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Trump Powers Toward GOP Nomination After New Hampshire As Haley Fights On; Biden Wins Key Union Endorsement As He Focuses On Fighting Trump; One-On-One With Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff; Source: McConnell Says Senate GOP In A "Quandary" Over Border & Ukraine As Trump Throws Wrench In Negotiations; Jon Stewart Returning To Host "The Daily Show". Aired 6-7p ET

Aired January 24, 2024 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, Donald Trump is powering toward the Republican nomination after his big win in New Hampshire and seething at rival Nikki Haley for refusing to drop out. The race for the White House entering a new phase that's making some Senate Republicans rather nervous.

Also tonight, President Biden just won a key endorsement from the United Auto Workers Union as he and Trump ramp up preparations for a divisive rematch. Team Biden seeking to bring the Democratic coalition together amid protests and discontent among progressives.

And my exclusive interview with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, opens up about his Jewish heritage, warning of the dangerous rise in anti-Semitism across the United States and joining the world in remembering the horror of the Holocaust.

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

Tonight, the Trump and Biden campaigns are in a full scale pivot to the general election just hours after the former president's double- digit win in New Hampshire. Trump and Biden allies now convinced that the fight for the GOP presidential nomination is effectively over. But Trump rival Nikki Haley says, not so fast.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more on where the race goes from here.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Joe Biden and Donald Trump are headed closer to a rematch --

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I've never been more optimistic about America's future.

ZELENY: -- in what could be the longest general election contest in modern American history. With a decisive win in New Hampshire, Trump cemented a political comeback among Republicans. DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: When you win Iowa and you win New Hampshire, they've never had a loss. There's never been. So, we're not going to be the first, I can tell you.

ZELENY: Even as his last remaining GOP rival vowed to press on, raising pointed questions about Trump's competence and electability.

NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Most Americans do not want a rematch between Biden and Trump. The first party to retire its 80-year-old candidate is going to be the party that wins this election.

ZELENY: Tonight, Haley is back home in South Carolina, not to lick her wounds but to soldier on, even as another Trump-Biden showdown looks all but imminent.

The Republican primary calendar is barely underway, with Nevada in two weeks, and South Carolina still one month away, long before a crush of 15 states on Super Tuesday.

But Trump advisers insisted it's time to turn to a battle with Biden, even as the former president made clear Haley was still squarely on his mind, and perhaps still in his way.

TRUMP: Who the hell was the imposter that went up on the stage before and like claimed a victory? She did very poorly.

ZELENY: Despite Biden's own deep political challenges, he remains a central part of Haley's increasingly complicated argument.

HALEY: They know Trump is the only Republican in the country who Joe Biden can defeat.

ZELENY: She's making the case in New South Carolina T.V. ads that it's time to turn the page.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Biden too old, Trump too much chaos, a rematch no one wants. There's a better choice for a better America.

ZELENY: Republicans delivered a double-digit victory to Trump in New Hampshire, but primary voters overall sent warning signs for his standing in a fall election. Haley won big among college graduates and independents. And 42 percent of voters said Trump would not be fit for the presidency if convicted of a crime.

But loyalty among hardcore Republicans and Trump's swift coalescing of party leaders has powered a rebound for the history books.

TRUMP: The reason we have support is because they are so bad at what they are doing and so evil and they're destroying our country.


ZELENY (on camera): Advisers to the Biden campaign and the Trump campaign say they are aggressively pivoting to the general election. Wolf, you could just feel it today talking to you both campaigns as they're planning their strategies through different battlegrounds going forward. This would be the earliest start to a general election campaign in modern American history. The Election Day is 286 days away.

Never mind the fact that a majority of Americans say they do not even want a rematch, it looks like that's where it's heading. However, Nikki Haley is still in this fight. Her advisers tell me that she spent the day talking to supporters. She plans to stay in this race. She'll be holding a rally tonight in North Charleston. Wolf?

BLITZER: Jeff Zeleny reporting for us. Jeff, thanks very much. Let's break all of this down with our excellent political team. And, John King, I'll start with you. Trump won the most votes ever by a candidate in the New Hampshire primary in either party.


The entire GOP seems to be coalescing around him right now, even the Republican National Committee chair, Ronna McDaniel. Listen to this.


RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIRWOMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEEE: The math and the path going forward, and I don't see it for Nikki Haley. I think she's run a great campaign. But I do think there is a message that's coming out from the voters, which is very clear. We need to unite around our eventual nominee, which is going to be Donald Trump. And we need to make sure we beat Joe Biden.


