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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

24 Hours From Biden-Trump CNN Debate Showdown; Gov. Kemp Didn't Vote For Trump In Primary But Supports Him; Report: Supreme Court Abortion Draft Released, Promptly Deleted. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 26, 2024 - 21:00   ET



JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: --the Oval Office. But history may not be our best guide here. Of course, the politics now are far more vitriolic and rough and tumble.

But President Biden has been practicing at Camp David, the presidential retreat outside Washington, for this very reason. There's no American politician alive, who has debated as often. He knows well, that first-term presidential curse. That's why, even tonight, he's still practicing with his aides.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

The news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Kaitlan Collins, coming to you live, tonight, from where history will be made, tomorrow.

We are the birthplace of CNN, our headquarters, here in Atlanta, where exactly 24 hours from now, the moment that everyone has been waiting for, will finally happen, right here on CNN.

As you can see, the stage is set. And for the first time, in four years, Joe Biden and Donald Trump will meet face-to-face, right there, at what you're looking at. They'll be standing eight feet apart, with former President Trump on the left side of your screen, and President Biden on the right side. We're going to give you a behind-the-scenes look from that stage, this hour.

And this is also a live look at the spin room. This time, tomorrow, it will be packed with politicos, and those vying to be Donald Trump's vice presidential pick, and a bunch of reporters as well.

There's a lot to talk about, this hour. And coming up, I'll go one-on- one with Georgia's Republican governor, Brian Kemp, who drew the ire of Donald Trump, survived it, cruised to reelection in spite of it, and is now voting for him in 2024. It's a fascinating conversation that you won't want to miss, on the eve of this debate, here in Georgia, where Brian Kemp will also make a bit of news.

But we begin with our political all-stars, this hour, including the moderator of that first Trump-Biden debate, four years ago. That would be my colleague, Chris Wallace, who is here with us.

Also joining us, CNN Commentator, and former Obama administration official, Van Jones.

Former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush, Scott Jennings.

And also, CNN's Special Correspondent, Jamie Gangel.

And Chris, I think everyone wants to know what you are thinking. I mean, these clips of this debate have been -- being played back-and- forth, ad nauseam. What's it like for you, to watch that and to think about this, four years later?

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's an interesting thing.

In the immediate aftermath of that debate, I certainly, like a lot of Americans, was very disappointed with Donald Trump's performance. On the other hand, I actually think was one of the most consequential presidential debates in history.

I actually think Donald Trump lost the presidency, in that debate, by his performance. He dropped about four or five points. He never regained it. And, he's -- the key question for tomorrow night is has he learned his lesson?

I've talked to a lot of people, in the top echelons of his staff. They say, he finally understands how badly he did, in the 2020 debate. And the two words that are coming out, you don't usually hear from the Trump camp, are nice and respectful. He intends to be both. We'll see if both happens. But no, I'm telling you, he says the night may devolve the way it will. But he very much intends not to make that same mistake.

And as far as Joe Biden is concerned, I think the key question is, are we going to see the Joe Biden of Old, or the old Joe Biden?

COLLINS: Well, and those words, I mean, nice and respectful. Those were not uttered in the aftermath of that debate. And there's a reason why. I mean, Trump interrupted Biden a 145 times.

WALLACE: No, no. He interrupted Biden and me. He only interrupted Biden 79 times.

COLLINS: OK. Fair. OK. So, you both were equal opportunity interrupted.

WALLACE: Interrupted.

COLLINS: To remind, people who may not have had a chance to re-watch the debate, this is what Donald Trump was doing in that first debate.



WALLACE: Mr. President. Mr. President.

TRUMP: Much later.

WALLACE: Mr. President.

TRUMP: We're talking about 2 million people.

WALLACE: Mr. President, as the moderator--

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You're not going to be able to shut him up.

WALLACE: --we are going to talk about COVID in the next segment.

The Trump administration, along with 18 state Attorney Generals are seeking to overturn Obamacare.

TRUMP: That's right.

WALLACE: To end Obamacare. You have spent the last--

TRUMP: Because they want to give good health care.

WALLACE: If I -- if I may ask--

TRUMP: Go ahead.

WALLACE: --my question, sir.

TRUMP: --people with pre-existing conditions.

WALLACE: Mr. President, I'm the moderator of this debate, and I would like you to let me ask my question and then you can answer.

TRUMP: Go ahead.


COLLINS: I mean, Jamie Gangel, you were laughing as we were looking back on that. I think Chris makes a good point that Trump may have lost that, that it might have been one of the most consequential moments--


COLLINS: --of 2020. It's something to think about as we're looking to what tomorrow night is going to look like.

GANGEL: I think Chris is 100 percent correct about what happened last time.

I think Mr. Nice, may last for a couple of minutes. But that is not Donald Trump. I mean, Donald Trump gets up every morning. And it's not if he's going to have a fight. It's who he's going to have a fight with.


