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State of the Union

Interview With Fmr. Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA); Interview With Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA); Interview With North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein; Interview With Sen. James Lankford (R-OK). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 10, 2024 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Face-off. With voters' choice in November, finally set, the presidential candidates clash in the pivotal state of Georgia.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When he says he wants to be a dictator, I believe him.

TAPPER: Can either sell voters on a choice they likely don't want?

Georgia Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock is next.

And singled out. In a fiery speech, President Biden references his bipartisan deal.

BIDEN: Oh, you don't like that bill, huh?

TAPPER: A month after Republicans killed the deal, how does he see it? Oklahoma Republican Senator James Lankford joins me exclusively.

Plus: MAGA movement. A Trump-backed candidate in North Carolina...

TRUMP: I think you are Martin Luther King times two.

TAPPER: ... confronted with outrageous claims and conspiracies.


TAPPER: Is that a deal-breaker with voters?


TAPPER: The new Democratic nominee for governor of North Carolina, Josh Stein, is ahead.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is trying to get excited for yet another sequel, though, this one, we can't blame on Hollywood.

President Joe Biden and his campaign have been waiting for Americans to tune in to the general election rematch between him and Donald Trump. And after this past week, they got their wish. Last night, both men rallied voters in the purple state of Georgia and gave us a preview of what the next eight months will look like.


BIDEN: Donald Trump sees a different America, an American story of resentment, revenge and retribution. That's not me. That's not you.

TRUMP: We all heard crooked Joe's angry, dark, hate-filled rant of a State of the Union address. Wasn't it -- didn't it bring us together, bring the country to-to-to-together.



TAPPER: Trump there mocking Joe Biden's stutter.

And joining me now is someone who joined President Biden yesterday in Atlanta, Democratic Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock of Georgia.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

So, Biden and Trump were both in the Peach State last night, highlighting just how critical Georgia's going to be in November. A recent FOX poll found Trump leading Biden by eight points in Georgia. The same poll shows nearly one in four black voters in Georgia prefer Trump over Biden.

How worried are you about Biden voters turning out in Georgia this fall?

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Well, good to be with you. Happy Sunday morning.

Listen, it's still early in the election season. And I can tell you, as somebody whose name has been on the ballot five times in three years, I know a little something about Georgia voters. And I think that, as we move through this election and it becomes clearer to people that we have a binary choice, the contrast couldn't be more stark between -- about who's ready to serve in the White House.

We have seen both of these men serve in the White House. That choice is clearly Joe Biden. And the Georgians will get it right for Joe Biden, just as they got it right for me.

TAPPER: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. claims that he has enough signatures to get on the ballot in Georgia. Biden only won Georgia by less than 12,000 votes four years ago. How worried are you that Kennedy could be a spoiler in November?

WARNOCK: Listen, again, I can tell you that, as I started the race, people didn't think I could win.

Joe Biden won Georgia the last time by about 12,000 votes, votes, by the way, the former president tried to steal. And yet here we are. Those -- both of those men were here yesterday because the road to the White House goes through Georgia.

And I can't wait to continue to make the case alongside Joe Biden in the months ahead.

TAPPER: On the subject of Trump attempting, allegedly, to steal the vote in Georgia, he's being prosecuted for that by Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County.

Trump has been attacking her, especially for that relationship she had with one of her prosecutors. Do you still feel like Fani Willis is the best person to bring this case forward?

WARNOCK: Well, I'm never surprised when I see Donald Trump attacking women, especially black women. This is who he is.


And I know that there are those who are trying to put their finger on the scale here. But this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to watch the American judicial process play out. Donald Trump deserves a hearing before a jury of his peers. In this case, that's voters from Georgia.

And I know that there are folks on the other side of the aisle, unfortunately, who are trying to lean in here and put their finger on the scale. I'm not going to pile on. I'm going to allow the judicial process to proceed.

TAPPER: A horrible tragedy in your state, I don't need to tell you.

Laken Riley, a 22-year-old Augusta student -- Augusta University nursing student, she was bludgeoned to death last month while on a run on the UGA campus. The suspect is an undocumented immigrant from Venezuela who was released after crossing the border illegally, had a criminal record in New York, was still a free person.