BLITZER: So, John, is this race effectively over right now? How long can Haley actually stay in?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's not over. The only two states have voted 2.5 percent of the delegates, and yet it seems over very much, right? There's a little personal subplot to the Ronna McDaniel there. She's handpicked by Trump. They've had some tension over the debates and the likes. She's trying to get back in his favor. But she's also sending the same message the Trump campaign is sending. They're trying to make it uncomfortable for any other Republican to be in the room unless you're for Donald Trump. That's what they're trying to do. This is over. Let's get together.

Notice the tone in the Haley ad that was in that Jeff Zeleny piece, much more conservative than what she's run in the past, talking about the border, talking about a new generation of conservative leadership, she knows her weakness. She's doing fine among moderates. She's doing fine among independents. She's getting crushed among conservatives.

Can she hold on for a month and try to prove it in South Carolina? That's what she says tonight, Wolf. So, for now, let's take her at her word, but that is a long way off, and Trump is on the path to re- nomination.

BLITZER: It certainly seems like that. Jamie Gangel, I know you have some new reporting about the inner workings of the Haley campaign. Why is Haley soldiering on in this race, and what's her strategy going forward?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, look, as John just said, today she's in her top campaign. People tell me this is not just posturing that she is, quote, 100 percent staying in at least until South Carolina. They feel they have enough money. They feel that even though she has come in third and come in second and she is way behind Trump in South Carolina, they point to the gains that she made in New Hampshire, that she was able to make progress, and they also think they can get under Trump's skin. She called for that debate.

So, she says she has nothing to lose here and she's staying in. It's politics, Wolf. We will see. They're in it until they're not in it. But right now, they say they are in until South Carolina at least.

BLITZER: Let's see what happens. And, Gloria Borger, is with us as well. Gloria, to John's earlier point that was significant, our CNN exit poll found that, what, 60 percent of Haley's voters were independents in New Hampshire, and only 29 percent were actually registered Republicans. What does that tell you?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it tells you that she has a problem with Republicans, but what it also tells you, it's sort of interesting from the Trump side of this, if you look at the exit polls from New Hampshire, it just wasn't all great for him. 68 percent of independent voters in New Hampshire said they would not vote for Donald Trump if he were the nominee.

That's a problem for Donald Trump because he's got to enlarge his base and not narrow his base or keep it the size that it is. He wins 70 percent of Republicans and that's great for him. But he's got to figure out a way to enlarge his base and so far he hasn't done any of that. And that's what Nikki Haley is saying. She's saying, look, I can enlarge the base of the Republican Party so we can actually win a presidential contest.

BLITZER: Yes, that's an important point. And to that point, John, how much is Trump caused for concern for Republicans in a general election?

KING: Well, privately, you hear this, and you hear it, Gloria hears it, Jamie hears it, oh, my God, here we go again. Yes, he won the presidency in 2016, but he lost the popular vote. Then in 2018, they got crushed in the suburbs and lost the House of Representatives. He lost the election in 2020. They dramatically underperformed in 2022. Republicans who know how to run elections tell you, oh, my, with him at the top of the ticket, they actually think he might be able to beat Joe Biden but they're worried about -- you know, just what Gloria just went through. They're worried about the suburbs again. They're worried about independents again. They're worried about suburban women especially.

So, they all concede. Nikki Haley or just about any other Republican would help if you're running for Senate, if you're running for governor, if you're running for the House of Representatives, although the House is a little different because of the way the map is run.

But they also know, Wolf, they can't stop him. They've been trying -- a lot of them have been trying since 2015 since he came down that escalator. Whether you like Trump or despise Trump, he's a phenomenon. If you look at what he has done winning Iowa, New Hampshire, a majority in both states, keeping his coalition together in some ways, perhaps even expanding it a little bit among Republicans.

General election, Gloria is dead right, a lot of potential liabilities and trap doors.


But you try to stop him for the nomination. That's what Republicans look at. We can't stop him, so let's bite our tongues and deal with it.

BORGER: And don't forget all those legal cases that are pending out there. There was another exit poll that spelled some trouble for Donald Trump, should he get convicted of any felonies, because about half of those who voted in the New Hampshire primaries said that if he were convicted, they would consider him unfit for office.

So, that's another headache that Donald Trump has. He's looking great now in the primaries, but if something should happen with one of these legal cases and he were convicted, that's a whole different ball game for them and they have to worry about that.

