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Exclusive CNN Poll Of Speech Watchers; Reactions To President Biden's Speech In Congress. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired April 28, 2021 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Let's try -- let's continue this approach. Senator Scott was trying to pull that back, he was trying to say no, no, no, we did some of the stimulus back in the trump administration.
He was trying and President Trump does deserve credit for Operation Warp Speed getting the vaccines ready. It is revisionist history to think the Trump administration was on top of the global pandemic globally. That's just -- I won't say what came to mind.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): We're seeing that playing out with India right now. And we actually talked to some officials today who said that was a struggle. They wish the Trump administration had been more involved in what is this going to look like when we do have the supply? And what does this look like for the world? And of course that is now something that is facing the Biden administration.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (on camera): And you know, Jake, I've heard several presidents over the years deliver these kinds of speeches before a joint session of Congress. They're obviously always well prepared. There is a script. They go through it. Rarely do presidents do a lot of adlibbing. We did see plenty of adlibbing from President Biden tonight.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (on camera): There were certainly some notable adlibs without question. It's the top of the hour. If you're just joining us, we're breaking then President Biden's first big speech to a joint session of Congress. It was sweeping -- hopeful ambitious vision of America. President Biden declaring the nation that was on fire when he took office nearly 100 days ago is now on the move again.
And he laid down a marker for Republicans as he appealed for support for his multitrillion-dollar agenda, perhaps the most ambitious agenda since FDR or LBJ in agenda, aimed at rebuilding the nation he said, in his view, equalizing the economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Vice President Harris and I met regularly in the Oval Office, Democrats and Republicans discussed the jobs plan. And I applaud a group of Republican Senators who just put forward their own proposal. So, let's get to work. I wanted to lay out before the Congress my plan before we got into the deep discussions.
I would like to meet those who have ideas that are different, they think are better. I welcome those ideas. But the rest of the world is not waiting for us. I just want to be clear. From my perspective, doing nothing is not an option.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER (on camera): Not an option, he said. And you know, Abby, there are almost two Joe Bidens warring with each other. One is the Senate, the Senator, the deal maker, the guy who when he was vice president was able to sit across the table from Mitch McConnell and negotiate an end to most of the Bush era tax cuts.
That Joe Biden, I think, it seems to me, is being pushed aside to a degree for the, my hero is Franklin Delano Roosevelt and I want to be that kind of transformational President Joe Biden. In fact, the word Obama did not appear in tonight's speech as far as I can tell. But Roosevelt did which is not to say he doesn't love and revere Barack Obama but that's the kind of president he wants to be.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (on camera): Yes, a lot of the adlibs tonight were actually adlibs of Biden kind of talking to the Republicans in the room which in a lot of cases was not always in the speech. This was supposed to be a speech, I think, in large part, about bringing the country into this idea that we need an FDR-style kind of new era for the American economy and for the American society.
But I think Biden still really wants to believe that Republicans are going to be willing to just compromise on the things that we can agree on. And I just think it is not that easy. At the end of the day, it is about money, it's about the bread and butter issues that they can't agree on.
And based on the responses that we've seen tonight, I don't think he said anything that really changed a lot of minds. Most Republicans and even some Democrats are still stuck on the price tag. They just think it is too expensive.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yeah. Look. We heard from the White House before this and from Democratic allies of the president that the speech was going to be about talking to the American people and not to the people who represent them in the room, particularly on the Republican side. Because they knew that even the most likely of Republican partners and bipartisanship, Lisa Murkowski and others, would say exactly what they said after the speech which is, wow! It's lot of government that he's proposing. That's a giant price tag, unprecedented price tag that he's proposing. I'm not so sure about this.
But what he tried to do was talk to her constituents and everybody else's constituents about these big ideas, about the need from his perspective to rebuild all of these institutions, modernize institutions, modernize society to address the fact that you know, it's not just a man going to work and a woman staying at home.
But there needs to be what they called an infrastructure, a human infrastructure part of this. It's going to be a tough sell. And if you add to that how much they're talking about wanting to spend, it's even more of a tough sell. Go ahead.
TAPPER: Well, just the difference between FDR and Joe Biden, beyond what they want to achieve, is that FDR did not have a 50/50 Senate. And FDR did not have a House that the Democrats controlled by, what is it? Five seats now? And FDR, you know, that was an era where Democrats owned everything. They owned both chambers. FDR's problem was with the Supreme Court.
So Joe Biden can have these aspirations, President Biden can have these aspirations. But once you get past the budgetary items such as, you know, including the infrastructure bill and the family planning, the family act that he wants with the elder care and all that. He's going to need Republicans in order to get things done.
And this gets into the weeds a little bit. But in those 50 Democrats, one of them is Senator Joe Manchin. A West Virginia Democrat who does not like it when there are Party line votes. And could legitimately hold up everything and insists, I'm not going to vote for this unless you get a Republican -- a least a Republican or two on board. And that's the challenge.
