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The Situation Room

Now, Biden Speaking in Crucial 2024 Battleground Pennsylvania; Trump Meets With Hungarian Strongman, Putin Ally Viktor Orban; Biden: Push For Israel-Hamas Ceasefire By Ramadan "Looking Tough"; Israel Protesters Try To Block Aid Trucks From Entering Gaza. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 08, 2024 - 18:00   ET



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Over 100 million Americans can no longer be denied health insurance because of preexisting conditions. But Donald Trump has announced he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as Republican colleagues tried 49 other times in the last since Obamacare was passed, it's not going to happen on my watch.

Look, I'm also working to bring down the cost of housing. I'm proposing a nano tax rate that will give Americans $400 a month over the next two years to put toward their mortgage if they are buying for their first home or if, in fact, they're moving to a larger place because they afraid they are going to lose the mortgage rate they have.

But guess what? I can't guarantee it, but I bet you, I'll bet you those rates come down more, because I bet you, that little outfit that sets interest rates, it's going to come down. It's going to come down. Folks, we're cracking down on big landlords who break antitrust laws by price fixing and driving up rents. Now Congress needs to pass my plan to build and renovate 2 million affordable homes and apartments and bring those rents down.

And, by the way, all my public expense, that's cost a lot of money raising the deficit. Guess what? We cut the deficit. It cut that deficit, $1 trillion. The last guy ballooned the deficits. We passed a budget deal that will cut another trillion dollars over the next decade. They kept trying to get out of it, but they finally agreed.

And now it's my goal to cut the federal deficit by 3 billion more, 3 trillion more by making big corporations very wealthy. And I'm a capitalist, by the way. You can go make a million bucks, and make a billion, good for you, but pay your taxes.

We have 1,000 billionaires in America, 1.000. Guess how much their tax rate is? 8.3 percent. Anybody want to change the tax rates with them? Just think about that, 8.3 percent, billionaire. Donald Trump, you sure as hell do.

Look, Donald Trump enacted a $2 trillion tax cut when he was president, overwhelmingly benefitting the very wealthy, and exploded the federal deficit, exploded it. We cut the deficit and we added more to the national debt than any president in his term in all of history.

And under Donald Trump, these guys talk about too many corporations raise their prices and pad their profits, charging you more and more for less and less. That's why we're cracking down on corporations engaged in price gouging and deceptive pricing.

It looks like companies that you wouldn't notice. They thought you wouldn't notice. But, you know, if you're giving the same size bag of potato chips, about 20 percent fewer potato chip.

No, by the way, that's not a joke. Some of you may have seen there was a T.V. thing on how Snickers bars, same exact price, I don't know the exact number, like 20 percent less bar. No, I'm serious. Congress needs to sign Bobby Casey's bill to stop shrinkflation, stop it. These are what my family and I grew up in. These were kitchen table issues.

I am also getting junk fees for those hidden fees added at the end of your bills without your knowledge. My administration just announced we're cutting credit card late fees from $32 to $8.

And, by the way, I'm not being arbitrary. The law says they can charge for a late fee. When it costs them to collect it, it does not cost anywhere near $32 but they make over time over that period billions of dollars. Literally, it's stunning to me. You got 450,000 people paying those late fees and they charge this, they end up paying over $2 billion.

The banks and credit card companies don't like it. Why? I'm saving American families $20 billion a year with those junk fees by (INAUDIBLE), $20 billion.

And, by the way, I grew up in Scranton and Claymont, Delaware.


They're the two places I grew up. And you know what? It made a difference in my household if you had to pay an extra $50 a month, $100 a month for things. It wasn't fair. It matters, and so does this. Folks, does anybody think the tax code is fair?

No, I mean it. I'm serious. I know. I'm going to keep fighting like hell to make it fair. Under my plan, nobody making less than $400,000 a year, which I'd never made until I became president, will pay one penny in additional tax, nobody, not one penny. A big corporation will finally have to begin to pay their fair share. No, really, this is just fairness. It's about fairness and decency. This is not a -- we're not making this stuff up.

In 2020, you might remember, this was a big fight I had with the Republicans. In 2020, 55 of the largest corporations in America made $40 billion in profit and paid zero in federal taxes. Well, I would determine to change that.

