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Dems Win Governor's Seats in New Jersey, Virginia; Trump to North Korea: 'Do Not Try Us'. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 8, 2017 - 06:00   ET

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


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[05:59:10] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Wednesday November 8, 6 a.m. here in New York. And we begin with Democrats scoring sweeping victories across the country.

The proof is in the performance. One year after President Trump's historic win, voters rebuking his young presidency, sending a clear message to Republicans ahead of next year's midterm elections. The crowning achievement, without a question, is the governor's race in the swing state of Virginia, a true purple state.

Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam crushing the Republican Party's former chairman, Ed Gillespie. He turned to a Trump-like, scorched- earth, heavily divisive campaign in the final weeks of the race. It did not work. The president characteristically quick to distance himself, tweeting that Gillespie never embraced him or what he stands for.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And in New Jersey, Democrats taking back the governor's office after eight years of Chris Christie. Phil Murphy easily defeating Christie's lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno.

What does this Democratic momentum mean for the midterms next year?

Meanwhile, President is in China, the third stop of his Asia trip. This comes after the president issued a stark warning to North Korea, telling its dictator, Kim Jong-un, quote, "Do not try us."

So we have it all covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Ryan Nobles. He is live in Richmond, Virginia -- Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, good morning. It's hard to view last night's election results across the country as anything more than a repudiation of Donald Trump and his administration. And nowhere was that more evident than here in Virginia. It was a race that was supposed to be close and was anything but.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democratic Party is back, my friends!

NOBLES: An anti-Trump wave fueling a big Democratic sweep, including the hotly-contested governor's race in Virginia. The state's Democratic lieutenant governor, Ralph Northam, crushing Republican Ed Gillespie by nine points in a race that was expected to be close.

RALPH NORTHAM (D), GOVERNOR-ELECT OF VIRGINIA: Virginia has told us to end the divisiveness, that we will not condone hatred and bigotry, and to end the politics that have torn this country apart.

NOBLES: President Trump blaming Gillespie for the loss, accusing him of, quote, "not embracing" him and what he stands for. But exit polls show that President Trump is deeply unpopular with twice as many Virginia voters who said Trump was a factor in their decision, saying they came out to oppose the president rather than to support him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have sent a message across the globe to South Korea. Donald Trump, you don't stand for our values.

NOBLES: Gillespie did not campaign with the president, but Mr. Trump recorded robocalls and threw his support behind the establishment Republican on Twitter. In the final stretch of the campaign, Gillespie rallied around the culture wars the president has fueled, touting his support for Confederate monuments in tying illegal immigration with violent gangs in provocative ads like this one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ralph Northam's policies are dangerous.

NOBLES: A strategy that led to Northam flip-flopping on his support for sanctuary cities but ultimately failed to deliver Gillespie a win. Democrats also making significant gains in Virginia's House of Delegates, possibly forcing a number of recounts could shift control of the chamber to Democrats for the first time in almost 20 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With Donald Trump in the White House, and Steve Bannon holding Republicans in Congress hostage, governors will have never mattered more.

NOBLES: In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy easily defeating the state's Republican lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, who struggled to overcome the unpopularity of her boss. Governor Chris Christie, hotly contested mayoral races in Manchester, New Hampshire, and Charlotte, North Carolina, also breaking in the Democrats' favor.

The blue wave extending to a number of social and cultural issues, as well. Virginia Democrat Danica Roem making history, becoming the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature, defeating a social conservative who sponsored a bill that would have restricted which bathroom she could use.

DANICA ROEM (D), ELECTED TO VIRGINIA STATE LEGISLATURE: Every person who's ever been singled out, who's ever need someone to stand up for them when they didn't have a voice of their own, because there's no one else with them, this one's for you.

NOBLES: And first-time politician Chris Hurst, the boyfriend of a reporter shot and killed on live TV, also elected in Virginia, upsetting a three-time Republican incumbent backed by the NRA.

(END VIDEOTAPE) NOBLES: And as for the president's spin that Ed Gillespie didn't do enough to embrace him here in Virginia, for weeks, I've been talking to Republicans who didn't even want to discuss this topic.