BASH: You're exactly right. He sat right in that seat where Abby is sitting on Sunday and basically said that, Jake.
TAPPER: Joe Manchin.
BASH: Joe Manchin. That he doesn't want to do this without bipartisanship which means effectively because it is a 50/50 Senate, it's not going to happen unless you bring him along. Chuck Schumer was with Nancy Pelosi for that small group of reporters that I attended today on Capitol Hill. And you know, he said point blank, I don't always agree with Joe Manchin. But do I respect him. And we're going to try to bring him along on these things.
But when someone like him just thinks that infrastructure is roads and bridges and broadband and the more traditional infrastructure and doesn't want to deal with these other bigger ideas, of again, what they call human infrastructure. I'm not so sure how they bring him along.
TAPPER (on camera): Once President Clinton gave a speech, a state of union address in which he declared the era of big government was over. And that was a very well-known line. It was in triangulating Bill Clinton becoming a more moderate Democrat.
And yet now we have deal maker Joe Biden, and delivering what I think was perhaps his most memorable line of his speech, perhaps, in which he basically repudiated Republican theories of economics. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: 650 people increased their wealth by more than $1 trillion during this pandemic. And they're now worth more than $4 trillion. My fellow Americans, trickle down. Trickle down economics has never worked and it's time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER (on camera): I mean, there are a lot of Republicans who still believe in trickle down economics including in that chamber.
PHILLIP: And who are totally fine with the Trump tax cuts that Biden tried to eviscerate in his speech tonight. I mean, there is some huge goal fighting logically between the two parties. And you saw it in the Republican response versus what Biden was saying.
I mean, there was a lot of conversation from Biden about, you know, we need to win this next era as Americans and not be fighting with each other, but he was laying out a way of doing that that is, there is not consensus on this issue.
On whether or not you need to tax the rich. On whether or not the government should even be involved in some of the things he wants the government to be involved in. As noble as they might be. Whether it is education or health care or so on and so forth.
The thing about Biden though, is that he takes some of these really progressive things and presents them in a way that I think some people might perceive to be more reasonable, and that is what he was trying to do.
But it is no less progressive. It's no less, you know, I mean, Republicans just describe it as radical. But the reality is he is proposing big things and he's packaging it up in something that might be more palatable to the viewers at home and that is what Republicans are up in arms about.
BASH: You're exactly right. The point that he's trying to make, and what he is trying to do is package it to use your phrase in concrete examples that people out there can relate to. Well, I do want to get help with taking care of my elderly parents. Why shouldn't I? That's a big, you know, gaping hole in American society that we don't have. I should get help with childcare and so on and so forth.
But then that is relying on the notion of them not taking the next step to say, but why should the government be involved? Again, the Democrats have become convinced, whether it is their internal polling or something else, that right now, Americans are more agreeable to the notion of government being more in their lives, and being a bigger part of society than 10 to 15 years ago and even longer when Bill Clinton made that speech.
PHILLIP: And they may be right. Because, I mean, Joe Biden is getting high marks on COVID, he's getting high marks on a lot of aspects of his agenda. And that's what the White House is looking at. They are saying, you know, we might be hearing all these complaints from Washington but at the end of the day, people at home are OK with the government doing things well. Not just doing things for the sake of doing things but doing them well.
So we'll see whether that extends to you know, another $4 trillion and a significant amount of tax increases.
TAPPER: One of the things that Biden told the anchors when he had the briefing earlier today, that he said, you know, that was on the record, was that he said in the early days of his presidency, talking about the first recovery act that was needed to help the economy in his presidency, was we can't fail out of the box. We can't. And it's because one of the things he's banking on, not just for the first 100 days, not just for the first 200 days, but for his presidency and beyond.
For this whole transformation of the United States, and you know, success for democracies abroad, is this idea that people need to believe, as you were just noting, Dana. People need to believe that a government, the government of the United States can function, can work for the people. Wolf?
BLITZER: That's right, Jake. I want to bring in our CNN political director, David Chalian. David, we have an exclusive poll of people who actually watched this debate. Americans, are beginning -- we're getting their reaction in this poll.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR (on camera): Yes. And it is an important thing to remember before we reveal the numbers here. This is just a poll of people who watched the speech tonight. So not the American public broadly. And what we know about people who watch speeches from presidents to a joint session of Congress, they're partisans tend to tuned in to watch in greater numbers than they exist in the overall population.
We saw this in the Trump years. Where the speech watching audience was more Republican than the overall American population. And tonight we see that among speech watchers, it was a more Democratic audience than the country is Democratic.
