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State of the Race: CNN: Biden Tells Ally Coming Days Critical To Saving Reelection Bid; Trump Could Delay VP Announcement To Let Dem Drama Play Out; British Voters Poised To End 14 Years Of Conservative Rule. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired July 03, 2024 - 15:00   ET



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

Today, we begin with for President Joe Biden perhaps a make or break moment. The White House says, absolutely not. The president is absolutely not considering stepping aside even as an ally tells CNN that the president has privately acknowledged it has moves over the next several hours and days will determine whether he can salvage his reelection bid.

Furious attempt to quell some panic inside the Democratic Party since Thursday's debate involves radio interviews, calls with congressional leaders, convening governors at the White House and preparing as well for a network interview. Will it be enough?

We should note that the president himself commented on this today at a campaign stop saying the following: Let me say this as clearly as I possibly can and is simply and straightforward as I can. I am running.

We begin with CNN's Stephen Collinson.

Stephen, an ally told CNN today about what it would take for the president to acknowledge his campaign is not working. And that is a scenario in which the polls are plummeting, the fundraising is drying up, and the interviews are going badly. He's not oblivious.

But I have to say, Stephen, you've already hit some of those marks, have you not? Perhaps not plummeting, but the polls certainly do not look good. They didn't look good prior to the debate, some of them look worse since. And there are genuine public questions from members of his own party.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: That's right. The panic is spreading in the Democratic Party, especially on Capitol Hill. The pattern of the last two days has been at the White House, has been trying and failing to catch up with this crisis. And that's still happening. These reports that you referenced this morning that the president was basically considering his position really created a lot of expectation that this crisis was getting even more serious and defining for the president.

Here's what Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, tried to do to halt that impression.


REPORTER: Is President Biden considering stepping down?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Absolutely -- absolutely not. The president is moving forward. He's moving forward as being president. He's moving forward with his campaign as his campaign has been very, very clear about that. Anything else that we're hearing or that's being reported is absolutely false.


COLLINSON: Jim, this is not a message that a lot of Democrats are wanting to hear. They want the president to be far more proactive in trying to stem questions about his age and his health and his capacity to serve a second term. He's going to get sharp questions later today in a meeting with Democratic governors at the White House.

That TV interview that Karine Jean-Pierre referenced, it will take place on Friday and most of it will be broadcast on Sunday. That is now shaping up as an even bigger test for the president to show his capacity than the debate with Donald Trump.

SCIUTTO: You know, the issue though is that, yes, it's a test, but its not the equivalent of the debate with Donald Trump. That was a split -- split screens scenario, one next to the other where voters could compare the two. And by the way, I'm not discounting Donald Trump's many lies in that debate, but in terms of well at least clarity and those lies certainly clear answers from the former presidents.

Stephen Collinson, appreciate having you.

Amid that fear and panic inside the Democratic Party looms another major question, will President Biden hurt down-ballot Democrats in November if he remains on the ticket? Democrats are laser-focused on emerging polling to that effect, to answer that question.

With that mind, I want to bring in one Democrat hoping he can flip a Republican held seat in Colorado amidst broader Democratic hopes that they could flip the House. He has a new op-ed in "The Washington Post" calling for Biden to withdraw from the race. That is Democratic House candidate Adam Frisch.

Mr. Frisch, thanks so much for joining us.

ADAM FRISCH (D), COLORADO CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Happy Fourth of July, Jim. Great to be on.

I want to read to you for a moment what president Biden today said on a campaign call, this according to a source telling CNN. He said, quote: Let me say this as clearly as I possibly can, as simply a straightforward as I can. I am running, I'm the nominee of the Democratic Party. Continuing quote I had earlier in the show, he said, no one is pushing me out. I'm not leaving. What's your response? And do you believe those words from him? Do you

believe there's no consideration either for himself or among his close staff of leaving the race?


FRISCH: Well, thank you. It's a heavy heart conversation. I'm not jumping for joy in sharing what my thoughts are that is being picked up by a lot of people. It'd be shocking if that conversation is everything that's happened in the past many months, especially last Thursday, that there's zero percent realization of what's going on. If they are, they're the only 15 people, the president and his advisers that are realizing that there's a problem.

With due respect, the cake is baked. I'm not here to be a political analyst. That's up to you, but I can tell you, I've driven 57,000 miles in the past two-and-a-half years, first against Lauren Boebert and now a new opponent. And I can tell you, these are not D.C. Democrats I'm talking to. I'm talking with ranchers and farmers, steelworkers down in Pueblo and people just don't think that the president is up to representing or leading our country over the next couple of years.

