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This Hour, Gov. Ron DeSantis Announces White House Bid On Twitter; Major Differences Remain As Debt Ceiling Talks Stall; Music Legend Tina Turner Dies At 83; Suspect In White House U-Haul Ramming Appears in Court. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 24, 2023 - 18:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: If you ever miss an episode of The Lead, you can listen to The Lead whence you get your podcasts, all two hours just sitting there like a big, delicious bowl of jollof rice.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in a place I like to call The Situation Room.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, we're just minutes away from a major shakeup in the race for the White House, the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, about to announce his presidential bid during a rather unconventional live audio interview on Twitter. We'll bring you the official launch as soon as it happens.

In Uvalde, Texas, it's now been one full year since a gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School, killing 19 students and two teachers. The community and the nation marking the terrible anniversary as questions remain over the response to the massacre.

Also tonight, the music world loses a legend. The legendary singer Tina Turner, known as the Queen of Rock and Roll, is dead at the age of 83 after a lengthy illness. We will remember her life and her iconic career.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room.

Our top story tonight, the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, is only moments away from entering the crowded race for the Republican nomination, launching a major challenge to former President Donald Trump.

CNN's Jessica Dean is joining us right now from Miami with more on what to expect from this rather unusual announcement. Jessica, this is an unconventional presidential announcement on Twitter. So, how do you expect all of this to unfold?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, Wolf, and that's exactly what the DeSantis team wants. They want something that's unconventional. They want to do this in their own way. And so they are choosing to announce on Twitter with Elon Musk.

It is starting imminently and Governor DeSantis just tweeting moments ago a video saying that he's running for president to start the great American comeback. That is his saying that he is using right now. And we are expecting any moment now for that to get underway.

And this has been, of course, something that has been talked about, analyzed, discussed back and forth for months and months. Will he enter the race? How will he enter the race? What kind of momentum will he get? And now we can see it moving forward.

Of course, he and his team believe that they are positioned to make a big ripple in this race, to come in very strongly, to capitalize on $100 million they've already got behind them and come out with even more money. They are hosting donors here in Miami tomorrow and over the next couple of days to really put on a fundraising blitz as he makes this announcement. And then we are expecting him to hit the road aggressively in those early states.

And that's where his team believes they can really provide some contrast, that they can show him as a young governor that is moving around, that is nimble, and really contrast him both with the sitting president, Democratic President Joe Biden, and also his chief Republican rival, the former president, Donald Trump, of course, both of them much older than Ron DeSantis. And he is really seeking to contrast himself with them.

And what was interesting, Wolf, is also earlier today, we saw the super PAC that is aligned with DeSantis, that is supporting his candidacy, releasing a video that was heavy on his biography, but also targeting President Biden, not his Republican rivals.

And that is something we can expect to see more and more of him going directly after President Biden and the Democrats in leadership, in Washington as he tries to convince people he is the person that should lead the country in the next four years after 2024, and that he is the change that America needs. So, again, we are expecting to hear that official announcement imminently.

And, Wolf, there's been a lot of talk about will he do kind of a formal announcement with a speech in a crowd. And it's unclear at this point if he will do that. What we do know is that they have made a deliberate choice to do it in this way and reminding everyone we are expecting it to be audio only. So, we will only be hearing the announcement on Twitter spaces, which allows only for audio. We will not be seeing it. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Jessica, standby, I want to bring in our political experts for more analysis right now. Jeff Zeleny, he did just tweet that I am running for president. That's a significant moment in and of itself. But how do you expect him to make his case during this rather unconventional interview appearance on Twitter?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he certainly is going to introduce himself as the leading alternative to former President Donald Trump. He's a 44-year-old governor of Florida serving his second term. Of course, just about six months or so ago, he won by nearly 20 percent of the vote. That, of course, is going -- or by 20 percentage points. That is going to be a much easier race than the one he is facing right now.

He is going to, of course, be locked in a very competitive contest with Donald Trump. Those sparring back and forth has already begun.


But we are just getting our first sense of a video that he sent out along with this, a tweet. He's talking about securing the borders. He's talking about inflation. He's talking about, as he explains it, the great American comeback. But what he needs to do is show that he is up for the task.

So, he's going to essentially present the Florida blueprint, as he calls it, those conservative laws that he has signed into a law in Florida as a calling card to states across the country. The question is how those will be received in the primary from primary voters. Certainly, many of them welcome that. Among other voters, they may not. So, he is certainly entering the most competitive race he has ever run.