GANGEL: Wolf, just to add to what Gloria said, there is in politics always the what if scenario. And that's what Nikki Haley is thinking about, whether it's the legal cases or something else. One of her top people said to me, politics is unpredictable. Donald Trump is certainly unpredictable.

And you're going to see she is going to keep pushing on debate, debate, debate. He's not going to debate her, but she's going to be calling him out on that. And she knows she gets under his skin. She knows she can needle him. When you get Donald Trump angry, he can make mistakes, like confusing you for Nancy Pelosi. So, that is part of the strategy here, just to get under his skin.

BLITZER: Yes, it's an important development, indeed. All right, guys, everybody stand by. We have a lot more to discuss.

When we return, how President Biden is gearing up for his likely rematch with Trump, with a key labor union now officially in Biden's corner.

And Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff reveals how the rise in anti-Semitism across the country is taking a very personal toll for him. My exclusive interview, that's ahead as well.


[18:15:56] BLITZER: Tonight, President Biden has a very significant new endorsement under his belt as he sharpens his focus on his expected election rematch with Donald Trump.

CNN's M.J. Lee is over at the White House for us. She's got details. M.J., how important is the president's backing by the United Auto Workers Union?

M.J. LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is a very significant political endorsement and coming just the day after President Biden's campaign, unofficially said this was the start of the general election. Heading into this general election, if there is a matchup, in fact, between President Biden and the former President Donald Trump, there are going to be some blue-collar workers and these kinds of union workers that both candidates are going to be fighting for.

And these are the kinds of voters that are going to be sort of making the decision of what direction some of these rust belt states end up breaking.

Now, in the remarks that we heard from the president earlier today, we heard him explicitly calling out President Trump as he tried to cast himself as being the candidate of the working class. Take a listen.


BIDEN: During my presidency, we've opened 20 auto factories, and more to come. We've created more than 250,000 auto jobs all across America. And while I stood in solidarity, you're on the picket line, as your president said, I went to a picket line, Donald Trump went to a non- union shop and attacked you.


LEE: Now, during these remarks today, the president was interrupted by a protester. This is something, Wolf, that has become quite common at the president's speeches recently, as protesters have objected to the president's support for Israel and accused him of being complicit in the humanitarian crisis that we've seen in Gaza.

I want you to take a look at a sampling of some of these interruptions that we've seen at the president's events in recent days.


BIDEN: No matter what that was, it shouldn't --

You and I had a chance to sit down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you really care about the lives lost here, then you should honor the lives lost and call for a ceasefire in Palestine.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEE: And it's worth noting that the president is often getting interrupted like this when he is trying to focus on some of his top priority domestic issues, like today when he was trying to speak to union workers, like yesterday when he was focusing on abortion rights.

So, this is an issue that the White House is keenly aware of, the campaign as well, particularly as they have seen an erosion of support in younger voters, Arab-Americans and progressives, and something that they know that they will have to work on going into November. Wolf?

BLITZER: Significant development. M.J. Lee from the White House, thanks very much.

Our political experts are back with us. And, John King, this UAW endorsement that could help Biden in the Midwest, specifically Michigan, a key battleground state that was crucial to his 2020 win. It's also home, as you and I well know, to the country's biggest Arab- American population who support Biden, risks losing over his handling of Israel's war in Gaza. How revealing was today's event of Biden's challenges in the weeks and months ahead?

KING: Wolf, I was out in Michigan a few weeks ago, and it is palpable, the disappointment, the anger, the frustration among young voters with the president and among Arab-American voters with the president.

You're talking several hundred thousand people, Arab-American voters, in Michigan, not just in Dearborn, but the huge population there and beyond. We went to the Wayne State campus in Detroit. We went to the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor. Young people are furious, and the college Democrats on both campuses say it's really hard, it's really hard to get people focused on November 2024 when they're so mad at the president today.

So, it is a giant challenge for the president. He's going to have to deal with this, and at the moment there's no solution in sight, because he also has a generational gap with some of these young voters.


Some of them are a little disappointed to begin with, like what are we doing? We need a younger president. So, it's a giant problem there.

The UAW endorsement should help the president. If you look at the Michigan results from 2020, among the battleground states, he won Michigan by three points. That was actually the, quote/unquote, the blowout of the battleground states. I say that with a bit of a laugh, but if you look at Wisconsin or Pennsylvania or Georgia or Arizona, they're smaller margins.

