CNN.com - Transcripts (2024)

Interview With Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC); Interview With Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Interview With Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired June 30, 2024 - 09:00 ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

[09:00:44]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Damage control. Panic sweeps the Democratic Party, as top officials scramble to freeze the fallout from President Biden's debate performance.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you get knocked down, you get back up!

BASH: Can he stay on the ticket? Two of the president's most prominent supporters, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Jim Clyburn, are next.

And the path ahead. As calls grow for Biden to step aside, his campaign says that would cause chaos and give Trump the win. Will lawmakers agree?

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Stay the course. Chill out.

BASH: Our panel of experts is here to discuss.

Plus: victory lap. After a torrent of debate falsehoods, former President Trump calls it a win.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (R) AND CURRENT U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We had a big victory. But did he convince any swing voters? Senator Lindsey Graham will be here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is at an inflection point.

President Joe Biden is in Camp David today for a long-planned family gathering. It comes as he faces pressure from panicked Democrats to reconsider his reelection bid and amid persistent concerns about his capabilities following CNN's presidential debate.

Yesterday evening, Biden's campaign brushed off those concerns, including from a stack of newspaper editorials this weekend urging him to step aside. As top campaign officials argued, the panic is coming from -- quote -- "the bed-wetting brigade" and the Beltway class" and does not reflect voters' views.

Biden himself told donors in New Jersey yesterday -- quote -- "I understand the concern after the debate. I get it. I didn't have a great night, but I'm going to be fighting harder."

And a senior campaign official told me that the president has not wavered in his belief that his candidacy is the only path forward for his party. His campaign warned in a fund-raising e-mail that replacing Biden with another Democrat would cause chaos and be -- quote -- "a highway to losing."

Here with me now from Madison, Wisconsin, where he is campaigning for the president, a top Biden ally, Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.

Thank you so much for joining me, sir.

I want to just set the table with the fact that our viewers understand you are a very close confidant of President Biden. You played a critical role in helping him win the nomination four years ago.

You say Democrats need to -- quote -- "chill out." So, are you saying you have absolutely no concerns about Joe Biden's ability not only to win in November, but to be the leader of the free world for the next four years?

CLYBURN: Well, thank you very much for having me.

I do not believe that Joe Biden has a problem leading for the next four years, because he's done a great job of leading for the last three-and-a-half years. I always say that the best predictor of future behavior is past performance.

And when we look at the past performance of these two men that are the front-runners and their parties, we get a lot of indication about what their future behavior would be.

So, Joe Biden should continue to run on this record. I do believe that we will find him, when contrasted with the record of the four years of Trump, to be exactly what we need going forward, not just domestically, but internationally as well.

BASH: What about his performance on Thursday, though, sir? Do you understand why some Democrats, some independents who were not that interested in voting for Donald Trump and were considering voting for Joe Biden say -- look at that and say, I just don't see it, I don't want to vote for him?

What do you say to them?

CLYBURN: I would say to them, take into account the record.

Yes, it was a bad performance. I have been around these things. I have been a part of debate preparation before, and I know when I see what I call preparation overload. And that's exactly what was going on the other night. [09:05:04]

I saw Joe Biden grabbing for words and phrases and even numbers that he was loaded up with. The next day, he gets to North Carolina, he's freewheeling, and he captivated the audience.

And that's what we should do. The book -- I mean, debate preparation can be tough, but you have got to really do a good job of preparing the candidate, not just with information, but with style, with deflection, and the kinds of things that we did not see in Joe Biden the other night and saw it four years ago.

BASH: I believe, on Friday in North Carolina, he had a teleprompter.

But I want to ask about something that you mentioned late last week, which is that you intended to have a conversation with the president. Did you talk to him? And, if so, was there any discussion at all about him stepping aside?

CLYBURN: I have not talked to the president since Friday. And if he asked my opinion, I would give it, as I always do.

