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Trump Launches "Thank You" Tour; Mattis Tapped for Pentagon; Angst Over Petraeus; Cowboys Hold Off Vikings, 17-15. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 2, 2016 - 05:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: From now on, it's going to be America first. OK? America first.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump launching his "thank you" tour, vowing to lift up the working class and put country first.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president-elect announcing his pick for secretary of state of defense. The retired general he selected will need some special clearance from Congress before assuming that post.

RIPLEY: High anxiety in the GOP over the prospect of David Petraeus being picked for secretary of state. Why top party operatives would rather take a pass on the former CIA director.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. Happy Friday to you. I'm Will Ripley, in for John Berman.

ROMANS: Happy Friday. Nice to see you here again today.

I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday, December 2nd, 5:00 a.m. in the East. Jobs day.

But, up first, Donald Trump in vintage form on the first leg of his "thank you" tour. The president-elect delivering an "America first" message to thousands of supporters at a rally in Cincinnati last night.

[05:00:01] He called on the country to come together. He seemed to be reveling in this moment after, you know, hunkering down for three weeks of meetings in Trump Tower.


TRUMP: This is the moment. This is our chance. This is our window for action. This is the hour when the great deeds can be done and our highest hopes can come true. We're going to do it, folks. We're going to do it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: That rally in Cincinnati felt and looked a lot like the campaign events that propelled Donald Trump to victory. The president-elect clearly in his element, clearly enjoying this.

We get more from senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Will, true to form, Donald Trump pulled no punches at this rally here in Cincinnati, doing the equivalent of an election touchdown dance. Trump railed against the news media and he vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare and build a wall on the U.S./Mexico border.

But the big news of the night came when Trump announced he's going to pick retired General James Mattis as his next defense secretary. Here's what he had to say at this rally in Cincinnati.

TRUMP: We are going to appoint Mad Dog Mattis as our secretary of defense.


They say he's the closest thing to General George Patton that we have, and it's about time. It's about time.

ACOSTA: Trump made that announcement despite the fact that his own transition spokesman Jason Miller announced that no decision had been made on defense secretary.

Trump has more stops on this so-called "thank you" tour planned for next week -- Will and Christine.


RIPLEY: And now that retired General Jim Mattis is the nominee for defense secretary, he is going to need special clearance from Congress to assume the post, that's because a decades-old statute requires the civilian leader of the military, if you retired, at least seven years to qualify for the appointment. Now, this is meant to insure civilian control of the military. General Mattis retired from active duty just three years.

A Trump transition official tells CNN the president-elect does not expect a problem getting Congress to waive this requirement. It is not unprecedented. It happened once before in 1950 with General Marshall.

ROMANS: All right. The Trump "thank you" tour might be more accurately described as a victory lap at least for Carrier. The president-elect making a stop at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis where he just saved a thousand jobs.

As CNN's Martin Savidge tells us, Trump's visit left a lot of hard-to- please Hoosiers starry-eyed.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Will. Good morning, Christine.

There are still a lot of people in Indianapolis that are in a state of shock, a good shock, because they never really truly believed that Carrier could be prevented from taking hundreds of jobs down to Mexico as it said it was going to do back in February.

Yesterday, President-elect Donald Trump, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, also the governor of Indiana, showed up and they were given almost a heroes welcome at the Carrier plant. It's a hand-select group of employees that took them on a tour of the facility, but it was all smiles. It was all handshakes.

And it was then during a speech that Trump made a revelation that really surprised a lot of people, implying that he never really thought he could save Carrier either. Here's his words.

TRUMP: I'll never forget about a week ago, I was watching the nightly news. They had a gentleman, worker, great guy, handsome guy. He said something to the effect, "No, we're not leaving, because Donald Trump promised us that we're not leaving." And I never thought I made that promise. And then they played my statement, and I said, "Carrier will never leave," but that was a euphemism. I was talking about Carrier like all other companies from here on in, because they made the decision a year and a half ago.

But he believed that that was, that I could understand it. I actually said, I didn't make it, I said I did make it, but I didn't mean it quite that way.

SAVIDGE: All told, it looks as though around 800 jobs have been saved at Carrier. Carrier also, according to Donald Trump, is going to invest about $16 million in facilities in the U.S. Indiana is giving Carrier about $7 million over ten years.