Last night across the board every single one of them told me that this loss is squarely on the president and his administration. One Republican congressman from Virginia tell me that it's hard to view the results of last night's election as anything other than a response to Donald Trump -- Alisyn and Chris.

CUOMO: Ryan, you were asking the right questions. It is unusual to hear in party blame put on that party's president, right? To hear the congressman from Virginia say, yes, this is on Trump, unusual and a reflection of what's happening in that party, as are these results.

Thank you for the reporter. Let's discuss with CNN political analyst David Gregory and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein. Ron, boy, did you get a lot to chew on last night.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I did.

CUOMO: What did you see that confirmed and raised questions about how the electorate is responding to the new president?

BROWNSTEIN: Mostly confirmed. I think it was a reminder that the fundamental things apply. A lot of Republicans -- we talked about this yesterday -- were hoping that because Donald Trump was such a singular figure, that voters who were unhappy with him would be less likely to take it out on them.

And in fact, we saw the opposite. We saw that voters who are unhappy with President Trump voted in big margins and, even more important, in big turnout for Democrats.

[06:05:08] First from the exit polls: about 85 percent of the voters who disapproved of President Trump's performance in both New Jersey and Virginia voted Democratic. That is in line with historic averages. It's what we've seen since 1994 in House races. And that is an ominous number for Republicans.

Even more ominous, I think, is what we saw in the big population centers, those white-collar suburbs. Democrats won college-educated white voters in both states. That is a big, big development. From 2012 to 2016, the Democratic voter, college whites in Virginia was only between 42 and 45 percent. That was the total difference.

Northam got over 50 percent. That's a big shift for Republicans in white-collar districts, and so is the turnout. You look at Fairfax County, the most populous county in the state, affluent county, Ralph Northam won it by double the number of votes than Terry McAuliffe did in 2013 or Marker Warner in 2014. He won it, Chris, by more than Barack Obama did in the 2012 presidential race. And you saw similar increases in other big suburban counties, and not only there but around Richmond.

So if you are a white collar district Republican in the House, outside, of the Philly suburbs, Orange County, California, Northern Virginia, you are looking at trouble. The one silver lining for Republicans is that they held their vote among blue-collar and rural whites. And that, I think, is kind of less concern for Republicans in those cases for 2018. But for anyone around a population center, boy, this is a fire bell in the night, as Thomas Jefferson of Virginia once said.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead, David.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think we also have to pull back and realize that, as we look at this election in Virginia and think about the potential for 2018, that midterm races tend to reflect the last big thing that happened. And Trump is the last big thing. And Democrats responded; they voted scared. There was a fear among the top Democrats in the country that this would be Waterloo for the Democrats if they didn't turn out and send a very strong message and defeat Ed Gillespie.

They did turn out in all the ways that Ron just outlined.

I also think it's interesting that in Northam you don't have a liberal Democrat. He is not the model of progressives in the Bernie Sanders mold that I think a lot of people are turning to. He's much more centrist, much more unorthodox in terms of what we're expecting from Democrats in 2018 or even potentially taking on Trump in 2020.

But the idea here, too, that Republicans who may do well with a Trump- like figure in a primary, see the limits to that in the general election. If you look in the presidential election, Republicans essentially came home. I had many conversations with Professor Brownstein about this. Here what he's outlining is that some of the core of that Republican base. College-educated white voters in places like in and around Richmond. They rejected Trumpism. They rejected even a mainstream Republican guy like Gillespie in Virginia.

CUOMO: So the whole point is about projection with these elections onto what happens in the midterm. The professor started with the fundamental things apply, a reference, of course, to "As Time Goes By," the Sinatra song.

So stick with your own theme. What does this mean in terms of seeing the time of this presidency and what the challenge is for Democrats going into the midterms. Is being anti-Trump enough?

BROWNSTEIN: I think it's a large part of the piece, a large piece of the puzzle for them, yes. Absolutely. Because I mean, as I said, the attitude toward the president has -- you know, has been since the early 1990s the single biggest factor in midterm elections. And I think you could see an important divergence here, right?