And that is very clearly he should stay in this race. He should demonstrate going forward his capacity to lead the country, and I think the American people are demonstrating that. I just left the state of Florida. I was in a convention that had 8,400 African- American men registered for that conference.

I did not find one single one of them who told me that they were not fully confident in Joe Biden. And that is just a fact. I have been hearing from people, even the people on the floor. Yes, there were some trepidations the next morning, but only one of the people I talked to expressed an opinion that Joe Biden should drop out.

Everybody else says, we need to make some calibrations here going forward, and that is what we need to do. If you are going to have another debate, the preparation for that debate needs to be different. There's no question in my mind.

BASH: Should there be another debate?

CLYBURN: We cannot overload the candidate with all the -- well, I don't know.

I think that Joe Biden will do well with the debate. I think it all depends upon what the rules are. I don't like a debate where nobody will do any fact-checking. You just say what you want to say. You know it's a lie. The guy told 30-some-odd lies, and nobody checked him on it and said that was up to Joe Biden to do.

I'm not too sure. If I ask you a question, and you lie to me with the answer, I ought to follow up and give you what the facts are and see what your reaction to that will be. So that, to me, was not the way to plan the debate.

And whoever did that or agreed to that really should think about what they're doing.

BASH: Yes. OK. Well, it was a debate agreed to by President Biden first, who proposed this debate.

Should the president release his full medical records? Would that help?

CLYBURN: Well, I think both of them should release it. The president is going to release his.

When has Trump released records? He's released a bunch of foolishness from two doctors, one of whom is serving in the Congress now and is being challenged with his performance while being a doctor in the White House once called his prescription the candy store.

No, I think that everybody should be judged by the same rules. So I don't know anything about either one of them's records. But I know this. We know much more about Joe Biden's health records than we know about Donald Trump. And nobody is asking for it.

If anybody displays off-the-wall stuff -- it was rather on display for us in that debate the other night. Joe Biden has a history of stuttering. He did that as a child. All of us know how stutterers operate. I went to school with one.

So, when you have trouble getting out a word, that is what comes from stuttering. But when he expressed opinions, he was on the money with the opinions. He may not have gotten the word out, but the thoughts were great.

BASH: You said on Friday, sir -- quote -- "I am a Biden/Harris person. I'm going to be for Biden if Harris ain't there. And I'm going to be for Harris if Biden ain't there."

Does that mean that if -- I know you don't think he should, but if the president did step aside, it should be Kamala Harris who is the nominee full stop?

[09:10:08]

CLYBURN: I'm for Biden/Harris in this campaign. And I will look at -- I'm sure Biden will be there the next time, which means Harris might be. That's for the next election.

BASH: I want to quickly give you the opportunity to respond to something that Donald Trump said on the debate stage about undocumented migrants -- undocumented immigrants, rather.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They're taking black jobs now. And it could be 18, it could be 19, and even 20 million people. They're taking black jobs, and they're taking Hispanic jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: What's your reaction to that?

CLYBURN: It's Joe Biden has been talking about this. He mentioned it to the other night.

Donald Trump is being Donald Trump. He has a very, very, very low opinion of people of color, black, brown, whatever color. He has a low opinion of black people. He's demonstrated that all of his life.

And I would like to hear from some of his black supporters why they will not have these discussions about what this man has done to black women, what this man has done to young black youth, and what he has done to his own businesses when it comes to black people.

I have talked to Reverend Sharpton. He's told me he's been in and out of his businesses and never has seen a black person in any of them. How do you just give this man a pass on all of that?

Compare his hiring records to Joe Biden's hiring records, and then that will give you some indication of what it will be going forward. So what he said the other night by black jobs meant to me that there are certain jobs for black people, and there are certain jobs for white people. There are certain jobs for white people, and there are certain jobs for non-white people.

And these people coming in will be taking those jobs that are for non- white people, never mind them being a threat to those jobs for the rest of us.

