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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
Biden to Israel after Deadly Hospital Blast Rolls Region; Protest Erupt Near U.S. Embassy in Lebanon; Biden to Israel: While you feel Rage, Don't be Consumed by it; Rep. Jordan Tells Republicans they have a Choice Elect him or Stand in the Way, Empower McHenry; U.S. House Convenes for Second Vote on New Speaker. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired October 18, 2023 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KASIE HUNT, CNNI HOST: Hello, everyone, I'm Kasie Hunt, to our viewers watching in the United States and around the world. It is Wednesday,
October 18, 11 a.m. here in Washington, where the House of Representatives has just opened proceedings to choose a new Speaker this after yesterday's
failed vote, we are keeping a very close eye on that.
And we're going to bring you the latest as it unfolds. In fact, we're set to open in just a few moments in fact. We're going to start our coverage in
Israel. President Joe Biden is backing Israel's account of a deadly blast of the Gaza hospital. That was a blast that derailed part of his high
stakes trips to the region and has inflamed the Arab and Muslim world.
President Biden has been meeting with Israel's Prime Minister and other top officials today and an extraordinary support of solidarity at this time of
war. Just moments ago, he spoke about the hospital blast in Gaza City siding with Israel statement that they are not to blame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Palestinian people are suffering greatly as well. We mourn the loss of innocent Palestinian
lives like the entire world. I was outraged and saddened by the enormous loss of life yesterday in the hospital in Gaza. Based on the information
we've seen to date, it appears as a result of an errant rocket fired by a terrorist group in Gaza.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Palestinian officials in Gaza claimed it was an Israeli airstrike that hit the hospital that and killed at least 471 people. We do want to
underscore here CNN cannot independently verify what caused the explosion and we cannot verify the extent of the casualties. We do want to show you a
video that's been geo located by CNN and it shows the moment of impact.
You see the skylight up there as a large blast shakes the hospital grounds. The IDF says that the explosion didn't leave a crater that would indicate
an Israeli airstrike. And they also say they intercepted communications between two Hamas operatives that discussing rockets that were misfired by
Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian militant group in Gaza and again, a reminder CNN can't verify these recordings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAMAS OPERATIVE #2: They are saying it belongs to Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
HAMAS OPERATIVE #1: It's from us?
HAMAS OPERATIVE #2: It looks like it!
HAMAS OPERATIVE #1: Who says this?
HAMAS OPERATIVE #2: They are saying that the shrapnel from the missile is local shrapnel and not like Israeli shrapnel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: The hospital was not only treating wounded patients when the blast hit. They were also sheltering civilians seeking refuge from Israel's
relentless airstrikes against Hamas. Witnesses have described apocalyptic scenes blood everywhere bodies with limbs missing. One doctor who was
operating at the time says there was sheer panic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. FADEL NA'EEM, HEAD OF ORTHOPEDICS AT AL-AHLI HOSPITAL: I was waiting I just finished one surgery and suddenly we heard a big explosion. We thought
it's outside the hospital because we never thought that they would bomb the hospital. People run into the operation theatre, screaming help us, help
us, many people --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: The blast at the hospital has triggered furious protests across the Arab and Muslim world for a second day. You're looking at them there, not
just against Israel, but also against the United States. And it led Jordan to cancel a planned summit with President Biden with Egypt's President and
with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
When bringing my colleague Becky Anderson, who is live in Tel Aviv. Becky, this obviously an incredibly difficult and complicated story we are
learning at this hour that the U.S. is assessing that Israel is not responsible for the Gaza blast this coming from a spokesperson for the
National Security Council.
They say the assessment is based on an analysis of imagery intercepts and open source information. So again, we saw the President first mentioned
this ahead of his bilateral meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu then repeat to reporters that the information he was basing that assessment on was from
the Defense Department.
Now we're learning here more from the national security apparatus in the United States about what they believe. What's the latest where you are?
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, the bottom line here is that Israel denies responsibility and has provided evidence that it
says shows that the guilt lies with Islamic Jihad. The regional reaction, I have to say was extremely Swift, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq.
They've already condemned Israel squarely placing the blame on the IDF for the attack. A statement from Jordan's King Abdullah called it a heinous
massacre committed by Israel against innocent injured and sick civilians who were receiving treatment. This was in the wake of the attack.
And that was, at the same time that we understand that this meeting was cancelled. This was a summit that Joe Biden was due to go to in Jordan,
where the President of the Palestinian Authority would have also been present as well. I've got to say whether or not these regional countries
still believe that it was Israel behind that attack at the hospital given Israel's evidence.
Now, these countries have been calling unequivocally for an end to military action condemning Israel for what many describe as war crimes. You hear
that right across the region from heads of state, and on the street look, thousands of angry protesters in Arab countries, including Lebanon, Iraq,
Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt, and Tunisia, all in support of Palestinians and in condemnation of Israel.
I do think it's important that we consider what has happened today on this trip, because I think, it was very difficult to work out what Joe Biden's
objectives were on this trip, what a successful mission effectively would look like once that meeting with other Arab leaders was cancelled, that
looked as if quite frankly, there was very little success to be had.