Of course, he served in Congress and then governor, but this is the beginning of his most aggressive step he's ever taken, the most complicated steps he's ever taken. And just looking through this video again, he also says, we chose facts over fear, education over indoctrination, law and order overriding and disorder.

We held the line when freedom hung in the balance. So, you're getting some sense of the themes here that he's going to put forth. But, of course, he will be taking on Donald Trump, but also so many other Republicans in the race.

So, Wolf, this is the beginning of this Republican primary campaign. You can feel it coming together. And now, of course, the challenge is on him to make the case that he is the leading alternative to Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Yes, we're showing our viewers some of the video he just posted on Twitter, Ron DeSantis.

Abby Phillip, I'm anxious to hear what you'll be listening for during this Twitter interview that's coming up.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, look, this is going to be a major moment for Ron DeSantis, because even though he is at the beginning of the Republican nominating process for the primary, this is an audience that is national, I think probably one of the largest sort of everyone paying attention audiences that he's going to get. So, I am looking to see how much he's going to present a message that can appeal broadly to the American public and not just to conservative voters.

I also want to see what he's going to say about Donald Trump. I don't expect that he'll suddenly change course and start going hard against Trump, but what kind of shots is he going to take? Where is he going to make his jabs in this rollout?

Whether it is in his announcement with Elon Musk or later in the interview that he's expecting to have on Fox, this is a critical moment for him. To really show that contrast and how he does it, I think, will tell us a lot about how this campaign is going to go.

BLITZER: And, David Chalian, CNN has a brand new poll that just came out today. Where do Republican voters stand right now as far as DeSantis and his main rival, Donald Trump, are concerned?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right, Wolf. So, we have just a snapshot in time at this starting gate of the race as the most serious challenger to Trump gets in, and what you see is the task ahead for Ron DeSantis. Take a look at the numbers. You have 53 percent support for Donald Trump among Republican and Republican-leaning independents of this poll compared to 26 percent support for Ron DeSantis.

So, DeSantis has half as much support among these Republican and Republican leaners as Donald Trump does. You see the big difference from March there, where they were much closer together. But it's been nearly three months now of Trump and his allies hammering away day after day. Ron DeSantis, as he's been doing his day job as governor of Florida and getting ready for this run, and that clearly has had an impact on his standing.

But this is just one brief snapshot in time. This is just getting started now. And, clearly, it's not likely to be looking like that at the end of the day as we get close to the voting.

BLITZER: Very interesting numbers indeed. Alice Stewart, I know you worked with key members of the DeSantis team. Why do you think DeSantis has lost so much ground to Trump over the past few months, and how does he regain momentum?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, in large part, Wolf, because he has been focused on being the governor of Florida and has not been involved in the presidential campaign until now. And speaking with the campaign today, they're looking at another number that came out in the CNN poll today, which is that a large swath of GOP voters are willing to look at another candidate besides Donald Trump. That opens up the lane for Ron DeSantis and many others.

And what they're recognizing now is that there's no more shadow boxing for the DeSantis campaign. He is in this. This is a brass knuckles, whack-a-mole game moving forward, and he's going to be the target.

He knows of Donald Trump, who has already thrown jabs at him, but also all of the other GOP challengers because they recognize the fact that they have to get through DeSantis to get to Trump and through Trump to get to President Biden if they want to win in the general election.

So, I think DeSantis will be wise in moving forward to put the message to the Democrats, as Jeff has mentioned, but another key point here is that the elephant in the room in the primary is electability. And Donald Trump has proven that he is unattractive to swing voters who will decide the general election. And so what DeSantis will do, as he has done in the past, is show, look, governing and legislating is not about building a brand or social media or virtue signaling.

[18:10:07] It is about winning. And it is time for the GOP to do away with the culture of losing, which they have had under Donald Trump. And speaking with people in Iowa, given the reception DeSantis had two weeks ago, as he makes his way into Iowa in these early states, he will be very well received by GOP voters.

BLITZER: And, Kaitlan Collins, I know you're doing a lot of reporting on this as well, what sort of strategy is emerging based on what you hear from Trump's camp on how they plan to go after DeSantis?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: I mean, they'll just be hitting him nonstop is the way that you've seen them do, making no mention of the fact that Trump once endorsed him and what that has looked like. Obviously, this has a personal layer for Trump. They'll be watching this closely tonight. His campaign will, obviously.

But I'm also just interested to see what this announcement looks like, because, typically, a campaign speech, a campaign announcement is very scripted, you know what it's going to look like. We saw it with Senator Tim Scott earlier this week and the way that looked.