Biden mentioned her during his speech Thursday night, pushed to do so by a Georgia Republican. Take a listen.




Laken -- Laken Riley, an innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal. That's right. But how many of the thousands of people being killed by illegals? To her parents, I say my heart goes out to you, having lost children myself.


TAPPER: At his rally last night, Trump met with Laken Riley's family. He blamed Biden's border policies for her death.

The Rileys are your constituents. Is it not true that there were policy failures that led to this tragic murder?

WARNOCK: Listen, first of all, let me just say that my heart goes out to this family, the family of Laken Riley.

And I can tell you, as a pastor who has done hundreds of eulogies and presided over all kinds of funerals, there is no grief worse than when nature is tragically reversed and, rather than the children burying the parents, the parents have to bury the children.

And so it's unfortunate that, in this moment of grief, there are those who are trying to score cheap political points. The border must be secured. We know this. There's agreement about that on both sides, which is why we had a bipartisan piece of legislation before us just a matter of weeks ago.

And the fact that there are those who walked away from this bipartisan legislation, or at least a chance to debate it, and now they're trying to score political points in the wake of a young woman's death, that is craven politics at its worst. It's what turns people away from politics.

And I think we can do much better than that. We can secure the border. And we can make sure that we are doing everything we can to make sure our children are safe.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the Middle East.

President Biden has been critical of Israel for blocking humanitarian aid and is taking steps to address what you have called a catastrophic humanitarian nightmare in Gaza. Biden did say yesterday that there is no red line that would let him -- that would him to -- quote -- "cut off all weapons to Israel," as some Democrats have called for.

What's your reaction to what President Biden said yesterday? Do you think he's doing enough to ensure that American-made arms going to Israel are not being used to exacerbate the horrific humanitarian crisis?

WARNOCK: Israel is our ally. It lives in a dangerous neighborhood.

But you cannot look away from and the president is not looking away from the tragic situation in Gaza. We have seen some 30,000 Gazans already killed, many of them innocent men, women and children. I can tell you that, as I put my own children to bed last night, my son had an incessant cough, and it just broke my heart just to see him coughing. And I had to give him his treatment. And as I was thinking about that,

I was thinking really about parents in Gaza who deal with these situations and much, much worse in the midst of a war-torn area, children experiencing amputations without anesthesia, children who are wounded and have no living relatives.

We have got to make our way to that path that leads to peace. I think the president is leaning in hard, pushing Netanyahu to do this, and it couldn't happen sooner. I hope that, as we get closer to the holy season of Ramadan and the season of Passover shortly thereafter, we will dig deep into the cisterns of faith and conscience that inform us from our various faith traditions and find our way to peace.


TAPPER: Before we go -- and I know you're about to go preach -- you are one of only two ordained ministers in the United States Senate.

The other, coincidentally, is my next guest, Senator Lankford of Oklahoma. I wonder what you make of Donald Trump's deep support among white conservative evangelical Christians. Does it surprise you at all?

WARNOCK: Well, I think Donald Trump is focused on himself.

And I think that, as a Christian, I'm a Matthew 25 Christian, where Jesus said: "I was hungry and you fed me. I was sick and you attended to me."

And so that's why I think it's important that we expand Medicaid in Georgia, that we deal with the fact that there are seniors who are having to choose between prescription drugs and buying groceries. That's my North Star. That's what informs my faith and my politics. And I think that the bin -- that there is a clear choice in the days ahead as we move through this election.

Donald Trump is not worthy of the office that he seeks.

TAPPER: Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock, have a lovely time at church this morning, and thank you for joining us.

WARNOCK: Thank you. Happy Sunday.

TAPPER: President Biden singled out his work on the border bill Thursday night, but what did he think of that moment? Republican Senator James Lankford is next.

And shocking comments by the Republican nominee for governor in North Carolina. That story is coming up.



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: That bipartisan bill would hire 1,500 more security agents and officers, 100 more immigration judges to help tackle the back load of two million cases, 4,300 more asylum officers, and new policies so they can resolve cases in six months, instead of six years now.