Guess what? Not anymore. Thanks to the law I wrote and signed, big companies now have to pay a minimum of 15 percent. It's only 15 percent. Still less than working people pay in federal taxes. This time, we're going to raise the minimum tax to corporations at least 21 percent. And so every billion-dollar corporation finally begins to pay their fair share.

Look, I want to end tax breaks for big pharma, big oil, corporate jets, massive executive pay that gets deducted. Look, as I said, there are 1,000 of billionaires in America, and their federal tax rate is 8.2 percent. I said 3 before. That's far less than the vast majority of you pay. No billionaire should pay a lower tax than a teacher, a sanitation worker, a nurse. That's why I propose not the highest tax, the minimum tax of 25 percent for billionaires, just 25.

And guess what? Now, how much money that would raise over the next ten years? $500 billion. And imagine what that could do for America and for our future. It could cut the deficit. It could provide for childcare. I mean, there's so much that we need to do and not raise the deficit.

Let's invest and let's continue to invest in the future by confronting climate crisis, not denying it. I don't know. Since I've been president, I've gone with all the folks from my administration. I have flown over those wildfires out west and in the northwest and the southwest. I've literally in a helicopter, all of them. And guess what? It's burned down more timber and more housing and comprises the entire state of Maryland.

We're taking the most significant action in the climate ever in the history of the world. They said I couldn't get it passed. We got $369 billion passed for climate change, and still cut the deficit.

And America is safer today when I took office. The year before I took office, murder rates went up to 30 percent nationwide, the biggest increase in American history under the last guy. And now through the American Rescue Plan, whichever Republican voted against, I might add, I've made the largest investment in public safety ever.

Last year, murder rates saw the sharpest decrease in history. Violent crime fell to one of the lowest levels in more than 50 years. I'm ramping up federal enforcement for the Violence Against Women Act, which I proudly wrote, so we can finally end the scourge of violence against women. These guys fought taking away guns from domestic abusers. I mean, I don't know where they -- we beat the NRA when I proposed and signed the most significant gun safety law in 30 years. Now, we have to beat NRA again. I'm demanding a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. I did it once and passed universal background checks.


Repeal the immunity that protects gun manufacturer. Look, imagine if tobacco had the same limitations of companies that gun manufacturers. The only major corporation in America, industry in America that you cannot sue is gun manufacturers. Think about that. Imagine if that had been the case with tobacco, how many more people would be dying of cancer.

Look, there's a lot more to say, but I'm keeping you standing too long. I know -- look, I was watching on television last night about 2:00 in the morning after we got back to the house, the house the White House, I still think it was hard to think of it as home. I had the T.V. on. And there was a Fox News commentator saying, you know, Biden is changing from trickle-down economics to build from the middle out and the bottom up. It's going to ruin America. It will ruin America.

We have the strongest economy in the world right now. And like I said -- well, like I said, and I mean this sincerely, and I believed in my whole career, finally got it done, if we focus on the middle class, first of all, they're the heart and soul and sinew of the country. If you focus on them and give them an even chance, the poor have a way up, and the wealthy still do very, very well, still do very well. As I said, I'm a capitalist. But capitalism, when it turns to engaged in non-competition, it ends up being just stealing.

But let me close with this. I know you're thinking that I couldn't have been around very long. When you get to be my age, certain things become clear, never before. I know the American story. I've seen it again and again in contests between competing forces, the battle for the soul of this nation.

Some of you may remember when I ran in 2020, I got criticized by the press for saying I was running for three reasons. One, to restore the soul of America, two, to build a middle class so we can begin to grow again, and everybody have an even chance, and, three, to unite the country. They're still my goals. They're still my goals.

Well, thanks. Because the soul of the country is who we are. Look, you know, did you ever think, those of you who are over 40, did you ever think we'd be in a situation where we talk to each other like we talk these days? Why you see things that we see that no matter how tense things were, they were really tough in other parts of our history, when you ride down the street and there's a Trump banner with an F.U. on it and a six-year-old kid putting up his middle finger, did you ever say -- no, I'm serious. Did you ever think you'd hear people talk the way they do?