This is an unscripted conversation that he is having with Elon Musk, someone who has not come out and endorsed DeSantis by any means, but has certainly talked about the fact that he believes he would beat President Biden if he ran against him and what that would look like. He's clearly expressed a lot of interest in him being a candidate for president.

And so I'm kind of curious to see what it looks like to see Elon Musk. Of course, there's going to be a Republican donor in this conversation as well, and Ron DeSantis in this conversation talking in an unscripted way as he is talking about what that campaign is going to look like. So much of this will have to do with things in the future.

We don't know what indictments could look like for the GOP frontrunner right now, his investigative troubles that he's clearly facing, with a lot of challenges there. But there's a lot of questions about just what this conversation that is going to be happening in this hour is going to look like and how DeSantis asserts himself now that he is a candidate, because he's deflected questions about polls in recent weeks with Trump saying, I'm not a candidate yet. Well, now he is.

BLITZER: And, Van Jones, as you listen to the themes emerging right now in this DeSantis announcement, is this someone you think President Biden would want to run against?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's hard to know. But what I will say is this is a really weird way to start a campaign. You're seeing the evolution of American politics in that, bowing down to the altar of fame and technology and wealth. He's embracing it. He's not talking to a reporter. He's not talking to ordinary Americans.

He's not in a town hall. He's talking to one of the richest guys in the world on a platform that is owned and controlled by a single person. And so this is going to be a very strange campaign. You're going to see artificial intelligence, leverage and all kind of bizarre stuff. And so we're off to the bizarre races.

As far as Biden, I think, and most Democrats, we're just munching our popcorn waiting for the carnage to begin as these people start beating the heck out of each other, all knowing that unless a bunch of these people get off the stage, Trump is going to win just because there's going to be so many other people on stage with him. He only needs 30 percent of the vote, and right now, they're playing into his hands.

And, David Chalian, even before he does this audio-only interview with Twitter, I want you to listen to some of the sound that he just had in this new video that his campaign just released. Listen to this.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Truth must be our foundation and common sense can no longer be an uncommon virtue. In Florida, we proved that it can be done. We chose facts over fear, education over indoctrination, law and order over rioting and disorder. We held the line when freedom hung in the balance.

We showed that we can and must revitalize America. We need the courage to lead and the strength to win. I'm Ron DeSantis and I'm running for president to lead our great American comeback.


BLITZER: What's your reaction to that, David?

CHALIAN: Well, this is the Florida blueprint we've been talking about. This is him taking all the things he has done, not just this year, throughout his time as governor, but also specifically this year with his supermajorities in the Florida legislature, and taking them out on the campaign trail as data points of not just rhetoric, not just talking about ideas, but I want to show you that I've enacted them. I've actually gotten things done. That is going to be a point he's going to sell.

In addition, to that electability argument, you heard Alice Stewart say that he clearly has been laying the groundwork for as well. Listen, they understood, right, that they -- just from a mechanics of rolling out a presidential campaign, that they were doing this audio- only Twitter spaces conversation, but that they needed him in an on- camera kind of appearance to roll out this video as well, of him stating to camera for all to see that he's running for President. And it's not a mistake that that rolled out at the same time as this Twitter interview.

BLITZER: So, Alice Stewart, is DeSantis doing what he needs to do in this official launch?


STEWART: Look, that remains to be seen. Look, I'm old school politician. I like the fact of a big rally with your supporters, a big announcement. It is kind of like a PGA champion Michael Block hole-in- one kind of day. The crowds are roaring, you're pumped up, and you get generate a lot of earned media.

He is missing some opportunity for a great deal of earned media. All of the networks and cables would have covered this announcement live, but I have confidence his team has a plan moving forward after this announcement.

How he does it in the form and the fashion of his announcement will be old news by the time he gets out and does retail politics in these early states and really shows people if he has what it takes to connect with the voters. And that's the most important thing. All the money in the world cannot buy a genuine ability to connect with voters. And that's what the test is for him moving forward. And it doesn't matter how he announced it. It's a matter of how he executes on the campaign trail.

BLITZER: And, Sara Fischer, you're our media analyst. Give us some context on the role Twitter and Elon Musk, for that matter, occupy among today's GOP.

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Twitter is increasingly playing a big role within the GOP, Wolf, and that's because there's been a lot of shakeups within the conservative media landscape. You'll recall Tucker Carlson was fired from Fox News last month. He said that he would be taking his primetime show to Twitter. We had Daily Wire, a huge media entertainment company on the right, saying that they would bring all their podcasts to Twitter. And I think we're going to hear more from them in weeks to come.