But, again, many people never thought they would see this day -- Will and Christie.


ROMANS: Revealing. Donald Trump talking about how he didn't think he made that promise and how he was surprised that he was taken literally by those workers. I think that was revealing moment. He called it a euphemism but then --

RIPLEY: It helps us interpret some of the things that he says. And his supporters for a long time, and people who observe Donald Trump, have said that they don't necessarily take him literally. They take him seriously and that sometimes these statements that sound very specific are speaking about broader issues.

ROMANS: While at that Carrier plant, by the way, Trump fired a warning at other companies looking to ship jobs overseas.


TRUMP: Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences.

[05:05:03] Not going to happen. It's not going to happen.

If they say it's not presidential to call up these massive leaders of business, I think it's very presidential. And if it's not presidential, that's OK. That's OK, because actually like doing it.


ROMANS: Trump also had leverage while negotiating the deal. Carrier's parent company is united technologies. It earns almost 6 billion in revenue from federal contracts, 10 percent of its annual sales. The government also pays for $1.5 billion of its research and development costs. By the government, I mean you, the taxpayers.

It's unclear if he mentioned these contracts in the negotiations. Even if he didn't, the United Technologies CEO is likely thinking about that. That's almost like silent leverage, you know?

RIPLEY: And Carrier gets $11 million in tax incentives. Still, they would have saved $65 million. But when you add it and think about the defense contracts.

ROMANS: I think you do not want to be at war with this administration right now, when he's starting to talk about cutting corporate taxes, starting to talk about cutting regulations, you want a seat at that table. I think that is very, very clear.

RIPLEY: He'll be making lots of calls, making deals it looks like, the companies.

Now, Democrats more than a little nervous this morning about a meeting set for today between President-elect Trump and Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. That's because there are reports that the red state Democrat who is known for voting across party lines, by the way, she is being considered for several key cabinet posts. Democratic leaders are panicking, because if she joins the Trump administration, her seat in the U.S. Senate would likely be filled by a Republican.

Listen to our Manu Raju trying to pin Senator Heitkamp down.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Are you open to taking a position in the Trump administration?

SEN. HEIDI HEITKAMP (D), NORTH DAKOTA: Well, I think it's absolutely critical to have a conversation. I think it's good for my state, it's good for the work I do here to understand and share some priorities for the country and for the state of North Dakota and I look forward to that discussion.

RAJU: There's some speculation it could be Ag or Interior. Have you had -- are you thinking about that?

HEITKAMP: I have no idea. Honestly, you know as much as I know.


RIPLEY: She's certainly not ruling anything out, is she?

Democratic Party leaders have already met privately with Heitkamp. They are urging her not to accept a position with the Trump administration.

ROMANS: Republican leaders are growing increasingly queasy about the prospect of David Petraeus being nominated for secretary of state. One GOP senator calling, telling CNN there's a high level of angst about the former CIA director because of his conviction for mishandling top-secret information. Top party operatives believe a Petraeus pick would spark a major confirmation fight in the first weeks of the Trump administration.

RIPLEY: So, let's bring in CNN politics reporter Eugene Scott. And there is so much to talk about.


RIPLEY: This rally was like a time warp back to the --

ROMANS: Elections.

RIPLEY: Yes, back to the campaign. And he seemed so comfortable, so at ease. He was energized after those meetings, weeks of meetings. It seemed like this was the spark he needed.

SCOTT: Yes, there are people in the campaign who say this is where he gets his energy, this is where he gets his life when he's out there with the people who supported him, which he hasn't been in a while, because that's not what a transition entails.

And so, I think what's really interesting is to see, will this be normal for him? Will he have time to go out and do this? And will he still have the same response from his supporters if he isn't putting forward the ideas that he proposed when they elected him.

ROMANS: It helps when he has a win. And he had a win in the Carrier thing, right? So, it helps when he has win. It seems to sort of charges up his battery a little bit.

And he also had an announcement. Let's listen to him making the announcement about the Defense Department.

RIPLEY: Just a moment. It will be coming go a moment. OK. We don't have re sound.