So keep that in mind as you see these numbers. But take a look at the response in this instant CNN poll. And you see that 51 percent of speech watchers had a very positive reaction to Joe Biden's speech. 27 percent somewhat positive, 22 percent negative reaction to the speech.
Let's look at Joe Biden's very positive number compared to some of his modern day predecessors. He's at 51 percent very positive when Donald Trump gave his speech four years ago, he was at 57 percent very positive among the speech watchers then. Obama and Bush, much higher, 68 percent and 66 percent. Did the speech make you feel more optimistic or more pessimistic about the future of the country? Right? 71 percent of speech watchers said the speech made them feel more
optimistic. More optimistic. Only 29 percent, more pessimistic. And as we've been talking about this whole notion of bipartisanship, did indeed Biden's outreach to the Republican Party in this speech tonight strike the right note?
Well, look at this. 4 percent of speech watchers said his outreach to Republicans went too far. 38 percent said his outreach to Republicans didn't go far enough. But nearly six in 10 of those watching the speech, Wolf, 58 percent said his outreach to the opposition party was just about right. Hitting that goldilocks sweet spot there for President Biden.
BLITZER: Which is clearly what he wanted to do, John. Let me get your analysis when we see these numbers.
KING: Well, David makes a very critical point. Again and we need to reemphasize it, people who tend to tune in for these things and people who support without giving the speech. So you have a Democratic audience. I would say, if you're someone who is trying to sell a new plan and trying to convince the American people, stay with me. Yes, it's more government, but I think it is necessary to get us ready for this new global economy wherein the optimistic part.
At 71 percent, more than seven out of 10 people watching came away more optimistic. Again, they are largely with him to begin with, but they feel more optimism. A president needs to keep people on his side. A president's approval rating is his greatest weapon when he's sitting down with Republicans or fellow Democrats are trying to get them to make a decision a cast a vote they don't want to make. And a president's approval rating is the gold standard when we get into the mid-term election next year.
Right now the president's approval rating is in the mid-50s depending on the poll you look at. That's not great if you look back at Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama, or the Bush's. But we don't live in that age anymore. We don't live in that age. It is much better than Donald Trump's. His approval rating right now is much better by 10 points or so than President Trump's was at this point, 100 days in.
So Biden is in a pretty good position. It's not fantastic, because we live in this polarized times. So, any time you can move the dial, keep Democrats more invested in you or move a Republican or two. That's progress. So that people feel optimistic. And that they largely view it as positive. Again, it is mostly his audience, but you want to come out with a little bit of wind at your back. And if you're making people more optimistic, I think in the early days of a presidency, that's critical.
BLITZER: Yes, I mean, these numbers, I'm sure you're a chief White House correspondent. They're probably going to be happy if the White House can see this numbers.
COLLINS: I think they will. And I think that the more optimistic numbers here, a lot of that probably came from the beginning of the speech. Or right out of the gate. That was what he was talking about. What he inherited on day one. One of the quotes was, he said, 100 days ago, America's House was on fire. That was a quote that President Biden used as he first got into the room in the first few minutes.
And really what he was talking about, one of the things that of course is number one in everyone's mind is the pandemic and the state of vaccinations and what this looks like now. And of course, if we all think back to 100 days ago, very few of us, if any of us were vaccinated. A lot of us like myself just now getting vaccinated and having that done.
And so I think that that is a big marker that they wanted to use. And that is one of the benefits of having this speech be later than traditionally this speech would be. Which had a lot to do with the pandemic and what was going on. And so when you saw President Biden coming out saying what he promised, about 100 million shots in his first 100 days. They got to 200 million shots, of course, we were well on pace to do that at the beginning with a 100 million shots.
But also he talked to all these other efforts they've taken for the pandemic. And I think that was something that he did not stay on for the entire speech. Of course, he moved on to his legislative priorities. But I think that is a number one issue. That those are numbers that the more they tout them, I think the better that those numbers will be.
BLITZER: Clearly, John, dealing with the COVID pandemic has been priority number one for this president. That's why he addressed that issue first in his speech.
KING: Yes. And he spent considerable time on what he said in the campaign. I know how government works. Unlike his predecessor. Put me in. I will fix this. I will bring in a team of experts. I will help the governors. We will work and we will get it done.
And look, it is indisputable. It is just an indisputable fact that America is in a much better place in the COVID fight now than 100 days ago. It is an indisputable fact that the American economy has a lot more wind at its back now than 100 days ago.
You heard Senator Scott say, hey, wait a minute, the Trump presidency and Republicans deserve some of that credit. They may well. That's not how politics work. You know, the person who is president now is going to judge on the success and failure and the president had every right to say, I told you I will do this, we are making progress.
So, his message tonight essentially was, I promised you, a, I did it. I promised you b, I did it. Now I want to do c, d, and e. And I you need you to come with me. I need you to help me and I need you to swing votes in this town. He's talking to people in America saying, I need you to stay with me. Can he carry them on the journey, is the governing challenge and the leadership challenge in a polarized America. It's an incredibly hard task anyway.