Look, it demeans who we are. That's not who America -- that's not America. Those between -- look, those of us who want to pull America back at the past and those who want to move it into the future, my lifetime has taught me to embrace the future. I mean it sincerely, freedom, democracy, a future based on the core values that have defined America, honesty, decency, fairness, equality, just treating people just fairly. No, I really mean it. We don't always live up, but that's the American creed.

Donald Trump sees the story differently. He sees the story of resentment, revenge, retribution. I've been working like hell to unite Europe, NATO, and make sure Ukraine doesn't get crushed by this dictator in Russia.


But, you know, the fact is that you have a president who literally has invited Putin to do what it wants, do what the hell it wants if it could come into Ukraine. He thinks Putin is a strong, basically, he's a decent guy. You know who he's meeting with today down in Mar-a-Lago? Orban of Hungary, who stated flatly, he doesn't think democracy works. He's looking for dictatorship, only a member of NATO. That's who he's meeting with.

I see a future where we defend democracy, not diminish it. I see a future where we defend our freedom, not take them away. I see a future where the middle class has a fair shot, and the wealthy pay their fair share. And I see a future for the planet move from the climate crisis in our country away from the gun violence that we have so much. I see a future America remains the beacon of the world.

I've been doing foreign policy since I was a kid in the Senate. I was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. And I've gone now, I spent over almost 200 hours with the leaders of Europe, the heads of state. I know them all. I've known them well. And guess what? You know what everyone says to me, virtually except Orban? I'm serious. As we leave these meetings, well, indirectly, they grab my arm and I pull my side. I'm serious. They pull me aside and say, you've got it. He can't win again, because my democracy, meaning their country, my democracy is at stake. My democracy is at stake.

Folks, above all, I see a country for all Americans, a future for all Americans, a presidency for all Americans, because I believe in America. I believe in you, the American people. We just have to remember who in hell we are. We are the United States of America. And there's nothing, nothing beyond our capacity if we do it together.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to be here. Thank you.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We've been listening to President Biden in Pennsylvania kicking off a tour of key battleground states only hours after his fiery State of the Union address last night.

I'm Blitzer in The Situation Room. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. We want to go straight to our Senior White House Correspondent MJ Lee. She's on the scene for us in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, that's outside of Philadelphia.

MJ, the president is working to build on the momentum he appears to have gotten from his speech last night. Set the scene for us. This is just the start, right?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. We just saw the president's post-State of the Union tour officially get underway both the president and the first lady. We heard echoing some of the themes and the very issues that we heard from the president's speech last night on everything, from protecting democracy and reproductive rights and lowering costs for everyday Americans.

But unlike last night, Wolf, it was really interesting, we heard President Biden referring to his predecessor this time, multiple times by name, using very stark language. You know, Wolf, last night, we heard from many of the president's supporters basically saying that they saw a version of President Biden that they had badly wanted to see. They saw vigor. They saw clarity. They saw energy. And they are now hoping that President Biden can take all of that and replicate it as he travels the country.

Now, to that end we know from the campaign that the president is going to be doing a flurry of travel in the coming days, traveling to states like Georgia, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Michigan. And we're also going to see the campaign beeping up its operations even more, opening new offices, launching a new ad campaign, basically everything that we see the campaign do from this point onwards is going to be with an eye towards November and with Donald Trump in mind, as we clearly saw from the president's speech just now on the stage.

Now, just one last thing that I do want to note from where we are here in the suburbs of Philadelphia, we are seeing every day, Wolf, signs that the issue of the Israel-Hamas War continues to be a big political complication for this president. As we were coming into this gymnasium, we spoke with a protester who said she is here because she wants to call on the president to back a permanent ceasefire.


Now, of course, as you know, the president has so far only called for a temporary ceasefire, and we saw him telling reporters just moments ago that he's not hopeful that a deal can be struck on that front by the time that Ramadan comes around -- around this weekend. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. MJ Lee on scene for us in Pennsylvania, thank you, MJ, very much.

I want to bring in our CNN Political Commentators Scott Jennings and Karen Finney along with Biden biographer Evan Osnos, who's here with me in The Situation Room right now.