TAPPER: My next guest, you can see him there agreeing with President Biden on the factual assertions he was making about the bill. Biden brought up that failed bipartisan border deal during his State of the Union.

He joins us now, one of the authors of the deal, Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

So, viewers could see you saying, "That's true," as the president talked about the different hires that would have been possible without legislation. What were you thinking in that moment?

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): Yes, it was interesting.

And I was listening to the president, obviously, as he was walking through it, and I could hear some of my colleagues around me saying, "None of that is true," and I was actually listening to the president and said, no, that part is actually true.

It would have hired all of those additional agents. It would have expedited the process. It would have also changed the asylum standard, so we can go through much faster. The only way to be able to solve this problem right now legally is to be able to change the asylum standard and to be able to have much faster hearings.

The problem is, the president also left out some of the things that he could do right now he's choosing not to do. He has a very open parole system, that literally thousands of people a day are coming across and being rapidly paroled.

He is not actually doing what's called first -- the last in, first up for hearings to be able to deter people from coming across by having faster hearings in the process. So there are multiple executive actions for whatever reason the president is choosing not to do.

But there's also legal authorities that need to be done as well.

TAPPER: You endorsed Donald Trump this week right after his Super Tuesday win in the Oklahoma primary, among others. Was it at all difficult to support Donald Trump after he essentially was responsible for killing your legislation? He smeared the bill.

He lied about the bill, legislation you worked hard on and you believe would not only improve the situation at the border, would maybe even save lives. Did you have any compunctions about it? LANKFORD: Yes, it is frustrating because there's so much

misinformation that came out.

But supporting Donald Trump against Joe Biden at this point, seeing the two sets of policies, could not be more stark, where we have the highest number of illegal crossings, under President -- under President Trump was less than a million. We're now pushing three million with President Biden.

To see the way that President Trump enforced the border and worked on national security versus how President Biden, under the exact same set of laws, is actually doing that, there's just no contest between the two of which one's more focused on national security issues, which one's more focused on actually securing the border.

So that -- there's no contest between the two. Obviously, President Trump is running for president right now. He wants this to be able to stay a major focus during the course of the rest of the year so people can see the stark contrast of that.

My focus is and the reason I'm continuing to be able to work on a bill in legislation right now is, no matter who is president this year, next year or 10 years from now, we do have gaps in our asylum law that need to be fixed. So, no matter who is president, that can actually be resolved and we can have a faster resolution to be able to secure the nation.

TAPPER: Do you have any real hope for any serious border legislation? I understand your point about President Biden and executive action, but this looked like the best chance for a conservative, at least conservative-leaning border bill, and Republicans in the House wouldn't take yes for an answer.

They wanted -- they demanded that it include remain-in-Mexico and other things that you weren't able to get in your negotiation. And so Republicans in the Senate wouldn't even vote on it. Is there really any hope?

LANKFORD: I don't think there's any hope in this year on trying to be able to move real action that would really make a difference on the border, like what this bill was.

Interestingly enough, you mentioned the remain-in-Mexico piece. It was actually protected. President Biden could do remain-in-Mexico right now. In fact, a court has ordered him to leave that process in place. So that process is in place. That policy could be actually implemented right now.


Again, that's one of the executive actions that President Biden chooses not to be able to enforce. There are a lot of things he could do. As I have reminded the president and his team, President Obama enforced the border much better than President Biden did with the exact same set of laws. If President Biden doesn't want to enforce it the way President Trump

did, at least enforce it like President Obama did. President Obama, his high years were about half-a-million people. Again, we're at three million people under President Biden.

If President Biden would just enforce it the same way President Obama did or President Trump did, this would be a very different border and a very different situation in cities like New York, in Chicago, in Denver, and all over the country, where they're crying out for the president to enforce the law.

TAPPER: President Biden announced that the U.S. military will be building a new temporary pier off the coast of Gaza to try to get more shipments of aid of food, water, medicine, to civilians, many of whom, as you know, are on the brink or are dying of starvation.

You have said you want to protect all civilian life. Do you support this new pier?