And there's a deep bench. I've said this for a couple of years. A lot of people have as well, and, yeah, there's a conversation that should have happened a long time ago, but better late than never. And hopefully we can see change.

SCIUTTO: Do you fear that Biden would lose to Trump?

FRISCH: Oh, yeah. I mean, there hasn't been a poll in the past many months that says that. Again, we have been able to build what my mother kicked off with, which is a pro normal party coalition, a Republican president is going to end up winning this district. But we've done very, very well building a coalition and the Democrats, independents, Republicans, and we're going to continue to do that, focusing on Western Slope water, domestic energy, which is really important to us, securing the border, tackling the high cost of living, making sure people don't have to make those decisions.

But, you know, what poll -- what reality has anyone and that 15-person inner circle spoken to anyone outside of that 15-person circle in the past many months?

SCIUTTO: Do you believe he would weaken Democrats' chances of winning back the House and weaken your own chances of flipping a red seat blue?

FRISCH: Listen, I'm not sure if my comments coming out asking for the president to stop campaigning is going to be good or bad for my -- mine. But I just know it's good for the country and that's what I'm focused on.

You know, on one hand, yeah, I mean, obviously, you want people that you're running alongside, but we've been focused on CD3, not focused on the Democratic or Republican conversation. Having said that, you know, there are going to be people voting for Trump who don't want unfettered Trump. And they want some checks and balances as our Founding Fathers, that we're going to be celebrating tomorrow, have set up from day one.

And I've heard this straight from independents, from Republicans for a long time, the better that Donald Trump is doing, the more they're open to kind of having some checks and balances. And again, and I'm not focused running around in a blue flag. I'm running around in a Colorado 3rd district flag and that's what I'm focused on. I always will be.

SCIUTTO: Since you made this announcement yesterday, have any other candidates for the House reached out to you? Is there any sense that you have that there is a building movement among either sitting Democratic lawmakers or those hoping to win an election in the fall to apply pressure on the president to step down?

FRISCH: Yeah, I'm spending most of my time talking to regular voters in the district. I have a couple of phone calls. And here's what's frustrating, I think, for a lot of us: for the longest time, for years, there's been this huge hypocrisy, other Republican elected officials saying one thing privately, and one thing -- saying one thing publicly.

And now, lo and behold, we have a bipartisan conversation going on, both parties doing the same thing and its disgusting, it's why people are frustrated with politics.

SCIUTTO: If Biden does not step aside and he comes to Colorado to campaign, would you campaign with him?

FRISCH: I'm going to be focused on western Colorado and southern Colorado. We'll figure out who comes or doesn't, but again, I'm running an independent race. We're not seeking public endorsements from anybody.

I want to run my own race whatever -- however, people vote for the presidential race is up to them. However, they vote county commissioner race is up to them. I've always been focused on making sure that people look at us as the best choice to represent them and their families and their businesses in western and southern Colorado for the House of Representatives.

SCIUTTO: If Biden were to step down, who is the strongest Democratic candidate to replace him?

FRISCH: That goes back to political conversations that I think many, many people are --


SCIUTTO: I mean, you said he shouldn't.

FRISCH: All I've been asking --

SCIUTTO: You said he shouldn't run, so it's a basic question asking you who you think should run.

FRISCH: There are -- there's Vice President Harris and there's 10 or 15 other people that have, we all know about, right? And I don't want to get in those power games.

I think this conversation shouldn't happen two years ago. I think the Biden should have -- the president should have honored what the spirit of his comment was about being a transitional president for one term and handed it over and pulled a George Washington moment for the sake of the country. And he decided not to do that.

His advisers decided not to do that. And now, the country and some people are in a pickle.


SCIUTTO: A pickle, political pickle, to say the least, Adam Frisch, thanks so much for joining us this afternoon.

FRISCH: Thanks, Jim. Happy Fourth of July.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Happy Fourth to you and your family.

Well, with me now to discuss, two political experts Jackie Kucinich, Washington bureau chief at "The Boston Globe", Molly Ball, senior political correspondent at "The Wall Street Journal".

You both listen to the White House press conference there. It's a second in a row that I've listened to from start to finish. It's a difficult one. A series of questions, none of which that a White House press secretary wants to be facing at this point in the campaign, one is the president fit to run? And two, will he stay in the race?