So, what do you think Evan? You know President Biden. You've written a terrific biography of him. You recently spent some time with him in the Oval Office for an article you wrote an important article in The New Yorker Magazine. Does he believe his message is resonating right now?

EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I think you're starting to see the outlines of what the message is going to be. We heard some of that last night and just now. We're seeing what is going to be really the thrust of this.

In the very foreground, there is going to talk of abortion every day. There is a real feeling in the White House that they know this resonates with people. They're very concerned about losing that access and losing their right that has been established for 50 years, the threat to democracy.

And then also these day-to-day issues, things like price gouging, things like junk fees. I know it can seem like these are two very different kinds of problems. They see them as generational challenges on the one hand and then real practical day-to-day issues. You put these things together. And it's important to add you make a joke or two about your age. You invoke it as a sign of wisdom, as, you know, I remember when we were more decent to each other in public life. That's a formula we're going to hear a lot of in the next few --

BLITZER: What do you think about the fact that last night he really went after Trump, but he didn't refer to him by name? He only referred to him as my predecessor. But today it was Trump, Trump, Trump.

OSNOS: Yes. I think last night, it was Biden's night. You know, of course, it is an official speech. There was a heavy political element, but, he was there to talk about what it means to be the president of the United States.

This was the campaign rally. Here he is out on the road. He's talking about the man he is going to running against, not the one who he replaced and drove out of office the last time.

BLITZER: Interesting. Stand by.

Karen Finney, it seems to me, based on what I'm hearing from a bunch of Democrats out there, they were pretty pleased by what the president did last night. I think they're going to be pleased by what he just did now in Pennsylvania. What are you hearing?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. I did some checking in today with particularly some of the groups, the outside groups that are supporting the campaign, and they were very pleased. And it was a big win. And as you can imagine, folks need a win. I mean, in a campaign you need to feel like you are clear about why you're doing it. You support your guy. Your guy is out there fighting and you're fighting for him. I think particularly they were pleased.

We saw in dial groups overnight some of the internals showed independents, Democrats and Republicans really resonating particularly with this economic message. They also -- obviously, in modern campaigns you've got to be you know in the digital space, and so different clips they we're testing from the speech, did very well particularly when we talked about -- he talked that Social Security, reproductive rights, as Evan pointed out, also towards the end, when he talked about the future.

And so, to what Evan said, you are going to hear more about that, because again, the testing is showing that it's resonating with people, so I think you're going both see and hear of that.

BLITZER: And in the hours after his speech, during his speeches, in fact, as well, his campaign was raising a lot of money online.

FINNEY: Yes, they were. And, obviously, they've been doing very well in fundraising despite what the polls might say. And, again, last night I think that's another sign of how well it was received.

BLITZER: Very interesting, indeed. Scott Jennings said, do you think President Biden has been able to surpass the very low expectations set by Republicans in his remarks today and last night? Did they set the bar too low?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he thrilled Democrats. I mean, he gave a campaign rally speech instead of the State of the Union and he just gave another one today. And, yes, I mean, I think Democrats are thrilled, and you can hear it all day long. Last night, Democrats were very happy.

What I wonder about, is the rest of the country happy with it? Are middle America swing voters happy with it? I don't think I've heard from a single Republican who thought it was a very good speech.

And so I think he really was scrambling last night, frankly, to convince Democrats that he's still got enough juice to run this race. It sounds like maybe Democrats think that he does. My personal view is that a lot of people who have driven down Joe Biden's job approval people would have rather heard him spend more time on some of the issues they're worried about.

I mean, he's obsessed with Snickers more than he's with the southern border. I don't know if they're going to be able to run a whole campaign on Snickers bars, but I guess we're going to find out because he did it again today.

BLITZER: He repeated what he said last night about shrinkflation, as he is calling it.

Let's talk a little bit about the whole nature of his speech. It was a fiery, very strong speech last tonight as well as today. Why haven't we heard these kinds of speeches from him over these past several months?

OSNOS: You know, I think there's a rhythm to a campaign.


I mean, over the last several months, I've been talking to the White House a lot. They were watching the Trump battle in the primary against pretty weak opponents. But that was -- you know, they were essentially letting that play out because there was going to come a point when it was going to be a Trump versus Biden fight.