My biggest question right now, Jake, is, who is actually inspecting what's actually going onto that pier and going in? This has been one of the challenges for a long time, is the -- whatever is heading into Gaza, is that additional weapons? Is that additional supplies that are actually for humanitarian reasons or for war fighting?

So my concern is not getting aid to them. Absolutely, we need everybody in the region especially to be able to step up and to be able to provide assistance to everyone we possibly can to be able to protect innocent civilian lives. But I also want to make sure that shipment, when it comes in, there is real inspection that's actually happening to make sure that we're not getting additional war-making supplies to make a bad situation worse.

TAPPER: Another major issue making headlines right now is that Alabama Supreme Court decision that a fertilized egg, an embryo, is a human being.

You said that there's no controversy over IVF, in vitro fertilization, that there's wide support for IVF across the entire Congress. I just have to ask you, as a -- just genuine curiosity, IVF often results in the discarding of fertilized eggs.

How can anyone who believes that life begins at the moment of conception, that life begins at the moment of fertilization, how can anyone who says that support IVF?

LANKFORD: Yes, so the IVF conversation is a difficult moral conversation for a lot of families.

Where families are very focused on, I can't have a child, I want to be able to have a child, this is a technology that allows that. So a lot of individual families that are very passionate about protecting the life of every single child will be careful on actually how many eggs are being fertilized, so they can make sure that that's actually a child that's there that's actually going through the process and actually being delivered.

I actually personally know people that are in the process of adopting fertilized eggs that are currently being frozen, that they that they as a family can't have children, so they're literally adopting someone else's fertilized eggs that are not going to be used, so that that child can actually come into life.

For those of us that are passionate about life, we're passionate about every single life in the process, and we want to be able to have those children actually come into life and to be able to enjoy life like everyone else can.

So this is a life issue. It's a great conversation for us to be able to have as a country, but I don't know of any state of anywhere, including Alabama, that immediately stepped in and said what happened in those IVF clinics was an overreaction. So they wanted to be able to fix that liability issue, where they're back to actually having that ongoing process again in Alabama, as they have in multiple other states, including my own.

So this issue is a life issue for us, to be able to talk about, when is a life a life? And I think it's a good conversation. Quite frankly, I think it's a wise conversation to be able to talk about, let's value every single life.

I don't think some children are valuable and some children are disposable. I think every child is valuable.

TAPPER: So, Daylight Savings Time hit overnight, requiring you, me and everybody responsible to get up, at least emotionally, an hour earlier.

Why -- you want to end Daylight Savings Time, right? What -- why do you want to do it? What are the chances that it can pass Congress?

LANKFORD: Well, I hope we can keep the conversation going on this to actually pass Congress.

As you know, two years ago in the Senate, this passed in the Senate. Then the House never took it up. Let's start the dialogue. I know there's arguments between North and South whether we should have standard time, Daylight Savings Time, where it should be.

My issue is, lock the clock. Let's not have the back-and-forth on this. This has come up so many times with folks that are moms, that their little kids don't make that shift. Whether you're in agriculture, it's hard to be able to make that shift.

And, quite frankly, it's -- as funny as this sounds is, several years ago, I was walking in a Veterans Day parade, and a veteran I saw on -- that was watching the parade, an older gentleman gets up from his lawn chair. He actually walks into the parade route, shook my hand and said: "Before I die, would you end Daylight Savings Time"?



LANKFORD: And I laughed in the middle of this parade route and said: "Of all the things I thought you would say to me today, that is not what I thought you would say."

He said: "I hate it. I'm in my 80s. I want you to get rid of Daylight Savings Time before I die."

And I said: "Sir, I actually have a bill with Marco Rubio to do exactly that."

We want to be able to lock this clock. A lot of people are annoyed by it. It's a relic of World War I, actually, when we were trying to save lamp oil. Let's actually flick our lights on, and we can do this. In Arizona, they have done this for years, and, somehow, their kids are still getting to school on time, commerce is still happening.

And today, in Arizona, they're not -- they're not waking up with a clock that's messed up.

TAPPER: I'm not going to make you pick a fight with anybody in the House this morning, this early morning, but I think you need to talk to some of the Washington state Republicans that have power in the House of Representatives, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, because she and others, they don't want to go back.

