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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
School Shooting in Oregon; CNN Projects: Majority Leader Eric Cantor Loses To Tea Party Candidate Dave Brat
Aired June 10, 2014 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks very much. Welcome to the top of the hour, everyone.
I want to stay with Mark Preston.
Mark, what is going on down there?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Do you want to give me a second on the phone --
COOPER: You're on the air. What is going on? What's the latest?
PRESTON: Well, hey, Anderson, at this point right now it's interesting, I'm starting to get e-mails, starting to get phone calls. Right now the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor appears to be heading for defeat. What does that mean? It means at this point we could see a wide open race for the number two Republican slot in the House of Representatives.
Eric Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, Anderson, was in line to become the next House Speaker John Boehner stepped aside. That looks like that is now going to change.
This came out of nowhere, Anderson. We'll have to see what happens in the next few minutes. But Eric Cantor expected to win re-election, looks like he's going to go down to a Tea Party challenger.
COOPER: And this -- we should be point out. This is a challenge from the right? This is a challenge from his right.
PRESTON: This is a challenge from his right. And another one was that but it was his opponent accusing him of not being strong enough on immigration issue. An issue that we're seeing really become front and center right now -- Anderson.
COOPER: So the question is what does it mean for those who want some sort of compromise down the road? There are some observers who I'd imagine that said that this makes the idea of compromise over the next year or two on Capitol Hill even less likely, it sends that message, no?
PRESTON: Well, it certainly emboldens the Tea Party, which has had a whole string in defeats certainly in the Senate. We're going to see what happens in a couple of weeks in Mississippi, where you see a Tea Party challenger on the verge of taking out an incumbent, Thad Cochran, who had been in Congress since 1973. However, but we will see with Cantor right now is something very unexpected. And certainly in the House of Representatives this is going to embolden the Tea Party movement which has really been frustrated by their lack of wins so far this year.
This would be a big win. In fact, this will be the biggest upset of the year, Anderson, if it were to happen.
COOPER: And did -- I mean, did the polls show this coming? I mean, I think I read something in "The Washington Post" this morning that seemed to indicate, you know, Eric Cantor was going to be winning this?
PRESTON: It looked like Eric Cantor was going to win. His internal polling of course even showed that. Even the news media down in Richmond, in that area, were doing their stories and covering their stories in the way that Eric Cantor is going to win reelection, that he was successful in beating back this challenge from his right. But right now it appears that he hasn't done so.
You know, I did just get off the phone, Anderson, from somebody who's pretty familiar with that area and their said -- their takeaway is that there were more Brat signs around. That Eric Cantor's political operation was a little bit rusty. That he came too late to the game. And this is a perfect example of somebody here in Washington who has gotten a little bit lazy and they didn't act quick enough to win their primary.
COOPER: Joining us on the phone is senior political analyst Gloria Borger.
Gloria, what do you make of this?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that Eric Cantor got in the race a little bit late. He realized very late that he had a serious challenge on the right. Last Saturday he was booed at a gathering of Republican activists. And that was a clear sign that he had some problems.
You know, here in Washington, D.C., he is somebody who had real ambition to become the speaker of the House should John Boehner leave. And now he's got this really serious and maybe successful challenge from an economics professor in Richmond. And it seems that he came out in the end sort of swinging at his opponent, Brat, for portraying him inaccurately.
But there were lots of conservatives who kind of decided to go with Brat. And to have a real impact and, you know, what often happens to politicians in Washington when they get challenged is they realize it a little bit too late that they're in a lot of trouble. This is what Cantor's campaign team tells every Republican don't do. Have your people on the ground with your ears to the ground and understand when you're in trouble. And it seems like that advice wasn't followed. COOPER: What does it mean for politics on Capitol Hill over the next
year or two if in fact this holds up? If these numbers --
BORGER: Well, I think it scares everybody.
I think it scares everybody who was actually thinking of -- for example, voting with the president on things like immigration reform. You know, Eric Cantor is a conservative. Eric Cantor is not a liberal or a moderate Republican. But he has been a leader so there have been times when he has been with John Boehner, for example, trying to end the government shutdown, et cetera.
And so if you're in a district that's got a conservative base you have to stay there. And you cannot sway. And this is the problem that Republicans have when they try in the leadership to cut deals. And so I think this is going to scare an awful lot of Republicans who were afraid of either, A, being primaried, or B, just losing in a really conservative district. There is no reason for them to run to the center ever.
COOPER: I want to put the poll numbers up again because, I mean, at this point it would be -- I mean, Mark Preston, you know better than anybody, it's very hard to see how he could possibly overcome these numbers at this point, 56 percent to 44 percent.
PRESTON: Yes, Anderson, absolutely. And look, we're looking at this as one man losing but it really does have greater implications. He was in line to become the next House speaker when John Boehner were to step aside. Right now Republicans are very well entrenched there. They're expected to hold on by a comfortable margin on to the House majority.