But if you look more closely in Michigan, Trump won McComb County. That's the iconic place we always go to look at auto workers. And that's what has happened. Biden won Oakland County, a more suburban county that used to be Republican. Trump wins McComb, the blue collar county, where you find a lot of auto workers, that Biden walked the picket line should help. But remember, Wolf, we've seen this in past campaigns, whether the issue is guns, sometimes it's trade. A lot of those auto workers defect to the Republicans and they have particular affinity for Trump.

BLITZER: Yes. And, Gloria, how concerned should the Biden campaign be about that anger that we've just been describing?

BORGER: Well, look, as John was saying, I mean, I think they have to be very concerned about this. And maybe the president has to do something, and I know that he's trying, to kind of change the equation with Netanyahu and what's going on in Gaza. That would go a long way.

And maybe there's a way to convince younger voters that the issues -- the other issues they care about, such as abortion, is something that he ought to be talking more about. And also in terms of Muslim voters, mass deportation that the former president is talking about.

So, he can do some comparing and contrasting here. But I think it's up to him at this point to explain to these younger voters what he is trying to do and how difficult it is. I don't think it will go all the way, but I do think he has to draw some contrast with Donald Trump on a lot of these issues because he cannot afford to lose these younger voters.

BLITZER: You're absolutely right. And, Jamie, what is the more pressing issue for Democrats to address right now, the cracks in their own base or Donald Trump's potential re-election?

GANGEL: Both. They're intertwined, no question. Just to underscore what Gloria said and what John said, you look at a place like Michigan, and I've spoken to Democratic members of Congress from the state, and one of them said to me, if the election happened right now, Joe Biden would lose the state to Donald Trump.

So, these things are intertwined. The party, if they want to energize the base and get out the vote, they're going to have to do both these things because what do we know about Donald Trump's base? Look what we saw in New Hampshire yesterday with the vote turnout, they are energized. So, both are critical, Wolf.

BLITZER: They certainly are. And, John, getting a union's endorsement is obviously different than actually winning the support of its working class members. How do Trump and Biden each earn those votes?

KING: Well, Trump says he deserves them, but the fact that he did go to the non-union shop, the fact that the president did go to the picket line, that's a good building block for the president. But to Jamie's point, talk to the Democratic Congress people from the Detroit area, especially Debbie Dingle, who's constantly warning the White House, you need to get out here more. You need to talk to these people.

So, on policy, Joe Biden can say he is the most pro-union president in American history, certainly in modern history. He's right about that. I would say this on all of these issues. One of the things you get when you travel and you talk to Democratic voters who have disappointments with the president or disappointments with the state of the country, maybe it's inflation, maybe it's something else, they want to see him. They want to see him.

So, M.J. is right. He's getting these protests right there right now. But sometimes you've got to go out and take it. Take your lumps, but also make your case. Democrats say they want to see a more visible, more active, more in their community president, and they say that's simply been lacking.

BLITZER: Guys, a very serious conversation. Thanks to all of you for joining us.

Coming up, my exclusive interview with the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, the second gentleman, Doug Emhoff, our conversation about his Jewish heritage and his efforts to fight hatred during an era of rising anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, among other hatreds.

We'll be right back.



BLITZER: As the world prepares to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day in honor of the six million Jews and millions of others murdered by the Nazis, I had the chance to speak exclusively today with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff about his own efforts to fight anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred.


BLITZER: You're the first Jewish spouse of a U.S. vice president or president for that matter, and we're sitting down as the world is getting ready to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the wake of the horrific October 7th assault on Israel, the deadliest day for Jews, as you and I well know, since the Holocaust. Why is it especially important to commemorate this day this year?

DOUG EMHOFF, U.S. SECOND GENTLEMAN: Wolf, that was a genocide, what happened in the Holocaust. As they say, we can never forget. I was there at Auschwitz last year, at International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and at this past year, I've been so profoundly affected by that experience, what I saw. It's never left me. And, in fact, it's informed the work that I have done with the administration on fighting anti-Semitism, hate of all forms, which was very prevalent prior to October 7th.


And, of course, since October 7th, we've seen literally a crisis of anti-Semitism that has erupted here in the United States, but, in fact, all around the world.