I mean, the news for Democrats and a very ominous signal for Republicans, as I've said, is if you look in these big population centers, you saw not only enormous margins in that Ralph Northam won Fairfax County by more than Hillary -- a higher percentage than Hillary Clinton did, but by such enormous turnout. I mean --

CUOMO: He won the whole state more than she did, though, right? Ron, she --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Good point. He had 335,000 more votes than Terry McAuliffe, did in 2013. But the overall effect, I think, of what you see in Virginia, if you project it forward to 2018, is what I talk about in my piece today in our state, in our CNN.com state magazine, which is further separation, because it is entirely possible that Democrats, based on this, could make big gains in these population centers, in among these -- beating some of these white-collar Republicans out in suburbs right outside of the major metropolitan areas but could face very -- very difficult going in more rural blue- collar areas, where again, Ed Gillespie won over 70 percent of noncollege whites, even while suffering this wipeout.

And the net result would be to further partition America into red and blue and to further widen the distance between the parties. That is a Trump effect. He takes all of our divisions, and he accelerates them on both sides of the divide.

But clearly, in some of these -- in some of these, you know, more coastal, well-educated states, that is a trade that Republicans can survive.

GREGORY: But let's -- if you look at the demographic math, right, all of this was all a set piece that was supposed to come through for Hillary Clinton. And it's a reminder that, when we project forward, as Chris said, into a presidential race, that it's not as much a referendum on the incumbent, that there is a choice involved. And that's very important to consider for Democrats as they move forward with a scattered field in what they do.

In 2018, maybe it's more of a factor to be anti-Trump, and it depends where things stand with Trump and with this presidency, on the economy, with a potential conflict with North Korea and on and on, that -- that affect attitudes of voters.

But I do think this split among Republicans, within a Republican Party that there are enough Republicans who say, you know, "I may not like Democrats, but I can't stomach this." That's different than what happened to elect Trump president, where there were enough Republicans who came home.

BROWNSTEIN: And it goes -- real quick, it goes to the point we talked about on the show many times before, Trump may be holding 80 percent of Republicans, but you can't win with just self-identified Republicans. You have to win Republican-leaning independents. And as David said, those are the voters who stampeded away from them in the Northern Virginia suburbs.

Even more strikingly, in the suburbs of Richmond, which have been more Republican. Like Chesterfield County, as well as in New Jersey. So to say that he's holding his base really doesn't apply after yesterday. Because you saw the independent part of that base, of the people who voted for him, moving very sharply, the Democrats, not only in the governor's race but down-ballot, where they made the biggest gains in the House of delegates since, by one count, 1899, precisely in these same suburban areas. CAMEROTA: One of the interesting things it that Ed Gillespie, the

Republican in the race in Virginia, ran from the Trump playbook. I mean, he talked about the NFL players taking a knee and that they shouldn't be. He talked about how he was going to keep up Confederate statutes. He talked about -- you know, he hit his opponent for being soft on immigration. So he used the Trump playbook. It didn't work. And then Trump tweeted "Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don't forget: Republicans won four out of four House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win even bigger than before."

But Gillespie did embrace the things that -- the issues Trump talks about.

GREGORY: And he made the race closer down the stretch, doing that. So I think -- but this is still the tension between what he had to do as a primary candidate, where he faced someone who is much closer to a Trump clone to win the primary. And then he gets into a general, and we've seen what the results are.

CUOMO: That is an important distinction you're making, because the president's reference to four for four is not about last night.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, right.

CUOMO: It's about the special elections. It was different, an intensity that felt like a primary thing. It was much more internescent than this. So it's an important distinction, David. Got to cut you off for time.

BROWNSTEIN: Can I say just one thing?

CUOMO: No.

BROWNSTEIN: All right.

CAMEROTA: Ron, David, thank you. Just no.

BROWNSTEIN: No.

CUOMO: Doesn't work at home, it works on TV. Because of the way they changed the shot.

All right. Ahead on NEW DAY, we're going to talk with New Jersey's governor-elect, Phil Murphy, about his sweeping victory and what he thinks it means for next years' election.

CAMEROTA: OK. The president issuing a blunt warning to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. In his first major speech in Asia, he told the North to never underestimate the power of the U.S. and, quote, "do not try us."