Eric Cantor who's been number two, waiting in the wings, waiting for his shot, to lead the Republican Party. certainly on the House right now, has to be looking at this saying, what is my political future?
But the greater implications is, what is the future of the Republican Party. Will we see the Tea Party emboldened in the House of Representatives? Will we see an internal fight right now over who is going to be the majority leader of the House of Representatives? What is John Boehner going to do? He has won -- easily won his primary earlier this year. But after this election will he decide to retire?
So there is greater implications about what's going to happen in Congress, what's the direction of the Republican Party in the House. And I think we're seeing a big surprise tonight that is really going to trigger a lot of things certainly in the coming months.
COOPER: Gloria, do you agree with Mark on the repercussions?
BORGER: I do, and I think you know what -- one of the dangers of becoming a leader in Washington is that it always comes around and bites you because your constituents will then say you know what? You're paying a little bit too much attention to your larger political ambition than you are to the folks back home. I mean, that's why for -- you know, that's why Mitch McConnell is saying I'm delivering -- I'm delivering everything I can for the state of Kentucky because I'm a leader, right?
The people in his district are saying you know what? You didn't deliver for us and you had to tow the line with the Republican leadership which by the way, as conservative as it may be is not popular. You know, Congress has a, what, 9 percent or 10 percent approval rating? So if you're a leader of a very unpopular Congress even if you are a Republican who is fighting the president it is dangerous terrain. It is dangerous terrain to be a leader.
COOPER: And if you are President Obama and the administration and the White House and you're watching this, what do you think, Mark Preston, is the message to them tonight in terms of actually getting kind of negotiations on things down the road?
PRESTON: I mean, certainly they've got to be looking at this and saying what little hope we had of any kind of working relationship with Congress is slowly slipping away. I mean, at this point the relationship -- the Obama administration's relationship with the House Republicans was terrible. It's now just going to get worse. And then if you look at what's happening over in the Senate there is a very good chance, Anderson, that you're going to see Republicans take back control of the Senate.
So while President Obama is trying to get, you know, a few more initiatives through, big signature items, immigration reform and what have you, he's got to be looking at Congress right now and saying we're not going to get that right now. And the only way we are going to get it is perhaps by executive order trying to muscle things through.
And quite frankly, Anderson, we haven't even talked about the Democrats at this point. But as Gloria has been saying, Republicans have got to be concerned about certainly what is happening within their party. You've got to be wondering what some Democrats in these red states are thinking right now. Certainly in the Senate, and Louisiana, and North Carolina and Alaska, are they now going to try to attack a little bit more to the right after seeing what happened tonight down in Virginia?
That is a plausible thing that is going to happen. We've already seen that so far in some ways. It'd be interesting if they'll start attacking even more.
COOPER: Gloria, you could see that happening in some of these races.
BORGER: Hey, you know the issue of immigration, it became a very big issue in this district because Eric Cantor came out in support, you know, of the dreamers, allowing, you know, the children of those who enter the country illegally to obtain some kind of legal status here. And that became an issue in the campaign with Brat saying that he supported amnesty. So if you're the White House and you're looking at some kind of compromise maybe even on some of the smaller issues on immigration I think this is -- this isn't good news.
COOPER: And Mark Preston, I mean, what do we know about Dave Brat? Who is Dave Brat?
PRESTON: Well, that is a great question because we don't know very much about him. As Gloria said he's an economic professor, he is someone who's very conservative, he's a member of the Henry Co County Republican Party, a local Republican Party down there. But really beyond that we don't know much about him on the national stage.
But what I can tell you is that, you know, assuming he wins tonight, it looks like he is going to. He is now going to be one of these national heroes. He's going to be somebody for the Tea Party that is going to look towards for some leadership. So imagine taking somebody out of obscurity like we've seen tonight and suddenly thrusting them on the national stage. I think that is what you're going to happen to Dave Brat -- Anderson.
COOPER: And Dana Bash is also joining us.
Dana, what do you make of these developments? And I feel like just a few weeks ago, there are a lot of people talking about, you know, has the Tea Party kind of run its course? Clearly tonight in this race this would be a victory.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Every single loss that they've had this year will be completely wiped off the map with this kind of win if in fact they can topple Eric Cantor, the number two Republican in the House.
Just as anecdotally, I am late to this conversation because I went home. And the reason I went home is frankly I -- I checked with pretty good sources in Cantorland, and they were like, you know, telling me they feel completely confident that this is a media story, that this is not real. And --
COOPER: So even today -- even in the last couple of hours.
BASH: This afternoon.