But what we've heard just in the last few moments is that, firstly, the U.S. has offered $100 million in aid to Gaza, and to the West Bank. Now, I
have to say, I'm not quite sure how they expect that money to be spent? And we'll get more detail on that, particularly in the West Bank, where the
real issue is?
You know, violent settler behavior and violent settler attacks against Palestinians driving them off their lands is what lies at the heart of the
occupied West Bank violence. But I do think it's important that we just bring up what exactly it is that we got from this meeting today, because it
certainly sounds as if.
What, we are possibly looking at here is a temporary ceasefire. And I say that because President Biden's demand that Israel ensure the successful
delivery of humanitarian aid through the Rafah crossing is important here. That hasn't happened as far as Egypt is concerned the U.S. and others,
because Israel wouldn't concede to the fact that it needed to stop bombing that effectively that safe haven or that humanitarian corridor.
So President Biden's demands say the Israelis will not foil humanitarian aid deliveries, as they say they will not foil humanitarian aid deliveries,
as long as they consist of water, food and drugs for civilians and as long as that aid doesn't reach Hamas. They've also said Israel will not allow
any humanitarian aid from its territory into the Gaza Strip, as long as the hostages are not released.
Backstory to this is Qatar in direct talks with U.S. and Hamas about trying to get these hostages released and this humanitarian corridor safe for aid
to come in.
ANDERSON: And what all of them have been doing, aside from Hamas is leaning on Israel for this temporary ceasefire. That may be what we're looking at
HUNT: OK, Becky Anderson reporting from Tel Aviv. Thank you very much. Let's talk about all of this with today's panel. Sabrina Siddiqui White
House Reporter for The Wall Street Journal, David Sanger, CNN Political and National Security Analyst and of course, a White House and National
Security Correspondent at the New York Times.
And Major General James "Spider" Marks is a CNN Military Analyst and a retired U.S. Army Officer. Thank you all very much for being here this
morning. It's great to have you. I want to start David with something that you know is just breaking here and since you cover this community so
And spider of course I'll get you to weigh in as well. But we are hearing from the National Security Council here in the U.S. about what they believe
about this much disputed blast at this hospital.
So they write, "While we continue to collect information, our current assessment based on an analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts open source
information, is that Israel is not responsible for the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday." Now separately, CNN is reporting that the
initial evidence that was gathered by the U.S. intelligence community suggests.
That it came from a rocket that was launched by Islamic Jihad, which is what of course, the Israelis are saying. What do you take away from this?
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, a few things. First of all, it's consistent with everything that we've been
hearing from the intelligence community since last night. Second, they had to go back through their own sources, not through what Israel was
providing, because the U.S. has got satellite capability that can detect the flash of a launch almost anywhere around the world.
HUNT: OK. So we have more resources at our disposal than --
SANGER: We got a bigger satellite networks, and very much aimed at this, although the Israelis because of the Iron Dome, have a very good sense of
what gets launched. So they would have seen the flash of this thing launching, presumably. And what they also didn't see was the similar flash
coming out of Israel that would have explained the missile headed toward that way.
So they phrased it carefully in the negative they have said that we do not believe this came out of Israel. And then you heard the President go
further than that in his own statement and say, they believed it did come from militants. He wasn't specific as to within the Gaza. So now we have
the problem of facts -- Israel.
Let's assume for a minute that the U.S. and Israel have established the evidence. There's almost no way you would convince anybody on the street of
that, particularly at a moment when Israel while it may not have fired. That one has clearly fired or dropped bombs elsewhere within the Gaza.
MAJOR GENERAL JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, David, that what you said is absolutely correct facts. Facts don't matter
in this case. That's right. And the fact that Israel in the past may have done something that they were held culpable of, in terms of potentially
This was a precision strike. It goes where it's programmed in Israel is a professional force. It doesn't target hospitals, if you start at the
beginning of all this. And then as you so correctly described, you wrap all the intelligence around it, all the electronic intelligence to include
mostly signals intelligence, as well as what I would call the measurements and signals intelligence, which is, let's look at the crater provided by
And they can make a determination whether it was struck by whether it was done by the Israelis, or it was done by.
SANGER: And there is some writer here that we've seen.
MARKS: Exactly the point.
HUNT: Yes. So just to kind of help some folks who are not in you know, as steeped in this, as you guys are signals intelligence initially being
intercept any intelligence collected electronically, that would have shown or clued us into what this was, when you're saying signals and
measurements. You're saying that people that went to the site afterward or took pictures of the site afterward.
HUNT: Looked from the air and saw there is no massive crater. We would have a massive crater if this was an Israeli bomb. It's not there. And I would
argue, facts always matter, here. But I want to show Jimmy, producers can we put up the four box of what's going on in the Arab world right now,
because as these facts that we are learning from the intelligence community are coming out.
This is the reality on the ground right now, Sabrina. And this is I want to point out less than 24 hours since we got these reports from the
Palestinian Health Authority from Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, saying this was an Israeli bomb that killed hundreds of Palestinians at a
hospital, which obviously is not comporting with the laws of war to strike at a hospital. But that does not matter in the realm of public perception.
It does not seem.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: And I think this actually underscores in many ways, the diplomatic, political,
and security risks that were associated with President Biden choosing to travel to Israel in the midst of a very volatile conflict, where the
situation is changing moment by moment on the ground.