And I've spoken to, Republican allies of his, who have tried to convince him, just let it go, be nice. And then, someone will come in out, and say something.

And Joe Biden is going to try to provoke him. I think we all know that. And so, let's see how long it lasts. I can't imagine we're going to get through 90 minutes without Trump being Trump.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I will add one more word to nice and respectful. What I'm hearing from people around him, tonight, is focused.

He knows -- what you said is true that he lost the presidency, or that it was enormously consequential, what happened in the first debate. But they also know what happened in the second debate, which he turned in a much better performance. It was too late then. But the tables are turned now.

And tomorrow night, just like that first debate was the most consequential moment, tomorrow night, on this network we will have the most consequential 90 minutes of this campaign. Donald Trump can either solidify this lead, and Barry (ph) Joe Biden or Joe Biden can somehow scramble out of this quicksand. I don't know what's going to happen. But those are the stakes. And I think Trump knows it.

COLLINS: And Van, they won't come face-to-face again until September.


COLLINS: It is a really pivotal moment that will--


COLLINS: And that's even not even--




COLLINS: --a given.

JONES: Look, it's a really big deal. This is a really big deal. And part of what's happening is in response to what happened to you. There's this mute button. And I think people may take a little bit of false comfort, in the mute button.

Just because you mute somebody doesn't mean that you can't see their face. And they're going to be split-screen. And you're going to watch Donald Trump pantomiming. You're going to watch him doing all these different things, to try to communicate his disdain, in other ways.

WALLACE: I also wonder, you know, I went down to the studio, where they're going to conduct the debate, earlier today. Those two podiums are eight feet apart.

JONES: They are close.

WALLACE: They are closer.

JONES: They are closer, yes.

WALLACE: Closer than they were in 2020. And whether or not, I don't know if the magic of CNN microphones, you won't be able to hear, on Biden's mic, when Trump's is cut off. But Biden will hear.


WALLACE: And the moderators will hear.

GANGEL: Right.

WALLACE: And vice versa. So, this idea that this is going to be a hermetically-sealed debate, I question.

COLLINS: I'm so glad you brought that up, because maybe those four people, in the room, will hear it one way. But we may hear it a very different way at home.

GANGEL: Right.

COLLINS: And I'm so glad you mentioned that about the mic, because Phil Mattingly is actually there, where the debate is going to be taking place, exactly 24 hours from now. We'll already be into the first question likely, Phil.

And can you walk us through what it is going to look like with the ability to mute a microphone, something I know Chris Wallace wished he had a button in his hand, about four years ago to do?


I just want to make clear, Van and Chris very clearly trying to steal the key points of my hit. I'm going to have to work around that at this point.

But Kaitlan, to your point, all the words that we've been using, they're not hyperbolic, they are accurate. It is historic. The stakes are enormous. But the details of how this is actually all going to play out, that's going to determine how people actually see it.

24 hours from now, we're going to be about nine minutes into debate, where Joe Biden will be standing right here. Donald Trump will be standing right here. As you noted, Kaitlan, eight feet apart, they are well within shouting distance of one another.

How this is going to work with Dana Bash, and Jake Tapper, sitting directly across from them is like this. They will be asked a question. For their answers, each candidate will be given two minutes. They will then get a minute for a response. Now -- for responses. Now, at the moderators' discretion, they could be given an initial -- or an additional minute, to talk, to clarify, to have another response, or for an additional follow-up question for Jake and Dana.

I think the big question, this is where Van was alluding to is, how are they actually going to know both the time, and what happens if they're not supposed to be speaking? We'll take the first part, first.

Each candidate, within their eyesight, will see a light, attached to the cameras. When there are 15 seconds left, in their response, whether it's two minutes or one minute, that light will turn yellow.

When there are five seconds left, that light will start blinking red.

When there is no time left, it will be a solid red color. And that has more repercussions than just whether or not they're supposed to stop speaking.

See, if you go over to this panel, right here, on the panel, there are actually two lights. They're not lit up, right now. When the microphone is on, on this panel -- I've actually done this. We went through it earlier today. Those two lights will be green.

What that means, for the candidate, in this case, standing right here would be former President Donald Trump, is that means their mic is hot. Their mic is. The other individual, Joe Biden, in this case, standing across from him, their lights would not be on. They will not be green. Their mic is off.

How is that actually going to work in practice? Well, basically what we tested out, earlier today, is if you're standing at the mic, and your mic is on, your mic carries your sound. There's no question about it. If your mic is off, you can't hear it on television.

So to Chris' point, and I think Van's point as well, the candidates will be able to hear one another, as they're standing next to one another. But the audience will not. And I think that is more important than anything else, what they hear, what they see, how they operate. If the candidates are able to get around the distractions, certainly the audience will as well.