BASH: Absolutely, this afternoon. I just talked to a source who is -- I would say a Cantor source who admitted it's not looking good. I mean, that is obvious, the numbers speak for themselves, it's not looking good. We do expect to hear from Eric Cantor tonight down in his Richmond district to talk about, you know, what this all means. The obvious question that I had was, if he does in fact lose what will happen? Will he serve out his term? Will he run as a write-in candidate, which the Republicans like -- in the past like Lisa Murkowski, the senator from Alaska, did when she lost to a Republican primary challenger, the answer was those discussions have not even happened.
I mean, they're in a state of shock. I think it's really hard to overstate how much of a political earthquake this is if this does in fact happen.
COOPER: Let's just look at the numbers, CNN actually -- let me just say, CNN is now projecting that Dave Brat is the winner of this primary. 86 percent of the votes now have been counted. CNN is projecting. I mean, just look at the numbers there, 56 percent to 44 percent with 86 percent of the votes counted.
As you were saying the ripple effects of this, Dana, a seismic shift.
BASH: Seismic. There are so many different kinds of ripple effects, one would just the personality and personnel, if you will, in the Republican leadership in the House. But I know you're asking Gloria an important question about what this means when it comes to issues.
Our Deidra Walsh did a really nice story just today on CNN.com about the dynamics in this race. And the answer is immigration. David Brat, who again is not a well known guy, he's an economics professor down in this Virginia district, he ran primarily on the idea that Eric Cantor is too liberal on immigration because he has supported the idea of allowing children of illegal immigrants who came here illegally as well to have -- ultimately to have legal status.
That was a non-starter for him and for many of his supporters. He had -- he had some big named Republican commentators come down. Laura Ingraham, who is a Republican radio host. She has -- if you watch her Twitter feed she has made this one of her big causes trying to get rid of Cantor for lots of reasons. But immigration is another -- is one of the main reasons. And as you've been talking about it, it's ironic since Eric Cantor, when you look at the Republican leadership, is perhaps on the issues, one of the most if not the most conservative.
COOPER: And Gloria, you were saying again, for a lot of the issues, certainly the Democrats are seeing some sort of negotiation on, some sort of deal-making on the likelihood of that. It certainly -- it certainly raises a lot of questions about the likelihood of that.
BORGER: Yes, I mean, I think -- I think Republicans who weren't running scared may now start running scared. I mean, look, Eric Cantor had a sizeable war chest. Millions of dollars to Brat's few $100,000. You know, primaries bring out face voters. They don't like Congress, they don't like the Republican leadership in Congress. Cantor, as Dana points out, he is the conservative member of the Republican leadership. Quite conservative. But he is tarred with the same brush.
And so it is dangerous to be a Republican leader. It's dangerous to cut any deals with President Obama if you're a Republican. And I -- you know, I think Eric Cantor as a symbol is somebody who lots of people saw as potentially somebody who could become the next speaker of the House. And you can't sort of understate the ripple effect of this throughout the rank and file in the Republican Party.
COOPER: Dana, at what point do you think can we anticipate Eric Cantor actually speaking tonight?
BASH: Unclear. As I said I just spoke to a Cantor aide who said that we do expect to hear from him. I think -- I'm sure that there -- this is not a speech that he had prepared, I'll tell you that much. So they're trying to figure out exactly how to frame this, how to discuss it, where to go from here. There is no question about that.
I can also tell you that our Deidra Walsh, our congressional producer who, as I said, has been reporting on this race, just as saying that she spoke to a source close to Cantor's challenger, David Brat, who is as shocked as everybody else is, that he seems to have been successful here. He was joking with Deidra just yesterday when the two of them spoke about the fact that, you know, he knows that -- he's going to pull off an upset and that he knows that there will be a CNN truck pulling into his driveway tonight or tomorrow morning.
But even he thought it was a joke. And now it's not a joke at all. He has pulled up -- it looks like he has pulled off the upset of the political year. Upset in years, absolute years, when you think about all of the drama that we are looking at right now. Given the fact that as Gloria has been saying, Eric Cantor is somebody who has been -- and his team has been working hard with his rank and file incumbent Republicans to make sure this very thing didn't happen to them. And it happened to Eric Cantor.
COOPER: And our Deidra Walsh, she's also reporting about it and I'm writing this off from my phone, is heading to an event right now with supporters in Glenn Allen, Virginia, and is going to address the results there. But again, the idea from Deidra Walsh that he is as shocked as anybody is -- really gives you a sense of just how kind of down to the wire this was and how unexpected this was really for both camps.
Gloria Borger, Dana Bash, Mark Preston, we're going to check in with you throughout this hour. We're going to have more on this shortly.
Next, there is more breaking news today. Another deadly school shooting, this time near Portland, Oregon. Police just released new information about the victim. A 14-year-old boy shot by another student. We'll have the latest next.
