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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Sen. Manchin Won't Predict If Biden Would Beat Trump; Biden Meets With China's Xi In Bid To Ease Tense Relations; GOP Rivals Blast Nikki Haley After She Pushes For Social Media Users To Identify By Legal Names Online. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 15, 2023 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The leaders of the world's two largest economies broke a lengthy chill, today. Where the U.S.-China relationship goes from here, is part of a story that will play out in the days and weeks to come.

For now, with the first chapter written, the news continues, with Kaitlan Collins and "THE SOURCE."


Joe Manchin is an outgoing senator. But is he also an outgoing Democrat? I asked him that question, directly, tonight, as he now says that he would absolutely consider a bid, for the White House, while also insisting that he's not going to be a spoiler.

Plus, President Biden just wrapped up a crucial press conference, in San Francisco, after meeting with China's President, and fielding questions about Israel's war with Hamas, backing up Israel's claim that there is a Hamas command and control center, beneath the largest hospital, in Gaza.

And Nikki Haley now partially walking back a campaign pledge, made just yesterday, after setting off a firestorm, over suggesting a ban, on anonymous social media users.

I'm Kaitlan Collins. And this is THE SOURCE.

Tonight, we begin with our one-on-one, with Senator Joe Manchin, who is not running for reelection, in the Senate, but is considering running for president. Amid a lot of speculation, about what he has planned next, Manchin is now openly acknowledging that he is, quote, "absolutely" considering a potential run for president.

He's also dismissing concerns, a lot of them coming out of the White House, right now, that he could be a spoiler, for President Biden.

Manchin's imminent departure, from the Senate, though, is also threatening to shake up the balance of power, on Capitol Hill. Democrats, of course, there have a slim two-seat majority, in the Senate.

Let's go straight to THE SOURCE, tonight.


COLLINS: And joining me now is Democratic senator, Joe Manchin, of West Virginia.

Senator, thank you for being here.

Obviously, Senator Schumer really wanted you --

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): First of all, thanks for having me, Kaitlan. I appreciate it.

COLLINS: Yes. Thank you, for being here, and for your time.

As you know, as well as I do, Senator Schumer really wanted you to run again. But you announced that you are not going to be doing so. Do you think Democrats can keep the Senate majority, without you?

MANCHIN: Well, we'll see. Here's the thing. Everybody's worried about the majority so much. And I understand that, because it does set the committees, and sets the agenda.

But the bottom line is it still takes 60, takes 60 to pass them. So, every senator has a tremendous amount of power, whether you're in the majority or the minority. But majority is always the best place to be. And we'll see we have Jon Tester, this is good people, and I wish him well.

COLLINS: Yes, there's a lot of key races.

You've talked a lot, in your time, on Capitol Hill, about bipartisanship, in the Senate. Senator Mitch McConnell once praised you, for saving the filibuster, which he said preserved the Senate.


COLLINS: But then, he flew to West Virginia, and directly recruited your most formidable challenger. Do you feel betrayed by that?

MANCHIN: That's politics. This is not the most honorable profession in the world anymore.

But with that being said, it's all about the next election, and it's all about the party system. Kaitlan, that's the problem. The business of politics has gotten so big, because the business model is a Democrat business, and a Republican business. And it's really forgotten about the people to a certain extent.

So, all they want is 51 or greater to be in the majority. And then, when they do, they do so much damage, trying to get there. Then, when they do get there, they're not even close to 60. But if you want to get something done, you have to have 60. So, it's just a horrible situation, when every time you're in, you're in cycle, you're up? It could be one of your better friends, on the other side. If you have a D by your name, or an R, by your name, you're supposed to be against the person, on the other side, no matter who it is. And it never used to be like that. They tell us way back when. And that used to be an unwritten rule.

And now, this is fair game. And there's no way that where we come from, whether it be Alabama, or West Virginia, that you try to get someone fired, every day you go to work, and expect they're going to be your best friend, next week. Doesn't work.

COLLINS: That kind of makes it sound like, are you going to leave the Democratic Party?

MANCHIN: I don't know if I've ever -- I've never considered myself a Washington Democrat. I've been a very independent person. And I don't really think that that should have --

COLLINS: Does that sound -- that sounds like you're leaving?

MANCHIN: Well no. You have a D or an R by your name, or an R by your name, it shouldn't identify who you are. If you change who you are, because you change, you have a D, then you have an R, or you have an I, people go back and forth. It's more for the person's political, I think, than more for who the person is

No matter what I have, by me, I'm an independent-thinking. I vote independently. And I've always done that for 40 years. So, we'll see. I know what you're saying. But we'll see. I don't -- I haven't gotten there yet.

COLLINS: But you're still considering that?


MANCHIN: Sure. Sure. You always consider that. Absolutely, you know? And I'm --

COLLINS: Is it like that you're going to leave the Democratic Party?

MANCHIN: And I'm sure they'd be happy. They might throw me out. So who knows? They might do me a favor. I don't know.

COLLINS: Since you made your announcement, last week, have you spoken to President Biden?