We just want to also note, Kaitlan, before I send it back to you. By agreeing to this debate, the candidates, and their campaign teams, have agreed to these rules. They've been very explicit about that. They've had the walkthroughs, obviously, less than 24 hours before the real thing gets underway.

COLLINS: Yes. They have all agreed to what is going to take place, tomorrow night.

Phil Mattingly, thank you for that.

And Van, I think that's a really good point. Because re-watching the debate that Chris Wallace moderated, one thing I noticed was, when Biden seemed to get frustrated with Trump repeatedly interrupting him, and talking over him, as he was trying to respond, he would just look directly to camera, and would say, your family doesn't matter, my family doesn't matter, their family matters.


COLLINS: And he would -- he would take this moment, and look directly to whoever was watching at home.


JONES: I mean, that's the kind of preparation that has to be going on. And obviously, it's not the quantity of the preparation, by the way. It's the quality of the preparation. If he's being prepared the wrong way, for six days, he's going to regret it.

But you've got to understand, Donald Trump is a master performer. He's -- he knows how to take control of the space, and take up a lot of space. And you can't get distracted.

This podium being this close, look, you and I are about as close as these guys are going to be to each other. That's weird, man. That is not a normal -- that's not a normal situation, in a debate. And so, hopefully, they're prepared for that.

But don't -- do not underestimate Donald Trump's ability, to do a harrumph, to roll his eyes, to do -- to pantomime.

GANGEL: Right.

JONES: Even you can't hear him. If it's split-screen, you're going to see him, and he can dominate that way.


JONES: And so, to your point, Biden's got to be prepared. Ignore the class clown. Ignore the class clown, and focus on the American people.

COLLINS: I mean, are they going to shake hands, Jamie? What the -- these two have not been on stage together, since these two debates. And obviously, Trump had COVID, basically, one of them we later learned.


COLLINS: I mean, it's remarkable to think that was only four years ago. And now, we're watching this again.

GANGEL: I assume they will shake hands. I want to -- I don't want to give anyone a bad idea. But I want us to all remember what happened with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They were not behind podiums, then. They were sitting on two stools. But he got up, and he started pacing behind her.

JONES: Right.

GANGEL: I'm not giving anyone any ideas.


GANGEL: I don't think he will do that. But he is a big presence. He knows how to use up all the oxygen. And I don't think he needs the microphone, to steal the show.

COLLINS: Chris Wallace, just reflecting on that. When voters go home, there are people tuning in, who want to learn something, who want to make their -- base their vote off of what they see, tomorrow night. I mean, the chance of that happening, I think is a real question of what voters will walk away with it from?

WALLACE: Well, look, there's going to be a lot of atmospherics. There's going to be a lot of stuff that matters to them, but doesn't matter to the American people.

But I fully trust Dana -- Dana and Jake to be asking about the issues that people care about, whether it's the price of living, or immigration, or reproductive freedom, or democracy.

No, I -- there'll be a lot of substance in this debate. There probably will be a lot of sizzle and style and shenanigans that we talk about as well. I -- frankly, you want it. You don't want it to be all spinach. That would be -- that would be kind of a bore.

JENNINGS: I think the question is, can Trump stay focused on the core issues? What I've heard is he's so focused. I'm expecting him to come out and do it.

And also, the mindset of these two. Remember, one's going to walk on the stage, based on today's polls that we've seen, in the general forecasting, and know that they are leading this race.

And the President of the United States, who hates Donald Trump, who thinks he's an existential threat to democracy, and thinks he's doing a great job, despite having a 38 percent approval rating, has to walk out there, know, he is currently losing to Donald Trump.

I don't think you can undercount what mindset can do to your strategy in a live-fire situation.

COLLINS: I think both of them could really benefit from this, or really be hurt. That's why the stakes are so high, as Van said.

Chris Wallace, great to have you. I mean, truly no one better to talk about this with. You're the only person, who is -- of two people, who's moderated a debate, between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. So, thank you for that.

Van, Scott, and Jamie are all sticking around with us.

Because, up next, we have an exclusive interview, when we return. A sit-down with the Governor of Georgia, the Republican, Brian Kemp. Yes, you may remember, he refused to help Donald Trump overturn the 2020 election results. His debate advice for Donald Trump, who he's now voting for in November.

Plus, a Democratic governor will also join us, on the Supreme mistake, a major abortion draft decision, mistakenly posted online.



COLLINS: We're back at the site of tomorrow's historic presidential debate, here in Georgia. Look how beautiful that shot is.

It is home to the single closest race in the last election, Joe Biden beating Donald Trump by just over 12,000 votes here, in 2020, a number that we all remember quite well. It also made Trump the first Republican nominee, to lose here, in nearly 30 years.

Tomorrow, Trump is going to get a chance to convince not just all Americans, but Georgians, especially this time around. And few people know that better than my next Republican source.

I sat down exclusively, this afternoon, right here behind me, with Georgia's Republican governor, Brian Kemp.