And so you see a lot of momentum from the conservative party moving into Twitter, and I think that's intentional. I think Elon Musk's message of free speech absolutism, no censorship, is really resonating with the right, especially because in the wake of the Donald Trump presidency, the concept of censorship and free speech has become a major platform issue. It wasn't always for the Republican Party, but in recent years, it's something that they're able to rally support around from their base.

And so for someone like Ron DeSantis, he is sending a very clear message to supporters saying, look, I am not announcing through the mainstream media. I'm bypassing them and going on a platform that values free speech. And you and I, Wolf, know we know that that's not necessarily totally true. He's going to be doing an interview on Fox. As David Chalian said, he's putting a video out there.

So, clearly, he knows he needs to do things a little bit traditionally, but this sends an important signal that it will resonate, likely with his party.

BLITZER: All right, everyone, stand by. We still haven't heard the audio announcement on this Twitter interview that he's doing. We're monitoring that. We'll share it with you once we get it.

Also, there's other major news we're following, including the pressure growing right now on President Biden and House Speaker McCarthy to reach a deal on the debt ceiling. We'll go live to the White House and to Capitol Hill for an update on the negotiations. Lots going on. Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.



BLITZER: I want to bring back our political experts for more analysis on the breaking news we're following right now, Ron DeSantis officially publicly launching his campaign for president of the United States on Twitter.

And, Kaitlan, I understand they got some problems over there. What are you hearing?

COLLINS: Yes, this was a concern that some people had today when they said they were going to be announcing this on Twitter spaces, which is essentially this audio-only offer that Twitter has where you could go and listen to a conversation someone has. That's what David Sacks, Ron DeSantis and Elon Musk are supposed to be doing.

But, clearly, I'm not sure if they anticipated how many people would be listening to this or trying to join in on this, obviously quite an audience on this, and there's a lot of glitches, Wolf, that are delaying this.

It's still a difficulty to even actually listen to this conversation. It's not even totally clear if it's fully started. They were trying to do so a few moments ago and start this conversation. You heard Elon Musk briefly speaking on this, but it essentially kept crashing and kept dropping.

And this is something that was a potential to happen. Obviously, Twitter has not been running smoothly, as you've seen how understaffed it's been. And even the Biden campaign has been mocking it already. President Biden sending out a tweet saying, this link works. It's a link to fundraise for his campaign. He's already ribbing the DeSantis campaign launch and just how glitchy it is. So, it's definitely not off to a smooth start.

And this is the concern, of course, and this is what -- when you do have those similar traditional campaign announcements, you don't have an issue like this. But this is how the DeSantis campaign so far is getting started, where they're having not a very controlled issue.

And Elon Musk keeps talking about how many people are trying to listen. Obviously, the expectation would be that they knew it would be a widely listened to campaign launch, and, clearly, it's having a lot of issues. I don't even think it's actually happening right now, Wolf, based on what I can say.

BLITZER: It's very awkward and it was supposed to start about 20 minutes or so ago. It hasn't started yet.

But, Sara, you're our social media analyst. You're an expert in this whole area. Give us your analysis of what's going on, this major glitch unfolding right now for the DeSantis campaign. FISCHER: Yes. So, I was in that audio space. And when I joined Wolf, there were about 667,000 people that were trying to listen. That's what the audio space said at the time.

Now, to give you some context, Twitter has held much bigger events. When Elon did his BBC interview through audio, I think that got up to 3 million people. But what I think they probably didn't anticipate was this many people coming in at the exact same time. Because they had announced that this was going to happen at 6:00 P.M., you can imagine hundreds of thousands, if not over a million people trying to listen to this.

And the problem, Wolf, is that when you have such a high frequency event in any kind of technology, it could be on social media, I'm on my phone right now, it can be in streaming when you're watching sports, it's that huge deluge of people coming in at the same time that often messes things up.

Now, the problem that this is going to have with the DeSantis campaign, and Kaitlan just mentioned this, is that he's trying to send this message that I can bypass the traditional media, I can go direct to my listeners.

Well, when the first time you try to do that in launching your campaign, it doesn't work and you're almost a half hour late to the announcement, it's a very bad look. It's going to make him likely less risk-taking when it comes to this type of thing in the future.

BLITZER: You're absolutely right. Abby, this is clearly not the rollout that DeSantis and his campaign were looking for, were hoping for, is it?


PHILLIP: No, it's not. But, I mean, I think we have to be honest that this outcome was pretty predictable, I mean, especially given the troubles that this platform, Twitter, has had in the past. The challenge with doing an event like this if you are Ron DeSantis and you're trying to present an image of a competent campaign that has its advanced work done, that knows how to put together a smooth running event, which is a kind of microcosm of a smooth running campaign, doing it in this format always introduced a huge amount of risk.

