CNN "State of the Union" - TRANSCRIPT Interview With Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA); Interview With Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ); Interview With Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA); Interview With Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL); Interview With U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Aired 9-10a ET



TAPPER: Welcome back the State of the Union.

I'm here joined by my august panel.

And, Congresswoman Jayapal, Let me start with you.

What is your reaction to this Chinese spy balloon scandal, controversy, whatever you want to call it? And do you agree with your colleague Congressman Adam Smith that President Biden ultimately handled it all correctly?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Jake, it's great to see you.

And, yes, I do agree with Representative Smith. I mean, I think that thing here was, the president prioritized the safety of the American people. That was his number one priority. It should have been.

But, also, the way in which the balloon was taken down allows us to retrieve the parts of the balloons to see what was actually in there. And I think that's also a really good thing. So, I think he handled it well. This is not the first time this has happened. It happened three times under Donald Trump. Nobody ever talked about it.

In fact, I saw that Defense Secretary -- former Defense Secretary Mike Espy said he didn't even know about it, he doesn't remember it.

TAPPER: Esper.

JAYAPAL: Esper -- excuse me -- said that he didn't even know about it, didn't remember it.

So I think this is -- the president handled it the right way.

TAPPER: I think you're thinking of Congressman Espy.



TAPPER: You have got the House on the brain.


JAYAPAL: I have got House on my brain.


TAPPER: Do you think that President Biden is in a strong place? Or are there enough questions about his leadership that he's not?

JAYAPAL: I think he is in a really strong place.

And, look, I think, at the State of the Union, he should be a relentless salesman for what we have achieved over the last two years, the economy adding 517,000 jobs and bringing unemployment down to the lowest level since 1969, almost 11 million new jobs added under this president, plus everything that we are going to continue to deliver.

I mean, this is a president that actually delivered on infrastructure, right? We're building roads and bridges and taking lead out of water pipes across the country. We are reducing the cost of prescription drugs. We have seen already the capping of insulin at $35, of the hope that that gives people across the country, investing in clean energy.

And that's going to continue, by the way, through this year. Americans are going to start being able to claim those tax credits for their electric vehicles, for their appliances in their homes. So all of that is positive. And I think he should continue to focus on that, as well as laying out the vision for 2024.

TAPPER: Although, I mean, the president for -- for -- regardless of everything that the congresswoman just said, he's still underwater with his approval rating.

And there's a new "Washington Post"/ABC News poll out today saying that there's very little enthusiasm for a rematch of Trump vs. Biden. But, even so, Trump leads in the head-the-head.