And if you go too early, you start making speeches like this, it diminishes the impact of it on a night like they had last night. They're not going to have a larger audience than they had probably until the convention. So, you have to pick your shots and pick them right.

He picked last night, as tens of millions of Americans were watching on television, the broadcast networks, the cable networks, everybody was taking it live. It was a very serious moment, indeed.

Do you think, at least among Democrats, he put his mental capacity, the issues that had come up, to rest?

FINNEY: Absolutely. And just to respond to Scott, again, what we were seeing internally in dial groups, independents and moderate Republicans were resonating with what the president was saying. So, I think it was a win all around.

You know, it was interesting, to note sort of the vigor in his voice, particularly, Evan, after reading in your piece about the sound of his voice, I think there was some -- they were conscientious about really projecting strength and confidence. And, again, you saw that today.

And I think people like -- you know, that's what feels like a campaign. And I think people like to see that.

BLITZER: What do you think, Scott?

JENNINGS: I don't think there's any Republicans that heard much in that speech last night that are going to cause them to say, yes, let's do four more years of what we really hated about the last four years. I think that's totally bogus.

And I think, though, we are going to see an extremely partisan, nasty campaign. The speech last night and the speech today, I mean, it's really all about Trump. I mean, Biden's main pitch is, I'm not Trump, and here's a little bit of Democratic boilerplate thrown in.

Trump is the center of this universe. Biden obviously thinks that by scaring people with Trump, that's how they're going to win the race. I think you're going to see a really, really, really negative, nasty campaign out of this Democrat. And, obviously, you're going to see one out of Trump, too.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Evan, the February jobs numbers came out earlier this morning, 275,000 new jobs created in the United States in February alone. All these other economic numbers that have been coming out, the Dow Jones, the NASDAQ, you know, people's 401(k)s, unemployment, they're very, very strong.

But he doesn't seem, at least now, at least in the most recent polls, to be getting any credit, significant credit for that. Why?

OSNOS: You know, you're beginning to see some shifts on that. Consumer sentiment has been rising over the course of just the last six weeks, two months. There was actually a poll of business executives recently that says that they're seeing conditions improved. It takes a while for this stuff to trickle into the, into the populace.

You know, I think it's worth responding to something Scott said too, which is, was there anything in that for, on a bipartisan basis? Look, there was an opportunity for Republicans to cheer the idea of pushing back against Vladimir Putin's aggression, to cheer the idea of cutting drug costs, cheer the idea of going after, you know, abusive practices by corporations.

There are opportunities there if they want to do it. After all, the biggest example is a border bill, which 70, which passed the Senate 70 to 29. So, it is sitting there if Republicans want to take it up.

BLITZER: It was supported by conservative Republicans in the Senate, indeed, and is just laying flat in the House of Representatives. Republicans won't put it up largely because Trump told them to don't give President Biden any victories right now for political reasons.

Everybody stand by. We're going to continue to watch what's going on. President Biden voicing deep concern about Donald Trump's meeting tonight with the far right prime minister of Hungary, a strong man and an ally of Vladimir Putin.

Let's go to CNN's Kristen Holmes. She's in West Palm Beach, Florida, not far from Mar-a-Lago, where Trump is hosting Hungary's Viktor Orban. Kristen, tell us more about this meeting.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I do want to tell you one thing as I was listening to Biden speaking just now, hearing him really go after Orban was quite striking for somebody who has sit in a number of speeches of Donald Trump's and usually hears the former president praising Orban, saying how much they are aligned, saying that Orban has really done wonders with his country, and then hearing Biden, essentially calling him an authoritarian, saying that he wants to take away democracy. Just a very interesting juxtaposition, particularly as you said, because Orban is currently meeting with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

The two of them were set up for what one adviser called a social meeting, the idea there being that there was no agenda, that this wasn't some kind of formal sit-down meeting, which, of course, in some ways, it couldn't be because Donald Trump is not currently a world leader.

But one thing to note is that the White House never issued Orban any sort of official invitation to come to Washington to meet with Joe Biden, and Orban never reached out to the Biden administration to sit down with anyone from the administration or with the president himself, which gives you an idea of where Orban's head is at.