BASH: Congressman Jim Clyburn, thank you so much for joining me this morning. I appreciate it.

CLYBURN: Thank you very much for having me.

BASH: Up next: What about President Trump? Did his own debate performance hurt him with the very voters he needs? Senator Lindsey Graham is next.

And are top Democratic officials doing enough to quiet concerns about President Biden? Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:17:08]

BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

Donald Trump is reveling in the upheaval within the Democratic Party, but what about his own debate performance?

Here with me now is South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

Thank you so much for being here, sir.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Thank you. Thank you.

BASH: You, of course, are now a close confidant of Donald Trump's. I want to start with how he did on Thursday night. His answers were

long and often he did not give a related answer to the question that he was asked. And by CNN's count, he made 30 false claims and didn't commit to accepting the election results if he loses.

Why doesn't that give you and other Republicans pause about him?

GRAHAM: Well, I thought he had a very good night. People who watched the debate thought the same thing too.

At the end of the day, he was strong, he was clear, he was coherent. But this idea that Biden had a bad night, that's not the story. He's had a bad presidency, had a disastrous debate.

How could we get here? How could the American people see what they saw and not be forewarned? You have got a compliant media who's written off the problems with President Biden. They have tried to soft-sell this as attack by the right wing that he's compromised. There is no clean-fakes here.

The man is compromised, and the media has been covering. The policies of his administration are destroying the country. And "The New York Times" and "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" warn him out, but they think he's a good president.

He's not a good president. He's a decent man. He's a failed president. He is compromised. That's the storyline here.

BASH: President...

GRAHAM: That's what the world saw...

BASH: Yes.

GRAHAM: ... a compromised president. And if you want to look at past performance to judge what's going to happen in the future, God help us all if Joe Biden gets reelected.

BASH: Senator, I do want to ask you about President Biden in one second, but just to follow up on Donald Trump...

GRAHAM: Yes.

BASH: ... since you are effectively a surrogate and a supporter of his...

GRAHAM: Yes.

BASH: ... I did ask him three times about whether he would accept the results of the election, whether or not he wins.

GRAHAM: Yes.

BASH: And he only at the end said that...

GRAHAM: Yes. BASH: ... if it was fair and legal and a good election.

Are you comfortable with that?

GRAHAM: Yes. Yes. I mean, what are you supposed to say? Yes, I will accept it no matter if I thought I was cheated?

I'm not worried about him accepting the results of the election. I'm worried about between now and November. Does Iran get a nuclear weapon because they think Joe Biden's so compromised, he's not going to do anything about it?

You know, Dana, you all did a good job. You let them talk. You're not fact-checkers. You let them talk. You know, 13 Americans did die in Afghanistan on Biden's watch from a disastrous withdrawal.

But you got a compliant media and a lockstep Democratic Party who cheers bad policy. Have you heard one person named to replace Biden that would do anything different on the border? No. Have you heard anybody criticize his withdrawal from Afghanistan they're considering replacing him with?

[09:20:04]

So this is a very dangerous time for America and the world at large. This election turned from this debate. Clearly, President Biden is compromised. But, most importantly, his policies are not working.

And Jim Clyburn said, if you like what's going on, you will get -- going to get more of it; 70 percent of the people in this country think we're going in the wrong direction. The Democrats keep calling President Trump a felon.

Well, be careful what you wish for. I expect there will be investigations of Biden's criminality at the border. If I'm Mayorkas, I should be worried that somebody is going to come after you because you have abused the parole statute.

The Hunter Biden laptop, all 51 of the people who signed the letter saying the laptop was fake and Russian disinformation. I hope somebody looks at you, because that's election interference.

So we're -- this country is going to have a resetting here. And using the Biden standard of glorifying political prosecutions, a Pandora's box has been opened. Whether he steps down or not, accountability is coming to him.

BASH: I want to get to a couple of important issues, sir, but you just warned of retribution.

GRAHAM: Yes.