MANCHIN: I have not spoken to him. I got a nice note from him and everything. He's been traveling quite a bit. I spoke to Steve Ricchetti, in the White House. And he's very, very close to the President. So, I'm sure we'll be talking.

COLLINS: What did you make of his statement that he did put out? He basically was tying you to all of his big accomplishments that he's had in office. It seemed like he was sending a pretty clear message, with that statement. MANCHIN: Well, the clear message is this. Nothing would have happened without bipartisanship. And I've been leading the charge, on bipartisanship, on every piece of legislation.

And I'm happy that they're -- that they think some of it's being good. I'm not being pleased with how they're trying to basically implement, especially the IRA. And I've been keeping -- holding their feet to the fire on that.

But we've done some great things. And we did that basically with a 50- 50 Senate. That 50-50 Senate, it was started by bipartisanship. Myself, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, just a bunch of us got together, and we just worked on all those bills.

The Electoral Count Act, we wanted to make sure this never happened again, this insurrection that we saw on January the 6th. And then, you go down the line, CHIPS Act, bipartisan infrastructure.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill was pulled out. I pulled that out of the BBB, because it was something we truly had to have. We hadn't fixed any of our infrastructure for 30 years. And you look at that, and you look at the, all the things that we have done?


MANCHIN: Just it was unbelievable stretch.

COLLINS: You've --

MANCHIN: Really was.

COLLINS: You've said you were proud of that legacy. Not just that, what you've accomplished, for the people of West Virginia. But the question is what you are going to do next. And you are very clearly exploring a third-party run.

But are you worried that a third-party run for the White House could damage that legacy, potentially?

MANCHIN: Well, let me just say this. Everyone's talking about a third- party run. I'm talking about basically trying to resurrect the middle, the moderate middle, the sensible, commonsense middle. And, right now, I don't care what you say, or what people might be thinking. There's telling me that we've had enough. We can't take it. It's just so much visceral.

When you have Donald Trump basically, normalizing the attacks, on human beings, every day, anybody that doesn't agree with him, he's after. And I've said this. The country would be in a horrible situation, challenging our democracy, if he got reelected.

And I've said this very clearly. He believes that truly, that the only fair election is the one he wins. He believes that the law only applies to everybody but him. And he attacks anybody that doesn't agree with him. And then, he uses his horrible analogies, of so many good Americans, just because they might not be in his bandwidth, if you will. So, it would be horrible on that. And no truly concern for the rule of law, who we are as Americans, what we're about. And that's the thing we're talking about.

And then, I've been, to a certain extent, on Senate -- on President Biden. He's not the person we thought that was getting elected, being a centrist and moderate. He's been pushed so far to the left.

So, if we have this movement, in the middle, maybe we can pull people back to a commonsense middle, to where they can govern. And this is the long run. It's not just for the next election.

COLLINS: You've --

MANCHIN: We're in this. We have Americans together. And my daughter has taken that run with that, if I ever won seat (ph) for that we're going to help people, anywhere we find, a Democrat or Republican that wants to work.

COLLINS: But Senator Manchin?

MANCHIN: For the betterment of the country.

COLLINS: With what you've just said, there, about Donald Trump. And then, you said you believe Joe Biden, that President Biden has been pushed too far to the left. I mean, which one do you think is a bigger threat to America, though? A second term --

MANCHIN: Well Donald --

COLLINS: -- of Donald Trump?

MANCHIN: Well, Donald Trump, I think we'll lose democracy as we know it, because he has no regard whatsoever, for the rule of law, who we are as a country, basically, this orderly transfer of power. And sowing so much, so much problems, as far as within our system, that he has no regard whatsoever.

COLLINS: But that's the White House argument as well --

MANCHIN: And I just --

COLLINS: -- as to why they don't believe you should run, because they believe that if you did --

MANCHIN: Well but the bottom line?

COLLINS: -- you'd take votes from Biden, and help reelect Donald Trump.

MANCHIN: Let me just tell you, I'm not going to be a spoiler. I'm not looking for any spoilers. But I'm looking for basically how we're going to govern this country, Kaitlan, from the middle. You cannot run your life, from the extremes. You aren't going to be successful, very difficult. You're not going to have a successful business, if you're in extremes. And you can't continue to run this country.

You can't have open borders. You can't have a runaway debt. You can't have the problems that we have, the challenges, crime and all the things that we've got to fight. We've got two of our allies and fighting for their life, in Israel and Ukraine, right now, that we're trying to prevent ourselves from getting pulled into a war. There's so much going on.


President Biden has worked well overseas with our NATO allies. I think he's done a good job. But, right now, it's been going to be very serious.

But we've got to get our financial house in order. We've got to secure our borders. And also, on top of that, we have an awful lot of people that come here that need to have work visas, so they can pay their own way, and pay taxes, rather than just sucking off the system.

COLLINS: You just said --

MANCHIN: So it's --

COLLINS: -- you never want to be a spoiler. How and when would you know if that's the case?

MANCHIN: I think, I said before, this is the long run. We're out there basically trying to say, "Hey, are you happy with what's going on? Why did you leave?"