So, maybe that's -- that's maybe a conversation for you to have at another time.

Go back after church today, maybe go catch up on your sleep. Good to see you, Senator Lankford.


TAPPER: Thanks for joining us.

LANKFORD: Thank you.

TAPPER: Who exactly did North Carolina Republicans pick to be their next governor?

As we learn more about Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson's troubling past comments, the Democrat in that race will join us next.




TRUMP: He's been an unbelievable lieutenant governor, Mark Robinson.

This is Martin Luther King on steroids. I think you're better than Martin Luther King. I think you are Martin Luther King times two.


Donald Trump praising the now Republican nominee for North Carolina governor Mark Robinson, who is under renewed scrutiny for a long list of rather un-Martin Luther King-like, bigoted, derogatory comments and conspiracy theories. That is giving hope to the Biden campaign that North Carolina could maybe be in play this November.

We invited Lieutenant Governor Robinson onto the show today to try to address these comments. His campaign did not get back to us.

Joining us now, the Democratic nominee for governor of North Carolina, the attorney general, Josh Stein.

Attorney General Stein, thanks for joining us.

So, North Carolina is a purple state, leaning red. You're running down ticket, it has to be said, from an unpopular president. A lot of Americans are not feeling the strength of the economy that he heralds right now. Immigration, the border crisis quickly become top of mind for many voters, many voters in North Carolina too.

How are you going to fight these headwinds in such a competitive state?

STEIN: Well, President Biden is laser-focused on restarting the economy, and we're starting to see a lot of excitement here.

We have got an E.V. manufacturer, an E.V. battery manufacturer, a chip manufacturer, high-speed air travel manufacturer. So there's a lot that's going on here in the economy in North Carolina, and that's why I support the president.

In terms of my running for governor, I'm applying for a different job than he is. And so I go to the voters, and I try to earn their vote to get hired by them. And the voters of North Carolina have an inherent ability to evaluate each office independently.

We have elected a Democrat as governor for seven of the last eight elections, and in seven of those same last eight elections, the people have voted for a Republican for president. And so it's something that's actually quite common here, this inherent sense of balance and moderation in the voters of North Carolina.

TAPPER: Do you want President Biden to come campaign for you in North Carolina?

STEIN: Yes, because I think he can win North Carolina. He is our best chance to move this country forward.

But, again, I'm running to be governor. I have a strong argument for the voters of North Carolina. I have been fighting for them as their attorney general and delivering. We helped to lead the national bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general to take the big opioid drug companies to court and hold them accountable, which we have done to the tune of $50 billion, Jake. We eliminated what was the largest backlog of untested rape kits in

the entire nation here. We have protected kids from child sex abuse. We have defended people's fundamental freedoms, whether that's the right to vote or women's reproductive freedoms. These are things that I have done as A.G., and it's that fighting spirit I want to take to the governor's office to make sure that our schools are strong, that our communities are safe, and that our economy truly creates opportunity for every person.

TAPPER: In addition to the voters of North Carolina going for Democratic governors and Republican presidents, North Carolina elects the lieutenant governor not on a ticket with the governor, but separately, and the lieutenant governor is a Republican, even if the governor, Cooper, is a Democrat.

And you're running against him for governor. He has mocked victims of school shootings. He's called LGBTQ people filth. He's an Obama birther. He's a climate change denier. He's made repeated sexist comments.

He won 66 percent of the vote in the Republican primary. Do you think he won in spite of those views or because of those views?

STEIN: I think that if the voters know fully who Mark Robinson is, they will reject his vision of division.


I mean, it's grounded in hate and spite. It would set our state backwards. It would certainly marginalize way too many people, when we cannot afford to do that. My vision is forward-looking and inclusive. It is about tapping the potential of every person, and we need them, because this is a very competitive world.

And I think that, if we do our job as a campaign, it's really our obligation. It's to inform the voters about who I am and what I'm about, and educate the voters about who he actually is, and what he is about. And that is obviously a hard, time-consuming and expensive proposition.