COLLINS: Governor, thanks for being here.

What do you think Donald Trump needs to do, tomorrow night, to, on that debate stage, to win over voters in Georgia, but really the 2024 election?

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): Well, welcome to Georgia. It's going to be exciting night.

Look, I think former President Trump has a great opportunity, to really be forward-thinking, not look in the rearview mirror, not focused on the past, but stay focused on the future. Contrast, where things are right now, from where they were four years ago, with President Biden's record, and tell people like, what I'm going to help you do in the future, as your new president.

COLLINS: If he focuses on the past and on the 2020 election, do you think that's a mistake?


KEMP: Well, I think that hurts him was swing voters. I mean, from the people I'm hearing from, they're not focused on what happened in 2020 or 2022.

They're focused on what happened, when they went to the grocery store, the gas pump. They're focused on what's been happening at the border. And I think it's just a great opportunity, for former President Trump, to stay focused on those issues.

Because I think Biden has real liabilities there. I mean, to me, this is going to be a pocketbook election. There's so much chaos with all these other things that have been going on. But at the end of the day, I'm not hearing about those chaotic things.

COLLINS: Yes. Well, in the Georgia primary, in March, we saw something so fascinating, where Nikki Haley had already dropped out of the race, but 78,000 almost, Georgians still voted for her. I mean, what does Donald Trump need to do to earn their votes?

KEMP: Yes, and look, you had the same thing happening with President Biden. I mean, there's a lot of people on the other side that are not real happy with him.

So, I mean, there's definitely this fraction of people out there that maybe don't like either candidate. But at the end of the day, they got to decide who are they going to vote for that's going to make their life better, next week, next month, next year, or over the next four years.

And I think that's where President Trump has an opportunity, to me, to really talk about those things, and say, hey, gas prices weren't this high, when I was president. Your insurance wasn't this high. Your mortgage rates weren't this high. The border wasn't this porous. We didn't have weakness around the world, when you think about things like the pull-out of Afghanistan and other things.

And I think, as long as he stays focused on that, I think he wins over those people that are, you know, really don't like either candidate, or people that are truly undecided. It's hard to believe that there's many of those out there. But there are those fractions.

But at the end of the day, people got to decide one or two things. Whether they're going to vote or whether they're going to stay at home. And if they go vote, they got to pick, who they're going to vote for.

COLLINS: Well, speaking of the Georgia primary, who did you vote for?

KEMP: In the Georgia primary? I didn't vote for anybody. I voted. But I didn't vote for anybody.

COLLINS: You didn't vote--

KEMP: I mean, the race was already over, when the primary got here.

COLLINS: But you didn't vote for Donald Trump?

KEMP: I didn't vote for anybody.

COLLINS: Why not?

KEMP: Because the race was over with.

COLLINS: Wow. That's pretty interesting.

KEMP: Yes, well. I mean, I wanted to go vote. I always try to go vote, and play a part in it. But look, at that point, it didn't really matter. I've said, for a long time, as you know that I'm going to support the ticket. That's what I'm doing now.

And we have a lot of races on the ballot, here in Georgia, not just the presidential race. We got a lot of my friends and partners in the General Assembly. And I'm focused on holding our majorities, and making sure we turn out the vote for the whole ticket, all the way to the top.

COLLINS: But there were a lot of other Republicans, who came out and voted in that primary, and voted for Donald Trump. So, I think it would be pretty interesting for them to hear why you didn't feel the need to vote for him or didn't want to.

KEMP: Well, it would be for me, personally, politically. I mean, it'd be interesting if I had to vote for him, be interested if I didn't, or be interested if I didn't vote at all. But bottom line, it didn't really matter.

I mean, he was the presumptive nominee, before the primary ever got here. I mean, I didn't support anybody in the race. I mean, I was thinking about it. But just because a lot of circumstances, and the way things played out, I didn't end up doing that. But said, all along, for the most part that I will support the ticket. And that's what I've always done. And that's what I'm doing, this November.

COLLINS: On supporting the ticket, you -- that clearly means you're going to vote for Donald Trump, in November. Are you going to campaign for him though?

KEMP: Well, I mean, we'll see how the race plays out, and what they might ask for or need. But I mean, like, right now, I'm focused on turning the ticket out, so we win.

I mean, regardless of, our history together, I have a vested interest in Georgia, remaining in Republican hands. We did a great job of doing that in 2022, beating Stacey Abrams, by almost eight points. Our whole ticket at the state level won.

And we just had a great Supreme Court race here, where we had a liberal Democrat that was trying to knock off a really a great Supreme Court Justice that I appointed. And so, that was really a political race. The challenger made it political. We won that. And I have a vested interest in making sure that Georgia remains red,

unlike it did in 2020. I mean, I think that sends the narrative that -- Georgia is not this purple state that everybody thinks it is, you know? We're a 52-53, 48-47--


KEMP: --Republican-leaning state. And as we go into the 2026 cycle, when you're going to have an open seat for the governor's race, one of our U.S. Senate seat.