And I just wonder listening to that. Jackie, did you hear satisfying answers to those two questions?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: A pickle indeed, as the candidate you just -- you just interviewed said.


KUCINICH: So, I think given the volume of questions and how some of the same questions were asked over and over again, I think that there weren't satisfactory answers. She was asked why she if she knew the details about the traveling tiring him out yesterday and she said, oh, my bad. Yeah, I didn't know that. I didn't say anything.

It really seems like they are they're trying to make the best of a bad situation. And it's -- but it hasn't really been the answers have been coming late. And I think you're hearing a lot of that frustration from Democrats who were waiting -- particularly senior Democrats -- were waiting to hear from the president after that disastrous debate on Thursday, and were left waiting until basically this week.

SCIUTTO: Yeah. There is -- we've all been waiting for the post-debate polling, one of the newest is this "New York Times"/Siena poll. I'm sure you've read shows a slight swing towards Trump nationally post- debate. He's up 49 to 41.

Other lines from that poll, a five-point jump in the percentage of voters who say Biden is too old. That's up to 74 percent, not too dissimilar from what but CNN polling found among Democrats and eight point swing on that question since the debate.

It's interesting, Molly Ball, the ifs that CNN's reporting is that the Biden team has set up is if polls are plummeting, if fundraising dries up -- I mean, that's defining bad in a fairly extreme term, right? Because he was already behind heading into the debate, and if he slipped some more, he's more behind, right?

I mean, if plummeting is the threshold -- I mean, you could let the polls fall further, couldn't you?

MOLLY BALL, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: It seems clear that they are sort of stalling for time here. They're trying to figure out a way forward. I don't think they have one yet. And so, that is why they are saying, lets keep an eye on these indicators that's still have yet to come, but regardless of what happens, and I think your point is well taken.

If the polls continue to show what this poll showed that he's only slipped a little bit, the donors, the other elected officials, the top officials in the Democratic Party, still need to hear what is the plan to turn that around? Because a week ago, the plan was the debate. The debate had the opposite effect, to put it mildly and what I -- what people hearing who have had these conversations with people in the administration or with the president himself over the past several days of sort of chaos and crisis, what they have not yet heard is a plan going forward.

If he does stay in the race for how he is going to turn those numbers around and put them in positive territory, not simply slightly less negative territory.

SCIUTTO: Yeah, and we -- and we can't take the debate in isolation, right? Because there are other incidents, you go back to them the Hur reports that are at least in a similar vein.

Jackie, we know Adam Frisch, who I just spoke to is not alone in his own concern about effect on down ballot races as far as well. So far, few Democrats are going forward.

Adam made a good point. He said that, in effect, we talked about this on the Republican Party regarding Trump, that privately folks will say he's bad for us publicly, they're not going to go there that you have. You might say a similar phenomenon right now that privately many Democrats expressing fears are not willing to express public.

KUCINICH: Well, they don't want to alienate parts of the Democratic Party. Perhaps some of the donors that are also giving them money. But listen, a lot of these senators who are in swing states were running ahead of the president anyway, and they don't really speak about him. I'm thinking specifically of, you know, Sherrod Brown and Jon Tester. But I think one of the people that are going to be very interesting to

watch is Bob Casey. He's in Pennsylvania. He's running that -- he was running ahead of the presidents and has really hugged him tightly and has been -- has been a real ally of his.

So, that's going to be worth watching as we go forward. But there's certainly is concerned about how this impacts particularly somewhere like the House. You're hearing a lot from House Democrats. They're worried about that because of all the chaos with Republicans. They really thought they were in line to, you know, really make a run of it this time.


And they don't want anything, Biden or otherwise, to pull them down and make that less of a possibility.

SCIUTTO: Molly Ball, can you describe in brief what would happen if the president were to step down?

BALL: No. I think, frankly, we would be in uncharted territory. I mean, I think there are procedural hoops that would have to be jumped through depending on what he does and how he does it, whether you're talking about, you know, does he -- does he resign the presidency? Does he just take himself off the ticket?

Does it go back to the DNC? Does it go to an open convention? There's a whole lot of different forks in the road that would emerge depending on what he does and how he does it.

I do think that the bottom line is that the answer to your question is no, none of us know exactly how it would go forward because we really would be an unchartered territory. Certainly something that we have not seen in my lifetime, and something that we've seen very rarely over the course of this country's history.