I warned that the Pandora's box opened by the Democrats is going to be applied here. There should be an investigation of Mayorkas and Biden for abusing the parole statute that led to the murder of Laken Riley. They let the accused killer out because of lack of capacity. They paroled him illegally.

I think the criminality of the Biden border policy should be looked at. We should look at how people lied about the Hunter Biden laptop being fake, when it was real. Yes, I expect people to look at that. You had a January 6 Committee looking at what happened on January 6.

I hope there will be a committee looking at border policies that have led to the rape and murder of lots of Americans, people from 18 to 30 died by fentanyl poisoning, coming through a broken border.

BASH: OK.

GRAHAM: Yes, I hope that does happen.

BASH: All right, I want to ask you about the Mideast, because you have been working to try to negotiate a defense agreement...

GRAHAM: Yes.

BASH: ... with Saudi Arabia that could pave the way for a broader normalization deal between them and Israel.

GRAHAM: Yes.

BASH: The last time you were on the show, you told me that you want to help President Biden get this done, and that we're running out of time.

GRAHAM: Yes, still do.

BASH: Where does that stand now?

GRAHAM: I am still trying to help President Biden and his team to have Saudi Arabia normalize with Israel.

What needs to happen here is, the war needs to lessen in terms of military conflict in Gaza. I think that's going to wind down and they need to negotiate an answer to the Palestinian question. And I think the crown prince would recognize Israel, building on the Abraham Accords.

President Trump said he wanted to end these wars as quick as possible. It may be possible between now and the election to come up with a solution in Gaza and the West Bank that not only would end the war, but allow Israel to live in peace and the Palestinians have a more hopeful life, and have the -- Saudi Arabia recognize Israel, which would be the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

I'd like to help in that regard. But I am urging the American people to listen to what Congressman Clyburn said. He thinks President Biden has been a great president, he had a bad night. Now, he had a bad night. He's had a terrible presidency.

If you want more of the same, broken borders, a world on fire, out-of- control inflation. Then you need to reelect President Biden. If you want to fundamentally change and go back to the policies of Trump, then you need to vote for him. It's that clear.

BASH: Senator Lindsey Graham, thank you so much for your time this morning. I really appreciate it.

GRAHAM: Thank you. Thank you.

BASH: So, has President Biden managed to stop any of the hand- wringing in his own party?

My panel is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:28:15]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: ... with the COVID. Excuse me. With dealing with everything we have to do with -- look, if -- we finally beat Medicare.

I don't walk as easy as I used to. I don't speak as smoothly as I used to. I don't debate as well as I used to.

But I know what I do know. I know how to tell the truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

A stark contrast, as you saw there, between the Joe Biden on the debate stage and the high-energy Biden at his post-debate rally.

My panel joins me now. Hello everybody.

Kate, I'm obviously going to start with you because you worked for a very long time for President Biden.

What is the reality of what is now happening behind the scenes?

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think the reality is that the race has not fundamentally changed.

I think there's universal agreement. It wasn't a great night for Joe Biden. He said as much. But what we see in all the data that has emerged since Thursday is the fundamental head-to-head hasn't shifted. People are not suddenly moving to Trump. In fact, what we have seen is that people felt like Trump's arguments were not persuasive.

They were concerned about what he said about January 6. They were concerned about him saying he wouldn't accept the results of the election. So, fundamentally, on the places Donald Trump is politically vulnerable, he really did himself a huge disservice on Thursday night.

And so I think, for Biden now, the task is to go out, do what he did in North Carolina, show that energy, show that it was just one bad night. Every campaign recovers from one bad night. And I think you see it in -- you had, the Biden campaign put out their fund-raising numbers.

They have raised $33 million since the debate; $26 million was grassroots, including I think half of that was first-time donors. They're seeing people show up at offices around the country to volunteer. I think people were motivated and energized by what they saw from Trump. They don't want him to be in office.

[09:30:08]

And I think the Biden campaign is now going to harness that energy.