If folks want to learn more about our campaign or support us, just go to

TAPPER: So, before you go, sir, you would be North Carolina's first Jewish governor if you're elected in November, and your opponent also has a long history of making fairly blatantly antisemitic comments.

He has quoted Hitler approvingly. He agreed with a right-wing pastor who said the Rothschilds were one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, and he wrote on Facebook, and it's still up, that the movie "Black Panther" was written by a -- quote -- "agnostic Jew" in order to -- quote -- "pull the shekels off of your Schvartze pockets," Schvartze being a derogatory term for black people in Yiddish.

Do you think Lieutenant Governor Robinson is an antisemite? STEIN: He hates lots of people. I mean, he's said awful things about

Jewish people. He's said awful things about gay people. He has said awful things about women. He's said awful things about Latinos, about Muslim people, about pretty much any group you can think of.

And that kind of hate, that kind of divisiveness has no place in public office. North Carolina is a state of 10.8 million people, and we have got every type of person here. And what we have got, what we have to do, our obligation is to tap that potential of every person, because we can't afford not to.

The world is too competitive.

TAPPER: Attorney General Josh Stein, thanks so much for joining us today. Appreciate it.

STEIN: Thanks Jake.

TAPPER: "Saturday Night Live" has now weighed in on the response to the State of the Union from Alabama Republican Senator Katie Britt. We're going to get into that and the controversy over some of the substance of her remarks.


SCARLETT JOHANSSON, ACTRESS: Tonight, I will be auditioning for the part of scary mom.





JOHANSSON: I'm a mom. And like any mom, I'm going to do a pivot out of nowhere into a shockingly violent story about sex trafficking.


JOHANSSON: And, rest assured, every detail about it is real, except the year where it took place and who was president when it happened.



TAPPER: Senator Katie Britt getting the "SNL" treatment.

Well, I mean, look at the bright side. At least they had Scarlett Johansson play you.

My panel's here with me.

And we should note that Senator Britt's graphic, horrifying story about sex trafficking did not actually take place during the Biden years, which it seemed like she was suggesting. It took place during the Bush years. It doesn't undermine the fact that sex trafficking is happening and is horrible.

What was your take?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if you watched it on Thursday, I mean, it was hard to watch. It was kind of cringey what was happening. It felt like an audition for regional theater, at best.

And I think it was hilarious, what "SNL" did. I also think that -- that was more on the performative side. On the substance, it's wrong to mislead the American people on an issue that's so important like immigration.

And I think it was a tell that this is what the election cycle is going to be, that Democrats get up and try and show a story of how we can move this country forward, and you have people who show up after who give a response, whether it be Katie Britt or Donald Trump, that is not filled with truths and is disingenuous.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm surprised to hear you say that it's wrong to mislead the American people and not have much to say about Joe Biden's State of the Union.

I mean, people are more worried about Katie Britt's thing than some of the things Joe Biden said, including yesterday on NBC. I'm not as worried about "SNL" as I am worried about what Biden told NBC...

TAPPER: What did he say?

JENNINGS: ... when he apologized for calling the murderer of Laken Riley illegal.

He had it right in the speech, and then he got bullied by his left flank into changing it. Well, it's undocumented. And then, even more outrageous, he said: I'm not going to insult people like that, because they built the country.


TAPPER: Let's put up -- I will come to you in a second. Let's put up the video, so people know what Scott's talking about. Oh, we don't have the video. OK, I'm sorry.

But, yes, he did say -- he did correct himself to say...

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He did not apologize. I mean, that is just -- that is ludicrous framing.

JENNINGS: Why did he change it?

BEDINGFIELD: He did not apologize to the...

JENNINGS: Why does he insist on speaking...

BEDINGFIELD: Because, for a...

JENNINGS: He -- the White House is putting out -- the White House is putting out press releases calling illegal aliens newcomers.

Now he's saying, well, I shouldn't have said illegal. It's -- he's really documented.


JENNINGS: You know why? Because he is documented to have murdered someone, to have broken our laws, to have been in this country -- he's very documented.


BEDINGFIELD: Because language matters. Language is important.


