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Trump on North Korea; Pence Visits DMZ; Georgia Senate Race; White House Press Briefing. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 17, 2017 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Closest to me.

Just on the rhetoric, not just even from - and I was being semi- facetious - it wasn't a conversation, he just said, "gotta behave," right, about North Korea to Jim Acosta.

Also the tweet over the weekend from President Trump. "Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens!" I mean what - and there is - there was a response from North Korea today on that over at the U.N. What - what does the tit for tat - how does it ultimately escalate to more than words?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that the president is trying to reframe U.S. policy toward North Korea because nothing's worked for the last 20 years and both under Democratic and Republican presidents. We've tried sort of jaw-boning them. We've tried working with them. We've bought them off with nuclear reactors and things like that. Nothing's worked. They continue to develop weaponry. And they're getting to a point where it's possible they might be able to threaten the continental United States.

And so I can understand why the president - and, remember, this is something that President Barack Obama left him with, the urgency of the North Korea problem.


DRUCKER: So it's understandable that he would try and reframe our policy toward North Korea in order to try and do something about it. I think the question is, when we talk about the idea that strategic patience is over, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, what strategy is the administration replacing that with?

Jim Mattis, the defense secretary, is a very strategic thinker because he's a military scholar, as well as a military veteran. And so I think it will be interesting to see what this administration devises and if they're able to communicate that to the American people because I think at some point, in order for our allies and our adversaries to understand how serious we are about that and to bring the American people along with this idea that we may have to threaten military action, the president can have support for that, but he's going to have to do a better job of communicating that to the American people.

BALDWIN: All options on the table sort of to that point from the vice president.


BALDWIN: And, of all places, standing there at the DMZ with Dana Bash.

Go ahead, Shelby.

SHELBY HOLIDAY, POLITICS AND BUSINESS REPORTER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Yes, and I think that your comment about Trump saying, why would I label China a currency manipulator sort of shows you that this issue of North Korea has overshadowed Trump's whole plan to go out and get better trade deals for America. Trump withdrew from the Trans- Pacific Partnership right when he took office. That was a pledge he made on the campaign trail. It's something he actually did.

But now Mike Pence is over in Asia trying to, you know, reassure our allies that we are committed to the region and we do want to build economic partnerships, as well as have strategic military partnerships because that area of the world, and China is a very important part of it, is incredibly important right now. And as Trump says, he wants China's cooperation in dealing with North Korea. We saw this weekend North Korea parade missiles we've never seen before. That suggests their program might be more advanced than anyone really thought. And, luckily, they failed in their latest attempt, but they're still trying to do it.

BALDWIN: Yes, I mean, David, this - like this juxtaposition of the parade as we see and the pomp and the circumstance -


BALDWIN: And they try to set off this big missile. And four seconds later.

DRUCKER: But, remember, the president has effectively overhauled a great portion of his foreign policy. On the campaign trail, it wasn't just NATO that he was bad mouthing. He talked about our alliance with South Korea and with Japan and said, what do we get out of it?


DRUCKER: What do they pay us? And all of a sudden we have an administration that is going to South Korea, talking about the importance of our alliance there, assuring our allies in the Asia- Pacific that we're not going anywhere. And instead of talking about what they owe us, talking about all of the things we have to gain - look, I think that's a great move by President Trump. I talked to a lot of Republicans during the campaign that were hopeful that he would learn about the peace dividend we get from stationing military and equipment over in Asia so we can rapidly react without having to charge across the Pacific. But it's a very interesting change of position from this president after everything he's said about Asia, not just Europe.

BALDWIN: What about Kim Jong-un? Kimberly Dozer, let me bring you in on this. Is - is he - how - how - how does he respond with this, you know, latest failed missile launch? Does he try to go bigger next time?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, the worry is, Brooke, that he will try to go bigger next time. That there's nothing like curing your short-term humiliation with another missile test.

What I think we see forming is a good cop/bad cop strategy where China is the good cop and Trump is playing the bad cop. We just, in the past hour, had a briefing by a State Department official who explained their preference is for North Korea to return to talks brokered by the international community that they hope China will be able to convince North Korea that's the direction to go in. But first, the U.S. needs to see some sort of sign. They wouldn't tell us what sort of measure they needed to see, but something like - some good faith measure to show that they're stepping away from their nuclear program. It certainly doesn't seem, with the temperature as it is right now, that we're anywhere near that.

BALDWIN: What about - as I'm listening to you, do we have sound, guys - just talking to the control room - play some sound from Dana Bash's interview with the vice president at the DMZ. We'll get to it there in just a second, I'm being told.

[14:05:10] Maeve, just - it's not - we'll get to the sound from the vice president, but it's not just the words he used, you know, we alluded to the time for strategic patience is over, you know, all options on the table, but it's also the fact that he is stand right there on the DMZ. What message to you think that's sending?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: I think that was a clear show of force by the administration as, you know, the rhetoric has kind of ratcheted up here and this has come more into the for, you know, for the American people. Certainly Pence was very measured in his tone what he was saying. As he said, all options on the table. And it's a fascinating contrast to what we heard this morning from Donald Trump, you know, using words like -

BALDWIN: Gotta behave.