And there are obviously people who will look at the President standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel, and yes, the U.S. government can backing
Israel and saying it was not responsible for this hospital strike and not being capable of separating that from a lot of the humanitarian impact that
we've seen in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israel's retaliatory airstrikes in the region. And as part of the President's visit was ostensibly focused
on trying to prevent a broader regional conflict.
SIDDIQUI: And regardless of it, I think of what the Biden Administration says and its assessment of this hospital blast.
It's made that objective so much more difficult.
SIDDIQUI: And I think that the Biden Administration is going to have to look at the way in which this has inflamed tensions in the Arab world, and
factor that into how they move forward, especially with no signs of this conflict.
SIDDIQUI: Or no signs of a ceasefire, or, you know, this conflict being reined in.
HUNT: So, since you raise this, I also want to, for those who haven't been following along, we just heard of a speech from President Biden in Israel.
And one section of it in particular stood out to me where he talked about these comparisons to September 11, and actually had a warning for the
Israelis that I think will come into.
You know to matter potentially, if we're looking at a more inflamed and wider conflict. Take a look at how the President talked about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: You can't look at what has happened here, to your mother's, your father's, your grandparents, sons, daughters, children, even babies, and
not scream out for justice. Justice must be done. But I caution this while you feel that rage, don't be consumed by it. After 9/11, we were raised in
the United States. When we saw justice and got justice, we also made mistakes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: We also made mistakes. General Marks, what did you hear in that morning for the Israelis?
MARKS: Oh, absolutely. It's very difficult on either side of this, to suck the emotion out. Both sides are incredibly enraged and we've seen that
before. And when you act in your best interest, and you try to objectify what it is you're about to accomplish, there will always be an emotional
component and you will make mistakes, mistakes happen in combat.
It is messy, as precise as we try to be with this incredible intelligence collection capability. And the array of armament that we have, that are
intended to be very, very precise, and to eliminate, or at least very precisely, and as much as we can limit the collateral damage so that
civilians are not involved.
It's impossible to do that. But you try as hard as you can to make that happen. But mistakes as the President indicated, and I've been a part of
mistakes will occur.
HUNT: Very quick, last word, David.
SANGER: This was an incredibly impassioned speech, he couldn't quite tell it from that clip. But he started off by comparing this to the Holocaust.
SANGER: And he moved on to talk about sitting -- and not frequently hear American Presidents talk about the Jewish ritual of mourning. And then when
he moved on to this, he was basically saying, vengeance is not a strategy. I understand why you want it, but it's not a strategy and that was the
mistake we made after 9/11.
HUNT: My heart is with you. But let's not forget our heads in this situation. Alright, thank you very much for that everyone. Jim Jordan's bid
meanwhile, for the top job at the U.S. House is very much in question. He is facing a second Speaker vote after losing the first one there is the
call to House. It does seem like his opposition is only growing. I'm going to talk to one of Jordan supporters, coming up next.
HUNT: Welcome back. This is President Biden moments ago on the tarmac in Israel. He's about to depart. He of course was set to travel to Arab
countries that were scuttled in the wake of the hospital blast but we will keep an eye on see where he is headed, next. But we are also watching
another dramatically unfolding breaking news story right now on Capitol Hill.
The U.S. House has convened this is a quorum call they are so today to take a second vote to try and get a new House Speaker with more than two weeks
now without one. Congressman Jim Jordan has been scrambling for support since he lost the first round yesterday.
20 fellow Republicans voted against him on Tuesday, of course, the magic number he could only afford to lose four. Here's what he said earlier
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): We got to get a Speaker so we can open the House, so I'm going to get there. Look, I already proven I can get from the most
conservative members of the conference to the more moderate members of Congress. So whole cross section of the conference, it's important that we
get the last few we got them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: And joining us now is Congressman Rich McCormick of Georgia Republican. He is a supporter of Jim Jordan. Congressman, thank you very
much for being with us.
REP. RICH MCCORMICK (R-GA): My pleasure.
HUNT: So sir, let me start by asking you directly, is Jim Jordan going to lose more than 20 Republicans today or fewer?
MCCORMICK: If you could guess that, you know how the stock market is reacting the next week. It's been entirely unpredictable this entire time.
If not Jordan, though, who? And if not now, when? We're all asking these questions. There are tons of people who have different opinions just inside
of the Republican Party alone.
Being able to predict this has been difficult from the very beginning watching what happened with Scalise, what happened with McCarthy. He's in
unprecedented times. We're hoping to get this done today.
HUNT: So when you say get this done, there is now a plan according to our reporting teams, for two things to be considered today, if in fact, Jim
Jordan does not secure the speakership. So first a vote on whether Jordan should be Speaker if enough Republicans approve him, then a resolution that
could empower Patrick McHenry.
What do you understand about the plan for considering that? And would you consider supporting expanded powers or potentially the speakership for
Patrick McHenry, the temporary Speaker, if Jordan can't lock this down today?
MCCORMICK: I've talked to Patrick McHenry specifically on this, he does not want that. He's absolutely resistant to that. So I doubt it would get
complex-wide support. So I think that's dead on arrival. I really do. But like I said, we've had a hard time predicting what was going to happen next
The fact of the matter is I believe that if Jim Jordan has momentum, that he will get it done sometime today. If he loses momentum, good chance we
may be talking about two new candidates in the near future. And hopefully, that will proceed very quickly.
