together, but she was by herself like normally she would only go out on Saturday in the middle of the day.


CULVER: She says that her recommendation for others who may want to try to cross the way that she did is don't try it.

While Norma has no plans to cross again, back on Tohono O'odham land.

JOSE: Sometimes I'll come up here by myself just going to need a little solitude.

CULVER: Chairman Jose fears without Congress coming together across party lines, migrants and drugs will continue to cross his sacred land.

JOSE: It has a major impact on us. We're not here to lay blame on who's -- who's responsible for this because I think we all do whatever it is, to protect this land, yeah. That's all I got, my blood, sweat and tears, I got nothing more.


CULVER: David Culver, CNN, Tohono O'Odham Nation.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SCIUTTO: Just after the break, former presidential candidate and former governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchison, on what could be going through the minds of President Biden, former President Trump as they prepare for Thursday's CNN debate.


SCIUTTO: Well, the debate just two days away, both candidates will be looking to learn from their previous performances here to preview the rematch former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who ran in this year's Republican presidential primary. He was one of only two vocal Trump critics in the field alongside Chris Christie.

Governor, thanks so much for taking the time.


SCIUTTO: First, a very basic question. Since you have prepared for debates before in the primaries, what's the most useful thing you did on the night or two before debate to get ready?

HUTCHINSON: To spend time with yourself. I mean, that's important. You spend time with staff, you get questions going back and forth, but you got to clear your mind. You've got to think clearly exactly what your message is. And so that to me is important in relaxing.

Both candidates Trump and Biden understand the significance of this debate.


It could be the last debate we will see. And so they're engaged, their own way and preparing for it and I think they know this is a big moment.

SCIUTTO: Let's talk about Trump for a moment. As you know, the microphones have been muted in part in response to the experience for the 2020 debate, which I know you've watched and Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden. How do you expect the former president to operate in that environment, one, that will be new to him?

HUTCHINSON: Well, first of all, how he's going to operate is very unpredictable. Joe Biden is going to have to be prepared for two different types of Trump. One would be the aggressive, mean Trump, the other one would be somebody who's trying to throw a curve ball, and appear more gracious and their presentation.

So you got to understand it could be either Trump that shows up but whenever you look at how Trump is going to present himself, one does he attacked the moderators? Is he going to go attacking Joe Biden? Is he going to try to appeal to his base or is he going to try to broaden the voting bloc into independent voters? That's what is under predictable as Joe Biden tries to get ready for who he's going to debate this week. SCIUTTO: So let's talk about Biden for a moment. You of course, as we

mentioned, as one of two Trump critics in the Republican primary for Biden, looking to not just land some meaningful punches, perhaps, but to win over some of those voters. And we saw them by the way, late in the Republican primary still voting, for instance, for Nikki Haley, Republicans who don't love Trump.

How does Biden win some of them over on Thursday night?

HUTCHINSON: First of all, by showing strength. That's the most important thing that he can do is to show that despite his age, he's ready to govern for another four years. He's tough enough to deal with Putin and the -- all the issues that he confronts. That's the most important thing, how he conveys himself.

Secondly, he's got to be able to hit Donald Trump on the convictions, not in a harsh way, but contrasting how he's handled his son, Hunter Biden, and his conviction versus how Trump has attacked the system of justice.

He can hit that head on. Those are two strategy, I think are important.

SCIUTTO: That's interesting. Yeah, no other words, to say, I accept the outcome of the -- as he did he did with his sons case. I wonder, given that I know you talked to voters frequently years in politics what are you here from voters who supported you in the primary? Are they open to voting for Biden in November?

HUTCHINSON: Well, it's mixed bag. Some business people are very pragmatic and saying we've got to have Trump's policies even though we don't like his character. Others, young people particularly are totally disgusted. I talked to one person who says, I have no interest in watching whatever Biden or Trump has to say, they have nothing to offer for me.

So, they're just disillusioned. And so, you're going to have a variety. Some are going to be discouraged, stay home. Others are going to make a tough decision as to which direction they need to go. And that's why, again, the debate presentation is critical.

SCIUTTO: Let's talk about Trump policies because the signature Trump policy from his first term was a big tax cut which the CBO estimates show added significantly to the deficit, more so than many of Biden's policies.

So I wonder when you speak to business people, I imagine they want the tax cuts, right? Who doesn't want a tax cut? But given the inflationary concerns and how inflation is such a driving issue in this election, and most economists see a tax cut is inflationary, how do they square that circle?

HUTCHINSON: Well, the issue will be two things. One is a continuation of the Trump tax cuts and so it's not a new and its a continuation of it, but it's still going to add to the deficit. We've got to address it. But then secondly Biden has to attack Trump on his ring around America philosophy of trying to raise tariffs on our friends and allies and adversaries alike. Those are issues that the business people, the independent voters, have really not focused on, but its harmful policy of Donald Trump, Joe Biden has to hit it substantively and make sense out of it to those voters because those are big, big issues that'll impact our economy and our future.

SCIUTTO: All right. You said for Biden, he's got to show strength what do you believe Trump needs to show on Thursday night.

HUTCHINSON: I think he needs to show that he can govern this country and not be engaged in retribution, not being the chaotic president that he's known for.


And -- so, Trump has to be able to show that. He's going to go after Biden. He's going to have to address the abortion issue as well. If you want to see how he's going to face that, you can look at what he said to the Faith and Freedom conference most recently hosted by Ralph Reed, where he tried to articulate his position. That's going to be something he has to address because that'll be critical in the swing states.

SCIUTTO: No question. Asa Hutchison, let's talk after the debate, see how you think it went.

HUTCHINSON: I look forward to doing that. Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: And in case you haven't been paying attention, we are just two days away from that debate hosted by CNN. Don't miss President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump head-to-head, Thursday night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Thanks so much for joining me today for STATE OF THE RACE. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington.