Key lines: CNN’s interview with Biden on polls, protests and US bombs killing civilians

A version of this story appeared in CNN’s What Matters newsletter. To get it in your inbox, sign up for free here.

President Joe Biden sat down with CNN’s Erin Burnett on Wednesday for a rare, one-on-one television interview with a member of the national media.

They talked in Wisconsin, where Biden is trying to highlight a plan to build up manufacturing and tech jobs in the Midwest. The interview also comes as Biden trails former President Donald Trump in multiple national and swing-state polls and as Biden’s policy supporting Israel has driven a wedge between him and younger, progressive voters Democrats rely on.

Here are some key lines from the interview:

► On polling data that shows him trailing Trump on the economy and whether he is running out of time to turn around perceptions of the economy before Election Day:

Biden pointed to polling he said suggests a majority of people were satisfied with their own situation. “They think the nation’s not in good shape, but they’re personally in good shape,” Biden said.

White House advisers have previously pointed to a University of Michigan survey that has shown a general uptick in consumer sentiment.

Regarding inflation, he agreed that people feel day-to-day pain in the increased price of groceries and other items they need, but he argued it is more about anger than being unable to afford things.

“They have the money to spend. It angers them and it angers me that they have to spend more,” he argued, before talking about “corporate greed” being responsible.

In a CNN poll conducted by SSRS and released in late April, a majority of Americans, 70%, said economic conditions in the US were poor, and there was similarly dismal approval of Biden’s handling of the economy. On the subject of personal finances, CNN’s polling director Jennifer Agiesta wrote:

Americans’ perceptions of their own finances also remain negative, with 53% saying they are dissatisfied with their personal financial situation while 47% are satisfied. Dissatisfaction is starkly prevalent among those with lower incomes (67% dissatisfied in households with annual incomes lower than $50,000), people of color (64% say they are dissatisfied) and younger Americans (61% of those younger than 45 say they are dissatisfied).

► On why people should believe him on the economy rather than Trump:

Biden was in Wisconsin to notch a win where a Trump plan failed.

Trump, during his presidency, announced a deal to entice the Taiwanese company Foxconn to build up tech manufacturing jobs in the Midwest. That never came to be, and the Foxconn site in Racine, Wisconsin, was largely abandoned. Biden visited the area to announce a plan by Microsoft to build a data hub there to train workers on how best to use artificial intelligence.

Biden’s claim of 15 million jobs being created in the US during his administration is correct, but it lacks the context that so many jobs were temporarily lost during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Biden later argued he was coming at the economy form “a Scranton perspective” while Trump was coming from “a Mar-a-Lago perspective.”

► On how seriously he takes the threat that if Trump believes the election is not “honest,” the former president again won’t accept the election results:

“The guy is not a democrat with a small d,” Biden said, suggesting Trump does not believe in democracy. He added that Trump, if reelected, has promised to use his attorney general to target certain people and to be his supporters’ “retribution.”

“What president has ever said anything like this stuff?” Biden said. “And he means it.”

Biden said the leaders of other democracies are rooting for him.

“Eighty percent of them after we have a major meeting, they go, you have to win for my democracy to stick – their democracy to stick,” Biden said.

► On being called “genocide Joe” at pro-Palestinian protests on US college campuses and whether he hears the message of young Americans:

But Biden expanded, suggesting protesters have gone too far:

There is a legitimate right to free speech and protest. There’s a legitimate right to do that and they have a right to do that. But there’s not a legitimate right to use hate speech. There’s not a legitimate right to threaten Jewish students. There is not a legitimate right to block people’s access to class. That’s against the law.

From there, he tried to pivot to explaining that he has counseled Israel to develop better plans for what to do in Gaza, and he compared it with mistakes the US made after 9/11 when it invaded Afghanistan and Iraq.

“It made sense to get (Osama) bin Laden; it made no sense to try and unify Afghanistan. It made no sense in my view to engage in thinking that in Iraq they had a nuclear weapon,” Biden said. Those are both political sore spots for Biden, who pulled US troops from Afghanistan, allowing the Taliban to reassert complete control of the country. He also voted in favor of invading Iraq as a US senator.

► On whether US bombs have been used to kill civilians in Gaza:

Biden said the US has delayed one shipment of powerful 2,000-pound bombs and that he has told Israelis he will not support their military’s plan to conduct operations inside Rafah, in southern Gaza on the Egyptian border.

“They’re not going to get our support if in fact they go on these population centers,” Biden said, although he promised the US would still help Israel protect itself from outside attacks. “We’re going to continue to make sure Israel is secure in terms of Iron Dome and their ability to respond to attacks like came out of the Middle East recently,” he said.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at