There are other members that say, we're going to vote for Jim Jordan. So this is all with if it takes 13, 15 rounds, whatever. So that's a lot of
opinions just from a few freshmen, let alone the whole conference, let alone the whole House. There are as many opinions as our people right now.
HUNT: Were you expecting that when you came to Congress here? I mean, how do you feel being at the center of this situation with literally -- I mean,
the Republican Party cannot govern itself and it's left our major branch of government without anybody in charge?
MCCORMICK: Let's face it, both parties have some challenges. I think the Democratic Party is upside down on the border on crime, on debt, on
We have a problem with just sorting out --
HUNT: Right, we -- running the Senate you know without deposing their own leaders -- I mean they're running the Senate without deposing their own
leaders and fairness.
MCCORMICK: Yes, we have some issues, no doubt about it. Quite frankly, I thought it was ridiculous when we deposed McCarthy to begin with the vast
majority. Remember, that was eight people out of an entire conference. That was our rules changed. And that's what happened.
As a result, the Nancy Pelosi wasn't exposed. She had to have a majority of her majority to do that. So we had different rules. We were trying to
disseminate the power. It didn't work out well for us. It's still watered - - I think the only people who've had it worse than my freshman class is a class who went through both this and January 6 and COVID. So it can always
be worse. But I'm hoping we are looking forward to better times.
HUNT: I suppose that is fair, it could always be worse. So let me ask you about where you are here. You've outlined several scenarios. If in fact
Jordan support softens here, are you committed to voting for Jordan 15 times? Or are you potentially open to backing someone else?
MCCORMICK: So the conference will decide whether we continue to vote for Jim, we don't have the option to vote for anybody else until we come to
vigil on Jordan himself. So --
HUNT: You can always decide to nominate somebody else. I mean, that's always your prerogative.
MCCORMICK: Well, the nomination process, I don't believe it's going to get better by me nominating somebody else. I think that just puts another
applying. We'd have to settle Jordan first. And then we can move on to anybody else who might be considered if that fails first. I'm going to do
one thing at a time. I think like a marine still.
HUNT: Fair enough. Let me ask you a question actually, based on that experience, you saw what happened with President Biden today in Israel. And
obviously, the trip has been upended because of conflicting narratives around what happened at the hospital in Gaza City.
The U.S. Intelligence Apparatus, the National Security Council just put out a statement saying that they assess that the Israelis are not responsible
for the bombing of the hospital. Have you learned anything in your capacity as a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committee about this
and how would you assess the job that President Biden did on the ground today?
MCCORMICK: So in a very clear way, but now their classified way, we believe that it was a misfire by Hamas that caused the explosion. So I'm glad that
happened, not from Israel. But it's a tragedy that Hamas uses human shields, and they're suffering the consequences.
That's where they do their arm caches and anything from temples, to hospitals, to schools. That's the way they operate. As far as President
Biden goes, I don't want to make this a divisive issue. So I really think this is about unanimous support for Israel. I think it alarms me to see as
much anti-Semitism in America, as we're seeing, for the first time in my lifetime.
At least the most anti-Semitic rhetoric and activity that I've ever seen, it's harmful to our cause. It's holding on to a very strong ally in that
region, somebody who we're linked to from the 1948, establishment of that country. So I really think we have to be careful about educating the public
on what's really happening, rather than on talking points that aren't useful to what we're trying to accomplish.
HUNT: When we're talking about American support for Israel, obviously, at the very top of the priority list for Congress right now is the
supplemental funding bill that we're expecting the White House to ask Congress to pass to aid Israel, potentially also to aid Ukraine.
But obviously, without a Speaker, the House is unable to pass that considering the importance of that measure. Do you think that you could
support giving, for example, Patrick McHenry, temporary powers to allow the House to get that done, if Jordan can't lock this down today?
MCCORMICK: Today, I think it's a little bit too soon to tell. We're literally going to go vote right now. As soon as I get up from this
interview, I'm going to stand up and my time and we'll select that. I hate to get over my skis, as we say, and address something before it happens. I
don't want to be hypothetical.
I don't want to speak before I see how the conference develops, because it's so unpredictable. I don't want to make presumptions about how the
conference is going to react and how we collectively make a decision. I do consider myself a very conservative guy, but also very much a team player
who has a realistic view of how these things progress.
I mean, I'm a military guy, I believe in mission accomplishment. I want to see how the field plays out so that I can make the best decision possible
when that time comes.
HUNT: Alright, well, that is fair enough. And I will say the fact that there is so much uncertainty and you're able to speak to that I think helps
us underscore the realities of the moment that we are facing. It's a very remarkable one in U.S. history.
Congressman Rich McCormick, thank you very much for joining us. I hope you come back soon.
MCCORMICK: Thank you.
HUNT: And U.S. President Joe Biden's pivotal trip to Israel, of course coincided with protests across the Middle East as anger erupted over the
deadly hospital explosion in Gaza.
And demonstrators came out in cities across the region including one in Beirut near the U.S. Embassy. We're going to get a live report from
Southern Lebanon, ahead.
