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Trump Kept Calm While in Korea; Democrats Back on Track Again. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired November 7, 2017 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:00] JAKE TAPPER, HOST, CNN: There was also a small portion of the speech where he said, that the president, he was ready to offer a path to a much better future for North Korea but he -- where they could embrace a future of light as opposed to the darkness that they live in now.

But it was a very muscular speech, very forceful against what North Korea is. He talked about Otto Warmbier, the American student who was tortured and ultimately died as a result of his capture that he was with the North Koreans.

One thing that was interesting, Dana, Will Ripley, our reporter in Pyongyang said that one of the things that the North Koreans were going to be looking for was whether or not President Trump was going to put North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terror which the George W. Bush administration back in '08 had taken them off that list.

He did not mention that, so I suppose since they were expecting the worse, that also counts as some sort of -- what's the word I'm looking for -- olive branch.


TAPPER: That he didn't put them back on the list.

BASH: Well, yes. I mean, who knows if by now that will be in the rearview mirror because there was so much strong rhetoric...


BASH: ... from the president here. And it wasn't just the kind of filling in more of the rocket man and how horrible this idea of a nuclear North Korea is but really going through the human rights atrocities that go on every single day and have for years, for decades under Kim Jong-un, and of course his father and grandfather.

And, look, he was speaking to the South Korean national assembly. They don't need to be educated on what's going on, you know, 30-something miles north of Seoul. What they do understand is the tough rhetoric and the message and the audience that the president had obviously was well beyond the people in the room.

I thought that the human rights issues, talking about how people are starved and tortured if they don't know the most basic information about their so-called dear leader was also aimed at China and other countries around who the United States and its allies are trying to really kind of reign in and pull into the mix. Unclear if that's really going to happen.

TAPPER: General Hayden, former director of the CIA and NSA, I want to ask you about President Trump seemed to be saying that this brighter path was available. But he seemed to set two preconditions. One, an end to the threats. That would be easy enough to stop for a week or two.


TAPPER: But then two, to dismantle the nuclear program. That seems like a non-starter.

HAYDEN: I think it is. And I think the broader judgment was we might be able to tap, we might be able to slow, we might be able to put this under more control, greater transparency and so on. But the prospect of the North Koreans actually denuclearizing is probably near zero. I mean, they are not irrational in this regard. They've seen what happens to states who have given up their nuclear program.

TAPPER: Gaddafi in Libya.

HAYDEN: Exactly. And they are trying to hold on this as a matter of regime survival. Now the president was quite articulate and H.R. McMaster has also expressed this, the great fear is that you just can't park this, and it's just for regime survival, that they will use this for intimidation.

And the president did talk about kind of the darkening cloud of the North trying to spread to the south. But Jake, this is going to end up at a table somewhere, all right? The only other option to a table is armed conflict.

And so, when we go and talk to the North Koreans at the table I don't think we can make a precondition for the talks what it is the negotiation are designed to end up at. Some different status for the North Korean nuclear program.

TAPPER: Do you think that's just for one of a better term, this is just a rhetoric?

HAYDEN: Look, I think it's -- I think it's very useful for the president to act and sound tough on this. A couple of years ago, I made the observation that within our current definition of acceptable risk we know where this is going, and it was a dark place.

So we have actually opted to up the tempo here, to decrease the stability, to increase the risk. I get that, but it's got to be done very, very carefully.

Now, I was struck, though, when the president actually talked about a way forward, actions on our side of the wall. It was diplomatic. It was political. It was economic. It was isolation. And so I do think there's a call there to continue to amp up the pressure on the North Korean regime. Not the rocket man, not the fire and fury, not this is my first option.

BASH: For the past six months or so the line from this administration has been the era of diplomacy -- excuse me -- the era of strategic patience is over.

[22:05:02] HAYDEN: Yes.

BASH: OK? But until now it has been kind of a line in search of a policy. Do you think that the president found the policy in his speech tonight?

HAYDEN: It wasn't clear. All right. I don't know if not this therefore what. All right, that say a left a little unstated, and that's fine. All right. He doesn't have to give his bottom line in a public speech. But there is some ambiguity, and frankly, compared to what some of the other things the president has said, I'll take to ambiguity right now in comparison to the over threats that he had been making which I don't think were very productive.