And what's happening now is that instead of talking about what Ron DeSantis is running on and how he's running, what his campaign looks like, people are going to be talking about how this event went. And there is such a thing as negative attention. And he's right now getting a lot of negative attention, and that's probably going to continue and it's probably not going to be undone by anything that is said later tonight in a more traditional format.

First impressions matter. They matter a lot in politics. And I think that he is learning a really important lesson right now, that if you're going to do something unconventional, you really have to have your ducks in a row and understand how this is working. And as Sara was saying, there were about 600,000 people in this event. That's not actually that many people. When I checked a couple of minutes ago, it was about 300,000. So, a lot of people are leaving. Maybe they're being kicked out because of technical glitches. Those are not huge numbers. It should be able to be handled by a competent corporation and a competent campaign. The fact that it's not is, I think, very problematic on both fronts.

BLITZER: Very awkward for the DeSantis campaign, indeed.

And, Jessica Dean, you're there in Miami. What are you learning about DeSantis' next move?

DEAN: Well, we just heard him that Twitter spaces is now up and he just announced that he is officially running for president. A source familiar had told me he was going to stay there and speak despite the glitches. That is indeed what has happened. So, we just heard from him at this point, it's up and running and people can hear it.

It is the conversation between the governor and Elon Musk. And, again, Wolf, the news here is that he did just officially announce that he is running for president. But we're going to continue to monitor this and listen end and we'll bring you more as it happens.

BLITZER: David Chalian, what do you make of this glitch?

CHALIAN: Listen, at the end, I think it is fair to judge what you've heard here from my colleagues that the DeSantis team set this up as, hey, look at this cool thing we're going to do in this totally unconventional way and it didn't go smoothly. And so that is certainly a fair critique. I don't think it's going to be a long lasting problem for his campaign. It's already up and running. He'll move on to other things.

We will start focusing a lot more, as Alice suggested, on his appeal to voters, his interaction with voters, the policies he's running on. I don't think this will be the definitional moment of the DeSantis presidential campaign, but it's certainly not any way anybody on Team DeSantis would have designed this.

You noted that Joe Biden, the president and his team started mocking it. Nikki Haley's team has already put out a video of their widely praised launch from back in February. She had a big event in South Carolina.

They rolled out video of that praising their ability to launch their campaign. So, it's something that I think a lot of insiders paying attention to this will poke fun at. I think at the end of the day, I can't imagine real Republican primary voters making their decision based on a technical glitch.

BLITZER: All right. Jeff Zeleny, you're our political expert. Well, give us the big picture right now. What does all this mean?

ZELENY: Wolf, I think David is right. I mean, the reality is this, of course, is not a scripted rollout as Governor DeSantis would have wanted it, but we've always known the most important day is tomorrow, not today. There are many Republican voters who are hungry for an alternative to Donald Trump. That's what this race is indeed going to be about. Perhaps, this will be a metaphor, we do not know, but the biggest day is tomorrow.

And one of the things that is interesting is the generational argument and the generational change argument that he is hoping to make. He has three young children. He's 44 years old, about half the age of the President, and almost the same as Donald Trump. So, he is going to make that argument to conservatives out there. So, I think we will quickly forget about this Elon Musk Twitter situation. It's a judgment call, perhaps, and perhaps they won't do that in the future.

But his campaigning going forward here, is he able to sort of live up to the expectations that Republican donors have and Republican voters and activists have? That is a big open question here. Donald Trump has had the luxury of running for president a couple of times before. That is a huge advantage here.

But one thing that the DeSantis campaign is going to be relying on that's slightly different than previous campaigns is a large super PAC called Never Back Down.


They're essentially going to outsource much of their work on the campaign. That is also going to raise some questions here about the control that Governor DeSantis will have over all of this. He's known for some even supporters and admirers believe he's a control freak.

So, how he is able to sort of run as a candidate while there is this super PAC out there that is essentially knocking on doors and they have these very large goals of hiring thousands of people in early voting states, how he's able to manage all that will be sort of will set the stage for the success of his candidacy.

But, Wolf, the first presidential debate is about three months or so from now. So, he does not have much time to get up to speed here. But, yes, he has executive experience in Florida, signed a bunch of laws, but his campaign begins a whole new phase in his young political life, again, 44 years old. So, that is a generational change and a challenge for him as well.

BLITZER: I suspect the DeSantis campaign, DeSantis himself, they regret the fact they didn't do a more traditional launch, a real speech, which all the cable networks presumably would have been taking live. Millions of people might have been watching. Instead, they've got this Twitter glitch that's going on right now.