HUNT: Welcome back to "State of the Race", I'm Kasie Hunt. You are looking live at the floor of the U.S. House. They have just taken what's known as a
quorum call. They're just counting who's there. As you can see, some of them are still missing. They're all making their way in.We are expecting at
least the vote on Jim Jordan again to be Speaker.
We're watching to see if 20 more or less than 20 Republicans oppose him. There are also now conversations about perhaps if he can't get there,
there's going to be a second vote to perhaps empower the temporary Speaker of the House, Patrick McHenry. There is a lot at stake and more questions
by far than answers right now.
So we're going to keep an eye on this and bring you the latest as they start to undertake this vote. But we do want to go back to our other major
breaking story, which is across the Middle East, the anger that has poured out over the blast at the hospital in Gaza. It's happening across the
region, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon.
You see pictures there across the Arab world, Arab and Muslim world in Beirut protests erupted near the U.S. Embassy fire and black smoke
billowing out of a building nearby.
And I want to bring in CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman. He is in Southern Lebanon covering this for us, Ben, bringing us up to
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, today we saw a large protest at the bottom of the hill near the U.S. Embassy which is
eight miles north of Beirut their protesters for the second time in the last 24 hours gathered there. They were throwing rocks and firing fireworks
at the Lebanese security forces who responded with rubber with rather tear gas and water cannons.
Eventually the Lebanese army intervened, and it appears to have broken up that protest. Now it's important to keep in mind it wasn't outside the
embassy, it's still a mile, half a mile up a mountain to get to that embassy, which is very heavily fortified.
Now, the U.S. State Department has advised -- has announced that was advised Americans not to travel to Lebanon. And it has said that family
members and non-emergency staff at the U.S. Embassy can leave the country should they so desire, France has advised its nationals not to travel to
And just a few hours ago, Saudi Arabia advised its nationals to leave the country immediately. Now, this is not in response necessarily, to the
protests in Beirut. It's in response to the growing tension on the border between Israel and Lebanon. For the past few hours we have been hearing
distant thuds. This is a fire being exchanged between Hezbollah we presume and Israel on the other side.
Now, we did hear a volley of rockets being fired in the direction of Israel, often those rockets are being fired not by Hezbollah, which are
more precision weapons. They tend to be fired by Palestinian factions in southern Lebanon. In fact, the last one to claim responsibility was the
military wing of Hamas, Kasie.
HUNT: Alright. Ben Wedeman in southern Lebanon for us, thank you very much. And our panel is back with me, Sabrina Siddiqui and David Sanger. And
joining us is Paul Begala, CNN Political Commentator and Democratic Strategist. And of course, Paul, you are a person who has been in the room
advising Democratic presidents on handling situations like the one that President Biden is dealing with today.
We just saw him on the tarmac in Israel. He had been set to go meet with Arab leaders when you know, they originally planned this trip. But before
they took off, they realized that that was going to be canceled because of the reaction that has unfurled across the Arab and Muslim worlds to the
strike in Gaza.
We saw the president and we played for everybody kind of what he said about September 11. And how the U.S. understandably reacted with rage, but also
made mistakes in the actions that they took after that. Can I ask you kind of what you make of that, what you think the president was trying to say?
And what it, you know, says about where this conflict might go next?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, this is one of the, one of the -- everybody talks about how old Joe Biden is; because he's old with age
comes wisdom. And he's got the hard experience of having supported the invasion of Iraq, which was a catastrophe for the United States. In part, I
think many Americans supported it, because we were so enraged by 911. And I think he was acting like the big brother, right? The wise old --
HUNT: I mean, it was time, I mean, there was no one who was opposed to it hardly, there were a handful obviously. Barack Obama were back to the
BEGALA: I was on TV every single day screaming and yelling about it.
BEGALA: It was catastrophe.
HUNT: But it was hard to be somebody who spoke out against it at the time.
BEGALA: It was and I think, then Senator Biden was wrong. I think President Biden today is right. And he has learned from that experience, and he's
trying, it's very hard to learn from somebody else's experience. He's trying to go to his allies in Israel and say, look, your rage is justified.
He could not have been a stronger, more stalwart ally in defending and praising them standing them literally going into a war zone. And he's
saying don't do what we did. Don't overreact. Let them beat you into an overreaction. It is really remarkable to me, I've worked in Israel, that
Israel has not invaded Gaza, yet. Everybody expects it to happen. But it's been, what, 10 days, and they still have it.
BEGALA: I think that restraint is something I did not foresee, frankly, is not something America had after 911.
SANGER: You know, I think there's a really interesting reason, Paul, that they have done it part. It's that the U.S. has been keeping American
officials with this message of don't make the mistake we made in Iraq, in front of Bibi Netanyahu every single day. You know, Tony Blinken went
Austin came in, Lincoln came back, Biden came, Erik Kurilla, the Commander of Central Command is there. And they're following a strategy of making
sure he isn't left alone, and trying to make use of the fact that Ben against the former Defense Secretary is now in the --
HUNT: The war captain.
SANGER: The war captain and who is you know, got a lot of experience in Gaza. What's really fascinating in his making of this argument is he was
basically saying the United States made a strategic mistake that cost us for the next 15 years. And you want to make sure that you don't come out of
this tragedy, putting Israel in a weaker position than it was before.
HUNT: So I mean, this is a really interesting thing you're laying out. You're basically saying American officials have gone in there, sat next to
Bibi Netanyahu every day and told him don't make the same mistake we did by going into Gaza and creating a situation you can't get out of.
SANGER: At the same time saying, we're with you on your strategic objective of eliminating Hamas. But you got to do it in a way that doesn't further
inflame the street and lead to a greater pile one humanitarian tragedy on another.
HUNT: Right. Well, so Sabrina, the other thing I'm reminded of, because, obviously, Iraq, we look back on it. And you know, I think General Marks
was talking about how there was military strategic regret and the harm to, you know, the readiness of U.S. forces being overstretched, et cetera.
But politically, there also was enormous backlash, obviously, to the point that, you know, President Obama was elected essentially, because, you know,
in no small part because of sentiment against the Iraq War, and there has already been, you know, conversations.
I mean, I saw George W. Bush weigh in on this last week saying, the politics of this are going to change as well. That, that Israel, if they go
in here, they're going to face, you know, headwinds and people opposing what they're doing.
I mean, we're already seeing just how close this is to igniting with these protests happening, you know, less than 24 hours since that hospital
bombing information moves at speeds it wasn't even moving at, you know, in 2003 in Iraq, how is the White House thinking about that?
SIDDIQUI: Well, I think that the White House is really trying to contain this conflict. And the hospital, in some ways, was a tipping point, because
they are also looking at the reality that prior to this hospital blast that, you know, the Israeli government has denied being responsible for
U.S. government, of course, backing them in that assessment.
The civilian death toll in Gaza had already surpassed 3000 people that included hundreds of children. And, you know, the Israeli government often
points out that Hamas is embedded within these densely populated civilian areas. But the U.N. Doctors without Borders, other humanitarian groups on
the ground have said that they don't believe that the Israeli government has really been careful to minimize civilian casualties.
So it was really striking to see President Biden for the first time publicly, not use the word restraint, but subtly essentially tell the
Israeli government to try and contain their reaction. The challenge, I think, for President Biden is because most of these conversations have
happened in private to David's point.
The Biden Administration really pushing Israeli officials in private not to make the same mistakes the U.S. made after 911. The public perception in
the Arab world because President Biden has been so steadfast in his support for the Israeli government's response here is that the U.S. government has
essentially given Israel a green light when you look at the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in Gaza.
And I think that's going to be a challenge for President Biden, the public perception in the Arab world that you're seeing, as you look at these
images of these protests. And it's also challenging because so much of his foreign policy has been rooted in trying to pull the U.S. out of the Middle
East. And here you have a conflict that continues to unfold and potentially continuing to escalate and risks pulling the U.S. back into the Middle
HUNT: Well, I mean, you know, one of the challenges here, too, though, Sabrina, as I think about this is, you know, they said before he left on
this trip that one of the reasons he agreed to go was so that he could try to guarantee humanitarian aid.
Obviously, the leaders in the Arab world pulled those meetings, likely as much to do with their own domestic political situations as anything else,
because it'd be tough for them to be seen meeting with the president then. But does that not potentially limit the options or ways in which we can get
that humanitarian aid into Gaza?
SIDDIQUI: Well, you know, the president who said himself that he was continuing to coordinate with leaders in the region by phone. And there is
an understanding at least that Egypt will and Israel both will allow this aid to flow into Gaza through that Rafah border crossing.
I think, again, you know, we've heard the devastating impacts of this conflict on Gaza with people on the ground warning that it is at the on the
brink of a collapse, the health care system breaking down. So you know, I think there is an urgent need, everyone agrees to try and get humanitarian
aid into Gaza.
I do think that Biden Administration sees this as a breakthrough today that they are, they have reached this agreement with the Israeli government to
try and allow some of that aid to get in, but there are obviously a lot of people watching to see how this began. Very volatile situation can use
develop on the -- of course.
HUNT: All right. We've got multiple breaking stories here; we're trying to get to still ahead here on "State of the Race". The U.S. House again trying
to elect a new speaker against some very strong political headwinds. We are live on Capitol Hill with the latest on the voting there. And what might
happen if Jim Jordan can't for a second straight day win the gavel?
HUNT: Welcome back to "State of the Race". You are watching live as the House prepares to hold a second vote in as many days to try again to pick a
new Speaker of the House. Jim Jordan, of course was up for this yesterday. He is up again today.
And that is in peril. He had a worse than expected showing 20 Republicans voted against his candidacy. And if that happens again today or there's
more of them who vote against him, the path could really start to close. And of course the question what happens then? Could another candidate
Let's bring in Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill for us, Lauren, quite a day up there lots of options, it seems including potentially this second
resolution that could empower Patrick McHenry, the temporary Speaker, what are you hearing about what you think we're going to see unfold right now?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the expectation is still that Jim Jordan is going to get another vote to become the Speaker of the
House. We expect that he will fall short; he likely will even lose additional, additional support beyond the 20 members who voted against him
But one thing to watch is what happens in the moments after that. We are told that there are active discussions about someone like David Joyce,
bringing forward a resolution that would empower Patrick McHenry. And there are questions about whether or not there would be enough members to support
something like that moving forward.
I've talked to a number of Republicans this morning, Representative Ken Buck told me a couple of minutes ago, he would be supportive of taking that
step. There are of course, Jordan supporters who do not back moving forward with that. Jim Jordan himself told me just under an hour ago that he
believed the right choice was to elect a permanent Republican Speaker.
He said the other option is nothing short of a coalition government. He said that is not what Republican voters elected the House majority to do.
Because essentially, if there was going to be a resolution to empower McHenry, Democrats would have to support it in order to get it across the
finish line, because there are a number of Republicans who wouldn't back it.
So essentially Jordan is arguing OK, if you do not want to support this resolution or if you don't want to support me, and you're going to vote
this for this resolution that is basically a coalition government. That's the argument coming from Jim Jordan.
HUNT: Well, not wrong, I guess, but possibly the only way for the U.S. House to begin functioning again, Lauren Fox, thank you very much. I know
you got a really busy day. So I really appreciate you taking some time with us today.
Let's bring back our panel. CNN Congressional Correspondent Jessica Dean is joining us, Doug Heye Republican Strategist and Former Communications
Director for the Republican National Committee and Paul Begala CNN Political Commentator, and Democratic Strategist. Doug, I got to get them
to update your intro, because really, you're working for, your work for Eric Cantor is really what brings you here today, who used to be of course,
the Republican whip.
So I want to do a little bit of kind of how we got here. So this is our latest reporting from Lauren Fox, the rest of our team. The mood among
Jordan allies at this hour is dour. They think their pressure campaign backfired.
And I want to give you a little bit of a sense of what that pressure campaign involves over the course of the last 24 hours. You are seeing on
your screen texts, to Congressman Don Bacon, he is a relatively moderate, at least a temperament Republican who voted against Jordan to his wife
says, "Your husband will not hold any political office ever again. What a disappointment and failure he is".
She writes back, he has more courage than you; you won't put your name to your statements. And then this is the text of an anonymous voicemail. We
need to talk sense into your husband, he is destroying the Republican Party, please, the world needs United Republican Party.
Every time they take five steps forward, they end up taking 20 steps back; please talk some sense into his head, please. Now that one is not quite as
threatening as never hold political office ever again. And thankfully, we haven't seen as we know many of these members receive death threats and
other violent things aimed at them.
But that's a little bit of the pressure campaign. So this is what her husband, Don Bacon, had to say earlier today. Of course, having you know,
possessing the information and been pressured by the Jordan apparatus. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DON BACON (R-NE): Now let's you're probably going to pick up three or four more no votes. Second, we'll see I know Jim Jordan is working this
hard. This isn't about being anti-job. I think he's done a great job as chairman, his very voice, one of many great voices. But that will be a no
vote second round.
And we need a speaker that can represent the entire conference. We're looking at 23 to 25. No, it's maybe 23. I would say about 23 no's today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So pretty magnanimous, moderate and temperament, I would say, considering what went on. But he says like, absolutely not. I'm not doing
DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, we see two games being played here. One is the inside game, which we're watching on TV and in the House
chamber, which is the important game. The outside game is what we're hearing in these voicemails. And the first person first line of defense in
a congressional office is called the staff assistant.
They're the ones who answer the phones and constituents come in, and that we're getting a lot of this, they answer the phone, and then they hold it
out here because there's yelling. And that's coming from the conservative ecosphere, and so forth. And it's backfiring.
It's why when you've heard Mario Diaz-Balart, who's one of the more liked and respected, Republican members say that there's a bullying campaign
going on. That's what they're talking about. It's backfiring. And if this continues, clearly Jordan will fail today.
HUNT: Jessica Dean, you cover congress, I've covered congress for many years. It is astonishing that we are where we are today. And we have Lauren
Fox talking about a coalition government where Democrats might support Republicans. How do you see things playing out today?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's you know, I was thinking about that when we were coming in here. And we're not in the
business of telling people how this is going to unfold exactly because we don't have a crystal ball. And we aren't going to --
HUNT: And nobody knows. And that's what's remarkable about it.
DEAN: And I think that's what we have to keep reminding people is even House Republicans and leadership don't know how this, where the endgame is
here. I think we all have kind of a general vague idea which Lauran just laid out for us, which is, they're going to do this second vote with Jim
Jordan, then do they move on if that fails?
Which, again, if you're just lying out what's likely to happen, that is what's likely to happen? That he could lose by a larger margin this time.
Then do they move on to empower Patrick McHenry and then OK, let's say that happens, then what happens when they start, Pat, if they need to pass aid
packages for Ukraine, for Israel, do some of this business that they need to do of actually governing and taking care of business in the House.
But Kasie, you make a great point. And I know you spent a lot of time on the hill like this is just remarkable kind of dysfunction.
HUNT: Yes, unprecedented -- this time in America.
DEAN: Yes. And I know we like to say that in the last many years that we've been saying unprecedented, unprecedented, but it really has been.
HEYE: And here's a specific example, though. So let's say we go to the second vote, and they're fewer votes for Jordan. Well, if Dave Joyce stands
up and makes a motion as he texted me this morning he's going to, Patrick McHenry, the Speaker Pro Tempore has to make a decision. Do I recognize
Dave Joyce or not? And Patrick McHenry's team does not know if he will do that at this point.
HUNT: Wow, remarkable. Paul, very briefly should Democrats help Patrick McHenry get the gavel if it comes to that?