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, if you have a fight with your boyfriend, you don't get over it in one night. You get mad for a couple of days. And I think that's what's happening in the Democratic Party.

Joe Biden had a bad night on debate night. And I don't think it's wrong to -- and I don't think this is what Kate is doing, but I don't think it's wrong to disparage people who are concerned after that debate, because the ultimate underlying issue with their concern is that they really want to beat Donald Trump. And they know the threat that Donald Trump plays.

I will say, though, the folks who are saying that Joe Biden should drop out of the race are not the people that actually will be determinative of the outcome of the election. I think that the debate was actually more of a couch-pusher than a candidate-switcher.

I don't think people watched that debate and said, I'm not going to vote for Joe Biden anymore, I'm going to vote for Donald Trump, because for every misstep that or -- and misspeaking that Joe Biden had, Donald Trump had a lie to combat it.

And so the American public is like, I don't want either of those. So this is actually where the campaigns matter. You are going to actually have to get in communities, get on the phones, get indoors, place your ads, work with groups on the ground to get voters to stay off the couch, to be convinced that Joe Biden can do that job, and that Donald Trump is a true threat to our democracy.

BASH: What matters is voters.

You are our pollster here. What are you hearing?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The idea that this is just one bad night, that voters are going to be asked not to believe what they saw with their own eyes on Thursday is incomprehensible to me.

The fact of the matter is, in January, Pew Research Center found only 29 percent of Americans thought that Joe Biden had the mental acuity to be president. And yet, even then, in January, this was still a close race.

And so what is absolutely unfathomable to me is that what felt like an enormous political earthquake on Thursday night, where America got to see for their own -- and with their own eyes what is happening inside this White House outside of, as one Biden staffer told a reporter, between the hours of 10 am and 4:00 p.m., this -- what we saw was horrifying.

And yet the polls might not change, because there's a chance that voters already went into Thursday thinking, I'm concerned that this is who Joe Biden already is, and they have already made that calculation.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think you can't wish it away. I think you can't call it a bad night. I don't think you can compare it to anybody's previous bad debate performances.

It's unlike anything we have ever saw -- seen in presidential campaigns. The deterioration of Joe Biden over four years is painfully obvious to everyone. To me, it really goes beyond the campaign. I mean, there's reporting this morning about -- from Axios about Joe Biden's closest aides working very hard to shield access to him from virtually everyone over the last three-and-a-half years.

I think people don't really just have questions about the campaign today. I think they have questions about how the White House is running right now. I think they have questions about whether he can do the job today, let alone for four more years.

And, guys, I'm old enough to remember when Donald Trump was having trouble picking up a glass of water and walking down a slippery ramp and folks were wanting to invoke the 25th Amendment.

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: Now, to me, what we saw Thursday night, he's not just a candidate. He's the president right now. And so a lot of people I talk to want to know what's going on in there, and is he up to the task today?

BASH: I want you to speak to what he just said about staff.

And, specifically, you don't work for Joe Biden anymore. You are, luckily for us, working for us as an analyst. But you worked with everybody in the White House for a long time.

It really struck me -- and I was, frankly, just a bit surprised -- the way that Jim Clyburn, who's very influential, went after the staff. Basically, it's a staff problem, not a Biden problem.

BEDINGFIELD: Well, look, I think that is -- I think there is reason to look at the process that led up to the debate and say that wasn't the outcome that we wanted, and so let's look at whether that was the right process. I think that's a completely reasonable thing to say.

I think, look, my experience working for Joe Biden, he has people around him who are -- who care about this country, who love this country, who want to see the -- who want to move the president's agenda forward, and do so not by holding back from him or not telling him things he doesn't want to hear or having tough conversations. I sat in many, many, many a meeting with Joe Biden where he went back

and forth with us on whether we were right about this, that or the other. There is no culture of, we can't say anything difficult to him, we have to just -- we got to just move forward.