I should note that to that question, resigning the presidency if that's at all on the table, Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about that, the press briefing and immediately took that off the table as absolutely not under consideration.

So you look at the steps he's taking now, Jackie, and this seems to be part of the frustration that some in his own party have interviews with Black radio hosts, a network interview a week after the fact. Is this enough? It does that show the urgency or is perhaps that part of the answer here that he's looking to gather more for information in effect, right? See where the polling is, et cetera.

KUCINICH: I think only time will tell. I do think this interview with George Stephanopoulos on Friday that will run, I guess Friday ends and Sunday, is quite important. This is something he cannot afford to go poorly.

The same thing with this promised press conference. He's going to have at NATO here in D.C. next week. They've really raised the bar and raised the stakes for these, you know, what actually for any other president would be kind of conventional ways of communicating with the public.

But now, everything he's saying and everything he's doing is being parsed and watched the extra with extra attention because of this debate.

And you just can't, you -- it's hard to stress how important these next couple weeks and events are for Joe Biden.

SCIUTTO: "The New York Times", of course, I'm sure you've heard us well, reported today, the President Biden himself has acknowledged that if things don't change, he may need to rethink his candidacy. Now the Biden campaign pushed back on that. And you heard similar from Karine Jean-Pierre.

Here's deputy campaign manager, Quentin Fulks, a short time ago.


QUENTIN FULKS, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER, BIDEN-HARRIS 2024: There are a number of rumors floating out there. The president is in this race to win it. The president is own words acknowledged a poor debate performance but at the same time, I think what were sensing from people, a sense of urgency and fear from Donald Trump, and I think that the conversations that the president has been having with Democrats across the country is one to reassure them that he is in this race.


SCIUTTO: Who do you believe, Molly Ball? Do you believe the president is actually considering this?

BALL: He can't not be aware of the conversations that are being had. What he is or isn't considering, you know, I think there are a lot of conversations going on behind the scenes now and a lot of people asking the president, a lot of questions, but that quest -- but the real question as you said, and as Quentin Fulks just say that is, is there an urgency? Does the White House understand what a crisis this has become?

Because the fear that we have heard in our reporting from talking to top Democrats in the last few days, is they just are not sure if the White House is taking this seriously enough because the initial response seemed to be two think that they could just ride this out without really doing much of anything and really Democrats from the rank and file to the top levels feel like this needs a full-court press if they're to be satisfied that he has what it takes to move forward.

SCIUTTO: Listen, part of the issue, right, is that this is what folks are talking about, right, is the consideration of perhaps the race, his performance. They're not talking about the number of times that Donald Trump lied and repeated lies in those debates. We've cited them on this broadcast and elsewhere, but fact is the White House getting talked about whether Biden is going to stay in the race.

Jackie Kucinich, Molly Ball, thanks so much to both of you.

Still ahead, is the Trump campaign tipping its hands? Some possible clues into who maybe Donald Trump's pick for vice president.



SCIUTTO: Welcome back.

While the Biden campaign is working over time, doing damage control, Donald Trump is riding high, staying uncharacteristically quiet. But with less than two weeks until the Republican National Convention, the former president remains without a running mate. Spectate -- speculation continues to swirl as to who could join the ticket.

Kristen Holmes covers the Trump campaign.

Kristen, convention's 12 days away. I know that Donald Trump likes to parcel these out, right? To kind of build momentum, attention, et cetera. Do we know when he'll announce his decision and do we know if there's a front runner?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We don't know when and the big question has been, is this going to be a surprise? Is anyone good to know when or is this going to be something the former president just announces out of the blue.

Now, there have been a lot of speculation it was going to be the week before the convention, particularly after we had learned that there were aides and production assistant down at Doral, which is one of Trump's properties in Florida setting up for what they thought was going to be a very large, potentially announcement of that.

Now, since then, it seems like all of that planning is in flux, particularly as we have seen, this narrative around President Joe Biden play out, as you noted, Donald Trump has been uncharacteristically quiet. He often likes to insert himself into any media narrative that's not about him, but not in this case, he is done one or two local interviews.

He is largely stayed off social media and instead, it's kind of holed up in his Bedminster Resort in New Jersey. They want to see how this shakes out and they are still coming up with what plans are for if there is a scenario in which Biden is not on the ticket. And I will note that his team does not want Biden off of the ticket according to a number of sources because they know who Biden is, they know how to run against Joe Biden, at least they think they do.


And they don't know who would be next and who could potentially replace him.