BEGALA: Yes, but more importantly they're telling me they will.
HUNT: Oh really?
BEGALA: If and I've talked to folks on the Hill in the Democratic Party, and this is what they want, just what Jessica said. They want an aid
package to Israel. They want an aid package to Ukraine, at least up or down votes on, I think both have overwhelming support, but they can't get it to
the floor without a speaker.
And they want to keep the government running in just a few weeks, the government shuts down. That's all there. They're not saying let us run the
Judiciary Committee that just saying it says something about the Republican Party that the phrase coalition government came out of Congressman
McCormick's mouth like it was venom. We're watching Israel, which is in a much more --
HUNT: Congressman Jordan's mouth.
BEGALA: No, this guy McCormick.
BEGALA: I think is the name.
BEGALA: He said, well, that would be a coalition government. We can't have it. Israel is in an existential crisis. They now have a national unity
government, thank goodness as a supporter of Israel. They do. The whole constitutional system in America is built on compromise.
Republicans have to compromise with Democrats. It's their job. They can't compromise with Republicans right now. And that's, that's the problem.
HUNT: Now, and it's been that way for a while and we're just seeing honestly, the fruition of many years of these divisions inside this party.
Alright, Jessica Dean, Doug Heye and Paul Begala, all are going to stay with us. We're going to get more from them after a quick break, when we
will have our continued breaking news coverage of the race to get the gavel in the House.
HUNT: All right, welcome back. Again, we are watching live as the House of Representatives prepares for a second round of voting to potentially
install Jim Jordan as Speaker he, of course, couldn't do that yesterday. And we're watching to see if more than 20 Republicans ultimately decide
that they're going to not vote with him.
I think the expectation at this hour is that that's the case. But Paul, I want to pick back up on this thread that we were just talking about. In the
event that the pressure is building for them to put somebody in who can actually move legislation on the floor of the House.
If Republicans cannot get there today, if Jordan cannot get there, the administration's about to send a supplemental for Israel, obviously what's
going on over there is terrible. America is trying to get money out the door to fund them to do that they need somebody who's capable of doing it.
And there are now conversations about Patrick McHenry or someone else. What is you say a little bit more about the thinking that Democrats have right
now about what they would be willing to do and what they wouldn't be willing to do to let the House function?
BEGALA: Right. You know, McHenry is the Speaker Pro Tempore. He has almost no power except to bring the House in to vote on picking a real speaker.
There's no reason they couldn't change that rule. And say the Speaker Pro Tempore has the power to convene the House to elect speaker.
And all the Democrats want is an aid package Israel aid package to Ukraine to fund the government. If it were me, I would also say let's change this
rule that the Republicans put in to allow any single member of congress to move to vacate the Chair to take out the speaker.
When Nancy Pelosi was speaker, it took over 100. Now it takes just one and it's a sword of Damocles, it's going to hind over anybody's head that gets
that jumps going to make the job really impossible to do. That Democrats aren't insisting on that, they tell me right now. They're just saying,
look, the vast majority of the Democratic Party and Republican Party supports Israel.
The vast majority, the Democratic Party, and most of the Republicans support Ukraine. Nobody wants the government shutdown; let's just do those
three things. But they're talking maybe 30 days, you know; just extend this just long enough. And McHenry is respected on both sides of the aisle.
HUNT: Yes, I agree.
BEGALA: And I don't think Democrats would have a terrible problem with him.
DEAN: And Kasie, can we just remind everyone, you know, we get into all of this kind of archaic language when you're talking about Capitol Hill. But
the motion of vacate, which Paul just mentioned, that's what got us here. And we just I always like to remind people take them back to January when
we went round after round after round of Kevin McCarthy trying to get the gavel.
And that was the deal he struck with some of these hardliners in order to get the gavel, which was one person.
HUNT: He gave away the job just to get it.
DEAN: And until I mean, Paul makes a great point until that gets shifted back, what's to say we don't continue to find ourselves in this very
situation over and over again.
BEGALA: We will, I guarantee this. Do the math; I've done this longer than any of you all. I've been around 35 years. Here are the Republican leaders
in my lifetime in the House.
Newt Gingrich brought them into the majority cooed (ph) by his own troops. He was followed by Dennis Hastert who was not cued, but he went to prison.
He's a serial child molester.
HUNT: Later, yes.
BEGALA: He was followed by John Boehner cooed by his own troops, followed by Paul Ryan cooed by his own troops, followed by Kevin McCarthy cooed by
his own troops. It same thing happened to the whip that Mr. -- that you've worked for. They have got to find ways to pick good leaders and then back
I'm sorry to give the Republicans great advice. By the way, the Democrats, include any of their leaders in their lifetime, they've backed, they had
Pelosi forever and she was great.
HUNT: Yes. And Pelosi, our unity is our strength.
HUNT: Jessica Dean, Paul Begala, Doug Heye, my thanks to all of you for joining us today. We should note that as Tom Cole nominating Jim Jordan on
the floor. That is a signal; he is somebody who has been talked about as a consensus speaker. So it's important that it's him that is doing this.
Don't go anywhere. We're going to have live coverage of this for the rest of the hour. CNN's breaking news coverage continues after we come back
after a quick break.