ROMANS: I'll tell you what he said. He said, "We're going to appoint Mad Dog Mattis as our secretary of defense, but we're not announcing until Monday, so don't tell anybody. Mad Dog."

He makes this announcement, but this is going to need a little special treatment from Congress, because there are rules to keep recently retired, you know, active duty and recently retired people from the military from controlling the military. We have civilian control of the military.

Tell me a little bit about, is this a wrinkle or a roadblock for his confirmation?

SCOTT: I don't think it's a huge roadblock. There's a lot of support for Mad Dog, especially among Republicans. But I mean, this is at least the fourth or fifth military name we've heard considered. I mean, we're not really surprised by that. Trump is very much supporter of the strong man.

But I think many people will be concerned about over-reliance on military leaders for governance in this area. And so, I think Democrats are going do make this an issue.

RIPLEY: Interesting though that he said he knows more than the general. But yet, now, he's surrounding himself with generals, as potential cabinet members and advisers. About this issue of his economic plan, do you believe that this strategy that we've seen is going to be repeated and is it sustainable? The strategy of negotiating with companies like Carrier.


RIPLEY: To get them case by case, to keep jobs, using his leverage?

SCOTT: I think he's going to attempt to, but the reality that a lot of people aren't talking about related to the success of Carrier is that his vice president-elect has been governor of the state in which Carrier was in. And so, whether or not that will be something he'll be able to replicate in other states where he doesn't have as close of a relationship with the governing leader of that state remains to be seen.

[05:10:03] ROMANS: I know. And you heard from Bernie Sanders and others yesterday who said that actually, Donald Trump was held hostage, by Carrier by United Technologies. And the win there went to United Technologies that now apparently has all this good PR about PR about keeping the job there.

SCOTT: Sure.

ROMANS: But there's a lot of argument about that. But we'll have to see how the trade policies fill out. And that will be Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, assuming that he is -- that he is confirmed. And Donald Trump talked about how there's been, you know, I don't know criticism, but we've remarked that there are generals and billionaires on this cabinet.

Listen in.


TRUMP: I've put on some of the greatest business people in the world. One of the networks said, "Why he put on a billionaire at Commerce", well, that's because this guy knows how to make money, folks.


He knows how to make money. I'd like to put on a guy who failed all his life, but we don't want that, do we? No. I mean, I put on a killer, and I've been honest. I said, I am going to be putting on the greatest killers you've ever seen.

We need that. It's time. It's time. It's time.


ROMANS: When he talks about killers, there's this saying on Wall Street, you eat what you kill. You eat what you kill, meaning you got to go out there and you got to make deals. You got to go there and find value.

You don't just, you have to go make it happen. And those are the kinds of people that he says he is appointing, and I will point out, there is already a billionaire running the Commerce Department. There is a billionaire running the Commerce Department.

But he really has chosen contrarians and risk takers. When you look at Steve Mnuchin, the treasury pick. When you look at Wilbur Ross, these are people who know how to find value and they know how to make deals.

SCOTT: I think the big concern isn't that billionaires in the cabinet. As you mentioned, that's not something new. The question is why are some billionaires being appointed to positions where they have such little experience, such as education secretary? I think people are hoping that we will have more diversity and the leadership, considering that Donald Trump approaches the office with significant weak points in some policy areas, and perhaps there could be some people who could cancel that out.

RIPLEY: Also interesting that he talks so much about kind of walking away from globalization. We're going to talk about that in the next half hour, because this is the leader of the free world basically saying the whole global economic dynamic is going to change. And see what the reaction is.

ROMANS: He's elected to upend what has been the status quo and he says he's going to do it.

SCOTT: America first.

ROMANS: All right. So, we'll talk to you again in a few minutes.

SCOTT: See you all.

ROMANS: Get your cup of coffee and come back soon. SCOTT: Yes.

RIPLEY: Well, the time now is 5:12. And we are following developments in Tennessee, where there has been a really heartbreaking discovery. Those raging wildfires claimed three more lives, and this weekend forecast means potentially, even more fires.


[05:16:56] RIPLEY: It is hard to believe it has been one year since San Bernardino and friends and neighbors will be gathering later today to mark what happened one year ago today. Fourteen people were killed, 22 others hurt, at a holiday party, a couple claiming to carry out orders from ISIS open fire. Police later killed the husband and wife in a shootout. They're still not clear what exactly motivated their deadly rampage.