COOPER: Welcome back, we're going to continue to follow the biggest political upset of the year, the primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. But first more breaking news now just -- from outside Portland, Oregon, where authorities have just finished briefing reporters on the latest school shooting. That's right, there was another one today.
For the second time in less than a week, we've seen pictures like this, terrified students, evacuating a school, knowing it's not a drillings, know that a killer, possibly a fellow student, almost always male, is back in the building.
For the second time in less than a week their parents have waited for word, waited for the worst. Some like these parents were on the national TV when the call came.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that correct?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, thank God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. Yes. That's what we're waiting for. That's OK. I'm -- yes, I know. That's what they're saying. So I am glad to hear from you. All right. So are you almost ready to get on the bus and come down here or what is the deal?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can breathe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, a lot of parents couldn't breathe. And the gunman at Reynolds High School who we will not be naming, whose pictures we won't be showing, killed one student before reportedly killing himself. The fact, though, that this could have been much, much worse takes nothing away from the outrage that had happened at all or that had happened yet again and again.
Reynolds High today, Seattle Pacific last week, look at the map. The group Every Town for Gun Safety put the information on it together. You're looking at 74 school shootings since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012 from Fort Myers, Florida, just a few weeks after Sandy Hook to Troutdale, Oregon, today, 74.
President Obama spoke about it late today and he did not mince words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're the only -- we're the only developed country on earth where this happens. And it happens now once a week. And it is a one-day story. There is no place else like this.
The United States does not have a monopoly on crazy people.
It is not the only country that has psychosis. And yet we kill each other in these -- in these mass shootings at rates that are exponentially higher than any place else. Well, what is the difference? The difference is that these guys can stack up a bunch of ammunition in their houses and that sort of par for the course. So the country has to do some soul searching about this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, again, local authorities in Troutdale in Oregon just wrapping up a news conference.
Sara Sidner is there as well. She joins us now.
So what's the latest that you're hearing?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have just heard a confirmation of the victim in this case. Emilio Hoffman, 14 years old, a freshman. And we happened to talk to some students who knew him. They say he was an amazing kid that anyone would have been lucky to know. That is how they put it when they talked about Emilio Hoffman, just a young guy in his first year of high school.
We have also heard that the Sheriff Department is not, Anderson, releasing the name at this point of the shooter, though we do know that he was found -- his body found in a bathroom. We know the shooting now took place inside of the gym in the locker room to be very particular. This is a community that had all shown up here, all the families came to this parking lot waiting to hear word of their students, shaken, scared, worried. At least one of those family's student is not going to come home alive -- Anderson.
COOPER: I understand you spoke to an eyewitness, what did he tell you?
SIDNER: Yes, Brandon Block, he was, you know, a kid that loved his school. He enjoyed playing sports, he was sitting right outside of the gym and this is what he heard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRANDON BLOCK, STUDENT: We heard a lot of loud bangs and at first we didn't even jump. We thought it was like fireworks or something. And we see one of the teachers run out of the building with more shots, like the sound going off. And he kept running right by us. And then right after that another teacher came out asking if she heard -- if we heard fireworks, and we said it was just Mr. Rispler. And then we -- I went in to look at where he was running from and there were just other students standing around asking what happened. So it was all kind of, you know, fast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Now you heard him mention Mr. Rispler. He is a coach and a teacher. He was grazed by a bullet. He is expected to be OK, but this community certainly shaken and there are a lot of questions being asked, a lot of anger is growing about yet another school shooting -- Anderson.
COOPER: Sara Sidner, reporting, appreciate it.
I want to go back now to the upset in Virginia. House Majority Leader going down in defeat to Tea Party challenger Dave Brat.
Let's go back to Mark Preston, Dana Bash on the phone, senior political analyst David Gergen is also joining us.
David Gergen, I just wanted to read a tweet from John King who said, "Earthquake," he says. "Major GOP establishment money man, House Minority Leader Eric Cantor loses primary."
Would you agree with that? An earthquake?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It is the most significant primary we've seen all year. Within the Republican Party circles, this would be an earthquake. He was the number two House leader for the Republicans. He's frankly one of the innovative thinkers the Republicans have. And he seemed to be aligned with his speaker. So -- and to be knocked off by a Tea Party conservative over his efforts to push for immigration reform and his earlier efforts to lift the debt ceiling I think is going to send shock waves through the Republican ranks. The price he paid for really things that, you know, a great majority of Americans support.
COOPER: You know, it's fascinating, Gloria Borger, I'm just looking right now at a "Washington Post" article from -- I guess this was June 6th where they were saying a Cantor internal poll claims 34-point lead over primary opponent Brat.
How did they get it so wrong?