TAPPER: General Hayden, always good to hear from you. Thank you so much.

BASH: Thank you.


WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN: The president did say the U.S. will not tolerate a nuclear North Korea, and he added the longer we wait, the greater the danger grows.

I want to go to Pyongyang right now where our Will Ripley is there, the only western reporter representing a U.S. TV network. Will, you were listening to the speech, you were watching the speech. I wonder if there's been any immediate reaction from North Korean officials.

WILL RIPLEY, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: We were going over the speech as it was happening with North Korean officials, and they reiterated what they told me just about an hour before President Trump spoke which is that they were down-playing the significance of his words in Seoul about 120 miles from where I'm standing right now.

Of course, the two countries as the President Trump mentioned cannot be farther apart. And the North Korean said, and this is quote here, "they don't care about what that mad dog may utter." The mad dog referring to the U.S. president.

So while President Trump avoided the kind of nicknames and taunts that he used in the months leading up to this speech in South Korea, the North Koreans are certainly doubling down on their fiery rhetoric, saying that this situation right now is the most tense that it has been since the Korean War.

That is the official word from North Korean government officials. And they're accusing the United States and President Trump of trying to ignite another war on the Korean peninsula. Of course, President Trump talked about this U.S. aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines and military assets assembled just off the waters what we need to see now is if North Korea will respond to any other way to the president's words.

BLITZER: All right. And the words will be harsh. Let's see what the actions on the part of the North Koreans are. Will, I want you to standby. Anderson, there's a lot, a lot to assess right now.

ANDER COOPER, HOST, CNN: Yes, there certainly is. Let's turn to Gloria Borger and David Axelrod, what do you think?

GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: I think this was a very strong speech without name-calling. And it was very clear what he was saying. He said provocative action by North Korea would be a fatal miscalculation. That is clear.

He said this is different administration, David Axelrod, than he's been dealing within the past. And he said do not underestimate us and do not try us, he meant me as opposed to Barack Obama obviously.

One thing that interested me was he called for the complete and verifiable denuclearization, which James Clapper said is kind of would be impossible. And the other thing he said he called on China and Russia to sever all ties of trade and technology.

So what does that mean? I'm not quite sure what that means and what he was asking for at that particular point. So, lots of threats and very clear threats. I'm not quite sure how we would get the denuclearization or China severing and Russia severing all ties. But he put it out there.

COOPER: But certainly in terms of the kinds of speech this president has given, it was more traditional in the sort of foreign policy.

DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: It was. It was. And the ambiguity was part of that because he went as far as he probably should have gone. He offered possibility of some diplomatic resolution to this, regardless of whether the terms he laid down were the ones that they would accept. He left vague but menacing what the other options were.

BORGER: Right.

AXELROD: I guess the only departure from your standard speech was the plug for his golf club at Bedminster, but on the subject of North Korea he was deadly serious and fairly disciplined I thought.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, CNN: Yes. And he's been, you know, fairly serious and blustery in terms of his rhetoric around this before, the fire and fury. He called him a little rocket man before the U.N.

The question is what's sort of the deliverable? Like what is he actually going to do? Is he going to be able to actually move the ball forward in a way that previous administrations haven't been able to do? He has so much criticism for those. But so far it really has been rhetoric. And this is obviously a

discipline speech. I'm sure he might be less disciplined at some point on Twitter and more fiery. I mean, we do know North Korea is getting closer and closer to a nuclear weapon that can be delivered, you know, to American shores. And so far Donald Trump is pretty much making the same speech over and over.

[22:09:57] DAVID CHALIAN, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, CNN: There's also been some sequencing here, right? I mean, if you speak to folks inside the administration some will argue to you, not that it was always the most thought out strategy, but some will argue that the fire and fury, the rocket man, the saber rattling allowed the president to then get to this place of a more steady hand, stern message delivering than just random tweets.

That he did the saber rattling to capture attention on the back end, and then the message we'll see if he can consistently...



AXELROD: It should be noted that the people who have most at stake were in that audience with South Koreans. There's a reason that presidents of both parties have found this such a vexing issue. Because if you start a military engagement, the results are catastrophic and it starts on that peninsula.