We have complete coverage of the president's trip to Asia, starting with CNN's Kaitlan Collins, traveling with the president in Beijing -- Kaitlan. KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Alisyn. We

saw the president strike a much different tone in his speech in South Korea. Instead of promising to rain fire and fury down on on "Little Rocket Man," the president instead chose to compare and contrast life in South Korea with that of North Korea while touting South Korea's success. But he still had some pretty harsh language for North Korea. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope I speak not only for our countries but for all civilized nations. When I say to the North, do not underestimate us. And do not try us. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face. North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Now, the president did not say during that speech whether he's going to re-designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. But the White House says that decision will come by the end of his trip here in Asia.

However, it was clear from that speech that his audience was not just North Korea but also China, Russia and the rest of the world. Just hours before he arrived here in Beijing, he called out China by name, saying they need to sever all trade ties with North Korea.

And we know that the president has said in the past that he would consider stopping all trade with any country that continues to do business with North Korea.

Now, as he flew over on Air Force One from Seoul to Beijing, a senior administration official said the president does plan to bring that up with President Xi when he meets with him face-to-face here in Beijing -- Chris.

CUOMO: Thank you for the reporting. It will be very interesting to see how the president changes and adjusts from each audience. North Korea, now China, very different. Russia very different, as well.

Now, no question North Korean officials were listening. They tell CNN they believe the risk of war with the U.S. has never been higher. And they're downplaying the impact of President Trump's warnings, referring to him as a mad dog.

CNN is the only American network in North Korea. Will Ripley on his 17th visit there. He joins us from Pyongyang. So take us inside that headline.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, if President Trump wants to have diplomacy with North Korea, he certainly won't get it with the insults that he was hurling at this country and its system, attacking not only the ideology but also calling this country a living hell, something that the North Koreans would strongly deny, saying that they have collected a creative and safe society.

And in fact, they published an article today before President Trump's speech in their leading newspaper, which -- which dredges up an argument that's been thrown back at me many times over the years when I've asked North Korean officials about human rights abuses, allegations here in North Korea. I'll read you an excerpt of it. It says, "The U.S. should not impudently style itself as a human rights judge but mind its own poor human rights records in its land, where racial discrimination, gun-related crimes and all other social crimes prevail."

That is what North Korea tends to do: they mention mass shootings in the United States and all of the other issues, the racial -- the racially charged riots, and they say that that's evidence that the U.S. society is inferior, in their view, to North Korean society. Although, of course, we know that political dissent is not tolerated by this authoritarian regime.

They did call the President Trump names and not dialing down their rhetoric when they spoke with North Korean officials both before and after the president's speech, and they said, quote, "We don't care what that mad dog may utter because we've already heard enough." And they said, "With the U.S. build-up of dozens of warships in the waters off the Korean Peninsula and military exercise, is due to kick off, yet again, in the coming days, they feel completely justified in whatever military steps they plan to take. The time and place we still don't know -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Will. Great to have you on the ground in Pyongyang to bring us that perspective. Thank you very much for your reporting.

So you heard the president warn North Korea that further provocation would be a fatal miscalculation. What's the effect of that kind of language? We discuss next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[06:21:31] TRUMP: Today I hope I speak not only for our countries but for all civilized nations when I say to the North, do not underestimate us and do not try us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: That's President Trump issuing a direct warning to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un right at his doorstep.

We're back with David Gregory. We also want to bring in Gordon Chang, columnist for "The Daily Beast" and author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World."

Gordon, let me start with you. When -- when -- just I'm interested in what you think about President Trump's language there on his Asia trip, including the part where he says North Korea -- he's talking directly to Kim Jong-un. He says, "North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves." How -- what is the strategy behind language like that that's that personal?

GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, "THE DAILY BEAST": Well, I think that it's basically we're trying to delegitimize the Kim regime. And this is something, a powerful tool that democracies have. And we haven't really used it recently. And so this is really him going after it.

And the other threat in that speech, which was not obvious but I think is even more -- more important, is Trump talked about the taking of the Pueblo from international water in 1968 and the shooting down if the EC-121 a year later, killing 31 Americans, the biggest single loss of life during the Cold War at the hands of a Cold War adversary. And what Trump was saying is do not kill any Americans. That was the threat in the speech.