Now, I do want to go back to one of your questions which was who so at the top of the shortlist for VP, because this is the most funds speculation that you get on a campaign. There are still three people that we are hearing are the top of the mix here -- North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, as well as Senator Marco Rubio and Senator JD Vance. They have really emerged as the top picks for the former president. Obviously, you talked to some of the people close to him so he could still go rogue, Donald Trump.

But these are the people who have gotten all the vetting, who'd been in serious conversations with the campaign and with the former president himself. We will obviously wait and see when that's announced.

SCIUTTO: Yeah. So, Kristen, tell me about that balancing act. If that's the correct way to describe it, in the Trump campaign from Trump himself, right? I'm sure from his perspective celebrating the events since that debate a number of days ago now, but not wanting Biden necessarily leave the campaign.

So what are they doing exactly? How are they responding?

HOLMES: Well, I think it wasn't really made clear to them or at least they didn't understand how serious would happen to president Joe Biden was on Thursday until Monday until they realized that this was continuing to spiral. They obviously believe that President Joe Biden had a poor debate performance. But as many of us felt as we've watched, his kind of unfold, this narrative as we've seen Democrats coming out of the woodwork, those both on background and then lawmakers questioning his cognitive ability, whether or not he is ready for another four years.

That's not something that they had id actually lined up on their bingo card. Now, appears that what they really want to do is see how this shakes out because they're just not sure and I can tell you that I've had members of the campaign of allies of Donald Trump's calling me to ask me what I have heard about the potential of next steps for Joe Biden.

They are really trying to suss out what their goals going to do here. And part of this act is Donald Trump not getting in the way of it. Just sitting back and again, not participating in interviews, not getting out there and putting in his two cents, really just trying to wait and see what happens. So then they can prepare for the next phase of this, if -- of this election, if things should change.

SCIUTTO: Yeah, that's an interesting phenomenon with the campaigns the reaching out to the reporters saying, hey, what are you hearing about the other campaign?

Kristen Holmes, thanks so much for bringing us up today.

Well, many former and never Trump Republicans were ready to embrace President Biden in November, they said, then came the debate.

CNN's Elle Reeve spoke to some of those voters.


ELLE REEVE, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): This happy bar party is full of people who usually feel pretty bleak.

PAUL IVANCIE, FORMER REPUBLICAN: This country needs to wake up. There's a dangerous thing happening, and it's called complacency.

REEVE: They're fans of "The Bulwark", a Never-Trump media organization. Many are ex-Republicans who reject Donald Trump -- a group that can feel so tiny that some got on airplanes to meet one another. The event was festive and just a few days before the presidential debate.

BECKY HOFER, FORMER REPUBLICAN, ATTENDED BULWARK PODCAST TAPING IN DENVER: It's hard for me to wake up every morning and talk to my neighbors and know that they're supporting somebody that doesn't match any of their values.

REEVE: Becky is a former Republican who flew in from South Dakota with her sister-in-law.

HOFER: We're in a very red state and I'm a very not red person, and that's tough to find a community there. We're married to Republican men.

REEVE: Is your husband pro-Trump?

HOFER: Uh, I think he's going to vote for Trump. I hope he doesn't vote for Trump. But it's an interesting house to live in.

REEVE: We wanted to talk to these people because they represent an important part of President Biden's coalition. But after his struggle in the debate we had to go back to them to see what had changed.

Hofer was shocked and angry.

HOFER: It was terrible. I'm completely disillusioned. I -- at this -- they're both a joke. It felt like elder abuse. So, yeah, I think he needs to be replaced if for anything, just out of respect for his humanity.

REEVE: Robin Hawkland had flown from Salt Lake City to be among Never-Trumpers before the debate.

ROBIN HAWKLAND, ATTENDED BULWARK PODCAST TAPING IN DENVER: I fled the district in North Georgia with Marjorie Taylor Greene. She was pretty abusive to people wearing masks during COVID and I was a little traumatized by that.

REEVE: And how would you describe your politics?

HAWKLAND: My politics were center left. My husband was always Republican and we got along fine for years. And then it seems everything has kind of broken and we both now are registered Democrats in Utah, which is rare.

REEVE: Are you worried about what might happen after the election?

HAWKLAND: Yes, very worried, very worried. I have three daughters. They all live in red states. And they are in reproductive age, which is in their 20s, and I really worry about their options.

REEVE: When we spoke to Hawkland afterward, she said she'd barely been able to sit through the debate.