That's just not -- that is not the White House I worked in.

BASH: Ashley, I wanted to talk about part of the Biden campaign memo that came out that talked about the structure and the sort of logistics, pushing back on the notion that you could even replace President Biden and -- or how hard it would be.

It said: "If he were to drop out, it would lead to weeks of chaos, internal food fighting, and a bunch of candidates who limp into a brutal floor fight at the convention, all while Donald Trump has time to speak to American voters uncontested. All of that would be in service of a nominee who would go into a general election in the weakest possible position with zero dollars in their bank account. You want a highway to losing, it's that."

[09:35:22]

ALLISON: I mean, it's not a bad argument at all.

BASH: Do you agree with it?

ALLISON: I do think it would be very hard to put somebody else on the top of the ticket now.

I think that Joe Biden is our nominee. I think Joe Biden can still beat Donald Trump. I -- I am not saying this as someone just because I worked for Joe Biden. I am saying this as someone, after Thursday night, I looked for every voter I could possibly talk to that we need to turn out, some voters that were not even super excited about Joe Biden. And they're like, look, I'm still voting for Joe.

So, I think that -- and they aren't actually saying, replace him. But there is a part of the chattering class that is saying that. And so I'm not focused on them. They are the same people that said the red wave was coming. And it didn't come.

I'm talking to real people in battleground states, part of the coalition, young people, black people, brown people, who are saying, I know and remember what Donald Trump was four years ago, and I don't care what happened on Thursday night. I want to push back.

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: You and you have made an interesting argument this morning, which is that the entire reason Joe Biden remains viable is because all your people hate Donald Trump. That's the core argument of the campaign.

If that's true, why can't any person stand in there for that argument? If all you're really arguing is how dangerous Trump is, why wouldn't you put someone in who's got the mental acuity to do the job who also isn't named Donald Trump?

ALLISON: But I have said the whole time a year ago, two years ago, I have said whoever wants to run for the Democratic nomination should be able to run for the Democratic nomination. This is not a change point for me.

BASH: Yes.

ALLISON: It's that we need to beat Donald Trump. And, right now, it's Joe Biden that will beat Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: We're almost out of time, but I want to get Kristen in one more time.

And just, as you do really quickly, there's a new CBS poll with YouGov this morning on the question of mental health and mental acuity. Joe Biden, the question was, does he have it? Seventy-two percent say he does not.

SOLTIS ANDERSON: And that looks like the polling looked in January, which is why, as unbelievable as Thursday night was, there is a chance that this race is so locked in because of the incredible partisanship.

We may have just seen the equivalent of the Donald Trump can shoot someone on Fifth Avenue moment, but for the Democrats.

(CROSSTALK)

SOLTIS ANDERSON: Can Joe Biden turn in that kind of performance and hang on? It -- he very well may.

ALLISON: Can I say I'm so glad I got to come to my black job today?

(LAUGHTER)

BASH: OK, that's a different conversation.

Thank you all so much.

Stick around, though. We have heard about this discussion about President Biden. Well, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will join me on the other side of this break to tell us what she thinks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:42:30]

BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

A new CBS/YouGov poll out this morning that was taken after the debate finds that 72 percent of voters now say they do not think President Biden has the mental or cognitive health to serve as president.

Here with me now is one of the top officials in the Democratic Party, a close ally of President Biden, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Thank you so much for being here. What is your reaction to that poll? Seventy-two percent of voters say they do not think that the president is fit mentally or cognitively to be president.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Well, what do they think about the other guy? Do they think that he has the integrity to be president after that performance?

Let us just go -- let us not make a judgment about a presidency on one debate. Let's talk about what it means to people in their lives. And that is why you are not seeing much change in the polls on this. The difference between Joe Biden and the former president is so clear.

If you are a woman and you care about your reproductive freedom and your health -- and women do -- you see a complete difference between enforced -- a women's right to choose on the part of Joe Biden and a ban on abortion with the other guy.