It also gives you an idea of where Donald Trump might align himself if he is, in fact, brought back to the White House.


The reason why this is so significant is because Donald Trump is not just the former president, but he is currently the presumptive Republican nominee.

And this really gives you a look at what a Trump second term might look like in terms of a world stage. Donald Trump has repeatedly, as I said, praised Orban on the campaign trail, and on top of that, the two of them seem to have the same political playbook. They are almost identically aligned when it comes to immigration. They have both said that Putin wouldn't have invaded Ukraine if Donald Trump was still in the White House. They had both attacked the free press and called it fake news. There is a lot of similarities there to point out.

So, whether or not we have an agenda for this meeting, it is telling of what the next several months and possibly another Trump administration would look like.

BLITZER: Kristen Holmes in West Palm Beach, Florida, not far from Mar- a-Lago, thank you very much for that update.

And there's a lot more news we're following, including more breaking news. We'll take a quick break, much more right after this.



BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news, President Biden ramping up his attacks on Donald Trump in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania just hours after delivering his fiery and very political State of the Union Address last night. The president kicking off a tour of crucial swing states, including Michigan, where he plans to campaign next week.

Joining us now to discuss what's going on, Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan. Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.

The president in these remarks repeatedly took on Trump by name this time as opposed to last night. He's touting his record on the economy, reproductive rights and healthcare. Does that resonate -- do you believe, does that resonate more than his arguments about protecting democracy here in the United States and around the world?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): I think it's going to be all of them. Today was a political speech. Last night was the official State of the Union speech. That's why you saw the more direct naming of the person today. I think being worried about what's going to happen to our democracy, treating each other civilly is an important issue, but there are a lot of different groups that are going to matter that have to show up in November at the polls. Women are going to be the biggest. In Michigan, a few years ago, when abortion was on the ballot, had one of the highest voter turnouts we've ever had. We need to turn out women.

A lot of the economic discussions he's having right now, we've got to get in the union halls. We've got to talk to those workers. These are issues that are going to resonate with them as well, and they've got to get to the polls. So these are very, very important issues in terms of some of the people that have to vote in November.

BLITZER: As you know, the president seems to be dialing up his public rhetoric against the way Israel is conducting its war in Gaza against Hamas and resorting to plans to deliver aid to the Palestinians of Gaza by air and sea. Is that too little too late for the 101,000 people in Michigan who actually voted uncommitted to protest the president's policies?

DINGELL: So, first of all, Wolf, I'm going to remind people that we're a state that often votes uncommitted, though the number was higher. And the community called the campaign, Listen to Michigan. And they did want to be heard, because so many members of the Arab-American Muslim community have lost members of their family, have members of their families that can't get out that are struggling. There's no food. There's no medicine. We need to get significant humanitarian aid there.

Quite frankly, I was disappointed to hear today that we are not likely to get a temporary ceasefire by Ramadan. And that temporary ceasefire needs to go into a permanent ceasefire at some point. People are hurting here. And until they don't see any more children dying, until they don't see the innocent loss of civilians, it's going to be hard for them to have some of the real conversations in the group garrison that's got to be made and will be made at the right time.

BLITZER: Yes, let's hope there is a ceasefire, and it happens soon.

The United Auto Workers president, as you know, Congresswoman, Shawn Fain, was one of the first lady's guests at the State of the Union Address last night. How far does the president's economic message go with rank and file union workers in Michigan where you are?

DINGELL: So, Shawn Fain and I have talked a great deal about this. He has endorsed the president. We know we have got to get into the union halls and really talk to members about what the president has done. And it's one thing to say, okay, today, we had 285,000 new jobs, they need to understand how much he has helped them, and they are. Look, let's be real. There are a lot of working people across this country that are -- have felt the effects of inflation but they are beginning to see better things or costs are coming down. We have to make it very personal to them.

And I'm not going to kid anybody. We have got to get into the union halls. But the Joe Biden you saw last night, the Joe Biden you have seen today, he connects with these workers. And I do believe that I was worried about the union halls in 2015 and 2016. You know that. I think that this Joe Biden is one that will connect with the union workers.