BEDINGFIELD: And Joe Biden is trying to build a coalition of people to get elected president -- reelected president of the United States. He is trying to bring in a community of people who care about that kind of language.


And, in Donald Trump, you have somebody who uses language to divide, to sow hate, to make people feel unwelcome. Yes, this -- our country is a melting pot. And a big piece of why our economy is humming, which it is, by the way, is because...


JENNINGS: Because of murderers coming across the border?

ALLISON: No, Scott.

BEDINGFIELD: And he wasn't -- but, Scott, this is disingenuous, OK? This is disingenuous.


JENNINGS: I'm sorry...

BEDINGFIELD: And you know it. He was not apologizing to the murderer.


BEDINGFIELD: He stood up at the State of the Union and said, this is horrible, it is horrific what happened. And he, frankly, bested Marjorie Taylor Greene...

JENNINGS: Then he walked it back.

BEDINGFIELD: ... in a very childish effort to try to get -- to try to trap Biden on the issue. (CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Ambassador Scott Brown, former Senator Scott Brown, what did you make of the State of the Union address? What did you make of the response?

FMR. SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R-MA): Well, first of all, he needed to do well. People were looking at two things, number one, to see if he could get through the speech and doing it without making any mistakes, and I thought he did that.

But they were also looking for some very big answers on the issues that matter. Immigration, as you can see, what's happening right here, it's a volatile issue. And the president had an opportunity to keep in place President Trump's policies, and he chose not to. And now he's blaming the Senate and Congress about a bill.

Listen, it's all rhetoric. He has the -- as Obama had done, had a phone and a pen to actually resolve these issues immediately, and he should have done it before. By the time his administration's over, we have 10 million now. We could have 15 to 20 people here illegally. They are illegals.

And it's -- just walk through D.C. Go to any city and see what's happening where minorities in Boston, in Roxbury, are being displaced from people who are here illegally. And it's wrong. And I thought the speech, quite frankly, he's talking about Snickers bars and Doritos. He should have been talking about the number one issue, which is immigration, number two issue, which is the economy.

And those things are not being addressed.

BEDINGFIELD: Well, they were.

I mean, I guess two things I would say to that. First is, if the issue is so significant and important, why is it Republicans who walked away from an incredibly effective bill?

BROWN: Listen, a bill -- you know as well as I do, being up there, that a bill is -- it's rhetoric. He should have done something for the last three years, and he hasn't done anything on it.

And he won't use his pen, like President Obama did.


ALLISON: Wait a minute. That's not true, though.

JENNINGS: But wait. He did. He did use his pen to cancel Trump's work.


ALLISON: No, no, no, no, no. The first bill that the Biden administration -- one of the first bills the Biden administration presented was a bill on immigration. He...


ALLISON: Let me just finish this for a second.

He changed the Trump policy because this country, perhaps with the exception of me, was made off of immigrants that got to selectively choose to come to this country and build it. I'm sure most of you have an immigrant story in your family.

And that is what these individuals are doing. They are coming to this country fleeing persecution, seeking safety.

BROWN: Listen, then follow the laws. Follow the laws. Put the laws that are in place.

ALLISON: But you have to have the actual...


ALLISON: But you have to pass laws. You have to pass laws to follow.


BROWN: Listen, no, you don't need to pass the laws. You have plenty of laws in place right now.


BROWN: Just do it legally. Listen, I was there. I was there. And I worked on this issue.

ALLISON: Well, then why don't the Republicans pass the law?


BROWN: And it's not working under this administration. And it's the number one issue. And he's completely ignoring it.


BEDINGFIELD: Can I say one substantive thing?

TAPPER: Yes, Kate.

BEDINGFIELD: Can I just say one substantive thing, which is that there are limits to what a president can do via executive order.

BROWN: President Obama did it. President Trump did it.

JENNINGS: There weren't any limits on day one.


JENNINGS: Where were the limits on day one? BEDINGFIELD: And President Trump's executive orders were overturned

by the courts. And that is the same concern that the Biden administration has.

The Biden administration has tried to pursue bipartisan, effective immigration laws that would actually withstand court scrutiny. And the fact...


ALLISON: Why did they walk away from that bill?