COLLINS: Senate seat.

KEMP: So, it's important for us to win this year.

COLLINS: Well and--

KEMP: Regardless.

COLLINS: You're popular. I mean, you beat -- Donald Trump endorsed your primary challenge. You beat him by over 50 points. You cruised to reelection. You said if they reach out. Has the Trump campaign not reached out to you, so far?

KEMP: Well, I mean, I haven't talked to the former President. I mean, I've talked to a few folks, on the campaign, or representatives of the campaign. But look, I'm not looking -- I'm not looking--

COLLINS: When was the last time you talked to him?

KEMP: I'm not looking for a phone call, you know? I don't need a phone call, or I don't have to be catered to, to support the ticket.


Everybody knows here, I'm a Republican. I'm at the top of the ticket in Georgia. We've had issues with our state Republican Party. We've had issues at the national level, on what they've been doing on the ground game. And I don't have any ill will against any of those people.

But like, I want to win. And for us to win and Georgia, we have to have a good ground game. And I just decided I was going to do that myself. My whole campaign team did, and my family did. And we raised a lot extra money. And we did phone calls, and door-knocking, and targeting persuadable voters, persuasive voters. And we won.

COLLINS: We're waiting on the Supreme Court, any moment now, to issue its ruling, on whether Donald Trump's acts related to the 2020 election were covered by presidential immunity. He's been arguing that he can't be prosecuted for that.

I mean, one of the last times that you all spoke, if not the last time, was when he was asking you, to do things that you said you didn't have the authority to do, as governor of this state.

Do you believe his acts, related to Georgia, specifically, in your view, are covered by presidential immunity?

KEMP: Yes, I wouldn't want to get into any -- you know, I'm not a lawyer. I relied on a lot of good lawyers, in my office, and others, to make sure that we were doing the right thing, and follow the law and follow the Constitution. And I'm going to continue to do that.

And I wouldn't really be able to speak with all the different things that he was saying and doing. I mean, he never, you know, he wanted me to do things that I don't think would have been necessarily illegal. But they were just things that I didn't have the authority to do. And he obviously didn't like that, that I couldn't do those things, or, in his mind, maybe wouldn't do it. But I just didn't have the legal authority to do that. I was very honest, and forthright, with that, and held my ground. And

that's what I'll continue to do, as we go into this cycle, in this election.

COLLINS: Do you have any concerns that he'd try to do that again, in 2024?

KEMP: Well, I've seen some of these stories, and people worrying about this, about that. I don't worry about the institutions of democracy too much. I mean, they held up under a lot of pressure, and--

COLLINS: Only because of people like you.

KEMP: Well, that's right. And there's still a lot of those good people that are serving, you know? And I think there's a lot more people watching now than were watching in 2020.

A lot of people that have complained about the process, and said, I should do this, and I should do that.

I've challenged them and say, hey, were you a poll-watcher, you know? Were you out there watching the process? Were you paying attention to what was going on? Did you volunteer?

Did you sign up, as a lawyer, to be part of the legal team, to take advantage of the legal processes post-election if there is problems, to go to the Superior Court, or file challenges, or whatever things that you can do, under the law? That's how the process is supposed to work.

And I'm a -- you know, look, we have -- democracy has been bent and challenged in in this republic, in the past, and it will be in the future. But I'm very confident that it will hold.

I think we have a lot of people that will follow the law and the Constitution. And at the end of the day, I know, myself, I believe we're going to have a secure, accessible, fair election, in the great State of Georgia. And I'm looking forward to that.

COLLINS: Governor Kemp, thank you for your time.

KEMP: Thank you.


COLLINS: News there, from the Georgia governor, on the eve of the Georgia debate, revealing he did not vote for Donald Trump, in the Republican primary.

Reaction to that interview, and much more, with our power team, right after a quick break.



COLLINS: Welcome back to THE SOURCE.

We are live, tonight, from the site of tomorrow's CNN Presidential Debate, here in Atlanta.

The Republican governor of Georgia, who you just heard from, who is going to be voting for Donald Trump, come November, just revealed this during our interview.


KEMP: In the Georgia primary? I didn't vote for anybody. I voted. But I didn't vote for anybody.

COLLINS: You didn't vote.

KEMP: I mean, the race was already over, when the primary got here.

COLLINS: But you didn't vote for Donald Trump?

KEMP: I didn't vote for anybody.

COLLINS: Why not?

KEMP: Because the race was over with.


COLLINS: Our top political sources are back here with me.

And Scott Jennings, I mean, one, he is voting for Donald Trump in November. He and I have already talked about that in other previous interviews, about his reasoning for why.