I have a lot of friends, have left. Why did they leave so early? Are they just frustrated with the system? I know their answer. But I'm saying I want them to be more public. And if they can come out and start talking about what they saw, what was wrong, and what had to be fixed, then we can start building from that core again.

And, right now, there's not that many in the middle. You know that. Not that many centrists, to say, we're not sure how they're going to vote. You pretty much know most of them are going to vote party-line, whether it be Democrat or Republican.

They never did (ph) vote for me because I was going to look at the issue. And I was going to vote what I thought would help my country, my state, and I could go home and explain it. And if I couldn't explain it, I don't care whether the Democrats come after me, or Republicans, I wasn't going to support something or be --


MANCHIN: -- or be against something, just because they wanted me to do it. I won't do that. COLLINS: But you said -- you said -- you're very clearly not going to vote for Donald Trump. I mean, you said it would be bad for democracy, if he's reelected. And you've said you want President Biden to make changes, if you're going to support him.


COLLINS: What changes exactly are you --


COLLINS: -- do you want to see from the White House?

MANCHIN: Well, first of all, we don't know who the, you know, we just have suspected that basically, it looks as if we'll have a rematch. But we don't know where that's going to go.

And the bottom line is, is that I believe that President Biden has been pushed to the left. He feels like that's where the base of the party, or where he thinks he has to go. How many times have they spoken about the Inflation Reduction Act as being an energy security? Have they ever said about it paid down $230 billion of debt?

COLLINS: Are you saying you don't think President Biden should run again?

MANCHIN: Oh, I'm not asking and telling anybody what to do. My goodness, no. I'm hoping that they see that there's a movement, and he can come back to where he started from. That's how -- that's the election that was done in 2020. Or anybody else. I want to make sure that we have a movement of senators that we're bringing here, Democrats and Republicans that will be happy to be, in the middle, because they have support.

COLLINS: Do you think --

MANCHIN: They're going to be centrists or moderates.

COLLINS: Do you think that Joe Biden could beat Donald Trump, if that is the rematch?

MANCHIN: I can't predict, because you know what? I've never believed. The only poll, I believe is Election Day poll. I'm seeing all kinds of numbers, as you are. I can't really predict that.

COLLINS: But if it is those two --

MANCHIN: But it looks -- it looks very challenging.

COLLINS: -- who would you vote for?

MANCHIN: It looks very challenging, right now. I'm going to wait and see where we have, who we have in this. Let's see what happens. There's a lot to happen.

COLLINS: And you're making your decision on whether to enter the race by Super Tuesday?

MANCHIN: Well Super Tuesday, I don't -- that's been said, basically, Super Tuesday is when you're going to know exactly, who the candidates are going to be, by the respective parties. The Democrat and Republican business machine is going to make their determination, what they're going to do. And you'll have both of them playing to the extremes, the way it is now.

COLLINS: But when do you make your determination?

MANCHIN: Well then that's when -- that's when anything would be starting. If there's people that we have someone that's going to run, for the middle, or move into the middle, and make a run? That's probably one that would start, I would assume, because there's no need to start before that. You don't have to be in a primary.

So again, I want to tell you. This is the long haul. This is beyond the 2024 election. This is 2026 and 2028. This is basically getting people to understand, there is support that people want you to make reasonable, responsible decisions, not be backing and distributing (ph) party-line votes.

It's just awful the way that we have kind of just shoved people, to their respective corners, and expect that's the way we're going to have democracy, and have any type of leadership position.

Because, I can tell you, if we don't, get our act together? What you saw yesterday, the behavior? And these are good people. I know them all. How they got themselves worked into a frenzy, like that, where they wanted to fight, calling each other names? This is not a banana republic. It's not a third-world country.

This is the United States of America. People are looking at us for leadership, Kaitlan. They're looking for us, as a superpower of the world, to show them how civility, how democracy, how freedom, how you maintain it.

COLLINS: Senator Joe Manchin, as always, thank you for your time.

MANCHIN: Thanks, Kaitlan. I appreciate being with you.


COLLINS: You heard Senator Manchin, there, saying he doesn't think he would be a spoiler, if he does enter the presidential race, though. There's a question about the history of what third-party bids often have done.

Jamal Simmons and S.E. Cupp luckily, are here, to break down that entire interview, with their thoughts. And trust me, they have thoughts. That's right after this.


Plus, also, you just saw President Biden, in San Francisco, wrapping up a crucial meeting, with the Chinese president, and taking questions, on Israel. Those highlights, ahead.


COLLINS: You just heard from Senator Joe Manchin, in his first interview, with CNN, since announcing that he is not running for reelection, sharing his thoughts, tonight, on President Biden, a possible second term for former President Trump, and whether or not he is considering leaving the Democratic Party altogether.

Joining me now is Jamal Simmons, the former Deputy Assistant to President Biden, and the former Communications Director to Vice President Harris.

Also here is CNN Political Commentator, S.E. Cupp.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Adviser to no one ever.

COLLINS: Adviser to us -- adviser to us all, actually.



COLLINS: Really, our wise adviser.