BORGER: Yes. It's really hard, Anderson, and these were (INAUDIBLE) for any primary, to get an accurate read. A little bit more accurate than they were given the fact that they were actually spending some serious money on polling. But as we were discussing earlier, you know, if you're not there and don't have a grassroots organization and you're not on the ground to see these things percolate then you have a problem. And this is the advice they give all of their candidates, which is keep in touch with the districts.
That one of the downsides of being a leader is that there are a lot of other things going on in your life. And even though he's only, you know, a couple of hours away, or less than that, this was clearly a problem. And as Dana and I were talking about earlier, immigration is a huge issue. If I were in the White House right now I'd take a look at the results of this because Eric Cantor had had expressed some interest in the Dream Act.
And I think I would see the White House saying you know what? There is no way we're going to get Republicans to go along with this. So I do think it sends shocks to so many different directions it is hard to count at this point.
COOPER: You know, David Gergen, you talked a little bit about the impact and other sin the Republican Party for others, even Democrats in close races in red states for the White House looking to make deals moving forward on immigration and other issues. What do you see the impact?
GERGEN: That's right, Anderson. There are the Democrats running in red states have to be worried now about the -- the stress and the anger that you see in the populace right now. We see populist uprisings in New York, for example. They're applauding a liberal like de Blasio as mayor but you're also seeing this kind of whiplash kind of things happening with conservatives. There is a knock me out for moderate conservatives and Tea Party types.
I do think it's worth pointing out, Anderson, that in most of the Senate primaries this year, the establishment candidates have done well. And you know, there is a sigh of relief in the Republican establishment, if there is such a thing, that the -- we were talking, it seems to be dying down. This, boy, sends a clear message, the Tea Partiers are up there in force and unless you're careful you can get knocked off.
COOPER: Well, there's also the race in Mississippi, Thad Cochran, which is also, you know --
COOPER: Raises the same type of concern.
GERGEN: That's another one that is a surprise. But by and large, you know, like McConnell and others, the establishment figures have done better than they would have done in previous cycles. But this is an outlier and one that's going to cause a lot of people to reconsider. I think it makes immigration reform overall, to go back to the earlier point, harder. I think it makes it even harder because it's really now very difficult to get the Republicans to come along, to put --- put together a bipartisan bill.
COOPER: Ninety percent of the vote now counted. You saw the percentages there, about a 10,000 vote difference, 6,655 vote difference, 55 percent to 45 percent, 10 percent.
Dana Bash, for those on Capitol Hill who are watching, I'm wondering if you're already hearing feedback from them, and even for Speaker John Boehner, what is the impact of this?
BASH: I haven't heard yet from anyone from the speaker's office but I just got a text from a Republican lawmaker who said none of us on our side saw this coming. Lots of ramifications for the GOP. None of them good.
And this, as you can imagine, not from a conservative Republican but one -- from one of the few remaining moderates. So that was one text. The other thing I can share with you is that I got an e-mail from somebody who is a movement conservative who says that he's at a dinner with other, he calls it the who's who of conservative and Tea Party leaders who said that they are as you can imagine cheering, in fact, one, Brent Bozell, through the source, said in a statement, Eric Cantor's loss tonight is an apocalyptic moment for the GOP establishment. The grassroots is in revolt and marching. Certainly, any kind offense that they got from all the losses, real big losses except for Texas that they have had this year as I said wiped off. Completely wiped off.
Because nobody expected to get the number two Republican in the House to be knocked off by his own party. I was just trying to think when the last time anything like this has happened if it's happened. Obviously, we've seen leaders in each party in Congress get defeated by somebody in the opposite party.
Tom Daschle was a democracy majority leader. Tom Foley was the House speaker, but I don't remember somebody getting beaten by somebody in his or her own party that is this high in the leadership. It is stunning, everybody is shocked. That is why we're getting so few statements because nobody thought it would happen.
COOPER: Well, what does the apocalypse look like, what does it actually boil down to?
BASH: You know, I think in the short term, it is going to send the Republican Party, which I think in the past couple of months as we've seen these primary results for the most part go for the establishment figure or the incumbent. It looked like the civil war in the party was starting to perhaps die down a little bit. This throws this right back into play.
Completely, and I think into chaos. People in Congress, Republicans who were maybe trying -- starting to inch back towards compromised positions on things like immigration will be scared to do so because they will be worried about getting beaten by somebody from the right.
If Eric Cantor can get beaten by somebody from the right, why can't a rank and file Republican without the resources, if that happened to them, it is going to throw all of the ideas of any kind of reaching out across the aisle over the next -- certainly over the next few months, but maybe even at the end of the Obama term, it will throw it all up in the air.
COOPER: We're told that Brat is going to be speaking soon, we'll bring it to you live. That should be interesting to say the least. We'll be right back after a quick break with continuing political coverage ahead.