BLITZER: And we'll see what happens in Michigan at key battleground state.

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, thanks so much for joining us.

Coming up, Donald Trump just posted a nearly $92 million bond for the E. Jean Carroll defamation ruling. But he still owes hundreds, hundreds of millions of dollars for other cases. We have details.


That's coming up next right here in The Situation Room.


BLITZER: Tonight, we're tracking Donald Trump's enormous cash crunch from multiple legal judgments, fees and penalties. He just posted a nearly $92 million bond in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case against him, and that's just a drop in the bucket. He's on the hook right now for mega millions.

Brian Todd is taking a closer look.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They attack my business. I built a great business.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The former president's projection of himself as a star businessman with deep pockets facing a stern challenge tonight. Donald Trump today posted a bond of nearly $92 million to cover the damages in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case as he appeals the judgment against him in that case.

An insurance company called Chubb underwrote the bond Trump posted today, but Trump still owes damages of $454 million for a separate judgment against him in the New York attorney general's civil fraud case.


And while he's appealing the case, he's only got until March 25th to pay that off.

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It isn't really big bind particularly because there's a clock ticking on it. It's a very tight timetable. I mean, someone with that wealth might be able to raise cash if you give them enough time. But with this kind of situation, it's very hard.

TODD: Another hit, he's been ordered to pay $385,000 in legal fees to a company he sued in the Christopher Steele dossier case. And he's got other mounting legal fees that he owes for litigation in the four criminal trials he's facing.

All of these raising questions about Trump's ability to pay.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, "THE MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP": This has got to be really straining his finances. Donald is always had a house of cards financial structure.

TODD: The former president's finances are an opaque, complicated tangle. Forbes estimates his net worth at about $2.6 billion. But most of it is tied up in real estate.

Could he sell one or more of his famous properties to cover it?

WU: That's hard to sell real estate very quickly unless you're doing a fire sale on the assets, which you wouldn't want to be doing.

Could he spend campaign money to pay the New York civil judgment? "The New York Times" recently reported that one of Trump's political action committees spent about $50 million in donor money last year to pay legal expenses for him. But because that New York civil case was not related to his campaign or his conduct as president, he likely wouldn't be able to use his packs to pay that judgment.

He could sell his stake in his social media platform, Truth Social. A pending merger between the parent company of Truth Social and another firm could make Trump's stake worth about $4 billion. But -- SARA FISCHER, AXIOS SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: If this company can even

merge to go public, he would have to wait six months to be able to sell anything.

TODD: That raises another possibility.

JOHNSTON: I think Donald may file personal bankruptcy as a strategic move to delay collection of these cases. His goal would be to get past November 5, day of the presidential election.


TODD (on camera): One other hurdle Donald Trump is facing is that some of the world's biggest banks actually stopped lending to him a while ago -- Wolf.

TODD BLITZER, CNN HOST: Brian Todd reporting -- Brian, thank you very much for that report.

Just ahead, what President Biden is saying about a potential ceasefire in Gaza as the fate of hostages hangs in the balance?

And I'll get reaction from a New Jersey couple whose son was kidnapped during the October 7 attacks.



BLITZER: Tonight, President Biden says efforts to secure a pause in the fighting and a hostage exchange by Ramadan are, in his words, looking tough. This is talks for a six-week ceasefire between Israel and Hamas stall before the Muslim holy month begins early next week.

Joining us now, Yael and Adi Alexander. Their son, Edan, was kidnapped by Hamas on October 7. They attended President Biden's State of the Union Address last night in Congress. They were guests of the New Jersey congressional delegation.

Yael and Adi, thanks to both of you for joining us. Our hearts go out to you.

How do you feel, first of all, hearing today that President Biden is casting doubt on a hostage deal it seems anytime soon after he promised to get this done, as soon as he could during the State of the Union Address?

ADI ALEXANDER, SON WAS KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: We're hoping that the deal will be executed. I think its a great deal. It's on the table. Or it could be behind us days ago. But our understanding that Hamas walked away from the table and that's the situation right now.

BLITZER: I know you had a chance to beat also with the national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, on Wednesday.