Plus, as Jake just noted, only a handful of votes to give in the House. No votes to give in the United States Senate. So everything consequential President Biden wants to do is a tight rope act. Can he manage those politics? That's the fascinating challenge. The speech tonight and this poll, again even though it is mostly partisans watching, suggests that he took a step in the right direction tonight. The question is how long can he sustain it?
COLLINS: I think also, just quickly, sorry, progress on the pandemic is also going to be a lot harder to come by when we come to vaccinations and those numbers. Because now they've gotten through the people who are willing to refresh their web page and drive far to get a vaccine. Now, they are moving on to those other people.
So one thing that the White House has said this week, is they recognize this is one of the biggest audiences potentially that President Biden could have this year. And so at the beginning of it, he used it to tell people, go get vaccinated.
BLITZER: Let's not forget, hundreds of Americans are still dying from this pandemic every single day. Anderson, back to you.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST (on camera): Yes, Wolf, thanks. I want to check back in with our political director David Chalian for more poll results from our CNN instant poll. David, what else have we learned?
CHALIAN: Anderson, again, remember this is a poll of speech watchers. And as we've been discussing, it is a group of people that's more Democratic than the nation as a whole. We see that no matter which party is president, their partisans tend to show up and watch in greater numbers.
But amongst speech watchers tonight, we asked, will Joe Biden's policies move the country in the right direction. 73 percent, nearly three quarters of those watching the speech tonight said yes. Joe Biden's policies are going to move the country in the right direction. Only 27 percent said wrong direction. So even with a larger Democratic audience, that is a very big number for Joe Biden to tout tonight.
Also, we said what about specific issues? And take a look here. We know coronavirus is the president's strongest issue. That shows up among speech watchers tonight in this instant poll. 86 percent say that his policies on coronavirus are moving the country in the right direction. 74 percent on racial injustice. 72 percent on the economy, 70 percent on gun laws, 70 percent on taxes and 65 percent on immigration.
Look at that -- taxes number and the economy, 70 percent and 72 percent. That was the heart of the speech. The investment in the economy and trying to make it more equitable with these big investment and then paying for it by taxing the rich. And you see that seven out of 10 speech watchers think those policies on those issues are going to move the country in the right direction.
And then finally we asked folks, whether or not his policy proposals tonight were too liberal, not liberal enough, about right. Look at that, 64 percent at the bottom there say his proposals tonight are about right. Again, that goldilocks sweet spot. 31 percent too liberal, 5 percent not liberal enough, but two-thirds of those watching the speech tonight say Joe Biden got it about right.
COOPER: David, I thought if you were in the White House as the adviser to the president now, would you be happy with those numbers?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (on camera): Yes. But I would also recognize that this was a kickoff essentially. This is just the beginning of a fight that they know is going to be a difficult fight. And you know, what he tried to do tonight, as I said at the beginning before the speech. He tried to put the focus on the individual details of programs that he is advocating here.
So it can't just get characterized as a big expensive, big government program, paid for by taxes. He made clear what the benefits were to people. And he made clear who would and wouldn't pay for them. Now the question is, can he go out and keep the focus on these things? And you know, you're going to see him go out and campaign after this.
So I think that they would be happy with this. Absolutely. But they recognize that it is a little bit, (inaudible), over time go away. And they need to keep the momentum going. Now for what is promises to be a very tough negotiation, not just with Republicans but also, with Joe Manchin and some other Democrats.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, the selling into the American people. There is the figuring it out and negotiating it in Congress.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (on camera): And I think what he said quite clearly is, I want to get this out here now before we start negotiating. I want to tell you the American public what I believe. I think the question we all have, even looking at this poll which is skewed, probably, is the question of whether the country is really ready now for a more activist government.
We don't know the answer to that. We know that they give Joe Biden a lot of credit for competency on what he did about getting vaccines into arms. And let me state, I misstated it earlier. Donald Trump gets credit for operation warp speed. But Joe Biden gets credit on getting those vaccines, those shots into your arms.
So they're looking at government, he hopes, as competent. Being able to help you. And but I think that with his bare majorities in the Congress, he has to go out there and sell all of this to the American public. I think what he did tonight with the breath taking level of spending that we saw. It's kind of, it is a risk. It's really a risk.
EVAN OSNOS, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: You know, a lot of us remember, four decades ago, Ronald Reagan built a culture around the idea, he said that the most fearsome words in the English language were, I'm from the government and I'm here to help you, right. Joe Biden comes in office and he calls his first tour the help is here tour. It's a bet, he is betting that the culture has moved in a basic way. And you know, I think -- if you --
COOPER: In a big part, because of the pandemic.