COOPER: Yes. And in that city. Coming up we're going to turn to tonight's election results. It has been a difficult night for republicans on multiple levels. The question of course, can democrats keep the momentum going. Is that possible. We'll look at that ahead.


BLITZER: Very big night. Very big night for democrats in key states right now. Let's take a closer look in Virginia. The democrat Ralph Northam he wins the gubernatorial contest, defeats Ed Gillespie. He is the winner.

[22:15:05] In New Jersey, Phil Murphy, he is the winner, he beats the republican Kim Guadagno. Phil Murphy will succeed Chris Christie as the next governor of New Jersey.

In New York City, Bill de Blasio, the current mayor, sweeps and wins very big and very easily in New York City. In Virginia Ralph Northam once again the winner. But look at this, the democrats won everything in Virginia. Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax defeats Jill Vogel. He will be the lieutenant governor. And the attorney general Mark Herring is the winner over John Adams.

The democrats carry all three of those important races. There is some silver lining for the republicans right now. We have the projection. Let's take a look. CNN predicts that John Curtis will be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in Utah special election third district beating Dr. Katy Allen. The race was called because Jason Chaffetz resigned from the U.S.

House of Representatives. So a win for the republicans in Utah as expected. Let's go over to John King. You've been studying Virginia. Earlier in the evening it looked relatively close, but Northam, the democrat went on to win and he's winning impressively.

JOHN KING, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: And one of the reasons democrats are celebrating tonight is just because of that fact, celebrating so much and so heartily because of the margin. Virginia has turned in blue. Democrats were expected to win this state, they should win this state.

But to win it by a margin like this also when a time. Wolf, we can't show you there's going to give to break down the map. They're also picking up seats in the House of delegates with a chance to take control of the House of delegates, some of those races the absentee and provisional ballots in the days ahead.

The democrats are very encouraged in the State of Virginia. And democrats around the country are very encouraged because of what they see in the State of Virginia. And I can tell you doing some reporting during the president's speech, a lot of jitters in the Republican Party as they look at what happened here.

Because you see this vote total right here in the State of Virginia. Ed Gillespie with 99 percent in, is just about, it's a little bit short of what Bob McDonald got, the last republican to win statewide.

So this is not an underperformance by Ed Gillespie. He did essentially what the last republican to win there. But Ralph Northam got more votes because of the growth up here, the growth of the population in Virginia is in the suburbs.

A lot of House districts republicans will be defending next year are in the suburbs. And this was a repudiation, not only of Ed Gillespie but of Donald Trump in the suburbs in northern Virginia. Look at this 60 percent here, 67 percent here.

Prince William more of a swing, this is traditionally more of a swing suburb, this county, Prince William County, 61 percent for Ralph Northam.

So this is very impressive map in the sense that the republican need what he needed to do here. But were the people are in the populated suburbs Ralph Northam this is a shellacking up here.

One more point, we always our politics is local. This is where Dr. Northam is from so we expected him to win in Norfolk but the margin there is huge. If you move over here, though, the Virginia Beach area, this is more of a swing area won by the republican candidate for governor four years ago.

Ralph Northam getting 53 percent there. So you add in this is where he's from, a little bit of local here to the Democratic Party getting over the wounds of the primary, turning out liberal voters in the northern part of the state. You have very happy Democratic Party tonight.

They'll learn studies from this. There's more studies as they're going to 2018, but it's a state they needed to win, they thought it was going to be close. The fact that it's not close has a lot of energy in the democratic conversation tonight.

BLITZER: Chris Christie two terms, the republican governor of New Jersey. But now there's going to be a democratic governor of New Jersey. Phil Murphy, the democrat he wins in New Jersey tonight.

KING: Yes, and he's winning quite convincingly as well. No surprise if you think of the demographics of New Jersey. The president is not popular in New Jersey. This was Chris Christie's lieutenant governor. Governor Christie is not popular. That's an understatement. He is very unpopular at he goes out.

Just remember though, remember the conversation we were having in this studio on this night four years ago because of this. Chris Christie won with 60 percent of the vote. He won the Latino vote, he won everywhere except for the very urban democratic areas of Newark and Jersey City.