Jamal, I mean, since you worked in the White House? How do you think they --

SIMMONS: Sure. Start with me.

COLLINS: How do you think they took those comments, from Senator Manchin there?

SIMMONS: I'm sure they took them the way they take everything with Senator Manchin, which is the wait-and-see. Let's see what he actually does.

Because I think the -- there's a little bit of a theater, to Joe Manchin, in the beginning, where he kind of dances, as if he might not be there, but you can kind of get him to a good place, by the time the process was over.

I think he's a Democrat. He's actually a legitimate Democrat. He's been a Democrat, his entire life. The question is does he feel like there's something in it for him, running for president, other than just supporting Joe Biden?


And I got to say, he says that the President has been pushed too far to the left. I'm not sure exactly what it is that he means. He's passed a lot of that bipartisan legislation. Joe Manchin was a part of all that. He talked about some of it, including what we're seeing, right now, with Israel, where he's not catering to the left. He's actually holding to a pretty centrist position.

CUPP: Yes.

SIMMONS: I'm just not sure what the too-far-to-the-left Biden looks like.

COLLINS: Yes. The left certainly would not always agree with that.

SIMMONS: No, they won't.

COLLINS: Because of student loan debt, and Israel.

And what did you make of those comments about? Not just that, but also, he's so worried about what a Donald Trump second term would do to democracy.

CUPP: Yes.

COLLINS: He made very clear what he thought.

But the question, and the White House complaint, is that he could potentially help with that.

CUPP: Right. So, a couple things. I found that interview -- great job. I was confused, though, by what Joe Manchin was saying.

I think he correctly identified lots of problems. The extremism on both wings of the party being one, the threat that Donald Trump is to democracy. All that's true. The lack of civility. I'm not sure what he's proposing to do about it himself, because he's not telling us if he's running. He's just saying, "We'll be here in the middle." For what?

The other problem I have is I don't know who Joe Manchin's fans are. He was popular, in West Virginia, although not popular enough now, to win reelection. He isn't popular enough, to win reelection, in West Virginia, even if he leaves the Democratic Party. So, I'm not -- who are Manchin's constituents, if he is contemplating a run?

And then, finally, yes, of course, he'd be a spoiler. Of course, he'd be a spoiler.


CUPP: I mean, with someone, like Joe Biden's, whose poll numbers are not great, of course, he would be a spoiler for a fairly weak incumbent.

COLLINS: And the thinking there is that if it is Biden and Trump, Trump has a very solid base of support. President Biden's is a little bit squishier, as we see, in the polls.

What do you make of the timing, of him saying he believes it's around Super Tuesday that a decision would have to be made, of whether or not a third-party candidate is going to enter this race?

SIMMONS: I've seen a lot of presidential campaigns decide to wait to jump in, at just the right moment. I've never seen one of them work, right?

Usually, when you want to run for president, you go out, you raise money, you put a team together, and you run for president.

CUPP: Early, right? Yes.

SIMMONS: Early. And you don't sit around, and wait to see what the winds going to do. I worked on one of those campaigns. But it's not a lot of fun.

If Joe Manchin wants to be president, he should go ahead, and put it together, and get into the Democratic primaries. He's got a couple weeks left, before all these filing deadlines hit. Get in the primaries, see what happens, along with, the other folks, who are trying to do it.

COLLINS: But that doesn't seem to be -- I mean, if he runs? He very -- I mean, he's making it sound like he's going to leave the Democratic Party. I mean, that, he didn't say yes, outright of that, in course.


COLLINS: But we pressed him on it multiple times.

CUPP: Yes, yes.

COLLINS: And he made very clear what he thinks about the Democratic Party, at least in Washington.

CUPP: Yes. And, I think, obviously, if he does, that's an indication that he has a -- that he wants a future in politics, because there's no point, to leaving the party, if you're going to leave office, and you just stayed the Democrat that you believe you are. So, I think if we do see that switch, clearly, he thinks he's got a future, either running for president, or in some, as a third-party voice, for maybe future elections, or?

Listen, he is a prolific fundraiser. He, in the past five years, raised money, from 50 billionaires, with a B.


CUPP: He's raised a lot of money. Corporations love him. Fox News loves him. He's got a lot more fans on the right than he did on the left -- than he does on the left anymore. So, maybe he wants to be a fundraising juggernaut. He doesn't have no future in politics. I'm just not sure he's got a future as the President.

SIMMONS: Yes, let me just say this. I think it's also pretty exciting to be wooed by everyone, right? Everybody wants you to jump in.

CUPP: Yes.

SIMMONS: Everybody wants to see which way you're going to vote.

The minute you decide to run for president, and it doesn't work out? The wooing ends. And I think they're, politicians like Joe Manchin, are very aware that there's a moment, where they lose the sexy. And I'm not sure he wants to do that.

CUPP: That's a weird image. But yes, you're right. You're right.


COLLINS: Jamal Simmons, S.E. Cupp, thank you both, as always.

CUPP: Sure.

SIMMONS: Thank you.