OSNOS: Precisely. I mean, that people in effect saw what happens when a government is removed. When it is hands off from a serious problem and there is no other institution big enough, strong enough, rich enough to be able to help you. The other thing that's important is Joe Biden over the course of his career is known for one thing.
When you talk to people who really worked closely with him, as David has, they'll tell you that he has a sense of -- he's a weather vane as somebody put it for the center of the Party. He figures out where the party is moving, its one of the reasons why he's moved over the years on somebody's issues and we see him moving a bit now.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (on camera): Look, I think that when he talks about who's going to pay for this stuff, I think he's on remarkably strong ground. In other words, I think you have two things happening at the same time. People had a complete collapse of their personal lives.
And some of those collapses were a long time in the making. It wasn't just COVID was like the last straw. But you have people suffering under massive student debt, the price of housing, you know, there's a lot that's been going on.
So, he says I want to fix it. When he turns and says who's going to pay for it, I think people have been bewildered by how much money the billionaires have been making in the middle of this pandemic. I mean, people are literally making money hand over fist. While so many Americans have fallen off the table.
And I think that gap, I don't mean not just the standard gap. I mean this incredible chasm that opened up during the pandemic pissed some people off. So, I think that Joe Biden is very smart to say, the folks who have been making out quite well, thank you, while the rest have been suffering, have got to pay up.
That would have been extreme left wing sounding stuff. I think even two years ago. I think it fits the mood of the country right now. Some people are doing very, very well paying no taxes. And the rest of us are left behind.
OSNOS: You know, a couple things he said tonight that struck me as being the kind of things that a very important Senator is going to be looking to hear, Joe Manchin. We've talked about him a couple of times tonight from West Virginia. Now, we've heard about him. He cares about West Virginia. He cares about people who have been as Joe Biden said tonight, left behind.
You know, we heard about this blueprint. Blue collar blueprint. These are the kinds of ideas that somebody like Joe Manchin inside the Democratic Party, an essential vote, wants to hear, needs to hear, now the question is, how do you make that real? How do make that it concrete so that you can begin to get his cooperation on a lot of this people?
AXELROD: Well, I think part of it is going to be, you know, this is in stages as we said before. He's taken a big interest in this infrastructure piece which is piece number two. He wants it to be a bipartisan bill done through regular order with Republican votes.
The question is, do they split some of the bill away? And just focus on hard infrastructure and can Manchin bring some Republicans in? One interesting piece not to get too wonky here. Here was the 80 billion --
BORGER: Go ahead.
COOPER: Kind of what we do.
AXELROD: Yes -- exactly, that's my thing. $80 billion for to beef up the IRS to go after tax avoidance at the top. That will produce, you know, one of the questions is how much it will produce. There was a paper that some treasury official did it that said, as much as $1.4 trillion over 10 years.
I mean, that's a lot of money. The Congressional budget office may have a different view of this which makes it harder. But that's like a kind of a way for Republicans to say, well, yeah, we'll do that. That can help pay for infrastructure.
COOPER: Tax cheats.
BORGER: It's popular.
JONES: One thing in those numbers I thought was really interesting. 74 percent of people saying that his approach to racial injustice was good. That wasn't the heart of the speech, but he said some strong stuff. He said white supremacy is terrorism. He talked about George Floyd. He reached out to law enforcement I thought in a very effective way.
But think about that. Tonight, you had the president of the United States and Tim Scott both talking about the need to do something on police reform and talking about race in a very explicit way. I think that shows these protests that the outrage of the American people is registering with both parties.
COOPER: Still ahead, we are going to get reaction to President Biden's appeal for police reform. Jake is going to talk about George Floyd's brother and the family's attorney next.
TAPPER (on camera): This evening, we heard President Biden renew his appeal for policing reform and racial justice, invoking the memory of George Floyd as he set the anniversary of Floyd's death to be a timeline for Congress to act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: My fellow Americans, we have to come together to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve, to root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system, and enact police reform in George Floyd's name and that passed the House already.
I know Republicans have their own ideas and are engaged in a very productive discussion with Democrats in the Senate. We need to work together to find the consensus. But let's get it done next month by the first anniversary of George Floyd's death.
TAPPER (on camera): Joining us now in studio, George Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, as well as the family's lead attorney, Ben Crump. And Philonise, this is the first time I'm meeting you. I just want to reiterate my deepest condolences in all the loss you and your family have gone through.
President Biden talked about the conversation he had with your brother -- George's daughter, your niece, calling out the knee of injustice on the neck of Black America. Do you have hope that President Biden can get this done and the Congress will pass policing reform in time for the first anniversary of the sad day?
PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: I always have hope. I pray a lot. I speak everything into existence. I'm just, you know, I'm in a good place where, you know, my brother, I lost him, but it's a greater cause. He's helping, like his daughter said, change the world. And I think that is something that's very positive. And I think that Biden with anybody and everybody else working hard to help him get this across, I think we can.