The conversation four years ago was this Chris Christie the future of the Republican Party? Is Chris Christie the front-runner for the 2016, 2016 presidential nomination? Well, we know how that went. And now we have New Jersey back in democratic camps with the new governor to take over. And Chris Christie going out of office, incredibly unpopular.

BLITZER: Yes. I'm sure the president in New Jersey, a democratic state, President Trump not necessarily helping the republican candidate either.

KING: No, and remember if you go back to 2016 for president, in both of the states the democrats are winning the gubernatorial races tonight. Hillary Clinton won New Jersey, Hillary Clinton won in Virginia.

So, you know, if the republicans can make the argument these are blue states and democrats won, so what? But go back in your history and study it, don't over read it, don't over hype it. But there's no question if you're looking at 2018 and you're looking at where the key house races are, and you're just looking at which party has the energy right now to come out to vote tonight. Tonight we'll see how it goes forward; democrats proved they want to play. They're coming out.

BLITZER: Big win for the democrats in Virginia and New Jersey.

Still ahead, we'll take a deeper dive into the democrats big election wins including in that crucial Virginia governor's race, the Trump factor and a whole lot more right after a quick break.


COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of the governor's race in New Jersey, as well as the commonwealth of Virginia. David Chalian, you've been looking at some of the other races that we've been monitoring.

CHALIAN: You've been talking about the House of Delegates, the state legislative races in Virginia. And our decision it seem, Anderson, as you know the democrats need 17, to flip 17 seats in order to gain control.

We've projected that democrats have flipped 13 seats so far. And there are still six seats that are in the hunt for democrats. So the idea that democrats may be able to flip control, we don't know that they'll get there is a real possibility as John mentioned, this will likely come down to absentee, provisional ballots, a lot of those remaining races over there are 150 votes.

Two of those wins the democrats have that they're most excited about, that I'm getting a lot of feedback on is the first transgender publicly openly transgender state lawmaker in the country, ousted a social conservative. Danica Roem is the democrat's name who now has that seat in the state legislator.

And then do you remember of course that horrible that when that reporter was shot and killed on live television.

COOPER: Right.

[22:24:59] CHALIAN: And her boyfriend at the time, Chris Hurst, was an anchor at the station that she was working for. Chris Hurst is now going to be in the House of delegates, and that a victory as well for democrats as one of those pick up.

AXELROD: Anderson, I think it's -- where we were looking at these results from New Jersey and Virginia, and nobody predicted -- everybody thought Phil Murphy would have a blowout victory in New Jersey. Nobody predicted this margin for Ralph Northam. And very few people -- other than Governor McAuliffe who's, you know, who's always ebullient, nobody predicted that the House of delegates would actually turn.

COOPER: Actually, Northam is speaking now, so let's just list in.

RALPH NORTHAM, ELECTED GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA: We will be on call for the next four years. We need -- we need to close the wounds that divide and bring unity to Virginia. Whether you voted for me or not, we are all Virginians. And I hope -- I hope to earn your confidence and support as we move forward.

The Virginia way is to work together to get results. I have taken care of a lot of sick children over the years and their families. And nobody has ever asked me whether I'm a republican or democrat nor have I asked them.


When someone's life is at stake they don't care whether you're a democrat or a republican. They just want someone to help. That's the way that our administration will govern our commonwealth. We will put the people of Virginia before politics, before party and before ideology.

And I want to thank so much to Virginia for putting your trust in me. We put a lot of miles on (Inaudible) My man Seth and me, we drove all over this commonwealth. We listened to a lot of 80s music. And sometimes we bumped it up to the 90s.

You know as we traveled across Virginia, I have seen an outpouring of support. I saw an outpouring of people looking to get involved. To those of you that knocked on doors, who made phone calls and talked to their neighbors about the principles and values that are so important to us as Virginians, I say thank you so much.


And for those of you who supported our campaign financially, the people who scraped $5, $10, $20, your contributions sent a message that will be heard around the country and the globe. I am so proud of my team led by -- led by Brad Comar (Ph) and Gabriel Greenfield.