COLLINS: Ahead, we have breaking news tonight that we are also following. President Biden, just speaking a solo press conference, where he backed up Israel's claim that, Hamas does, have a headquarters, underneath that hospital, in Gaza, the largest hospital actually there, that is still being raided by the IDF tonight. That's ahead.



COLLINS: Breaking news, tonight, as President Biden has just wrapped up his meeting, his first conversation in a year, with the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, big conversations on U.S.-China relations.

Also, fielding questions though, in the subsequent press conference, on what is happening with Israel and Hamas. This press conference just wrapped a few moments ago, after that high-stakes meeting.

CNN's MJ Lee was there.

MJ, you obviously were talking to President Biden, about this, the high-level military communication that he was having, in this big headline, their first face-to-face meeting.

But also, he was asked a lot of questions about Israel itself, and claims over intelligence that Israel says it has, and the U.S. has backed up, about whether or not Hamas does have that command and control center, underneath the Al-Shifa Hospital. What did he tell you?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, at the very end, Kaitlan, I tried asking President Biden, whether he was absolutely confident, about the claims that there is a Hamas command center, under that hospital. And he unequivocally said yes, that he was confident.

But when I pressed him, on whether there was anything he could share, in terms of details, proving that? He said that's not something that he could talk about.

Clearly, we are seeing here, U.S. officials having to ask -- answer questions about Israel's conduct, in this ongoing war. Throughout the press conference, we heard President Biden sort of carefully addressing the issue, of Israel's conduct, and whether they are taking enough steps, to be careful, about minimizing civilian casualties.


And then, just bringing it back to the summit here, Kaitlan, what the President and U.S. officials here had set out to do, in the big picture, of course, was to have a reset of sorts, in U.S.-China relations that had so badly deteriorated, over the last year or so, and in terms of just the specific tangibles, we saw this play out. The reestablishment of the military to military communications, this big announcement on trying to crack down on fentanyl production.

There was also just the dynamics that we saw, between the two leaders, sort of trying to show in their body language, some sort of warmth, the walk that they took, on the grounds here. All of that was really noteworthy.

But I did ask President Biden, whether he would still, after today, refer to President Xi, as a dictator? This was that exchange.


LEE: Mr. President, after today, would you still refer to President Xi as a dictator? This is a term that you used earlier this year.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, look, he is. I mean, he's a dictator in the sense that he is a guy who runs a country that is a communist country that's based on a form of government totally different than ours.


LEE: So, the context, of course, there was a reference to one, earlier this year, the President referred to him as a dictator. He said that dictators don't like to be caught off-guard.

This was a reference to a question about the U.S. shooting down the Chinese surveillance balloon, sort of suggesting that President Xi himself didn't have the full picture, didn't have all of the information, about the spy balloon that was shot down.

Kaitlan, I think it's just going to take a little bit of time, for us, to get a full, full picture, of exactly how China will respond, to that comment, at the very end, of President Biden, calling him a dictator. This is not going to be sort of well-received, probably by some of those Chinese officials.

But I think, in the big picture, we are hearing, U.S. officials trying to herald this, as having been a successful summit, where they were able to make some real progress, on what they set out to do, in resetting U.S.-China relations.

COLLINS: Yes, just a different standard, of what that progress looks like, given they're just restoring that military to military communication. MJ Lee, thank you for that. Great question there, to President Biden, at the end.

Also, as I mentioned, during this press conference, there were questions about what is happening, in Gaza, tonight, with the Al-Shifa Hospital, as the IDF forces entered it, last night.

Israel, tonight, released new video that they say, shows weapons, ammunition, a radio that were all seized during that raid. It's the largest hospital, in Gaza, I should remind you. But it has not yet offered evidence, of that extensive tunnel system, that Israel says is being used by Hamas, underneath the Al-Shifa Hospital.

For weeks, we have heard the Israel Defense Forces, talking about Hamas, using this hospital, as its headquarters, even going as far as to put this 3D animation out, that you're seeing here, showing these tunnels.

Amid these questions, going forward, about this intelligence, joining me now is retired Air Force Colonel, Cedric Leighton.

And Colonel Leighton, when you look at this, and you see, these questions about what exactly is underneath this hospital? Is it what Israel says it is? We heard from a senior adviser to President -- to Prime Minister, Netanyahu, earlier, saying more will come out, in the days and weeks to come.

What do you make of the fact that they didn't show evidence of that today, though?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I find it very interesting, Kaitlan. And there might be several reasons for that. Some of them could be that there are still efforts made, to mop up the Hamas fighters, in that area. There might still be pockets of resistance near the -- where the tunnel entrance is. That's one possible scenario. But it is kind of interesting to see them not talk about it.

In another report that Oren Liebermann had filed, he had some pretty extensive look, at some of the Hamas facilities. And that indicated that there certainly are tunnels there. Whether or not they are underneath the Al-Shifa Hospital, though, remains to be seen.

So, we do know that there are tunnels. The question is, where are they going? And how extensively have they been used, in especially in this scenario that the Israelis have painted for us?

COLLINS: And on the big picture of this? The other comment we heard from President Biden there was talking about Israel, making sure -- he said that Hamas could never conduct an attack, like what happened on October 7th, again, those military capabilities.