So, it's really important as this date is coming up to commemorate the horrors of millions, 6 million Jews slaughtered. And we both saw with our own eyes, Wolf, how it was done in those chambers and the crematoriums. And in the case of my family and millions others, a shot in Town Square and buried in ditches, true Holocaust, genocide. And it's so important that we never forget that and know that it happened, push back on this misinformation and disinformation and lead with education.

BLITZER: I was at Auschwitz this past April. It was so powerful, so moving for me as a child of Holocaust survivors. What moments from your experience visiting Auschwitz stay with you to this day and sort of jump out at you all the time?

EMHOFF: I remember the starkness, the coldness, the barbed wire, the gun turrets. And as you know, it's preserved almost how it was. The disease feel, the desperation, and the horror. And for me, it's looking at the personal effects, the shoes, the glasses, the hair of those slaughtered. To see the gas chambers and the crematoriums, you see the train that brought people in. Some who just were led right to the gas chamber, it stays with you in such a visceral way.

BLITZER: Your great grandparents, Polish Jews, they escaped Poland during an awful time as well before the Holocaust and came to America. And that's where obviously you grew up. It's a really powerful moment to know that your great grandparents could have been some of the victims of the Holocaust, but they were lucky enough to get out.

EMHOFF: Yes. And I didn't know any of this, Wolf. Like I think a lot of American Jews, at least people that I know, my family, we just didn't know our own story. And we were able to track, at least on my father's side, to this village in Poland, Gorlice.

BLITZER: And you visited this town?

EMHOFF: I went to the town. There was a vibrant Jewish community. But as you mentioned, things were changing, and then part of my family was able to leave. But I learned that a large part of the family didn't leave. They stayed. And most of them were murdered in the Holocaust.

And so when you see that and you realize what could have happened, and here I stand before you and the country and the world, as the second gentleman of the United States, the first Jew in this role, and you just see where I came from. And the odds of that happening, and the millions who didn't make it and didn't get out, and my great grandparents laughed, and here I am. So, it's just a very deep experience to go through and to see the actual house.

BLITZER: And there's a picture of you at that house where your great grandparents lived in Poland. Talk a little bit about what it was like to be there and to experience that. You never knew, obviously, your great grandparents.

EMHOFF: Never knew and went to this small town, and like I said, it was a vibrant Jewish community there's very few Jews if any left and they took us around and we were able to find the exact address through the genealogical records, and there it was, exactly how it was back in the prior centuries.

And we just did an unscheduled stop. I got out of the car and I just stood there and I looked at it and I was just stunned. I was in stunned silence and then there were these faces in the windows all looking and waving at me so there are people still living there and everyone I think wants to know where they come from and I got to see where I came from right down to the house in this small town in Poland.

BLITZER: When I went to Poland, my mom and dad gave me the addresses of where they grew up in Poland. And I wanted to make sure that I could go visit their homes, if their homes were still around. Suchedniow, my mother's hometown, Szyszyn (ph), my dad's old hometown, Auschwitz, he grew up in this town outside Auschwitz. All four of my grandparents were murdered during the Holocaust.

But I went to their homes, their addresses, and the Polish people took me around. None of those houses still existed. So, I never could see where my mom and dad grew up in Poland.


And then at least you could experience seeing the home where your great grandfather grew.

EMHOFF: Yes. It really helped understand, again, where you come from, but it informs the work that I've been doing for this past year, plus on this fight against anti-Semitism, this fight against hate.

BLITZER: Since the October 7th Hamas attack on Israel, the ADL, the Anti-Defamation League, says there has been, I'm looking at my notes, 300, 360 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents right here in the United States.

What's your message to the Jewish community and the non-Jewish community for that matter when you learn about this dramatic increase in anti-Semitism in our country?

EMHOFF: Well, it's even worse than that, Wolf. I think those are just the episodes that they're able to track. I think it's worse. We're seeing it in our college campuses. We're seeing it just at our markets, on our streets. It's just -- it's so pervasive.

So, the message is, I understand how you feel. I know a lot of us, I've said this before, we feel alone, we feel unmoored. We have never seen anything like this. And it's just -- it's a tough feeling to have. But we need to push back on it.

And so part of the work that we had done prior to October 7th was the first ever national strategy to combat anti-Semitism. And, luckily, we had that plan in place. And, luckily, we have Joe Biden, who's president, Kamala Harris, who's vice president, because they really pushed to have this plan. And so we were able to not start from scratch after October 7th.