COOPER: Welcome back, if you're just joining us, hold onto your hat, a political earthquake has just happened. A Virginia congressman and House Minority Leader Eric Cantor going down to defeat in the Republican primary losing to Tea Party favorite, Dave Brat, we're expecting to hear from Mr. Brat shortly.
With us "CROSSFIRE" co-host and former presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, joining us on the phone. Speaker Gingrich, what do you think?
NEWT GINGRICH, CNN CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE" (via telephone): I think this is about a scale heat earthquake. I think it will shock the Washington establishment and will shock the House Republicans. It certainly upsets all of the balance of power inside the Republican conference. And combined with the results recently in Mississippi it sends a pretty strong signal that well, money matters. Voters may matter more.
And people need to have a little bit of respect for the right of the voter to have attention paid to them and the right of the voter to throw people out if they're not happy with them. And Eric Cantor is a very smart man, this is not an anti-Cantor statement. He is hard working, but it's also appears that a very large part of his constituents were not happy and he was not paying attention to them. That is the message, members who pay attention, members who listen to the folks are able to ultimately do very well. That people who think somehow that money and consultants are a substitute for grass roots paying attention I think always run a risk.
COOPER: To echo that, Mr. Speaker, they say Cantor spent $5.4 million on this race, Dave Brat spent just over $200,000.
GINGRICH: Sure, and this is a classic mistakes of the Washington consulting class, which I frankly am deeply hostile to, they managed to convince Eric to run negative ads against a man who was totally unknown. I have not seen the internal analysis yet, but I will bet you that more of his name identification came from Eric Cantor's ads than came from his own activities. And that is just plain malpractice on the part of the consultants.
COOPER: They were saying that Cantor was maligning him, and calling him a liberal even saying a lot of things that Eric Cantor were saying in ads were flat out wrong.
GINGRICH: I just think in the country at large there is a growing exhaustion with negative politics and negative attacks. Again, Eric Cantor had a great record and was an extraordinarily successful member of Congress. He had a ton of things to campaign on and I admire greatly what he has done over the years and I don't think people should react that this is a right versus left.
This is an out of touch, not paying attention and then having your consultants do two or three really stupid things. Any time you can out-spend two to three times, you have to assume there was something flawed about your campaign.
COOPER: And there are some who were suggesting well perhaps you could be a write-in candidate like Lisa Mercowski. Do you think that could happen?
GINGRICH: Look, eric is a very smart guy and a very competent guy. He has to decide what is his future? And if he wants to take a gamble in a write-in campaign that is certainly possible. But he has to be careful not to look like a spoiled sport. You know, I lost twice on the way to becoming speaker of the House. Bill Clinton lost the governorship on the way to becoming president of the United States.
You know, sometimes you have to take time off and say to the voters I respect you. This is a fairly substantial margin. And sometimes you're better off to take a deep breath, saying maybe I need to take a year to come back home, do some teaching. Think about what I've learned and then he would be a candidate for either governor or senator in the future. And nobody should estimate that Eric Cantor has a great future in politics.
But maybe it is not some kind of desperate last minute effort to become the Republican nominee. I mean, to become the write-in candidate. He's got to make that decision. I would be a little skeptical given the size of the margin and given the fact that every Tea Party group in the country would pile on. It would be very, very challenging for Eric.
COOPER: Mr. Speaker, what does this mean for Speaker Boehner?
GINGRICH: Well, I think Boehner -- first of all, Boehner did the right thing. Boehner went back home and took seriously his opponent just as Mitch McConnell did his. He spent time at the early. He ran a very steady, constant low-key campaign and the folks at home said you know, I respect you. My experience for 20 years in Congress, I had some very close races.
And as you know I was always willing to take risks and stand out in public and do things that were right and take the consequences. My experience is if you went home and had town hall meetings, over time people came to respect you even if they disagreed on one or two issues. I predict that Lindsey Graham will be proof of this in South Carolina.
He has done exactly the right things. He has worked himself from a position in the last couple years. I may not agree with him all the time, but I agree with him enough. I think that is a very important part of this process and frankly, I'll always be reminded. Talking about Secretary Clinton's new book today and the fact that she lost in 2008 and she also experienced this feeling.
In the end, the voters get to decide. It is not the money or the PACs or the consultants. It is one of the healthiest things about this process. I expect John Boehner who has been at this for a long time as a state legislator and congressman. I suspect he is saying he will do everything to help Eric Cantor, and will get a good launch if he decides to go somewhere else.
But that is the American process. We are subordinate to the American people and life will go on. House Republicans will reorganize themselves and find a new majority leader and things will turn out to be all right a year from now.
COOPER: And for those on Capitol Hill who want compromise on issues like immigration reform, does this make that harder to come by?
GINGRICH: Well, it makes it more complicated, but it also means you also have to go home and explain it. I get frankly pretty sick of the Washington elites telling us what we should tell people, if you can't go home and explain what you're doing, you should change what you're doing or you should quit your job.