ROMANS: More grim news out of Tennessee. Eleven people now confirmed dead with wildfires still burning in the eastern part of the state. Crews are combing through debris in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge looking for any signs of life. Firefighters facing dry conditions right through Sunday morning. They fear that could restart fires that haven't been completely contained.

RIPLEY: A suspected robber is facing a long list of charges this morning. Police say he tried to hold up a bank in Jacksonville, Florida, and they say the gunman was threatening to shoot hostages, even holding up his gun to people's heads on Thursday. Now, SWAT officers manage to sneak inside. They cornered the gunman and he was surrounded and surrendered without incident. The suspect faces kidnapping, aggravated assault and aggravated bank robbery charges.

ROMANS: All right. Disgraced former New York lawmaker Anthony Weiner hit with a $65,000 fine. The penalty comes after an audit by the campaign finance board found Weiner improperly used his 2013 mayoral campaign funds. Auditors fund the cash was used to pay for things like a personal cell phone and dry-cleaning. No comment from the former congressman.

RIPLEY: Thursday night football. The Dallas Cowboys going for their 11th straight win, but the Minnesota Vikings did not make it easy. Andy Scholes is up next with this morning's "Bleacher Report".


[05:22:54] RIPLEY: So, I used to live in Texas, and I can tell you that Dallas Cowboys fans have been waiting for a moment like this. They are rolling along. They've won 11 games in a row after edging out the Vikings last night.

ROMANS: Wow. Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, guys. Yes, how about these Cowboys. You know, Dallas further cementing themselves as Super Bowl favorites with a win over the Vikings on Thursday night football. Dak Prescott getting it done once again. Fourth quarter, Dak, here's going to swing it out to Dez Bryant. He's going to take it in and put the Cowboys up 14-9.

Now down eight, under a minute to go, the Vikings would finally find the end zone. Sam Bradford here going to make the short pass to Jerick McKinnon. Now, they need a point conversion to tie, and Bradford pass here is going to go high, incomplete. Bradford wanted a flag after he got hit in the face, but he doesn't get it. Cowboys win 17-15.

All right. Terrible and familiar news for Patriots fans this morning. The season is likely over for Rob Gronkowski. He's having surgery today for a herniated disc in his lower back. Doctors say the recovery time is about eight weeks. That would make them ready to come back just in time for the Super Bowl, but the Patriots say they're going to wait for the results of the operation before making a final decision.

All right. The Warriors looking for their 13th straight win hosting the Rockets. This would go to double overtime. James Harden hit a three, gave Houston the lead.

Then, Draymond Green, another kick here. His foot connects with Harden's face. Green got a flagrant one for that. The rockets would go on to upset the Warriors, 132-127.

Day one of Tiger Woods long anticipated comeback, had its ups and downs. He birdied four of his first eight holes showing glimpses of the old Tiger. Then things turned on the back nine. Tiger had three bogies and a three hole stretch. He finishes the first round tied for 17th place, which is actually second to last.

[05:25:01] All right. Championship weekend college football gets started tonight. Number four Washington and number eight Colorado meeting in the Pac-12 championship game. The Huskies needing a win, guys, if they hope to make the playoff.

And I'm hoping a lot of crazy things happen this weekend in college football, so we get chaos and throw the whole playoff committee into a frenzy, because I want to just all kinds of arguments this weekend to see, you know, everyone wants their team, of course.

RIPLEY: You just want to have lots of interesting, dramatic things to talk about all weekend, right?

SCHOLES: That, too, Will.

ROMANS: All right. A big weekend in football.

All right. Thanks so much. Nice to see you, Andy Scholes.

RIPLEY: Donald Trump embarking on his victory/thank you tour, calling on Americans to come together, promising, we're all going to be happy. On the road with the president-elect, next.



TRUMP: We condemn bigotry and prejudice in all of its forms. We denounce all of the hatred, and we forcefully reject the language of exclusion and separation.


ROMANS: President-elect Trump offering up a message of inclusion, calling on Americans to come together as he embarks on his whirlwind "thank you" tour.