But for a very popular Republican governor, to say he went and physically cast a ballot, but did not hit, mark Donald Trump? I mean, it kind of says a lot about Trump's relationship with people, who are willing to not do everything, he asked them to do, and to criticize him.

JENNINGS: But his relationship with people, like Brian Kemp, is ultimately going to be solidified, as he confirmed to you that he is going to vote for the ticket, and turn out voters, using his own campaign money for the ticket, in November.

And listen. There is a headline tonight, in "The New York Times." Don't know if you've seen the polling. It says Republicans rally behind Trump after conviction. They have him beating Joe Biden, on the strength of these Republicans rallying.

For whatever concerns there were about Trump in the primary, this conviction, as crazy as it's going to sound to Democrats, brought people home. What Brian Kemp said today, you're going to hear in corners of the Republican Party, all over this country.

I was unsure about this, after January 6th. I was unsure about it in the primary. And now, I'm all in. Even though I had some concerns, I'm all in.


COLLINS: Van Jones, I mean, Scott is talking about how Trump -- they want Trump to focus on pocketbook issues, table -- table issues, how much groceries cost.

What does he do, though, tomorrow, when Joe Biden brings up January 6th, and President Biden brings up that he's a convicted felon, or pardoning hostages, or all of that stuff?

JONES: Hostages, I mean, pardoning convicted people who tried to overthrow our government.

But look, I think Trump's ready for that stuff. I think -- I think Trump's going to love that. I think Trump loves getting into it.

And I think what Biden's got to do is talk about how on the questions, where Biden is weak, the economy, that Trump will make it worse. That's the problem you have.

If you're concerned about inflation, when Trump gets in there, and gets us into another trade war, which is going to make prices go up. When Trump's gets in there, and takes away all the health care gains, makes your prices go up. Trump is going to make the economy so much worse, for ordinary people.

And so, Biden's got to fight him on the issue, where he's weak, and then pivot to where he's strong. People trust Biden, on abortion. They trust Biden on democracy. They don't trust him yet on the economy.


COLLINS: But a lot of these people, who are watching, tomorrow, are not people who are personally targeted by Donald Trump, asked to do something they legally don't have the authority to do. Then, Donald Trump tried to ruin Brian Kemp's political career.


COLLINS: But he has still come to the conclusion--


COLLINS: --he's going to vote for him

JONES: Well listen, I mean, I will tell you a secret. In the 90s, I did not like Bill Clinton. I was on the left-wing of the party. I didn't like him on the criminal justice. I didn't like him on affirmative action. I didn't like him on welfare. And then, they went after Bill Clinton, about Monica Lewinsky, and I loved Bill Clinton.


JONES: To this day, I love Bill Clinton. If I had a tattoo of a politician, it would probably be Bill Clinton. JENNINGS: Oh.

JONES: Because I felt -- I felt that they were going after the guy, for an illegitimate reason. And that's what happens in parties, when people rally around their guy, when people come under fire.

And that's been the danger the whole time, is that Democrats have falsely believed that if you hit him hard enough, on the lawfare side, it was going to drive Republicans away from him. It has drawn -- first of all, that's just facts.

GANGEL: Can I -- can I make a different argument?


GANGEL: This is about politics. There is a line he said to you. Regardless of our history, I have a vested interest.


GANGEL: Privately, we've spent the last what, six, eight years, hearing Republicans say to us, privately, he's a danger. He's a moron. He's an idiot. He doesn't know what he's doing.

But when push comes to shove, they all come running home, and kiss the ring, whether it's for power, whether it's fear, whether it's to get reelected. And that's what you see there with Brian Kemp.


GANGEL: That is--

JONES: Or believe the party.

GANGEL: That's real politic. That's--


GANGEL: Brian Kemp knows where his voters are.

JENNINGS: Can I ask -- can I add a reason to the list? Maybe it's because they think Joe Biden is doing a terrible job, I mean. And they wouldn't be out of line with the American people on that.

GANGEL: Scott, two things can be true at the same time. A Democrat--

JENNINGS: But you didn't list that one. Did you?

GANGEL: A Democrat can be weak. And Donald Trump can be a disaster.

And Republicans say to me, democracy being in danger, that is not a campaign slogan. They believe it. But they are willing to come running home, because that's who gets them reelected, or makes the money.

COLLINS: We'll see what the voters think of that.

GANGEL: Right.

COLLINS: Jamie Gangel, Scott Jennings, Van Jones, great to have you all here, on set.

JENNINGS: Oh, yes.

COLLINS: For such a special show.


COLLINS: Of course, all of this, tomorrow, could get even crazier, as we may get a ruling from the Supreme Court that could shake up everything that we've just been talking about, during the first 30 minutes of this show.

We're still also waiting for that major abortion opinion that the court mistakenly posted online, today. Yes, something that you feel like your parent would do. What it could mean for the debate and also the election? That's next.