BEDINGFIELD: ... to have walked away from that.

ALLISON: Because your party is being led by Donald Trump, who talks about people who are coming seeking persecution -- from seeking persecution in their country, he calls them poisoning the blood. He calls them vermin. He creates hate and chaos.

There was a bill on the floor that could have been passed. And your party said no. And why is that? Because you don't want to have the melting pot of America? These...


BEDINGFIELD: Because you want to have the issue to campaign on.


BROWN: Listen, that's false rhetoric. We are an amazingly inclusive country.

BEDINGFIELD: Donald Trump...


BROWN: We -- under President Trump, we had an enormous amount of people coming here through the legal process.

You're talking about a president right now who has not done his job when it comes to illegal immigration. It's not me talking. You look at every border state throughout the country. Every state is being dramatically affected by his terrible policies affecting our economy, our kids. You name it, it's upside down.

Just walk through D.C. You can't even do it anymore.


BEDINGFIELD: Senator Lankford, the lead Republican...

BROWN: Yes, listen, I love the guy. He's great, but I disagree with him. I disagree with him.


BEDINGFIELD: ... just said on this show that Republicans walked away because they wanted the issue for the campaign.

BROWN: I disagree with him.

BEDINGFIELD: That's just a fact.

JENNINGS: Do you think everything Joe Biden has done on immigration to this point has him in good stead with the American people or not?

BEDINGFIELD: I think that he is an incredibly aggressive position moving into the rest of this campaign, because Republicans have thrown up their hands and said, we don't want solutions.


ALLISON: That's right.

BEDINGFIELD: We want politics.

BROWN: We just want him to secure the border.


TAPPER: So, one quick thing I want to bring up -- and I love this -- the passion at the table today.


TAPPER: No, I do.

BROWN: It's early.

TAPPER: But there is one -- especially with daily savings.



TAPPER: So, Biden and his Cabinet are traveling across the U.S. right now. They're hiring hundreds of new staffers, a $30 million ad push.


The campaign rematch between Trump and Biden is on. A hurdle he faces, obviously, is his age and the perception of his ability among the American people, including voters. Here is an ad from the Biden campaign trying to address that.


BIDEN: Look, I'm not a young guy. That's no secret. But here's the deal. I understand how to get things done for the American people. I'm Joe Biden, and I approve this message.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we do one more take?

BIDEN: Look, I'm very young, energetic, and handsome. What am I doing this for?



TAPPER: All right, so a little humor, trying to turn it -- look, and the debate here today was about policy and substance and disagreements. And I'm sure not everybody agrees that everybody else is accurate with what they're saying, but it's a substantive debate.

We're not talking about whether or not he's a feeble old man. Do you think he put it to rest, that issue?



BROWN: Eighty-six percent of the American people think he's too old. Six out of 10 of his 2020 voters think he's too old, and the people are very smart around this country.

And they are going to look -- because he's not going to be in D.C. for the next eight months. He's going to be out in the road, and they're going to look at everything he says and does, the missteps, the falls, the fumbling and bumbling, and it's going to be a real problem.

ALLISON: I think it's good that he talks about his age and hits it head on.

You have a candidate that's running against him that's four years younger that mistakes who's the president, calls people names. I think he will be fine if he gets out there and tells the American people what he stands for.

JENNINGS: I think this ad is putting mayonnaise on a crap sandwich. I mean, I like mayonnaise, but it's not going to change the sandwich.

TAPPER: Last word?

BEDINGFIELD: That was a great ad, because it's also letting Joe Biden be Joe Biden. The humor, just taking it on directly, that is a good thing. That is a good look for him. He should do that for the rest of this campaign.

TAPPER: All right, thanks. Go get some naps.



BROWN: Going to hit the gym.

TAPPER: All right, go hit the gym for Scott Brown. Everyone else, get some naps.


TAPPER: We will be right back.



TAPPER: What might rising tensions between China and Taiwan mean for the United States? Tonight, Fareed Zakaria presents "TAIWAN: UNFINISHED BUSINESS" at 8:00 p.m.

Thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us. I will see you tomorrow on "THE LEAD."

Fareed picks it up next.