I think the question is, theoretically, or not theoretically, literally, how long could that take Israel? Because I mean, we've seen that they've gotten to this hospital. They've been there for almost 24 hours now. But obviously, Gaza is a very densely packed place. They don't fully know where all of the Hamas fighters and commanders are. I mean, how long could a timeline of establishing Israel's goal here actually take?

LEIGHTON: It could take a real long time, Kaitlan. And that's really the problem with setting these kinds of goals. You need to set some kind of a goal, for an operation, like this.


But to completely eliminate Hamas? That's going to be almost impossible to achieve, at least in the next, I would say, a year or so. And we're really talking about hearts and minds, in addition to physical capabilities. And that's a very different scenario.

COLLINS: Yes, a lot of questions, about what that looks like.

Colonel Cedric Leighton, thank you, for joining us, on this breaking news, tonight.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, as you see those strong signs of support, from President Biden, tonight, there's a rally, calling for a ceasefire, in Gaza that turned tents, outside of the headquarters, of the Democratic National Committee, in Washington, D.C.


COLLINS: You can see here, hundreds of demonstrators were face-to-face with D.C. and Capitol Police officers.

We've heard from Capitol Police, tonight, on this, saying that they have made arrests. But they have not specified how many. They do say members of Congress were evacuated, from the area, after a crowd, of about 150 people turned violent.

We heard from Congressman Brad Sherman of California. He posted on Twitter that he was one of those members, who was evacuated.

We're continuing to monitor that story.

Also tonight, you heard from Senator Joe Manchin, at the top of the hour, not only not running for reelection, but considering a third- party presidential run.

Next, we'll turn to a House Democrat, who has thrown his hat, into the ring, to challenge President Biden. Dean Phillips is here, in studio.



COLLINS: Tonight, Senator Joe Manchin not ruling out an independent bid, for President, as he says he's weighing his next move. That comes as we heard from New Hampshire officials, today, confirming their primary will be held, January 23rd, openly defying President Biden, and the Democratic National Committee, with their plans, to have South Carolina be the state -- be the party's first nominating contest.

The President will not be on the ballot in New Hampshire. But at least 21 other Democrats will be. That includes Congressman Dean Phillips of Minnesota, who is here with us.

Congressman, you're running for office. You're not taking the tack that President -- that Senator Manchin may take in challenging President Biden, for the Democratic nomination.


COLLINS: He's considering doing Independent.

You're doing Democrat. Why should a Democratic voter vote for you over President Biden?

PHILLIPS: Well, let me start with the fact that 80 percent of Americans, right now, want neither of the leading candidates, 80 percent.

The disconnect between Washington, D.C., the political industrial complex, and American voters is graphic. The polls are showing it, by the way. And why? It's time for change. We need a new generation.

President Biden is a good man. I respect him. He's been doing this for 50 years, eight years, in the White House. By the way, four months when President Obama and Vice President Biden had the White House, the Senate and the House, we could have codified a woman's right to choose, freedom to choose, during those four months.

The issues that are -- we're facing in the Middle East, right now, are ones that had been existing my entire life. I'm 54. President Biden has been a Senator, since 19 -- since I was 3-years-old. These are problems of the past that nobody has dealt with. And it's time for a new generation.

It's almost getting to a point of irresponsibility to think that we should do the same things, with the same people, in the same positions, and somehow think that it's going to work out differently? No. It's time for change. People want it badly. And I'm going to be the voice for a new generation.

COLLINS: So, why do you think you're the alternative, to President Biden, as the Democratic nominee?

PHILLIPS: Well, so far, Kaitlan, I'm the only one that has actually jumped into the race. I just saw your interview, with Senator Manchin. There are others, who tap-dance, and fly around the world, meeting with other world leaders. The water is warm. Get into the race. This is the United States of America. And I would invite people.

COLLINS: Who else do you think should get in?

PHILLIPS: Anybody who is competent, and able to serve.

Because if we turn this country, back over, to Donald Trump, we will not have a 2020 election, that Americans are accustomed to. That's the truth. That is the only reason why I'm doing this.

It is absurd. It is irresponsible. It's a dereliction of duty that we have people prepared to run, for president that are somehow afraid, afraid of the very system that is supposed to be promoting democracy.


PHILLIPS: So, that's why I say, come into the race.

Jill Stein, Cornel West, Joe Manchin. Well Kennedy left. I don't think he's a Democrat anymore.

But enter the primary. That's why we have primaries. Right now, it's Marianne Williamson, me and President Biden. And President Biden chose not to be on the ballot, in the first state, in the nation, New Hampshire. That's where we're at.

COLLINS: I think Hillary Clinton may have something to say about Jill Stein, being in the race.

PHILLIPS: Darn right. Third-party candidates. First of all, both parties need competition. I'll be the first to say it.

The issue is, right now, we cannot do something that would make it easier, for Donald Trump, to return to the White House. And there are four people, making it easier for him, right now. Cornel West, Jill Stein, possibly Joe Manchin and Joe Biden. That's the truth.