RESTON: Gotta behave. So again you're seeing Pence kind of fill this role, this sort of strong, diplomatic role for the White House at the same time trying to kind of, you know, ratchet things down but saying we'll do whatever it takes in this situation. And that's such a fascinating contrast to President Trump because there certainly are a lot of people in Washington who don't like the saber rattling, don't like the fact that President Trump is tweeting about North Korea and see it as a very, very serious threat as President Obama told him right off the bat that that was going to be his biggest challenge, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Here's the vice president.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sort of the era of patience, strategic patience, is over. What does that mean in real terms? MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was the policy

of the United States of America during prior administrations to practice what they called strategic patience. And that was to hope to marshal international support to bring an end to the nuclear ambitions and the ballistic missile program of North Korea.

That clearly has failed. And the advent of nuclear weapons testing, the development of a nuclear program, even this weekend to see another attempt at a ballistic missile launch, all confirms the fact that strategic patience has failed and -

BASH: But what does it mean to end it in practical terms? It's either use military force or find a diplomatic solution that has alluded all of your predecessors.

PENCE: Well, I think as the president's made clear that we're going to abandon the failed policy of strategic patience, but we're going to redouble our efforts to bring diplomatic and economic pressure to bear on North Korea. Our hope is that we can resolve this issue peaceably. And I know the president was heartened by his discussions with President Xi. We've seen China begin to take some actions to bring pressure on North Korea, but there needs to be more.


BALDWIN: David Drucker, what did you think of his message?

DRUCKER: I thought it was a really remarkable interview because he's standing there at the DMZ. He is really the second in command, if you will, to the commander-in-chief and he's making clear that not only are we standing with South Korea, but that we're not going to tolerate - the U.S. is not going to tolerate a nuclear-armed North Korea. And that's about as blunt a sort of statement as you can get.

And the symbolism - remember, for the North Koreans and in Asia in particular, this kind of symbolism where you're standing there on their doorstep, I think here in the U.S. we might not, you know, make too much of it. Oh, the president, you know, our high officials go to South Korea all the time. Seoul just happens to be located right near the DMZ, which has military implications, big deal.

For the North Koreans, that's a very big deal.

BALDWIN: He's like knocking on the door.

DRUCKER: That's a very big thumb in their nose.


DRUCKER: The question now is, as we've been talking about for this administration to sort of spell out what we're going to do from a broad sense of a framework, not tactics. You know, on Tuesday we're going to do this, then on Thursday if you don't play nice we're going to do that.

BALDWIN: Right. DRUCKER: But what is the broad framework that we're going to be approaching the region with? And that's a big deal, I think, that they have to flesh out.

BALDWIN: Let me ask all of you to stand by. We have much more to discuss, I'm sure, as we watch and we wait for Sean Spicer to begin briefing that White House press pool there, as he does just about each and every day in the White House. Live pictures.

A quick break. We're back in just a moment with much more.


[14:13:16] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Watching and waiting for that daily press conference there with Sean Spicer. As we wait, I want to bring my panel back in because a little something that he may be asked about today, and I'm going to turn to you two to talk about this, is the special election in Georgia. We saw what happened in Kansas. But we're look at Georgia because Georgia could be the sort of microcosm as we look ahead to maybe midterms or maybe even four years from now.

The issue is, they have to fill this sixth congressional seat. Tom Price is now the HHS secretary and now millions and millions of dollars have been pulled in for this Democrat, this 30-year-old filmmaker. All these, you know, celebrities are coming in because the base is fired up. Why is this so much more than just a congressional seat?

HOLIDAY: This is a referendum on Donald Trump right now and Jon Ossoff, the 30-year-old filmmaker, is really going after Donald Trump. If you watch his ads, he's pledging to say - he's saying if Trump embarrasses us or acts recklessly, I will stand up to him. Democrats are not complaining about money in politics at this point because they are benefitting from millions of dollars pouring into this race. Jon Ossoff is also facing a fractured GOP. So the key is, he has to get above 50 percent to take this seat. If he doesn't get 50 percent, you'll see a runoff and he may not win a runoff because it still is a red district. But, nevertheless, intense media attention.

BALDWIN: Thank you, Shelby.

And here is Sean Spicer.

[14:14:39] SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And have had a chance to go out and check out the activity on the South Lawn. We've got a few waves still to go.

The president and the first lady welcomed thousands of families here to the White House this morning for the 139th annual Easter Egg Roll. When it's all said and done, we'll have had thousands of guests, including many active duty military, veterans families, children from local schools, patients from local children's hospitals, all here to share in this historic event. SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Good afternoon, everybody.

I hope those who celebrate had a great Easter holiday and had a chance to go out and check the activity on the South Lawn. We've got a few waves still to go.

The president and the first lady welcomed thousands of families here to the White House this morning for the 139th annual Easter Egg Roll. When it's all said and done, we'll have had thousands of guests, including many active-duty military, veterans' families, children from local schools, patients from local children's hospitals, all here to share in this historic event.

Right about now, the president is finishing up his regular meeting with the secretary of state.