I have never been around a team that was more professional, that was more talented, more hardworking. And so to our team, the ones that got us to where we are today, please join me in giving them a big round of applause.


COOPER: That's the next governor of the commonwealth of Virginia, Ralph Northam who won handily in the commonwealth. You know, Van, we were talking about the sort of the message, not only for republicans but the message for democrats tonight. You know, there's some -- does this have a message for the Democratic Party?

VAN JONES, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: I think so because Tom Perriello, huge hero for the left wing of this party. A lot of people were enthusiastic about him. He got beaten and he got beaten by a guy who is a moderate in our party by any stretch of the imagination. And yet, people came out anyway.

Both wings of the party came together and elected somebody to say they signal that Donald Trump has stirred up something in this country that's going to be heard from electorally. It's not just going to be margins in the street. It's going to be margins to the polling booths.

That begins as sort of get people out this Trump slump. You have had now for a year liberal, democrats, progressives in need of therapy, waking up every morning, looking at their cellphones and freaking out as they're freaking out for a strategy. Now we have a strategy. Fight hard at primary and then bury the hatchet and start winning elections. That's what tonight means.

JEN PSAKI, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: There was an interesting issue that was, the other issue in addition to health care that was big with Northam voters was guns, which is fascinating because Virginia is a tricky place on gun issues for democrats typically. [22:30:04] And in addition to that, the House of Delegates, the new member of the House of Delegates Chris Hurst who won in Blacksburg, Virginia, which is not a traditionally democratic area. He ran as an anti, as kind of gun rights candidate against someone with an A rating from the NRA.

So it's interesting because that's an issue that democrats have traditionally thought it was one we have to be very careful around, and this is a race to look at and see what we can learn from it.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN: But there is this real fight going on in the Democratic Party.


DAVID URBAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: That's the point by Van, right. So your point is well-taken, Van, right. Fight it hard at the primary and move on, I don't think your party is listening. Because they're still fighting it out, and I think that's wrong with your party right now, is that you haven't had a new standard barrier. You haven't moved on. They're still fighting it out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, if you just watch...

VAN JONES, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: But tonight, tonight it looked pretty good.

RICK SANTORUM, SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Now look, I think Donald Trump motivated people. I mean, look, that's the way it was with Obama for eight years.


SANTORUM: Republicans didn't agree except on one thing.


SANTORUM: We wanted to fight against Barack Obama.

HENDERSON: And that was the tea party, right? If you saw the wave of victory.


SANTORUM: That was the tea party. And there were divisions. But we got through all those divisions and our people won it because they were energized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Van, let's make it clear.

SANTORUM: Your side, the democrats were energized tonight, republicans were not as energized. And if that doesn't change...


COOPER: Hold on.

SANTORUM: ... it's not going to be a good news.

PSAKI: I was just going to say, but if just listen to what Ralph Northam had to say. He didn't say I won and I'm running because I represented everything that democrats stand for. He said I'm here to help people and heal people, and no one asked me if I'm a democrat or republican.

That's interesting because it's may be a way we should think about running in other parts of the country and not something that I think traditionally we would have thought of, that that is a battle hopefully that when we wake up tomorrow we feel good enough some wins. The Democratic Party can learn from.

GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: You know, the Obama suburban House republican right now, I'm a little nervous. Because you look at the margins that Murphy won with in New Jersey, 54 percent of college educated white voters. Northam, 51 percent, winning open seats and beating suburban republican incumbents down ballot. If I'm a suburban republican, I'm thinking you know what, Donald Trump is doing me no good.

URBAN: I agree with van's earlier point about, you know, democrats did what they had to do, organization, turn out, door knocks.

BORGER: Right.

URBAN: This is, that's what folks tune in. And Rick, Senator Santorum makes the point about a motivated base does much better than a base that's not motivated. I think if the Congress doesn't pass legislation that's going to bite Donald Trump. They're going to have to go home to answer their constituents for their performance not the president.


COOPER: You don't think anything that happened in Virginia has anything to do with President Trump.

URBAN: I think -- I really -- I think down ballot, I really do. I put more credit creams in the down ballot House of Delegates race because I think that has...


BORGER: Winning the open seats.

URBAN: Winning open seats...

DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: But this organization feeds off of energy and the energy that is felt out there is being sparked in part by Donald Trump.

URBAN: Exactly. AXELROD: But there's plenty of people working precincts for these

House of Delegates candidates because they wanted to express themselves through these candidates.

URBAN: Right.

AXELROD: And it is important to note again that a lot of the battlegrounds, in particular for control of the House next year is going to be in the suburban districts. I think you're going to see more members retire on the republican side.

URBAN: But again, if you pass the tax bill it has all this regulatory reform, get a health care bill next year...


AXELROD: Listen, Barack Obama -- Barack Obama passed more legislation in his first two years than any president since Lyndon Johnson. And we got our butts kicked...


URBAN: It's the economy, right.

PSAKI: But I think on -- and the tax reform bill, I mean, Ed Gillespie was a tax lobbyist. So it's interesting to me what you're saying is that what you want to run on is a tax bill that is running...


URBAN: I'm not saying tax bill. I'm saying legislative successes that put Americans in better positions than they were...

JONES: I'm going to say this one more time. You've got something in your party that offends a lot of people. Now we over react and we say we call people names and it's wrong.

SANTORUM: I would argue that you have something in your party that offends a lot of people.


JONES: Sure. Yes. But we won. So, I want to say this. It sounds to me a little bit like happy talk to say all you guys got to do is pass some legislation and it's going to be fine. The reason people came out in droves in the places they came out including those suburbs is because they just don't like the divisive rhetoric from Donald Trump and that there seems to be something else going on there. And if you don't -- please don't address it if you don't to.

URBAN: But elections are snapshots in time, though, remember this, right? They are snap shots in time. That's today. The election is a long, long way. America has a very short memory. And what I'm talking about when I talk about the economy and legislative success people forget... (CROSSTALK)

JONES: You've got a great...

AXELROD: I remember saying that in 2000.

[22:34:58] SANTORUM: I'm going to agree -- I'm going to agree with you, Van -- I'm going to agree with Van on this point. The rhetoric of this president, the Twitter bombs, it is hurting him.


SANTORUM: It is hurting the Republican Party. And republicans are telling me that, democrats, everybody's telling me that. And tonight the president needs to look at particularly suburban districts with this type of rhetoric, this type of, you know, schoolboy caught off in your face, doesn't go over well among college educated suburban voters.

It's not his agenda they don't like. They're for it. I guarantee you when they look at this tax bill they're going to be for the tax bill that passes, they are going to be for the health reform that passes. But they're not going to count and support a president who continues to demean people in public. And that just -- that is just...


AXELROD: So what do you say -- what do you say to the Steve Bannons of the world who encourage him to be that way, who encourage him to mime these cultural divides and to torque up his rhetoric?

SANTORUM: I would say that I don't know if Steve Bannon is encouraging him to be as offensive as he can be in being the kind of bully he can be in these tweets. I think he is out there pushing very hard to defend turf as far as the issues, whether it's immigration or whether its trade or his views on national security. He's pushing on those issues.

I don't think he's pushing the rhetoric per se. I think he's pushing the push back to the media clearly. And by the way, I don't think that's hurting. I think him going after the media does not hurt him.


SANTORUM: I think it's the personal attacks and that edge that is just beneath the Office of the President, and people are turned off by it.

BORGER: But it hurts him with republicans in Congress also. Now, they're not going to vote against him -- you know, if you're Bob Corker you're not going to vote against the tax bill because you had a fight with Donald Trump, I understand that. But it hurts him with republicans.

SANTORUM: I agree.

BORGER: So what do they -- they're not going to do one for the gripper. They're going to do it for their own self-interest.

COOPER: We got to...


SANTORUM: Their own self-interest -- their interest are alike.

COOPER: We're going to take another break. We're going to go deeper on the issues that we saw in play tonight. We'll take a short break. We'll be right back.


JAKE TAPPER, HOST, CNN: Welcome back to CNN's election night coverage. I'm Jake Tapper.

Right now we're going to a celebratory Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez. Mr. Perez, your party hasn't had a lot to celebrate in the last year. But you have some big victories this evening. Why do you think you're having a good night tonight?