We'll have much more coming up on this, all the major news of the day. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.


[18:35:00] BLITZER: Frustration is growing here in Washington as the critically important debt ceiling negotiations hit a wall yet again, the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, digging in on his demand the government cuts spending as part of any deal. Financial markets are clearly rattled by the impasse, the Dow Jones Industrial average dropping again today by more than 200 points.

We're covering the standoff from every angle. Our Chief White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly is standing by. Our Capitol Hill Reporter Melanie Zanona is joining us as well.

Phil, first to you. What is the feeling tonight inside the White House with the risk of a debt default, what, just over a few days, a week away?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, it's eight days, and I think the compressed timeline certainly is driving anxiety on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue.

But it's worth noting, as bad as yesterday seemed to be in what have been roller coaster negotiations between President Biden's top negotiators and their House Republican counterparts, today appears to have been different, in part because of how little is being said at all. I know that might seem counterintuitive, but in negotiations, particularly this high-stakes that have been this divisive over the course of the last several days, silence is a good thing.

Now the White House negotiators met here at the White House, not on Capitol Hill, with their Republican counterparts for four hours earlier today. One of those negotiators, Congressman Patrick McHenry, ended up staying an extra hour to talk further. And, again, there haven't been any statements, there have been no comments in the wake of that. I was asking one official how things went. All I got in response was we're working. That's a good thing.

So, right now, Wolf, clearly, there is an urgency to get something done, things to seem to be in a better place than they were yesterday or the day before. The big question now, however, is can they start to bridge some very significant divides, particularly on spending cuts or spending freezes. That's where they've been sitting right now.

There are a significant number of issues that were outstanding. I'm told many are still outstanding. But more than anything else, right now, they appear to have had a much better day. Whether or not that leads to an outcome, well, they don't have a lot of time to actually figure that out, Wolf.

We shall find out sooner rather than later. Melanie, I understand there is a lot of political pressure on both President Biden and Speaker McCarthy to hold their line and not walk away with a bad deal. Is that complicating negotiations right now?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, absolutely Wolf. That is exactly what is happening here. It is such a key dynamic and it is really driving the negotiations and it explains why we are in the moment we are in. It really explains this impasse. One example of this is when President Biden initially sounded open to some form of tougher work requirements for social safety net programs. It prompted a flurry of phone calls from the Congressional Progressive Caucus over to the White House, according to multiple sources familiar with those calls. And then the White House did sort of clean up their comments and Biden has been standing firm since then.

But there is still a lot of fear in the Democratic Caucus about what type of deal that Biden might cut and some frustration over the messaging aspect from the Democratic side as well.

And then on the Republican side of things, Speaker Kevin McCarthy is also facing pressure, particularly from his right flank, to really hold the line and not give an inch in these negotiations. Congressman Chip Roy, in fact, put out a letter calling on his colleagues to do exactly that today.

And another complicating factor that I want to point out here is that Kevin McCarthy made a number of promises in his bid to become speaker that are now coming into play. He promised members that he would stick to fiscal 2022 spending levels.

He promised them that he would give members 72 hours to read the bill. So, all of that is coming into play. But despite that, so far, Kevin McCarthy expressing optimism that they can eventually get the deal done, Wolf.

BLITZER: Melanie Zanona, Phil Mattingly. Guys, thank you very much. And we'll have more news in just a moment.



BLITZER: Some very sad news we're following tonight. Tina Turner, the legendary soul and rock singer, has died at the age of 83. CNN's Stephanie Elam looks back at her life and her groundbreaking career.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Proud Mary was one of Tina Turner's signatures showcasing her unique sound, look and moves.

TINA TURNER, SINGER: That's my style. I take great songs and turn them into rock and roll songs on stage.

ELAM: Icon, survivor, a queen of rock and roll.

Tina Turner began life as Anna Mae Bullock in rural Tennessee. As a teenager, she moved to St. Louis where she met rocker Ike Turner.

TURNER: Ike was very good to me when I first started my career, started to sing weekends with him and we were really close friends.

ELAM: The Ike and Tina Turner review's first hit came in 1960 with A Fool in Love, a song they performed on Shindig. They married in 1962, and in 1966, recorded River Deep Mount High. It was a hit overseas, but flopped in the U.S.

Off stage, Ike's drug abuse fueled violent outbursts.


TURNER: I had had a lot of violence, houses burned, cars shot into the lowest that you can think of in terms of violence.

ELAM: After years of physical and emotional abuse, Tina left Ike in the mid '70s with nothing but her name, at one point, relying on food stamps to survive.