HAWKLAND: Initial reaction was shock, and then just sadness, and then I think I moved into anger.


REEVE: Do you think Joe Biden should be replaced?

HAWKLAND: It hurts me to say that, but yes. I don't think he's electable. I don't know how you dig out of this hole. He could do more events where he looks better. He's looked better since then. And they can time it right. But everyone knows deep in their -- deep in their existence what they saw may happen again.

REEVE: The pre-debate party in Denver was for a live podcast taping from The Bulwark, which was created by former Republican operatives. At the after-party, people told us that this was one of the few places where they could meet in real life -- people who didn't make them feel crazy.

DAN MAGILL, ANTI-TRUMP REPUBLICAN: I'm a relatively conservative Republican. It's almost rather than being Republican or Democrat, it's become more autocracy versus democracy. Even though I would probably economically agree with more the policies that a Trump administration would put in place versus a Biden administration, I can't support someone like Trump.

HAWKLAND: You feel safe here and you feel like you can speak your mind. And people may disagree, but you can talk about it in a rational way.

REEVE: But after the debate, Hawkland felt more despair.

HAWKLAND: You feel like you're being condescended to. To be talked to from the Democratic Party kind of like just get behind the candidate was very frustrating and angering.

This is not about to the Democrat or the Republican Party. They both put up candidates that are not electable for very different reasons. Trump is a criminal and many other issues. Biden is just aging. And there is no reason that people should not be concerned with what they see.

HOFER: He has done a great job. He did a great job the last four years. Right now, if these are the two options that we have in November, I'll vote for Joe Biden's head in a jar before I'll vote for Donald Trump.

I'm angry and, I mean, I'm angry to the point where if Joe Biden stays on the ticket and Donald Trump is still on the ticket, I'm fast- tracking moving to Costa Rica. I had it as a five-year plan to move to Costa Rica and I'm going to try and fast-track it. I do not want to be here before the Republicans -- Trump's little trolls start reducing more -- or taking away more women's rights.

REEVE: Elle Reeve, CNN, Denver.


SCIUTTO: Quite a view inside the voting public there.

Coming up next, hitting the phones, the outreach President Biden is doing to try to calm fears among Democratic Party leadership following the debate performance.



SCIUTTO: Welcome back.

Despite the immediate concern from Democrats after Biden's debate performance, it was not until yesterday that the president himself started to call party leadership on the Hill.

Hakeem Jeffries, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Jim Clyburn, and staunch ally Chris Coons, have now spoken with the president, all have publicly supported him though they have acknowledged their concerns.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I think it's a legitimate question to say, is this an episode or is this a condition.


SCIUTTO: That's quite a significant comment to hear from Nancy Pelosi, the former speaker of the House, calling it a legitimate question about the president's mental sharpness.

CNN's Annie Grayer covers Capitol Hill. She joins me now.

So I wonder, what is the message that Democrats want to hear from the president, and is their focus really just on message or is it on concrete steps, right, to fight back against this public impression.

ANNIE GRAYER, CNN REPORTER: Well, Jim, it's all fluid, but the Democrats who want Biden to stay in the race are imploring him and his team to get out there, get himself, get in front of voters, hold town halls, have unscripted moments and sit in front of journalists and have interviews where you can be asked tough questions.

But then there are the Democrats who are so concerned from Thursdays debate performance and are expressing that concern to the White House and the campaign that they think that it is too late that Biden does need to step aside and there's specific concerns about whether or not president staying on the ticket is going to hurt the Democrats' chances of winning back the House in November.

There are a lot of Democrats running very tough races, who, whose race are going to come down to turn out and they're concern that the president staying at the top of the ticket will hurt their ability to win those races.

But as you mentioned, the president has been calling the top Democrats on the Hill, including Chuck Schumer and the top Democrat in the House, Hakeem Jeffries. Those leaders are going to have a call -- in the House -- are going to have a call at 5:00 p.m. today and it's just a critical a moment, Jim, as Democrats are publicly expressing their support, but privately continuing to raise more and more alarm bells and concerns.

SCIUTTO: No question. Do you hear different comments and questions in private than we've heard publicly? It was a phenomenon happens in Washington, certainly happens with the way Republicans talk about Donald Trump. Are you hearing a similar contrast between what Democrats are willing to say in private versus in public.