COLLINS: It's been called a stunning breach of protocol, at the Supreme Court. As we briefly mentioned earlier, "Bloomberg News" reporting, tonight, on a document that it says was mistakenly posted on the Supreme Court's website, then quickly removed.

If that is how the opinion ends up being officially released, if it stands to what we saw today, then that means the Supreme Court is poised to allow what we talked about earlier this week, emergency abortions in Idaho, when a pregnant patient's health is at serious risk. That would buck, for now, one of the strictest abortion bans in the nation that we've seen playing out.

And according to "Bloomberg," here, this is also important. It's an unsigned six-three draft opinion. And it shows Chief Justice Roberts, John Roberts, Justices Amy Coney Barrett, and also Brett Kavanaugh, joining the courts liberals here, in this decision, signaling a potential win, for reproductive rights, at least temporarily, while this case is going to continue to move through the lower courts.

I should note, CNN has not been able to independently review this draft opinion, since it was taken down so quickly.

But I do want to talk about this with our source, tonight, the Democratic governor of Massachusetts, and the Biden campaign surrogate, Maura Healey.

Governor, obviously, you and I've talked about abortion, regularly, and what that has looked like since the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade.

If this is the decision that they stick with, and we'll see when they officially release -- release it officially, maybe tomorrow, what does it make you -- does it change your view of the court, if this is what they decide, if they do allow these emergency abortions to happen in Idaho?

GOV. MAURA HEALEY (D-MA): Absolutely not. And I'll tell you why, Kaitlan.

When we talked about this, two years ago, with Dobbs, and Trump's promise coming through? I mean, he promised to overturn Roe. He built the court. And they did just that. When we -- when that happened, we talked about how bad this would be for women.

And since that time, more women had been put at risk, more women are dying now, pregnant women are dying at childbirth. And it's insane, what's been happening, with state after state, and extremists pushing an agenda, trying to take away abortion, contraception, IVF. I mean, we've seen a litany of things, right?

All the court did, if this is indeed the decision, all the court did is say, oh, basically, if you're a pregnant woman, and you're in need of emergency care at a hospital, and that means having to receive an emergency abortion? You no longer have to be airlifted out of the state.

They don't even actually decide the case, which is whether or not the federal law that requires hospitals to provide emergency care, whether that even trumps the Idaho draconian ban.

So, people should take no comfort in this. We need to continue to talk about it. Because one in three American women, today, Kaitlan, live in states with abortion bans. That is outrageous. And if they come for women's rights, which they're doing it now, taking away our freedoms, everyone's freedoms are at risk.

COLLINS: Well, and we have -- we haven't seen a presidential debate since Roe versus Wade was overturned.

I mean, tomorrow night's going to be the first time that we see these two candidates, obviously, with immense power, since Trump was the one, who put three of these Supreme Court justices, on the court that played, obviously, a major role in making that decision.

I mean, how much do you think this is going to be part of the conversation, tonight, or what voters are tuning in for, tomorrow night, to listen to, and to hear these two candidates themselves talk about this?


HEALEY: Well, I think it's going to be part of the conversation. And I hope that President Biden makes it part of the conversation. He's obviously also got to talk about the economy and his vision, and the two different worlds that a Biden presidency and a Trump presidency pose.

But on the abortion issue, Kaitlan, we know this is something, once people understand it, it really matters. That's why we've seen these elections, and these ballot initiatives, with so many people turn out.

The vast majority of Americans, Republican and Democrat, in fact, believe in and support a woman's freedom to choose, and to make a health care decision like that for herself.

But unfortunately, we have zealots and extremists, who've just invaded state legislatures. And we have some Republican governors, who have been bragging alongside Trump, in efforts to take away access to abortion, and needed reproductive health care.

So, I hope President Biden talks to the American public straight about this and continues to push this as an issue.

Because, fundamentally, Kaitlan -- and I was a former Attorney General. I'm used to protecting people's rights, protecting freedoms. And women are bearing the brunt of this, right now. But no one's safe here. And that's what people have got to understand.

Same with the economic picture, OK? And I don't know if you want to talk about that or not. But Donald Trump, he brags -- he brags about two things, right? He brags about overturning Roe, and he brags about his tax cuts to the wealthy, which he wants to renew, if he's elected. He also, at the same time, wants to raise costs for the middle-class, essentially, by cutting our Medicare and Social Security.

So, I think these things have got to be really front and center, in tomorrow night's conversation and debate.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, there's so much to talk about, and so many things, immigration, the economy, obviously reproductive rights that voters have questions about. We will all be tuning in.

Governor Maura Healey, I know you will be as well. Thank you for your time tonight, though.

HEALEY: Good to be with you. Thanks.

COLLINS: And as Biden and Trump are preparing to meet face-to-face, tomorrow, for the first time in four years, and maybe not again until September, maybe not at all, we'll see, the question is what difference can a debate actually make?