If you care about job creation in America, 15 million more jobs created by Joe Biden, the worst job performance record since Herbert Hoover for the other guy.

If you are concerned about saving the planet, you're a young person and you are caring about the planet and its future, Joe Biden the first person in the Congress to pass a resolution to study the climate change in the '80s, even before I was in Congress, a guy who goes to the fossil fuel industry and says, give me a billion dollars so I can reverse what happened in the IRA to save the planet.

BASH: Right, but...

PELOSI: The list goes on and on, whether you are talking about guns and the rest.

And 16 Nobel laureates said, when it comes to inflation, if the other guy gets elected, inflation will soar because of his fiscal policies.

So, it's not about performance in terms of a debate. It's about performance in a presidency. And I want you to know that the fact is that the reaction to the lies of Donald Trump is something that maybe TV isn't focusing on, but people are.

[09:45:01]

And to have a debate where you have to spend half your time negating what he said because he has know -- nothing -- knows nothing about the truth...

BASH: Yes, we...

PELOSI: One side of the screen -- on one side of the screen, you have integrity. The other side, you have dishonesty.

BASH: Yes, and we have definitely been pointing out the 30 falsehoods that we heard from former President Trump. But what you just did, Madam Speaker, was make the argument for Joe

Biden's reelection in a way that he did not on Thursday night. Isn't that a problem?

PELOSI: I don't think it's a problem. It's a bad night.

It's -- I see everything as an opportunity. OK, you want to contrast what these people can do on a debate if you're not even telling the truth, or do you want to talk about what it means to you and your life when this person becomes president?

This president -- look, he lied about January 6. This was a horrible event in our country's history. He was an ex-president of the United States who instigated an insurrection. He tries to blame it on me. Yes, I planned my own assassination, when he was sitting on his butt in the White House, not sending the National Guard and lying about it on the show.

And people are well-meaning. They -- I had one of your reporters say, did he really send the National Guard? Now, if they don't even know, then how can we make a judgment about how other people evaluate a presentation?

So this is a dangerous person, as opposed to a person who, again, saved our country from COVID. The first bill we passed, shots in the arms, money in pocket, people in jobs, children in school. This president, with his denial and delay...

BASH: Madam Speaker...

PELOSI: ... caused people to die.

BASH: Yes, and I completely understand what you're doing. And you are making the arguments that you are hoping that Democratic voters listen to about why Donald Trump is bad and shouldn't be put back in the White House.

But the reality is, there are still a lot of concerns that Joe Biden is the person to get you to that point, to making sure that Donald Trump is not back in there.

PELOSI: Yes.

BASH: Some prominent columnists, several newspaper editorial boards are just simply calling for Biden to step aside for the good of the country.

Tom Friedman, a friend of President Biden's, wrote the following.

PELOSI: Right.

BASH: He wrote: "Joe Biden, a good man and a good president, has no business running for reelection. If he insists on running and he loses to Trump, Biden and his family and his staff and party members who enabled him will not be able to show their faces."

What do you say to that? Should -- is there any part of you that believes that President Biden should step aside?

PELOSI: I want you to know I came home to California, south and north, and people are for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

They have some judgment about a person what sat on that -- stood on that stage and lied, lied, lied, and lied, if you're just talking about the debate.

I'm respectful of some of the opinions that people have, but I also am respectful of the grassroots. My people are very much Biden, Kamala Harris. And this is an opportunity for Joe Biden to go out there and show he has the stamina and the rest.

And, by the way, while the press -- and, for some reason, they don't -- there are health care professionals who think that Trump has dementia, that his connection -- his thoughts do not go together, not only that he just lies; he doesn't even know the truth.

So, if we're just talking about mental acuity, let's be fair about it. I don't think Tom Friedman thinks that Donald Trump should be president of the United States. And while he may be saying we're enablers, we see Joe Biden up close. We know how attuned he is to the issues, how informed he is.