GRAYER: Absolutely. That is what's playing out in real time right now. There is only one Democrat in the House who was come out publicly and said its time for Joe Biden to step aside. And that's Congressman Lloyd Doggett from Texas. But Doggett has said that, you know, that he has gotten a lot of public or he's done a lot of comments from his from his friends and colleagues since coming out publicly, but no one else has joined him.

And what I just continue to hear from lawmakers and aides and sources behind the scenes is that there is pressure building. There's a question of is the going to break, but we're not at that point yet.

SCIUTTO: Annie Grayer, watching that dam for us up on the Hill, thanks so much.

Now, a look at the close-knit members of Joe Biden's inner circle, from family members to advisors who've been with him for decades in some cases. They spent last week in a away at Camp David, weighing his political future following the debate against Donald Trump.

Our Brian Todd with a closer look at the president's inner circle of family and advisers.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The people hunkering down with Joe Biden right now, who have, according to CNN sources, encouraged the president to stay in the race despite a poor debate performance, are a tightly-knit, fiercely loyal, and surprisingly small group of confidants.

LARRY SABATO, PROFESSOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: For such an outgoing politician, Biden really does have a very small group of people he relies on for the most important things.

TODD: Closest to the president among his inner circle, his wife of 47 years, Jill Biden.

HANS NICHOLS, POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: She has a lot of sway. The president trusts her implicitly, and they talk about a lot of issues. She gives the president political advice, but also gives him just broader advice.

TODD: The only other person who comes close to Jill Biden when it comes to having his trust, analysts say, his sister, Valerie Biden Owens, three years younger than the president, who was involved in Biden's earliest presidential campaigns and helped him raise his two young sons after his first wife and their daughter were killed in a car crash.

NICHOLS: Crucially, she can tell the president, like I imagine most sisters can, tell the president when he's doing something that might not be in his best interest or, frankly, boneheaded.

TODD: Outside the immediate family, longtime Biden friend and steady adviser Ted Kaufman is believed to hold a great deal of influence.

SABATO: Ted Kaufman, remember, was his chief of staff for many, many years and got Biden's Senate seat when he resigned to become vice president. Ted Kaufman is in his mid-80s. So I'm not sure he thinks of the president as his meal ticket.

TODD: There's also Anita Dunn, senior advisor to the president, a longtime Democratic strategist, who's said to have a keen sense of the political winds.

NICHOLS: Anita, inside that room, has a great deal sway, especially on where the president should be spending his time, how should he be spending his time, and what states he's going to visit.

TODD: Ron Klain, who served as Biden's chief of staff when he was vice president and in the same capacity during the first two years of Biden's presidency, and Mike Donilon, a top political strategist, are also part of the Biden brain trust.

Could the president be considering a staff shakeup after his debate performance?

SABATO: They were the people surrounding him at Camp David, preparing him for the debate. So I guess it's possible he has a little less confidence in them now than he did a week or so ago.

TODD: Still, analysts say the president's loyalty to his inner circle might well remain steadfast.

NICHOLS: You know, one thing that happens in Biden land is that you get yelled at a lot, but you don't necessarily get fired.


TODD (on camera): Are there any signs of fractures among members of President Biden's inner circle? Analyst Hans Nichols says, at the moment, there are no outward signs that there are.

But he says that will be one of the crucial developments that political operatives and journalists will be looking for as we head toward the Democratic National Convention in August.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

SCIUTTO: Coming up, no longer may they reign. After more than a decade leading the UK government, the conservatives' time could be up. Election set for Thursday.



SCIUTTO: Speaking of elections, voters in the UK head to the polls Thursday for a momentous general election that will likely, according to polls, see the end of the Conservative Party's 14-year rule.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is almost universally expected to lose. He took a major gamble by calling elections in the summer and has struggled to turn around dire polling.

A conservative defeat will rush are in a center-left Labour government headed by Keir Starmer.

CNN's Abdelaziz -- Salma Abdelaziz explains.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two lackluster candidates in a race with a result that is all but certain. It may sound boring, but this is a momentous election that could decimate the U.K.'s most powerful political party.

In what is widely seen as a referendum on their 14 years of leadership, the Conservatives are bracing for a very damaging defeat. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called for the snap election that almost everyone believes he will lose.

RISHI SUNAK, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITISH: Over the next few weeks. I will fight for every vote. I will earn your trust.

ABDELAZIZ: But that trust is battered and bruised. From Boris Johnson's party gate scandal to leadership failings that saw three prime ministers in 2022 alone to a very messy Brexit many are fed up with the Tories.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, I think people are ticked off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a sense of just wanting any kind of change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's decimation I think will, can only be expected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will be the first election that I've advised to do so I won't be voting conservative.