We're going to bring you the latest numbers, and also look at how past debates impacted the last presidential race.



COLLINS: Less than 24 hours from one of the most anticipated moments, in the 2024 presidential election, both men are preparing to walk onto that stage, in a virtual tie.

In a new CNN Poll of Polls, which is an average of the five most recent national surveys that meet CNN's standards, Biden and Trump are locked within the margin of error, with no clear leader between the two of them.

Here with a deeper dive, into all the numbers, CNN's Senior Data Reporter, Harry Enten.

And Harry, I mean, both of these candidates are ones, who have complained about the poll numbers. But they both look at them.


COLLINS: And they both have those in the back of their minds, as they're walking out on the stage, tomorrow night.

ENTEN: Hey, you know, they every -- they complain about them, when they don't like them. When they go the way that they want, they're, yes, I love these polls. These are the greatest things ever. Joe Biden cites the polls when they're good for him. Donald Trump cites the polls that are good for him.

And as we kind of look in this debate, and you're sort of putting in a place and time, we're just in such a different place than we were four years ago, at this point.

I remember, four years ago, at this point, I was basically on my couch, because of the coronavirus, I was barely allowed in the office.

But Joe Biden had a considerable and consistent lead, heading into that first debate, right? We're talking about six percentage points.

And you'll look at where we are now. And as you mentioned, a no clear leader, virtual dead heat.

So, four years ago, Joe Biden had a lot to lose. Tomorrow night, Joe Biden has everything to gain, and so does Donald Trump, because this race is just so close.

COLLINS: Chris Wallace said something really interesting, earlier, about that first debate that he moderated. He said he actually thought it was a really consequential moment of 2020, because he believes it cost Trump the election.

Could we actually see a change in the numbers on -- after that debate?

ENTEN: There are very few things that can change a presidential campaign. You spoke about how this year the numbers really haven't shifted. It's basically been a dead heat the entire time.

But if you look back four years ago, and you look at the polls before the debate, and after them, you saw that Joe Biden gained considerable ground.


ENTEN: You look back at 2016. You saw the same thing with Hillary Clinton. She gained considerable ground after that first debate.

Mitt Romney, of course, was down considerably to Barack Obama in 2012. He gained considerable ground.

The debates are really one of the few things that can really shift the numbers. And in both cases, we have Donald Trump taking part in a first general election debate. It did not go his way.

COLLINS: To say the least.

ENTEN: To say the least.

COLLINS: And we say -- we look at the national polls. We look at this. I hear complaints, from both campaigns that say look at the battleground states, look at what swing voters are looking at. And that's who we're obviously keeping top of mind, tomorrow night.

What do the numbers look like those, in the most critical states, going into tomorrow?

ENTEN: Yes, we we've talked about them, right? The most critical states are those Great Lake battleground states, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin. What do we see there? We see such a tight race, a tied race in Michigan and Wisconsin. Pennsylvania, maybe Trump up slightly, but again, no clear leader there.

If Joe Biden is able to win those three states, he will most likely be the next president.

If Donald Trump wins just one of those, which seems quite possible, based on the polling right there, he'll likely be the next President.

Right now, a race too close to call in those states, with a lot to be determined tomorrow night.

COLLINS: Yes, we talked to our pundits, about what they're watching for, tomorrow night.

What are you, Harry Enten, watching for, tomorrow night?

ENTEN: Well, we spoke about this in the break. But I think the real thing, if I was being serious for a second, about what I'm watching for is, Biden's greatest weakness is voters think he's too old. Trump's greatest weakness is that they think he doesn't have the right temperament.

Will Trump try to adjust and maybe do something different than he's done in the debates, in the past?

Does Biden try and appear more energetic?

Both of them have a lot riding on tomorrow night's debate. It's going to be very interesting to see, if anything can finally move these numbers, because to be honest, it's been such a static race. It's kind of gotten me a little bit bored.

COLLINS: Yes, maybe it'll give you something to do.

ENTEN: Maybe. Instead of -- instead of -- COLLINS: Harry Enten.

ENTEN: But I still love appearing with you either way.

COLLINS: We'll continue to have you. Harry Enten, thank you for that.


And, of course, up next, we are going to talk about how presidential debate history is playing out into all this. Also, CNN history, and how there are two -- the both of them are colliding.


COLLINS: Tomorrow's presidential debate will be the first of its kind, here in Georgia.

From 1984 to 2019, the Peach State has hosted four party primary debates, including one that had Joe Biden on the stage. The 1992 vice presidential debate also took place here.

But until now, until tomorrow, there has never been a general election presidential debate, in Atlanta.


All of that is going to change, of course, during the debate, right here, on CNN's historic Techwood Campus, where Ted Turner launched the world's first 24-hour TV news network, back in 1980. There is so much rich history here, with a lot more to be written. And of course, what a special moment, just to be here, to witness it all.

Thank you so much, for joining us.