Look at the numbers. President Biden is down nationally, four to nine points. He is down in five of six of the battleground States. His approval ratings are approaching historic lows, only rivaled by Jimmy Carter. And the country is so clearly saying they want change.

And why nobody, other than me, has decided to enter a race, when 80 percent of the country wants change, is showing me what is really wrong with the system.

COLLINS: It's interesting that you're encouraging other people, to get in the race. Are you running to be president?

PHILLIPS: Absolutely.

COLLINS: Are you running so that Biden is not the next --


COLLINS: -- the nominee?

PHILLIPS: I am running to prevent Donald Trump from becoming President. I'm running to win the presidency. I'm prepared. I would actually be the most experienced president, in recent history, business experience, non-profit experience, government experience.

President Biden, a good man. He has spent his entire year --

COLLINS: You don't think he has experience?

PHILLIPS: Yes, in one category, public service, nothing else. Nothing. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: But the presidency is a public service.

PHILLIPS: Yes, no, the presidency is a whole lot more than public service. The presidency, you must understand the business world. You must understand the non-profit world. And you must understand government.

I'll give him credit for being 50 years in the game. And he's a good man. I keep saying that. But this notion of your entire career, your entire -- that's not what our Founders intended. By the way, that's the problem in Congress, right now. Look at the people, look at the people, who are controlling the system.


I'm talking to college students, almost every day, high school students. There's a reason why Donald Trump is tied, with Joe Biden, amongst young people. They are sick of this. And I'm saying, let's do better. It's time for optimism, hope. It's time for a New American Century.


PHILLIPS: By the way, and people are struggling so much, Kaitlan, right now, affordability is in a hugely --

COLLINS: It's a massive issue.

PHILLIPS: -- massive issue. Huge.

COLLINS: But I'm interested, because, when you look at other people, who have challenged an incumbent president? Obviously, an incumbent -- the incumbency is its own advantage, typically --


COLLINS: -- in a presidential race.

PHILLIPS: Huge advantage.

COLLINS: Typically, when people challenge an incumbent, in their own party, it's because they have massive disagreements with them, on policy. What are your -- what's your biggest policy disagreement with President Biden? Is it the economy?

PHILLIPS: Well, first, let me say the biggest issue with the president is he's going to lose -- President Biden and Vice President Harris are going to lose to Donald Trump. Look at the numbers. It's just any -- COLLINS: But we are still a year out. I mean?

PHILLIPS: We're a year -- have you --

COLLINS: When voters are faced with the choice, it could be --

PHILLIPS: You've been doing this for a while. You know those numbers.

COLLINS: -- it could be different.

PHILLIPS: Every -- you've had people on your show. Every pundit, every week, they're more saying the same thing, James Carville, Dave Wasserman, Nate Silver. Look at people of prominence --

COLLINS: Yes, they're looking at numbers now.

PHILLIPS: -- who have no skin in the game.

COLLINS: But let's go back to the policy question, because I do wonder, where do you --

PHILLIPS: Wait, but let me, oh -- oh --

COLLINS: -- disagree with President Biden?

PHILLIPS: A number of areas. I just referenced a few.

OK. Let me start with what's going on in Ukraine and the Middle East, OK? In 2014, I think it was, Vladimir Putin entered Crimea, took Crimea, when President Biden, then-Vice President Biden, was in the White House. What did the United States do? Nothing.

COLLINS: Well he wanted to do more. He wanted to give --


PHILLIPS: I'm telling you, I'm just -- all I'm telling you right now, is the truth. In 2014, Crimea was invaded by Vladimir Putin. We did nothing. And President Biden, then-Vice President, was in the White House.

I'm 54-years-old. This obnoxious disgusting bloodshed, between Israel and Palestinians, has been occurring, this horrible cycle, for the entire time that President Biden has served in the United States Senate. These are issues that have existed for decades. Let me just put --

COLLINS: So, you disagree with him on Ukraine?

PHILLIPS: I disagree with the fact that we should be keeping the same people, in the same positions, doing the same thing that have led to nothing, but war, unaffordability, despair. And we've got a crisis in this country that everybody watching, right now, knows is real. I'm afraid people in Washington do not.

Joe Biden is a good man. But it is time to pass the torch. They are going to lose the election. The numbers. And by yes, people can say it's --

COLLINS: But what would you say --

PHILLIPS: Let me -- but let me finish. Let me say.

COLLINS: The White House would say --

PHILLIPS: Let me say some other things, though.

COLLINS: The White House would say that you voted with President Biden --

PHILLIPS: Of course.

COLLINS: -- a 100 percent of the time.

PHILLIPS: Of course. By the way, there's only a handful of bills that come from the White House. Not only did I vote for them. I was --

COLLINS: Yes, but those are pretty big bills.

PHILLIPS: Of course, big bills, and a good start.

COLLINS: Infrastructure, CHIPS.

PHILLIPS: Look, infrastructure bill was an important bill for the future. No question. The CHIPS bill, the CHIPS Act, repatriating semiconductor manufacturing, an outstanding bill. The Inflation Reduction Act really a climate bill, good stuff.