In the early '80s, Turner's cover of "Let's Stay Together" reignited her career.

"Private Dancer" followed in 1984, a runaway critical and commercial success. The album featured her only number one song.

Though she wasn't a fan.

TURNER: I didn't like it. I wasn't accustomed to singing those kinds of songs.

ELAM: It was also the title of a 1993 film starring Angela Basset based on Tina's autobiography.

LARRY KING, FORMER CNN HOST: Did the picture do it justice?

TURNER: Yes, I think in a way I would have liked for them to have more truth, but according to Disney, it's impossible. People would not have believed the truth.

ELAM: Turner herself appeared in movies such as The Who's "Tommy" and "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome". She sang its theme song.

As well as the theme to the James Bond film, "Golden Eye".

One major role she turned down would go to Oprah Winfrey in "The Color Purple".

TURNER: It was too close to my personal life. I had just left such a life, and it was too soon to be reminded of.

ELAM: The "What's Love Got to Do It" sound track gave Turner another hit. Her personal favorite --

TURNER: It's very special because at the time when I got it, no one believed in it but me.

ELAM: Turner continued recording and touring into her 80s.

She was honored by the Kennedy Center in 2005 and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo act in 2021, 30 years after her first induction as part of a duo with Ike Turner.

All the while, her Buddhist faith kept her going. TURNER: Because you make this lifetime can be the effect of a better

life the next lifetime. It will be better and gets better and better.


BLITZER: I always loved Tina Turner. Right now, I want to bring in the actress and singer, Sheryl Lee Ralph.

Sheryl, thanks so much for joining us.

What did Tina mean to you?

SHERYL LEE RALPH, SINGER & ACTRESS (via telephone): Oh, my God, this woman, first of all, Wolf, thank you for doing this. Because this woman was truly an icon, a queen, a dynamic, electrifying performer. The likes of which you know, it doesn't happen like this often and for her to have been so loved.

Every time now when I hear "What's Love Got to Do With It", I keep thinking in terms of her passing, it's got everything to do with it because this was an artist who was truly deeply loved and she loved what she did. Getting up on that stage and turning it on for her audience.

I mean, Tina Turner. That's a one in a million type artist.

BLITZER: Yeah, yeah, totally agreed.

RALPH: One in a million type woman. Yes.

BLITZER: Let's listen -- let's listen to part of the number one hit that skyrocketed Tina's solo career, "What's Love Got to Do With It". Listen.


BLITZER: All right. Sheryl Lee, how remarkable was it that Tina came back from an abusive marriage to build such a ground breaking career?

RALPH: Oh, my God. And it's the fact that not only did she come back out of the pain, the pain that a lot of us saw in the movie and we know that it was worse than what we saw in the film, but for her to come back through that and show other women that they can stand up for themselves, that they can make a better choice for themselves using herself as an example. Wow. If that's not queenly disposition, I don't know what is. Just a true leader of a woman and a strong woman at that.

Still with a song to sing to make you believe that everything's going to be all right.



BLITZER: It's amazing. Another iconic song that comes to mind is "Simply the Best". I love that song. Simply the best. Listen to this.

RALPH: Me, too.

BLITZER: Listen to this clip.


BLITZER: So, Sheryl Lee, how did Tina pave the way for other artists? What are the ways we still see her influence today?

RALPH: You know what, it's crazy. I was looking at old photos, all the wigs she wore back then are now popular right now. You know, that spring dress of hers way back then is so popular now.

So, she was so fashion-forward. She was so vibrantly in her thinking that you can do better things for yourself by accepting calmly what is by doing your best. Just being her, simply her best, just said so much for so many.

And I have to tell you, Wolf, I never believed in regrets, but if I ever had one regret, it would be that there were only two women that screen tested to play Tina Turner in the film "What's Love Got to Do With It," I was one, and the other one was the one that got it, and that was the great Angela Bassett, but that one has to be my regret because she was simply the best.

BLITZER: She was simply the best, indeed. Sheryl Lee Ralph, thank you very much.

I want to get more reaction right now. Joining us, the actress, Debbie Allen.

Debbie, how are you remembering Tina tonight? What kind of impact did she have on you?

DEBBIE ALLEN, DEBBIE ALLEN DANCE ACADEMY: Well, coming out of Howard University in 1971, what's love got to do with it hadn't happened already, but "Proud Mary" was an anthem for young Black women. She was the divine feminine incarnate, this incredible black woman who was a rock star. She just, like, jumped across the labels of what music she was supposed to be singing. She made it what it was.