When I debate with him about legislation -- and not debate, but discuss it with him. He's right there. So in any case, it was a bad night. Let's not sugarcoat that. It was a bad night. It was a great presidency. And that's what the American people have to choose, a night where somebody's going to just misrepresent the facts completely, and then you're on your guard, the other person has to negate that, or, again, it was a bad night.

Let's move on from that. It's all an opportunity. Our members have been very thoughtful. They're very concerned about a president who would lie the way they do...

[09:50:00]

BASH: Let me ask...

PELOSI: ... and then the Republicans just go embrace those misrepresentations.

BASH: Let me ask you about those members, because there are House and Senate Democrats who are worried that Joe Biden could be a drag on their races and could ultimately cost you the Senate, maybe even the ability to retake the House.

Do you have any of those concerns?

PELOSI: We definitely will win the House of Representatives.

It may come as a surprise to you, but when they saw the performance of Trump, donors doubled down and said, we absolutely have to have the Congress. So it kind of had an opposite effect in terms of the races. The members are always concerned about the top of the ticket. That's

just the way it is. They're always concerned about the top of the ticket.

BASH: Are they more concerned now?

PELOSI: But I don't think we -- well, we will see. You can't make a judgment after one night. We will just see. As Hakeem has said, we will have our discussions as we go forward.

But how do we walk away from a record of great performance on the part of this president with a promise to do more in terms of all the issues we talked about?

And what we like to see in us and some of the Women's Caucus, womenomics, where women in the workplace, where we have family and medical leave, where we have affordable childcare, where we have home health care for women who are caregivers -- men are caregivers too -- so that we can have an economy where everyone participates through the fullest and children are cared for, because it's all about the children.

So it is -- it's difficult. Politics is difficult. It's never easy. And, again, members will make their own decisions. It isn't -- wouldn't be the first time in campaigns, as long as I have been involved since I was chair of the party in the '80s, that people have not said, I'm running my own race. I'm not getting associated with you, me, or the top of the ticket.

BASH: Yes.

Yes, just real quick, because you mentioned that you have been a party chair before.

PELOSI: Yes.

BASH: Is there even a mechanism that you think would work if President Biden did decide to step aside?

The campaign says that it would cause weeks of chaos and internal food fighting.

PELOSI: Well, again, there's nothing as well as just as Joe Biden getting up and taking the ball over the finish line.

Something else could be chaotic. I don't say that to say that could never happen, because it might. I don't mean now. I mean, in history, it could.

But understand this. This is really important for people to understand. Joe Biden has won the nomination. He has won the nomination. It isn't...

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: But not officially. He hasn't -- the roll call hasn't happened. PELOSI: Yes, but -- no, but the -- that roll call has been happening

around the country because of the timing of the election.

It's a very different year.

BASH: Got it.

PELOSI: And so you would have to undo the nomination to do something else. That would not be a reason to do it or not do it.

The question is, Joe Biden's decision to go forward is a decision that we will all embrace because of the record he has and the performance that will come with it.

And the contrast, women's life and job creation, reducing inflation, saving the planet, stopping the gun violence, the list goes on and on, LGBTQ rights and all the rest.

BASH: Right. OK.

PELOSI: There's so much at stake, including our democracy.

Our flag is still there, with liberty and justice for all. That's what the election is about.

BASH: We are...

PELOSI: It's not about one night's election.

BASH: Forgive me. We are out of time.

PELOSI: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: We are out of time. Thank you so much for being here this morning. Appreciate it.

And we will be right back.

PELOSI: Thank you. My pleasure.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:57:25]

BASH: ... CNN event, when we celebrate the nation's independence. Watch CNN's "THE FOURTH IN AMERICA" July 4 at 7:00 Eastern only on CNN.

Thank you so much for spending your Sunday morning with us.

Fareed Zakaria picks it up next.

CNN.com - Transcripts (2024)

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