TOM PEREZ, CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, we've had great candidates with a great message. We have organized in every zip code in New Jersey and Virginia. We've got incredible candidates down ballot.

In Virginia the Democratic Party has never won more than seven seats at once in a House of Delegates race. We needed 17 to take over the House. We have something like 11 now with about 8 hanging in the balance.

This is all about great candidates who had a great message. And the message was we want leaders who unite. We want to make sure that people have access to health care, affordable education, a future for their children. And we're sick and tired of an America where our leaders are dividing us.

The message was sent loudly and clearly in New Jersey and here in Virginia, and frankly, in a number of mayors races across the country. So I'm very excited. We organized heavily across this state, we built great partnerships, and we learned a lot from this lesson. And I'm happy for people who want to see an America in which we are all united.

TAPPER: Obviously the governor elect Mr. Northam, Ralph Northam is not on the far left of your party. He's more of a center-left candidate. In the week or so before the election he came out against sanctuary cities. And one of the progressive groups, Democracy for America founded by Howard Dean, left the race.

They said that they were disenchanted with what he had done. Is tonight's victory a message to the progressives, the grassroots in your party that they cannot have purity tests and they need to in some cases embrace more moderate candidates?

PEREZ: Listen, Ralph Northam is spectacular candidate. He has fought for immigrant rights, he's fought for worker's rights, he's fought for fairness everywhere. I'm a big fan of his. I worked hard to get him elected. I worked hard in the Latino community. I know he's going to serve every community well. And that's what we're building in the Democratic Party.

You know, Ted Kennedy once taught me that if you have someone working with you that you agree with 90 percent of the time, that's the definition of a friend. And that's what we're about in the Democratic Party. We built unity here in Virginia. It started in the primary, it continued in the general election.

And tonight was another lesson that our unity is our greatest strength. And it's frankly, Donald Trump and the culture of corruption in Congress that he's working with on the republican side. It's their worst nightmare.

TAPPER: Well, how much do you think the election results this evening are a referendum on President Trump versus all politics being local?

PEREZ: Well, the thing about it, Jake, is if you look all over the country, democrats have been winning seats. You know, we thought in the mayor's race in Charlotte the republican help spent our candidate something like 10 to 1 and she was able to win.

Here in Virginia everyone thought it was going to be a nail-biter. It turned out to be an eight-point race. This is referendum on American values. This is referendum on whether we are a nation that values health care for all, or whether we are a nation that say that health care is only a privilege for a few.

[22:45:03] This is a nation where we celebrate our diversity. We build as our nation's greatest strength. And when you have people like Donald Trump and Ed Gillespie and Chris Christie and others who are constantly dividing us, the American people are fed up with it.

They want an America that we can be proud of. That's what Barack Obama built, that's what Ralph Northam and Phil Murphy are building, and that's what we're building across America. That's what we're doing and are organizing. We're going to every zip code across America.

And frankly, we didn't do that for too long. But the new Democratic Party is playing in every single zip code and we're leading with those values. And clearly those values we saw tonight command the respect of the majority of our voters.

TAPPER: All right, DNC Chair Tom Perez having a good night. Thanks so much for talking to us. We appreciate it. We're going to talk more about this big night for democrats and what it means for 2018 and perhaps even 2020 after this quick break. Stay with us.


[22:50:03] COOPER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the governor's race in the commonwealth of Virginia. There was a disturbance during Governor elect Northam's victory speech. I just want to show you the stage. He was actually taken off the stage by security for a moment as I believe it was a protestor was removed from the crowd. He was then brought back on the stage and continued the speech.

So you were talking about...


COOPER: Unity.

JONES: Well, I mean, apparently, to your point, apparently the reason the protest happened is because in the middle of this race our candidate did flip-flop on the question of sanctuary cities. And so, the people who were saying sanctuary for all.

So, listen, nobody is saying that because we did well tonight everything is good, everything has been healed. There is still needs to be more airing of the differences. I for one am proud that Donna Brazile was willing to come forward and speak her truth. And I think she's got been treated badly for it.

I think we've got to look deeply into this party and tell the truth about what has worked and what has not worked and move forward. But tonight we saw a formula where you can have a real serious division in our party and yet on Election Day you put it to one side. Everybody goes and votes and it makes a big difference. And people are going to be happy in the morning.