So, we've done in terms of keeping people safe, funds for security, education, fighting what's happening online. But what I'm focused on is coalition building, because, as you know, Wolf, a lot of our traditional coalitions have frayed and it's not a good thing to happen. We need to bring these coalitions back. And so I'm doing a lot of work, a lot of public speaking, a lot of things behind the scenes to get everyone together, to get everyone to understand that this hate is all connected.

And you know you're from Buffalo. The horrific shooting there at that market that targeted black people, that was buying a valid anti-Semite with this so-called ridiculous replacement theory. So, that's what people need to understand. This hate is connected. We all need to push back together against it.


BLITZER: And just ahead, we'll have more of my exclusive, very moving conversation with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and how the Biden administration is combating what he calls a very dangerous epidemic of hate across the country.

We'll be right back.



BLITZER: More now of my exclusive conversation with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff on the very disturbing rise of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hate here in the United States and indeed around the world.


BLITZER: It's not just the anti-Semitism is rising, Islamophobia, the attacks on Muslims and Arabs rising in this country. And I'm wondering if you're dealing with that as well.

EMHOFF: Definitely. From the get-go prior to October 7th, my mission has been to push back on hate. There's an epidemic of hate in this country, in this world, and that includes anti-Semitism, but also, as you mentioned, Islamophobia, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Asian. We've seen it, and this administration has been working hard to push back.

As part of the -- when the President stood up, the interagency group to combat hate, the first deliverable was the national strategy to combat anti-Semitism, but also in the pipeline is a plan to combat Islamophobia.

BLITZER: And we need to protect all these groups that are seeing an increased hatred, Jewish-Americans, Muslim-Americans, Arab-Americans, African-Americans. Are you seeing any improvement at all in these past few months in dealing with this crisis?

EMHOFF: Well, look, as you mentioned, since October 7th, the numbers are dramatic. So, those numbers are rising. But we are doing everything we can in the administration. We are working with our fellow agencies, Department of Education, and others.

We're working with outside groups, and we're going to continue to do that. We've got to get the message out that it's just unacceptable what's happening. It affects all of us, not just Jewish people. As you mentioned, it affects all of us. It's dangerous. It's not good for our society. It's not good for our way of life. And it's got to stop. And I'm going to keep doing everything I can.

BLITZER: And for you and me, this is all very personal.

EMHOFF: It is personal, and I'm sure, Wolf, sometimes, when you have to report on what you're seeing and it's hard to do, there's some days I want to do it because it's too hard, I'm too beat up about it.

But my wife, the vice president, has been so supportive, pushing me out there to continue to use my voice and this microphone to push back on the hate, the vitriol and what's going on. I know I have an obligation to our Jewish community in this role, there's high expectations and there's a lot of accountability. I take that extremely seriously.

So, no matter how bad I might be feeling personally, it's not going to stop me from continuing to use my voice, this microphone, to advocate against anti-Semitism, against hate, and to again to push our coalitions back together so we can fight this thing together.

BLITZER: What's your proudest moment right now, looking back, as the first Jewish second gentleman of the United States?


EMHOFF: Well, I just want to say I'm second gentleman because I'm married to the vice president. So, my proudest moments are I'm able to support her as vice president. She's doing such a great job. I'm so proud of her, as I am of the president.

But I say that having pushed through the national strategy to combat anti-Semitism and all the work I've done combating hate, prior to October 7th and that includes interfaith, and that includes working with all different communities, Muslim community as well, and then knowing that we had done that work, so when October 7 hit, that horrendous day which I'm never going to not feel rage about what happened, we were ready to meet the moment.

And I spent just about all my time publicly and privately since October 7th working on this issue. That included just meeting some of the hostages that were released when I was in Davos last week, hearing their stories, and seeing that the trauma that -- what happened on October 7th, the trauma of these hostages cannot be minimized. It cannot be forgotten. The evidence is outrageous and we can never forget that.


BLITZER: Keywords "never forget" so, so important.

Thanks very much for that interview.

Just ahead, how Republican power players here in Washington are reacting as Donald Trump takes another major step for the party's nomination. They're speaking with CNN and some of them are anxious about another Trump candidacy. We have details right after a quick break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BLITZER: All right. Just into CNN, new signs tonight that Donald Trump's growing hold on the Republican presidential nomination is throwing a major wrench in negotiations over the border and Ukraine. This as some GOP power players worry his likely presence atop the ticket could become a burden on the entire party.

Our chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju is working his sources for us as he always does up on Capitol Hill.

