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Democrats Sweep Races; Trump To North Korea: Do Not Underestimate Us, Do Not Try Us; Trump Meets With China's President In Forbidden City; Stock Market Posts Major Gains Since Trump Elected. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired November 8, 2017 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Republican Party chairman Ed Gillespie.


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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now despite the fact that polls show there was palpable anti-Trump sentiment, the president says this morning, it's not my fault. This is what he wrote. "Ed Gillespie worked hard but," excuse me. "Did not embrace me or what I stand for."

Still, this morning Republicans are reeling. One said to me un- blanking believable. The losses were nearly in every state at every level including New Jersey where they picked up the governor's mansion held for eight years by Chris Christie. The new governor will be Phil Murphy. You see him right there.

But let's go to Virginia which in some ways was ground zero for this wave. CNN's Ryan Nobles is in Richmond -- Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John and Poppy, good morning to you. And, you know, this race in Virginia was supposed to be close. In the closing days of the campaign, Ed Gillespie, the former George W. Bush aide, appeared to be closing the gap between he and Ralph Northam, the lieutenant governor. But the results we saw last night were equal to a tsunami when it comes to politics.

Not only did Democrats win all three of the state-wide elections, but they are also poised to flip the Virginia House of Delegates for the first time in 20 years. There will be a number of recounts to take place in some key elections to decide that.

And Republicans now are soul searching, trying to figure out exactly what this means for the 2018 election. Many Republicans that I talked to in Virginia that downplayed the impact of the president on this race before the vote took place told me last night that this was a direct reflection of Donald Trump and his presidency. And Democrats agree. Listen to what DNC Chairman Tom Perez said last night. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM PEREZ, DNC CHAIRMAN: America needs healers, healers like Ralph Northam. We don't need dividers like Donald Trump. You have sent a message across the globe to South Korea.

Donald Trump, you don't stand for our values. The America that Donald Trump comes back to in a few days is far different than the America he left.


NOBLES: Also weighing in this morning, former president Barack Obama, who, of course, has seen much of his agenda unraveled in the early days of the Donald Trump administration. This is what he tweeted this morning, quote, "This is what happens when the people vote. Congrats, Ralph Northam and Phil Murphy. And congratulations to all the victors in the state legislative county and mayor's races. Every office in a democracy counts."

And what's interesting is that Barack Obama campaigned with both Murphy and Northam in their races in New Jersey and Virginia, and now he sees both those candidates win. Of course, Ed Gillespie deciding not to campaign with Donald Trump, although the president did put out a robocall for him in the closing days of this campaign.

John and Poppy, no doubt today Republicans attempting to figure out what comes next and they don't have a lot of time to figure it out because those 2018 midterms are going to begin in earnest here in just a few days.

BERMAN: Ryan Nobles in Richmond, thanks so much.

President Obama, noting these election victories for the down ballot races, hundreds and hundreds of which were lost, it should be said, during his administration.

HARLOW: Right. There you go.

BERMAN: Joining us now, CNN editor-at-large Chris Cillizza, CNN political commentator and "Federalist" senior writer Mary Katharine Ham, and Democratic strategist and CNN political commentator and Maria Cardona.

You know, Chris Cillizza, the political strategist Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, wrote, "Catch a wave and you're sitting on top of the world." It's in a great political book, by the way.

Look, what is the nature of this wave and what does it tell you?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: It tells me that the greatest uniting factor in what is still a fractious Democrats Party is Donald Trump. And that distaste for Donald Trump -- particularly in Virginia which this race, I've looked at the closest, the distaste for Donald Trump drove suburban voters into Ralph Northam's camp and activated the liberal base in a major way. Look, Ed Gillespie runs in 2014 against Mark Warner for the Senate,

and he wins Loudoun County, which is an exurban county, well, I was going to say 20 minutes, but that's no traffic. Probably 45 minutes west of D.C. Last night he loses it by 23,000 votes to Ralph Northam. Why? Donald Trump. The first year of Trump, this is that referendum. Right? Some of these people voted for Donald Trump but now they're seeing what they are getting and they are not liking it.

It's hard for me if you look at the numbers in the exit polling in the state to conclude anything else.

HARLOW: So talking about those numbers, Mary Katharine, and Chris wrote about it in "THE POINT" late last night, you've got twice as many voters in Virginia voting in part because they are voting in opposition to the president, 34 percent versus 17 percent who put out their vote in part to support the president.