What did you hear from him, Adi? Did that conversation give you hope? ADI ALEXANDER: Yeah, we -- we meet with Jake almost on a weekly basis and just to show us the commitment of the administration and to give us a little bit of the updates of what is going on. But whatever was discussed in the private meeting I could not share, but most of it its out in the news right now.

BLITZER: Yael, as you know, Israel is demanding that Hamas provides a list confirming which hostages our alive. Have you gotten any information at all on your son Edan's condition?

YAEL ALEXANDER, SON WAS KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: No, we didn't get nothing. Its 154 days. It was five months yesterday, since October 7, and we don't know anything. What about like Edan situation there. He didn't get the medication that we ask them to get him like nothing.

So we don't have any new info or something.

BLITZER: And we know she played a turn 20 years old, what, in December in captivity, right?

YAEL ALEXANDER: Right, at the end of December. December 29, it's his birthday, so it was the first time since October 7 that I flew back to Tel Aviv. And we've done some celebration for him. I thought that if he could hear us like on the news or the radio station or whatever and knows that the family and friends, everyone is loving him so much.

And I just, you know, I hope that maybe heard something.

BLITZER: Adi, what worries you the most as this war enters, a sixth month without a deal to free the hostages and stop the fighting?

ADI ALEXANDER: I think we need to implore all the local players and our partners, Qataris and Egyptians and Israelis as well, not walk away from the negotiation table. Just -- it was five months and enough is enough.


The ceasefire deal is on the table, and we need to execute it.

BLITZER: Well, let's hope for the best. Our hearts go out to you. Thank you so much to both of you for joining us. We'll continue this conversation to be sure.

And coming up, efforts to airdrop aid into Gaza turn deadly as a parachute malfunctions. What it says about the ongoing struggle to respond to an exploding humanitarian crisis in Gaza.


BLITZER: A deadly setback in Gaza tonight in the ongoing struggle to provide desperately needed humanitarian. A video obtained by CNN shows an airdrop of aid going very, very wrong. When a parachute malfunctioned and the contents fell at a high speed towards a residential building, at least five people on the ground reportedly were killed, ten others injured. I want to bring in CNN's chief international correspondent, Clarissa

Ward. She's joining us from Jerusalem right now.

Clarissa, does this underscore how badly the delivery system is failing the people of Gaza?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's no question, Wolf, and there's still a lot of questions here. We don't know exactly what nationality that aid drop was. The U.S. has said that all of their bundles were safely delivered today. So it could be a different nationality. We just don't know.

But as you say, really this underscores the absolute tragedy and frankly the impossibility of trying to effectively deliver aid, relying on things like aid drops. We heard from one humanitarian official who said, quote, airdrops are good photo opportunities, but a lousy way to deliver aid and that's why you seen, I think, Wolf, President Biden trying to establish a new mechanism building appear to allow the us to deliver a directly to Gazans by sea.

But as we heard today, that could take up to two months and those are two months, Wolf, that Gazans don't have.

And again, aid workers saying even the pier, it's a glaring distraction. The best way to deliver aid is on the ground, but you can't deliver it properly and effectively without some kind of a ceasefire in place, Wolf.

BLITZER: And we saw something very disturbing today. You were there, you saw in person. You saw some Israeli protesters attempting to block aid going from Israel into Gaza.

Tell us about that.

WARD: So, Wolf, this has been going on for over six weeks now. It's a group called Saab Nine. Its made up of some settlers and former reservist, but also ordinary families who believe fervently that all the aid that gets into Gaza is going to Hamas and that there is a better chance of getting hostages out safely if they completely cut off aid from getting in.

Now, we've seen Israeli authorities who had been kind of turning a blind eye to these guys, taking a much tougher line and preventing them from actually crossing into the area where this truck are entering into Gaza. But still, these protesters are going on a regular basis, spending hours trying to skirmish and out-maneuver the police.

And what's interesting, Wolf, is, according to a recent poll done by Israel's top polling institution, the Israel Democratic -- Democracy Institution, some 68 percent of Jewish Israelis believe as these protesters do, too, that international aid should not be able to get into Gaza, Wolf.

BLITZER: Clarissa Ward reporting for us from Jerusalem. Clarissa, thank you very much.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The news continues next on CNN.