TAPPER: And Ben, President Biden said tonight he wants policing reform passed into law by next month. That's the first anniversary of George Floyd's death, of course. He also left the door open for Congress to decide specifics. And as you know, there is -- there is some back and forth going on.
They probably -- Democrats and Republicans probably agree on about 80, 90 percent of it, but there are some real sticking points. Do you think that they can work through that?
BEN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE FLOYD AND ANDREW BROWN, JR. FAMILIES: Jake, we're going to meet Philonise and several other families who lost loved ones to what they believe as police excessive force.
CRUMP: They have become well versed on the proposed legislation. So, they're going to meet with Senator Tim Scott and several other key senators on both sides of the aisle to talk about how their blood is on this proposed legislation, that we can have better policing in America.
I pray every day to Him that I get to close that division of my law firm that deals with police excessive force that leads to the death of Black people and justifiably far too often. And so hopefully, with the George Floyd Justice Policing Act passing, we can look and work on other things, not worrying about the police shooting Black men in the back like in North Carolina.
TAPPER: And Philonise, you're meeting with Senator Tim Scott tomorrow, as Ben just pointed out. He was -- he did deliver the republican response this evening, talking about his vision of America. He said America is not a racist country, that the United States is more than just the original sin of slavery and racism, and that the story has not ended yet. What did you think of that? What did you think of his speech?
FLOYD: I thought Tim Scott was just being Tim Scott. He's normal. He is an African-American descent. He's a senator. He's in a great position to be able to change whatever he wants to change in the future. I'm just --I'm just happy just to be here, just even be able to speak my piece to people like him. I look up to people like him.
TAPPER: Do you think -- and if you disagree with Senator Scott, that's OK. Do you think the United States is a racist country?
FLOYD: I'm not gonna say they're racist, but you know you might have others who might think differently than some people, but not everybody.
CRUMP: I think that systematic racism does exist in every aspect of society and we don't want anybody to be naive and not think that it is an issue. Racism is a debatable issue because we have to live under the oppression of racism every day.
I think many believe Philonise's brother was killed because of implicit bias and racism. That's something that we have to finally discuss and that's why I'm happy President Biden and Vice President Harris is pushing this issue the say, we can do better than this America.
We should not have Andrew Brown in Elizabeth City, North Carolina being hunted with assault rifles, violent mob wearing police uniforms. We can be better than that. Christian Hall in Pennsylvania, Asian- American, shot in the back. Anthony McClain in Pasadena, Black man who ran without a shoe shot in the back.
Why is it that police shoot Black men in the back running away from them? Come on, we can do better than this. Hopefully, we can deal with this legislation and deal with qualified immunity to say to all of our children that we are a better America, that you all have a right to life and liberty in the pursuit of happiness.
TAPPER: It seems likely, Philonese, that in order for the George Floyd Policing Act to pass the Senate, it will have to change at least a little bit, because in order to pass the Senate, they need 10 Republican senators. It passed the House, where they don't need -- they don't have such requirements.
TAPPER: If the bill ends up being, if the bill then ends up on President Biden's desk, ends up being 80 percent of what passed in the House, 90 percent of what passed the House, but not a hundred percent, is that still a victory for you, for the Floyd family, for Georgia's memory?
FLOYD: I just want to be able to see this legacy. I won't -- I just don't want there to be any new more George Floyds. I don't want to see any more hashtags. I don't want to see any more people on t-shirts.
I live in a place where my heart is -- will forever have a big hole in it. It will never be patched up. But at the same time, if we can set like this George Floyd Justice for Policing Act and set it up the right way to stop other people for like living in fear and being able to go outside and do things without being concerned that they're going to lose their life, I think that would be a great thing for this world.
TAPPER: All right. Philonese and Ben Crump, thank you so much for being here this evening and best of luck with your meetings tomorrow and best of luck getting the legislation passed in your brother's name. I think I'm throwing to Anderson now. Anderson?
COOPER: Yeah, Jake, here with Van Jones. Do you think it's likely that they can get 10 Republicans?
JONES: I think something is going to happen. First of all, Karen Bass in the House has been working very closely with Corey Booker in the Senate and with Tim Scott. And I think that people will be surprised. Not everything. But there are some big pieces of common ground that Americans share across party.
One is that there should be a registry for bad cops. Nobody wants bad cops running around going from department to department, that's common ground. These chokeholds, that's common ground.
The idea that a police officer doesn't have a responsibility if he sees a police officer violating the law, to intervene, strikes people as insane at the federal level.
And so you can start laying down certain things. The no-knock warrants, that you can just kick in somebody's door and shoot them. So there are pieces that there can be common ground for, and I do think that Tim Scott did himself well tonight. I think he represented his party well. That may give him a little bit more leverage to get something done.