ABDELAZIZ: Current polls indicate the opposition Labour Party could win by a landslide, ushering in a central left government led by Kier Starmer.

KEIR STARMER, PARTY LEADER OF THE LABOR PARTY: If you want change, you have to vote for it.

ABDELAZIZ: The makeup of British politics is sure to undergo a seismic shift. But because of Britain's first past the post system, Labour could win but fail to gain a clear mandate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks for coming everybody.

ABDELAZIZ: If smaller parties for the far right gain an outsized voice. Amid the political uncertainty, the new prime minister will inherit a mess, a cost of living crisis fueled in part by a stagnant economy. The country's beloved National Health Service is understaffed and overstretched.

And immigration remains an unresolved hot button issue. Change is coming but can Starmer should he win, tackle the challenges and deliver on promises.

Salma Abdelaziz CNN, London.



SCIUTTO: Of course, one more major election underway there. We're going to bring you results from that, follow it closely tomorrow.

Coming up today, the secret to perfecting your Fourth of July hot dog. You're going to want to hear the story. It's important information.


SCIUTTO: So all politics aside, and there is a lot of them, the fourth of July is tomorrow, the holiday, of course, when Americans celebrate the country's independence by, among other things, charring down on hotdogs, setting off fireworks. I saw some myself last night.

But I know what you must be thinking. How do I make the perfect hotdog on the grill? Parboiling, finishing off on the stove. I mean, I've just tended to throw them on the grill, but there are secrets here and here to answer that important question, is recipe developer and writer Ali Slagle.

Okay, so Ali, I've tended to put them on the grill, flip them over every once in awhile, kind of eye them to see if they look cooked enough to me and then throw them in a bun. Are you telling me that's the wrong way to approach this?

ALI SLAGLE, RECIPE DEVELOPER AND WRITER: I would say if you enjoy that hot dog, there's no wrong way to do it, but there's a couple of little things that you can do to make sure it's not burned, it's not wrinkled, it's juicy, it's exactly what you want.

SCIUTTO: So walk me through them. SLAGLE: So I think the main key, I don't know what temperature grill you're going for, but I think you want a medium heat, so it cooks through nicely and its crispy outside at the same time.

And then the really important thing is you want to put the hot dogs parallel to the grills. Oftentimes you put them perpendicular to get those grill marks.


SLAGLE: But really you want the whole hot dog to be a grill mark.

SCIUTTO: That's funny because I deliberately make them perpendicular because I kind of feel like they look cooler on the grill if they have those marks on them. So you're saying it like cooks it more evenly if it's -- if it's in line with the grill?

SLAGLE: Not only does it cook it more evenly, its exposing more of the hotdog to the heat, so you're getting more browning.


And the hot dogs aren't rolling around the grill. They're kind of staying put. I would also do this with your corn and if you haven't eaten corn at the same time.

SCIUTTO: Yeah. So, well, see I -- what I do is I tend to cook the corn or grill the corn rather in the husks, like a little secret. But let me ask you about crispy for hot dogs because typically, the way I get them crispy is you kind like overcook or they get they get a little charred and you're like must be crispy if that's the way you like your hot dog.

Is there a way to get them crispy without it being like a blackened, almost like charcoal?

SLAGLE: Sure. So for the article I wrote for "The New York Times", I tested a bunch of hot dogs, but I weighed them before and after cooking to see how much moisture loss was being lost because some people optimize for the crispiness, but then you bit in, and it's a little bit dry.

So the key really is to go for a medium heat. That means you should be able to hold your hand over the fire for five or six seconds. And then just turn them every so often and they'll get crispy and they won't lose that much juiciness at the same time.

SCIUTTO: Final quick question. Should you grill the bonds as well?

SLAGLE: For me? Yes. But it's a personal preference. I also will not tell you what toppings to put on your hot dog.

SCIUTTO: Well, I mean, it's obvious, its sauerkraut and ketchup. I mean, it's not even an open question. I won't accept any debate on that.

Ali Slagle, good to have you on. I'll be thinking about you tomorrow as I grill.

SLAGLE: Thank you. Enjoy your hot dog.

SCIUTTO: And thanks so much to all of you for joining me today on STATE OF THE RACE. If you're here in this country, happy Fourth of July to you. I'm Jim Sciutto in New York.