And so people have an obligation to listen to and respect the wisdom of the American people. I believe you -- I ran as you know, for president by taking a very strong position and I got no backlash on the right because I was able to explain it in a common sense way that they were comfortable with.
But it does mean any time you want to take a position, which is at the margin of your constituency you had better triple or quadruple the amount of time you spent in town hall meetings. So people relax and get comfortable have a chance to really push you and question and argue with you. And then if you're cheerful and you allow -- I always tell people, the two key rules, cheerful, persistence and listen, learn, help and lead, in that order that he will do those, you can carry your district a long way.
COOPER: And for Democrats who are watching tonight particularly those in the Obama administration have things just gotten harder for them?
GINGRICH: Well, I think it's gotten harder in a way that may not fully appreciate yet. This country is angry about Washington. It's angry about terrorists being released. It's angry about Obamacare, angry about the economy. And if anything, Republicans are under pressure because they're not seen as tough enough. Not because they're too soft.
And the Democrats need to understand. They're going to be running this fall against an enormous headwind and the president frankly has only increased the likelihood of a Republican tsunami. And this is a reminder these tsunamis can emerge and they almost always don't emerge before September 15th. And when they emerge you're just riding a wild wave. And I think the odds are even money now you're going to see a tsunami this fall.
COOPER: Wow, Speaker Gingrich, appreciate you time. Thanks you for calling with us tonight.
Also joining us now is chief national correspondent, John King. He is on the phone and also "Politico's" Jake Sherman who is at Cantor headquarters, been watching this all go down. Jake, let me start with you. You're there. What is the mood there? What has it been like?
JAKE SHERMAN, STAFF REPORTER, "POLITICO" (via telephone): Well, immigration reform protesters just stormed the room, which has little effect because Cantor has already left and he has lost the race. But this was stunning to Cantor supporters who had been telling me, I heard the story a couple of months now that they were laughing me off when I was trying to write about this as a serious challenge.
And Cantor was talking staying above 60 percent, but using those metrics, I mean, he got completely shellacked. And you know, it's a little too early to say what this is about. Former Speaker Gingrich is right, the people are angry and Cantor was seen as somebody who is enabling the health care law who had asked a reform bill to stop insider trading that didn't have sharp enough teeth.
And was accused of supporting so-called amnesty. But this regards politics not only in Virginia, but House Republican leadership that is now going to be in a complete state of flux in the middle of an election year.
COOPER: John King, I read a tweet from you earlier where you said you talked to one GOP money man who said this was an earthquake. Someone else referred to it as apocalyptic. How do you see the ripple effects?
JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS" (via telephone): Because it is such a surprise, the establishment gets on its heels, Eric Cantor thought he was going to win, his challenger thought he didn't have the prayer. He thought he would get 40 percent and tonight he just beat the House majority leader in a primary. And so the establishment is going to try to figure what did we miss, what did we take for granted?
To Speaker Gingrich's point, on Jake's point, what in the last couple of week's maybe it made the voters extra mad at Eric Cantor. More importantly, what made his voters, more traditional establishment Republicans complacent? They decided not to turn out tonight, that is what happened.
He spent money on television and a lot of money on direct mail and radio, and yet he could not turn his voters out today. So there is a flip side you have to study, too. Why didn't his folks come out?
They will study all that and the Obama administration and Democrats are celebrating. They are saying this is proof tonight that the Tea Party is taking full control of the Republican Party. Again, I would agree with Speaker Gingrich to a degree. If that celebration could be short list if this is proof and we'll get another test from Mississippi next week in the runoff down there.
And the conservative base as we get closer to November is getting more active and more agitated. So this will shock the House Republicans first and everybody else with stakes in November are going to spend some time scratching their heads and studying this.
COOPER: John, have you been able to kind of bear down and look at turnout results and where areas turned out, which is always your specialty on these kind of nights? Have you been able to do that to get a sense of where Cantor's supporters, whether they did turn out and why they stayed home?
KING: I have not been able to do that with the level of detail that I'll be able the do by tomorrow night just because of how the results come into us. And the technology available to me tonight. But at first glance I'm getting from folks as I reach out to Republicans asking them what happened is that you have more of what I'll call the more suburban traditional establishment Republican voter not turning out.
And more of the -- the non-conventional Republicans coming out. Again, if you look at the numbers this is a very low turnout, and I think Eric Cantor simply got caught by surprise. Not just Eric Cantor, if we watch the number of other races and again we'll watch the Mississippi run off next week as an example.
We see that a number of races, whether it's Mitch McConnell in Mississippi and other Republicans targeted by the Tea Party. The Chamber of Commerce, that didn't happen in Virginia because they thought it was locked up. The surprise of this is what makes it interesting and what takes you back to 2010.