COOPER: Van Jones, thank you. Coming up, did President Biden get all his facts straight? Daniel Dale, who kept President Trump's feet to the fire, will share his take on Biden's speech.
BLITZER: Now, it's time to check the facts in President Biden's address to Congress and the nation. Our fact-checker Daniel Dale is joining us right now. Daniel, President Trump's speeches kept you very, very busy. How about President Biden?
DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Wolf, I'm still going through the transcript, but my early assessment is that this was in general quite a factual speech, but it was not perfect.
Now, the prepared text that Biden most resided was quiet good. There were some claims that certainly can be disputed, had some debatable nuance to it, but there certainly was not a ton in that prepared text that was flat-out false.
Now, where Biden was false a couple of times was when he adlibbed. Wolf, this is a bit of a problem with President Biden. He has given it a solidly researched text and then he decides to start, you know, Joe Biden talking and he sometimes gets himself in some fact-check trouble.
BLITZER (on camera): Surely does. I know there were two sections to President Biden's speech that raise the flag for you. First, let's listen to something he said about border security and immigration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: If you believe we need to secure the border, pass it, because it has a lot of money for high-tech border security. If you believe in a pathway to citizenship, pass it, so over 11 million undocumented folks, the vast majority who are here overstaying visas, pass it.
We can actually -- if you actually want to solve a problem, I've sent a bill. Take a close look at it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER (on camera): Daniel, your take on that?
DALE: Wolf, so this claim about the 11 million undocumented population could have been correct if President Biden had tweaked his wording just a little bit. But as he actually said those words, it was wrong.
Now, for seven consecutive years, up to 2017, the majority of a newly undocumented people were people who overstayed visas. In 2017, it was 62 percent visa over-stayers, according to an estimate from one think tank.
So why is Biden wrong? Well, he said the vast majority of the overall undocumented population of 11 million is these over-stayers and that's just not true. Experts from two think tanks have told me that at least a slight majority of the overall undocumented population, that 11 million, is still made up of people who have illegally crossed the border.
And that's because prior to 2007, the vast majority of newly undocumented people were border crossers and these over-stayers have not yet caught up even though they have been steadily gaining.
BLITZER (on camera): Daniel, listen to what President Biden said about his interactions with President Xi of China.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We can't be so busy competing with one another that we forget the competition that we have with the rest of the world to win the 21st century. Secretary Blinken can tell you, I spent a lot of time with President Xi, travelled over 17,000 miles with him, spent 24 hours in private discussions with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What's good out to you, Daniel?
DALE: Well, this travelled 17,000 miles with Xi thing is a weird little exaggeration. Biden repeated tonight, even though it was fact- checked as false by The Washington Post and by me in February.
Biden can certainly say that he has spent a whole bunch of hours with the president of China, they spent time together in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, but the claim that they travelled 17,000 miles together is just baseless. They barely travel physically together at all.
The only way to get even close to 17,000 is to include Biden's solo travel to get two meetings with Xi and then come back solo. That is not the same as traveling 17,000 miles together, especially when he's using this data point to show how well he knows the president of China.
Now, Wolf, I want to add in closing that I also watched Senator Scott's GOP response speech. At first glance, I didn't see anything flat false in it. I do want to note a couple of quick things for context. Senator Scott decried the pace at which schools had been reopened. He's entitled to do so.
That's his opinion. But we should note that the percentage of public school students now attending schools that offer in-person instruction is now 65 percent, according to one data tracking company, about double the 33 percent from the week Biden was inaugurated.
Scott also said that less than six percent of the president's supposed or so-called infrastructure plan goes to roads and bridges. Now, that's true. But we should also note that does not mean that the rest of the plan is not infrastructure or lefty pipe dreams. They're billions more for airports, rails, replacing lead pipes, broadband. Even with a pretty tight definition of traditional infrastructure, you still get well over 20 percent. Wolf?
BLITZER: Daniel Dale doing the fact-checking as he always does. Thank you very much. Big picture, John King. Let's look ahead right now. The speech is now history.
KING: The speech is now history. The president believes he stepped at that podium, done himself a favor. The instant polls seem to show that at least those watching -- and again, largely Democratic audience -- they do not lose anybody.
KING: That's important. When you are president operating with a very narrow House majority and a non-existent Senate majority, 50/50, you can't lose anybody out in America. It looks like he probably built some of his base.
The challenge now is selling it. Can he sustain it? He has had a 100- day record that he's quite proud of, on vaccine rollout and on the economy. The question is, can he sustain his political support and I would argue need to build his political support out of the country more?
He's off to Georgia tomorrow, critical state to his election. Then he is off to Pennsylvania, pivotal state to his election. Can he make the case out in America that then helps him twist a few arms here in Washington?