The real issue is affordability. People are struggling. Fuel prices, grocery prices, health care, basically unaffordable --

COLLINS: You voted for these economic plans.

PHILLIPS: But that's just the beginning, Kaitlan. Of course I did. And not only did I vote for him. I was a member of House leadership. And my job was to market them. That's just the beginning.

The issue, right now, is not what we have done. I'm making the proposition that we have a crisis of affordability. We have people sleeping in the streets, in every town, every village, every city, in America, right now. There should be an all-hands-on-deck approach to making sure no one is sleeping in the streets.

We have a major crisis at the border, a major crisis. And, by the way, if you think they're addressing it at the borders the right way? Uh- huh. We've got to go upstream, go to the Northern Triangle countries, invest our resources, change the asylum policy.

Cannabis legalization, the President has not acted on something that 80 percent of the country wants done.

We have massive issues here. We still don't have paid leave. We still don't have pre-K childcare. We still can't afford childcare, because nobody can even leave their homes, and go to work, because it's so expensive. Housing is so expensive, so unaffordable, unavailable.


PHILLIPS: We need a all-hands-on-deck housing production initiative as well.

By the way, young people, I will have a youth cabinet, in the White House. I will have a bipartisan cabinet.

The most important issue is this. You asked for about differences? The President has done a good job governing. He saved our country. He was the only person who could have beaten Donald Trump in 2020. He's probably the only moderate Democrat, who could lose to him, in 2024. He made a promise, to restore the soul of America. That --

COLLINS: Congressman?

PHILLIPS: -- is not happening. We have to repair. We got to come together. It's time for a new generation.

COLLINS: Yes. Obviously, the White House would disagree with you, on that.

PHILLIPS: Sure, they can.

COLLINS: But we're grateful to have your perspective, and to have you here.

PHILLIPS: It's a free country.

COLLINS: Thank you, Congressman Dean Phillips.

PHILLIPS: Thank you.

COLLINS: Appreciate your time.

Speaking of the Republican side, of the 2024 race, Nikki Haley is now partially walking back a campaign pledge. Her comments, ahead.



COLLINS: Should social media users be forced to use their legal names online? Republican presidential candidate, Nikki Haley, certainly stirred up a lot of controversy, when she said she believes so.


NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As every person on social media should be verified by their name. That's -- first of all, it's a national security threat. When you do that, all of a sudden people have to stand by what they say.


COLLINS: The comment quickly drew pushback, from her GOP rivals.

And today, we heard from Haley, clarifying. She said it wasn't Americans that she would crack down on, if President, but instead, foreign adversaries.


HALEY: I think social media companies need to show us their algorithms. Be transparent to the American people.

I don't mind anonymous American people having free speech.


HALEY: What I don't like is anonymous Russians and China and -- Chinese and Iranians having free speech.


COLLINS: CNN's Donie O'Sullivan is here with us.

Donie, I mean, I think the first question, when she made the first comments, there, before she clarified, and kind of walked them back, partially today was, is this A, constitutional, and B, even possible?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I think look, firstly, this is not going to happen. Especially, I mean, you can't legislate for this. And, of course, the questions of constitutionality around this are very valid.

That being said, I think Haley's comments might resonate, but not actually in the way she may be intended. She was talking about this, as a foreign threat, a national security threat.


But, from, reporting, on people, who have been harassed, online, over the years, particularly women, online? I mean, people have been driven to suicide, because of anonymous accounts, anonymous trolls, whether it's teenagers.

Even a couple years back, and I think we have some headlines to show, there was a member of the British Parliament, who talked about the amount of threats of rape, that she got, 600, I think, from all mostly from anonymous accounts.

So, there is this kind of veil of anonymity that people can take, and they will go and say terrible, awful things.

And to Haley's point is, if there is a, you know, if you had to stand by what you're saying, you might think twice before saying that. However, on the flip side here, look, we've seen the role that social media plays in, bringing democracy to different parts of the world, or at least, uprisings in parts of the world.

And for people, who are repressed, in like living under repressive regimes, they also rely on anonymity, online, to be able to speak out. Or also just frankly, whistleblowers, people in this country, who are trying to speak out, where they otherwise might not be able to.


O'SULLIVAN: So, look, it's not going to happen --

COLLINS: And we heard from people, like Elon Musk, today saying --


COLLINS: -- no.

O'SULLIVAN: It's not going to happen. I think, that being said, there's nothing to stop somebody like Elon Musk, to build a platform, where everybody's verified. They have to stay, you know, have their name next to their account, would be probably a much more pleasant place. But that's not going to happen.

COLLINS: Yes. But that would destroy the point of Twitter, right? Making it pleasant?

O'SULLIVAN: Exactly.

COLLINS: Donie O'Sullivan, thank you, as always.

O'SULLIVAN: Thank you.

COLLINS: And, of course, thank you so much, for joining us. We have a lot more news, to come tonight, including those updates, on Capitol Hill.

"CNN NEWSNIGHT WITH ABBY PHILLIP" starts, right after a quick break.