When some of these Tea Party victories literally came out of the blue. The Tea Party is on our map now, so we're studying. Mr. Brat was written off as OK, nice try, give it your best run, but it's not going to happen. Yet he shocked everybody tonight. He shocked Eric Cantor. He shocked Speaker Boehner, and will shock Democrats as well as they try to study what are we missing?
You ask any smart Democrat this morning if they talked about Eric Cantor losing tonight. They would have laughed at you not just the Republicans would have done. They will try to figure out is this isolated or is it the beginning of something you need to track from now until November.
COOPER: And again, Eric Cantor according to "Roll Call" spent $5.4 million on this race. Brat spending $200,000. Everyone stick around, we'll be right back, more ahead.
COOPER: Again, tonight, the huge news, congressman and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, going down to defeat in the Republican primary, the victor, Tea Party favorite, Dave Brat, the figure so little known nationally that his wickedpedia page was just a couple of sentences long just a few days ago.
Back with "Politico's" Jake Sherman and John King. Jake, Eric Cantor has already spoken, he didn't speak for very long.
SHERMAN: No, he spoke for about 5 minutes and basically thanked his family. It was a great honor and talked about his agenda. I just add from John's points earlier about the surprise. It was a huge surprise. And I think that one of the elements that played in to his district is that Brat played on the fact that Cantor was in leadership and spends a lot of time fundraising around the country. Well, there is some of that anti-incumbent leadership that happened here and Brat really tried to play on that.
COOPER: It's interesting, John King. I mean, if part of leadership is, you know, making compromises, it certainly that is something which in this case, Brat was able to use against Cantor.
KING: And what we have seen emerge among grass roots conservative, not just Tea Party. But to call them Tea Party Republicans and give them that label, but it's broader than that in some place is you have two choices. Are you a governing conservative like John Boehner and Eric Cantor where in most cases you do try to cut the best deals with President Obama or with Senate Democrats, or are you a Ted Cruz, more of a Rand Paul opposition conservative?
More of a parliamentary system, where you think you're supposed to fight almost everything and the opposition conservatives emerges the big force and Mr. Brat tonight wins running pretty much the campaign that Matt Bevin, Mitch McConnell's challenger in Kentucky ran, he could not do that on a statewide basis.
In his own state, Rand Paul, remember was the Tea Party upstart who beat Mitch McConnell's favorite candidate a couple of years back. McConnell saw this coming. He started earlier. He knew they would run. That you're Mr. Washington. You are part of the problem. You're the deal maker, you would rather negotiate with President Obama than sit down with the conservative party.
Mitch McConnell was able to head it off and tonight in a shocker, Eric Cantor was not. During the break, I was e-mailing with a few other Republicans and major consensus of what I'll call more establishment strategists is that the Tea Party is going to claim victory here.
That they didn't do so much, the organizations didn't do so much. This view this more as an indigenous revolt in the district in part because Eric Cantor became Mr. Washington and Mr. District.
KING: Yes, Dana Bash, to John King's point and it's a really important one that this really was, for Mr. Brat, very much a grass roots effort even National Tea Party groups weren't funnelling a lot of money into this race.
BASH: That's right. There was some organic support, for example as I mentioned earlier, Laura Ingraham who is a conservative radio talk show host. She has made this kind of her cause. On Twitter, she even went down there to do a rally last week. I am sure that didn't help Mr. Cantor at all.
But one thing I want to just report to you, I've been e-mailing with some -- first of all I should tell you that when it comes to John Boehner, I'm sure everybody wants to know what he is saying. I've been waved off the idea that we're going to get any statement from John Boehner any time soon. So we cannot look for that.
But I've been told by two sources who may be familiar with the way John Boehner thinks, that any thought that he may retire after this next term handing the baton or the gavel over to Eric Cantor, is out the door. It is much less unlikely he will retire because there is nobody behind him who can get the kind of support that could really help.
COOPER: Yes, Dana, thank you very much. We'll have more ahead. We'll be right back after a short break.
COOPER: It's about an hour, quite a surprise for a lot of people in Washington and really all across the country. There you see the numbers at this point, 7,172 votes separating Dave Brat from Eric Cantor, 56 percent to 44 percent, earlier today. A lot of people in Eric Cantor's campaign seemed to be saying that they felt they were in the lead. A lot of people certainly were surprised by this.
An earthquake some have called it in the Republican Party, certainly in the leadership of the Republican Party. Dave Brat, the winner of the GOP primary in the state of Virginia. What Eric Cantor will do next is not clear. We'll have a lot more continuing coverage, stay with CNN for election developments throughout the night.
Don Lemon will be here at 10:00. We'll be right back at 11 p.m. Eastern, another edition of AC360. The CNN Special Report "O.J.'s Wild Ride: 20 Years After The Chase" starts now.