Manu, what are Republican lawmakers telling you?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, behind closed doors, just moments ago, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell raising fresh doubts about whether Congress can improve a national security package and includes aid to Ukraine, aid to Israel, linked a new legislation dealing with the border, the U.S. border with Mexico, because of deep divisions within the Republican ranks about how to proceed and not insignificantly , noting Donald Trumps opposite mission to any bipartisan deal that could be reached in Congress.

Trump has publicly said Republicans to reject anything short of what he considers a, quote, perfect deal that is essentially thrown a wrench into the process. Other Republicans simply don't want to break from the Republican nominee, don't believe that his bipartisan deal should move ahead. Some frankly are saying that going ahead and giving Joe Biden victory on this key issue is not what they want it this moment when immigration is dominating the presidential race.

Now, this all comes as Republicans on Capitol Hill are grappling with the fact that Donald Trump is atop the ticket. Yesterday are more Republicans who are now endorsing them. But in the Senate in particular, that are still concerns about his electability, particularly in those swing districts and swing states in which Republicans need to keep control of the House and also win back the Senate next year.


SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): I'm going to support the Republican nominee. And that nominee is going to have to go after that middle ground or you don't win.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): After a primary, there needs to be a broader appeal then just to primary voters, you can't win with just your, your own base.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I think when you look at the structural problems of President Biden with the electorate versus that of Trump, I think Trump has a better hand. But there's a long way to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP) RAJU: And even as House Republican leaders are falling behind Donald Trump, the number one and number two Senate Republican leaders still not endorsing him. That includes McConnell, who has had a sour relationship with Trump since the aftermath of January 6, as well as the number two Republican, John Thune, who said he would eventually support the Republican nominee. But at this point, not supporting Trump as he's raised concerns himself by Trump's impact down the ticket -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very interesting, indeed. Very significant.

Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill, thank you.

Coming up, one of America's most prominent comedians will be returning to the airwaves as the 2024 election cycle is heating up. We'll have the details when we come back.



BLITZER: Jon Stewart will be returning to host Comedy Central's "The Daily Show".

Brian Todd has our report.


JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: We'll be right back.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Late night viewers brace yourselves for the return of Jon Stewart, just in time for this year's presidential race. The 61-year-old comedian returns to his former program, "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central. At least every Monday, he'll executive produced the show and work with the rotating lineup of hosts for the rest of the week.

After nearly nine years away, viewers will once again experienced a Stewart's left-leaning brand of cutting humor about politics, corporate America, and the news media.

ERIK WEMPLE, WASHINGTON POST MEDIA CRITIC: But I think his impact will be pretty big as far as one particular entity goes. He's always been able to jump on the absurd and really pound it and pound it.

TODD: For 16 years as host of "The Daily Show", Stewart reached an audience beyond just political junkies.

WEMPLE: Everybody watched, everybody tuned in, and a lot of people, especially young people, learn their news from "The Daily Show". He was an enormous force in American society.

TODD: Increasingly, Stewart wore his politics on his sleeve, gravitating toward interviews with figures like senators, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

STEWART: They've told you nothing.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MAN): It's -- it's not bad exactly.

TODD: Stewart left the show in 2015 at the height of Donald Trump's rollicking first presidential campaign.

STEWART: What (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is wrong with him? It is hard to get mad at Donald Trump for saying stupid things. In the same way, you don't get mad at a monkey when he throws poop at you at the zoo.

TODD: Stewart turned to other projects, supporting 911 first responders, a movie project, and a short-lived show on Apple's streaming service, while the show he once helmed lost much of its viewership and its voice.

WEMPLE: In terms of a ratings vehicle, which is how a lot of television execs keep score, it dropped a lot.

TODD: Now, many Democrats are gleeful over the prospect of Stewart's potential broadsides aimed at the presumptive Republican nominee.

Donald Trump is going to give Jon Stewart so much golden material that the Joe Biden campaign won't be able to put a value on it.

STEWART: Well, Joe Biden.

TODD: But Biden could be a big target as well.

WEMPLE: People should remember that Stewart wasn't afraid to criticize both sides in his monologues, in his routines.


TODD (on camera): Media and political analysts say Donald Trump and his campaign will very likely do their own deep dive on Jon Stewart to try to dig up some dirt on him and some punch lines of their own to hit back at the comedian.

Wolf, get ready. It's going to be pretty hot in the campaign season.

BLITZER: We certainly will be ready.

Brian Todd, thanks very much.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.