BLITZER: I want to play -- I want to play, Debbie, another little clip from another classic song "Missing You," listen to this.


BLITZER: And I'm missing her already. Tina had a trail blazing career over decades. How much of a role model was she, and not just for women but for people everywhere?

ALLEN: Well, you think about survival right now, Wolf. Look at everything that we're trying to overcome and survive. Tina Turner survived and went beyond, and for that, she's an inspiration to millions of people around the world, and will always be.

And so, Tina is not somebody who was. Tina Turner is someone who is. That's what she is.

BLITZER: Yes, indeed. What do you think her legacy will be?

ALLEN: You've already talked about it so well. (AUDIO GAP) I mean, her legacy is to live life, and I think we have to think about it on this very day that we're celebrating her legacy. We're looking at the lives of those children.

Tina Turner lived until she was 80 something years old, and young children were shot down because of gun violence, and we have to do something with the gun laws in this country so people have the possibility to live to be the grace and to have inspiration of someone like Tina Turner. It won't happen with little elementary school children being shot down when they're 9, 10, 6, 7 years old. I'm sorry I had to segue, but it's where my mind goes.

BLITZER: Yeah, she was simply the best, as we all say. And may she rest in peace, and may her memory be a blessing.

ALLEN: Yes, it is.

BLITZER: And this note to our viewers, coming up on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT," right after THE SITUATION ROOM more tributes for Tina Turner from Ruth Pointer, the Grammy winner and last surviving member of the Pointer Sisters, along with Bryan Adams, both of whom sang with the late music icon. That's coming up right after THE SITUATION ROOM, 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

And we'll be right back.



BLITZER: The man charged with ramming a U-Haul truck into a White House barricade appeared before a judge today as prosecutors argued to keep him in custody on charges that could carry up to ten years in prison. The motive for the attack still unclear tonight just ahead of the trial.

CNN's Brian Todd is joining us outside the federal courthouse in Washington.

Brian, what did the judge decide?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the judge ruled that this young man has to stay behind bars until his next hearing which is next week. We also have new details tonight on some disturbing information that the suspect gave to a Secret Service agent.


TODD (voice-over): Prosecutors say the driver of this 26 foot U-Haul truck poses a flight risk and should remain behind bars. A federal judge agrees, ruling that Sai Varshith Kandula who crashed this truck into a security barrier will remain in custody for now. Kandula currently faces one charge of depredation of federal government property with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a secret service agent alleges Kandula claims he was there to take over the country and would hurt anyone he had to, including killing the president.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Right, they're zeroing in on what appears to be mental health issues. He wanted to do harm to President Biden, but shows up with a van that is searched to contain no explosives, no knives, no guns. The plan seems to be more in his head.

TODD: He told law enforcement Nazis have a great history, according to charging documents. He admires their authoritarian nature, eugenics and their one world order and he looks up to Hitler because he was a strong leader.

OREN SEGAL, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: We often see people who laud Nazi era heroes or people who employ Nazi symbols attacking a wide range of targets. The anti-Semitism often fuels activities that target other communities, that target our democracy.

TODD: Authorities yesterday searched a house near St. Louis, listed as the suspect's address. Classmates and neighbors have described him as quiet and never getting into trouble.

TIM LYONS, NEIGHBOR: I didn't think a quiet guy like that would be able to do something to that degree.

TODD: While much about Kandula's ideology is unknown, one expert who runs a lab studying online hate propaganda warns that many young people are exposed to extremism online.

PROF. CYNTHIA MILLER-IDRISS, AUTHOR, "HATE IN THE HOMELAND": It's really especially in certain spaces like online gaming or in certain forum where young man are sharing means, right, a lot of that content is going to be immediately pretty awful, and right away, expressing racist misogynistic ideas, often anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant ideas, very quickly escalating.


TODD (on camera): The suspect has not entered a plea. The judge ruling he has to stay incarcerated until his detention hearing because he's a flight risk -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I understand, Brian, you're following another disturbing arrest. What are you hearing?

TODD: That's right, Wolf, a man from Florida is in custody after he was arrested yesterday. Police say he had walked up to the gates of CIA headquarters in northern Virginia and declared, quote, I'm here and I have a gun. Police searched his car and found an AK-47, a handgun, several boxes of ammunition and loaded magazines.

Wolf, again, another possible symbolic targeting of a major government installation here in Washington, and I guess they're trying to get more information about his possible motive as well, Wolf.

BLITZER: Very disturbing indeed.

Brian Todd on the scene for us, thank you very much.

And to our viewers, thank you very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @wolfblitzer. You can tweet the show @cnnsitroom.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.