BLITZER: One hundred days tomorrow. One hundred days in office. He's going to be in Georgia.
COLLINS: Yes. I'm going with him. Actually, I have a flight in a few hours, so I got to get out of here. But yes, he has that first trip to Georgia. He actually is going to be with the Carters first when he does get to Georgia. Then he is going to hold a rally drive. Of course, not a conventional rally that you would see. Still, the days of the pandemic is going on.
And then he will go to Pennsylvania on Friday. He also got a lot of travelling next week as well, so does the first lady and some of his top cabinet officials because they do want to pitch this plan.
I think that we could see that team return that we saw with the last COVID relief bill that only Democrats voted for. And you saw some of President Biden's top and closest advisers, people like Anita Dunn, saying, we built support out in the country, this is broadly popular with Republican voters, that was what we mean by bipartisanship, that's the new definition that we are going by and how we are approaching this and how we are thinking through these bills. And so, whether or not that is the approach here will be really interesting.
One other deadline that President Biden set for himself tonight that I just want to remind viewers about was about getting a police reform bill passed. He said he wants to do that by the end of next month, the anniversary of George Floyd's death. We'll see if that actually comes to fruition.
BLITZER: Our chief White House correspondent with former chief White House correspondent. Still ahead, we are getting new reaction to the president speech from some of his fellow Democrats he is depending on to get his agenda passed.
TAPPER: President Biden was playing to several audiences during his speech tonight, the American people, his Republican opponents, fellow Democrats in the divided Senate who have considerable influence over his agenda. Our chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju has been hearing from many of those individuals. Manu, what are you learning?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Democrats are praising the speech overall, but some of the key voices still are not sold on all the details of Joe Biden's plan, including some important votes like Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (INAUDIBLE) speech, said it was delivered well, but he said the devils are on the details. He really wants to know how this will all be paid for.
Joe Biden, of course, laid out some of the ways it would be paid for. Previously, he raised concerns to me about raising taxes on capital gain. That is one key aspect of the Biden plan.
Others like Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, also said that the speech was well delivered, but she wants to understand exactly how this will come down and wants to have her say.
Now, some Republicans who could potentially be swing votes were not persuaded at all by the president's delivery here, including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who came and said she is not overly inspired by the speech. Those were her words.
And Senator Mitt Romney, the 2012 presidential nominee for the Republican Party, pushed back on the Biden plan, said Bernie Sanders, in his words, he said, $6 trillion and counting, I'm sure Bernie is happy.
So, you have seen resistance from the republican side, a lot of work to win over any Republicans. And also work, Jake, for Joe Biden to win over his own party which, of course, will be essential in order to get something through the 50/50 Senate.
TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju on Capitol Hill. Thanks so much. And Dana, one of the events of Biden's life that I think has led him to where he is, as well as many of the staffers, was when he was vice president for President Obama, and they were trying to pass a bill to get the country out of the great recession.
TAPPER: And during that period, as well as when they were crafting Obamacare, a health care legislation, there was a lot of negotiation with Republicans, a lot.
BASH: Mm-hmm. TAPPER: Ultimately, Obamacare passed with no Republican votes in the Senate. I think there might have been one in the House that --
TAPPER: New Orleans Republican?
BASH: Oh yes, you are right.
TAPPER: And then -- and then they negotiated and got Republican support, just a few, Arlen Specter who was Republican at the time, Susan Collins and few others, for the stimulus bill. But it was too small for the recovery they wanted. That at least was the conclusion of the all the Republicans who spent the next 10 years attacking Obama --
TAPPER: -- for the recovery being so weak. So, I think he feels burned in many ways by Republicans.
BASH: A lot of this is lessons learned from those eight years, particularly the first, the beginning where there was a real crisis, not unlike what he inherited when he took over. But it doesn't mean that he doesn't have in his DNA the desire to work with Republicans. What it does mean is that the time is gonna be up sooner than Obama let it play out.
The open question is whether or not he can do it, because President Obama had a super majority of Democrats. In the Senate, they had 60 votes. It was about time to get Democrats to be on board and it's going to be a lot harder to get his fellow Democrats on board with some of these giant proposals. Big, big ticket item.
PHILLIP: Yeah, and it's worth noting that the bulk of the speech was devoted to the hardest part of the Biden agenda. It is the big part of, you know, the human infrastructure part that Republicans do not buy at all. So, they're trying to put some elbow grease into this, but they know that this is going to be the tough part.
The rest of the staff he might have a chance at, but gave much less time in his speech because I think the White House believes they have to use the presidential platform for the thing that they think they need the most, but that might be the most difficult to get if not perhaps impossible given the dynamic in the Senate.
TAPPER: All right. Abby, Dana, thanks so much. Our live coverage continues next with Chris Cuomo.