PSAKI: And in many ways what we saw was back to basics because the ground game was very strong. We obviously turned out more people than we have in Virginia in the past, which is great news. We had a candidate who was more down the middle, but we always think there needs to be a brand-new strategy.

Of course, after Trump won it was like democrats need to rip everything up and do something totally different. We need to nominate the rock in 2020. We can't conclude what we need to do at this point, but we did have a strong ground game. We ran a strong campaign in Virginia and some of the traditional tactics we've used worked.

AXELROD: What's going to be interesting in the congressional races in 2018 is there has been an absolute explosion of candidates all over the country. And they're going to be one after another multicandidate races. And it's not clear who is going to prevail in those races. And some will be candidates of the left. Some will be more candidates of the center.

And so this notion, Van, of the party coming together will be challenged again in 2018. Put this was certainly a good...


COOPER: Do you see what's going on in the Democratic Party right now in terms of the sort of battles between the left and the center -- or David, I mean?

AXELROD: Well, look, I think, Jen, there is an establishment versus sort of an insurgent dynamic within the Democratic Party just as there is within the Republican Party. I happen to think it's a less wrenching than the one the Republican Party is going through. Because in the main I think people share goals, but I do think that the danger for both parties are absolutists who insist on a 100 percent fidelity on every issue, as Jen was saying. And that can rip a party apart.

And so, this was heartening in the sense that there was this sense of maybe democratic enthusiasm would be a little bit muted by the fact that there had been this primary, and that didn't turn out to be the case. Now, I will say that Tom Perriello campaigned very, very hard.

JONES: He did an amazing job.

AXELROD: For Ralph Northam.

JONES: He set that example. And part of the thing too, it wasn't just that the primary was tough. It was then as the race went on, you know, our candidate did some stuff that offended some people. Like not even the African-American lieutenant governor in the mailer.

Some people said are African-Americans now going to be offended and sit down of flip flopping on the sanctuary thing. Does that mean that letting those are going to sit down. I think people are going to have to learn, unfortunately, that sometimes you've got to take a little bit of frustration inside the coalition, stick together and win and then try to fix this stuff later.

AXELROD: It's also true that we're a big diverse country.


AXELROD: We're a big diverse country and what may be popular in your neck of the woods may not be popular in someone else's. And candidates who are going to succeed are the ones who reflect their communities.

DAVID CHALIAN, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, CNN: Security tests are going to be gone from your party, right? Can you imagine your 2020 nominee being able to be that nominee without being in favor of single payer and in favor of impeachment?

AXELROD: Well, yes, I could see that. I could see that. I don't know that -- I don't know that a democratic candidate is going to run for president on the impeachment platform in 2020.

BORGER: But in 2018, in 2018 what the democrats have is a mutual enemy and that's Trump and Trumpism.

COOPER: But is there a danger in that for the -- I mean, isn't that what...


PSAKI: The danger is that you rely solely on that crutch and that you run solely in...

(CROSSTALK) BORGER: But 2018 that's end.

PSAKI: No. But in 2018 you run solely against Trump and when people say, we don't really love the republicans, we don't really love Trump, but we're not really sure about what these guys stand for, you don't want -- you want to have something that you're standing for.

[22:54:59] AXELROD: But that is very hard to do without a candidate.

BORGER: Exactly.

AXELROD: I mean, candidates define parties.


AXELROD: So the question is who emerges as the nominee of the Democratic Party because that candidate will have a lot to say about what the party's program is going into the election.

COOPER: Leave Pamela out of this...


URBAN: I was just going to say, again, let's not forget that midterms historically terrible for the party in power, right. So we all know that there are going to be big losses.

BORGER: Are you making excuses already?

URBAN: Gloria, I'm just stating the facts. They're not excuses.

PSAKI: You're lowering the expectations.

URBAN: Anybody who looks at anything in politics knows only two times in the history of this republic as the power -- has the party in power gained seats. So there are going to be losses. It's up to you guys at how many, right. It's up to whether or not you have good candidates to make that number...


COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. A big night for democrats. Our election coverage continues right after this.