CUOMO: So David, you had two really -- two layers of test there. One was this geo-political challenge of how he deals with the North, how he rallies allies to this cause.

The second was how does he perform as the president, which is an acute test for this particular president. How did he do?

GREGORY: Well, on that latter point, I've been impressed in the last day or so that President Trump has seemed more presidential and has been much more careful and scripted while in Asia, sticking to, you know, multi-facets of a strategy all at once. He's tried not to be too provocative in his language. He's been more measured. He's keeping some room open for diplomacy.

Even in a hardline speech like last night, talking in terms of an off- ramp for the Kim regime to find. And at the same time, I thought it was important that he's trying not just to say to a primetime audience in America, "Look, this is what the peril is. This is what the history is. And this is how we're framing this." As uncomfortable as I am with going toe to toe with an unstable North Korean dictator and making it this kind of mano-a-mano contest, he's trying to rally the South Koreans behind him so the North doesn't see any daylight between the United States and South Korea, Japan, and making a case to China, as well. That we all have to work together to stop this, because none of us come out well, particularly if the North does something particularly stupid, which is to particularly, specifically provoke the United States by launching a missile into our territory.

Nobody wants what would come from any of that. And that tees up what the president is doing in China. And finally saying -- I mean, if anything is going to change about this relationship the past 25 years, it's China takes a harder line in stopping North Korea.

CAMEROTA: So Gordon, I mean, back to my question, which is has this been effective? What do you think the upshot of this trip is in the president's language, on this trip?

[06:25:00] CHANG: I think the trip has been effective, because basically, you have the Tokyo portion and in the Seoul portion, the United States standing very close to allies. No, the Japan portion was baked in, because Shinzo Abe, the Japanese

prime minister, very close to the United States. In South Korea, that's not the case. Moon Jae-in, the new president there, is more pro-China, more pro-North Korea than any other South Korean president. And so this was a very difficult time for Trump. But to arrange that photo op of both Trump and President Moon going to the DMZ to stand together, which was defeated by Mother Nature. But nevertheless --

CAMEROTA: They couldn't get there because of fog.

CHANG: Because of fog, yes.

CAMEROTA: A metaphor. But they had to turn around. But you're saying that just the idea that they had agreed to this photo-op you saw as progress?

CHANG: It is progress, because it says to the Chinese, you know, that the United States and South Korea are standing together.

There was, before this, President Moon giving Chinas some secret assurances about ballistic missile defense, which was basically China trying to divide South Korea from the United States. And so all these images of stability of the alliance are very important for Trump to arrange. Because it says to China, "Look, you can't cut us off from South Korea." And that is going to make Trump's discussions in Beijing a lot easier. Because the Chinese are going to see that South Korea and the U.S. are standing together.

CUOMO: All right. So let's test that idea a little bit, David. I mean, it's one thing to talk tough about North Korea. The president couldn't have more moral authority when talking about North Korea. I mean, it's laughable, absurd for them to try to compare rights in the United States with North Korea. They're literally antipedal of one another.

But China is a very different measure. This isn't going to be a "who's better?" talk. It's going to be about how he can appeal China's own instincts and their own interests. How big a challenge is this? What are the leverage?

GREGORY: Well, you know, the Chinese have historically been afraid of a failed North Korean regime because of refugees. Right? They don't want all those North Koreans coming into China. They like things the way they are, if they can kind of keep this tempest in the bottle. And that's what I think some of the argument is here.

I mean, the president may say, as he did last night, that we want to denuclearize Korean Peninsula. But if the North would simply stop testing, would put a freeze on testing, I imagine they can work something out. And I wonder how China helps along that line.

CAMEROTA: All right. Gordon Chang, David Gregory, thank you both very much for all the perspective.

CHANG: Thank you. CUOMO: All right. So the Texas church massacre certainly very much in focus. We're learning more about this killer. And it's important. This isn't just about his biography. Far from it. What is the truth about whether or not he was in a mental health facility five years ago? Under what conditions was he there? Did he escape? And if he did, what was the system supposed to do? A live report, new information, next.

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