[09:05:06] And then you have Virginia Republican Representative Scott Taylor calling it a referendum on this administration. How can you -- can anyone argue otherwise?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think it's hard to argue otherwise. First of all, the big one, the mental health of the resistance, which I'm not sure how long they could have held out without one to hang their hat on. And this is a big unequivocal one.

And I think look, there's a deeper problem here, which is, you know, Chris points out that Loudoun County, which is a killer when you're looking at another election in the future. A lot of these delegate races that they're -- that Republicans lost are in these moderate, exurban areas where Republicans had hung on for a while but now maybe won't, and the question is whether running in a Trump era, in a state that Trump lost, you can succeed.

The twist or the turn from what Ed Gillespie turned out in 2014 shows us what that looks like.

BERMAN: So, Maria Cardona, I am sure you're feeling good this morning and these were big wins for the Democratic Party, but there are still big problems for the Democratic Party.


BERMAN: We had a poll out yesterday which showed that only 37 percent of the country have a favorable opinion of the Democrats which is down from 44 percent in March. The highest unfavorable view since way back in 1992. So how do you harness what happened yesterday to something that will help you improve those numbers?

CARDONA: Well, I think that what those numbers represent is certainly that people are turned off by parties in general. I mean, the Republican Party numbers were worse and, you know, moving forward I think what we have to do and what we did in Virginia and New Jersey and all over the country is that we made these elections relevant to peoples' lives. We also made sure that they understood that what President Trump was doing at the top also really mattered. And what I mean by that is that I do believe that last night's

election results were a resounding rejection of the uncivil conversation coming from the top, the hatred, the bigotry, the misogyny. The fact that he made so many of America's communities feel unsafe, he made so many of America's communities feel unwelcomed. He made so many of America's communities feel like he had no interest in being their president.

And that really matters in these kinds of elections because you have New Jersey, you have Virginia, you had all of the other down ballot elections across the country that really represent the face of America. And so what this -- -what this underscored to me is that to this day, one year after his election, President Trump still has either no interests in being the president for a United States of America or he doesn't know how to, and that he is still temperamentally unfit and wholly unprepared to take that job or to have that job.

HARLOW: So, Chris, in Maria's words, this was an election across the board that was a, quote, "resounding rejection of the president." But look no further than the exit polls for the New Jersey governor's race, right? And what they show us is that 59 percent of voters said Trump wasn't a factor. Almost 60 percent. Almost 6 in 10 said that. So it didn't carry that way across.

CILLIZZA: Yes. Here's what I would say. I honestly think if you look at -- Poppy, if you look at the sort of broad scope of the elections yesterday, obviously Virginia and New Jersey governors, the two biggest ones statewide offices, et cetera, et cetera.


CILLIZZA: I think you have to take New Jersey out of that and I will tell you why. Chris Christie, the outgoing Republican governor, was at, like, 11 percent or 12 percent popularity going into that election. Kim Guadagno was running -- is his sitting lieutenant governor. She tried to distance herself from him.

I actually think that one is somewhat anomalous because of Christie's personality, that the sort of -- and the negativity around him. But I think if you look at the Medicaid expansion referendum in Maine, I think if you look at the Manchester mayor's race where a Democrat won.

Look, Ryan Nobles mentioned this but the idea that Democrats might fight to a 50/50 tie in the House of Delegates in Virginia, they were down 36/44 going into that last night. No one thought that was possible. Those things seem to me difficult to take in together to dismiss as a series of unrelated events. It strikes me that how those races were won and where they were won it is about Donald Trump and his first year in office.

BERMAN: So, Mary Katharine Ham, the president thinks differently. He thinks the problem that Ed Gillespie had is that he didn't run close enough to Trump. He said, "Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for." So is the lesson here for Republican candidates going forward to be more Trumpy or less Trumpy? HAM: Well, that's the million-dollar question, John. Thank you for

posing it. Look, Virginia has two very distinct sections of the state. Gillespie actually did run off numbers in Southwest Virginia where my family is from which is a very different electorate than northern Virginia.

[09:10:07] In his 2014 race he focused on those northern Virginia exurban voters. That's why he won Loudoun County. He was trying to do a dance and that dance failed. I think with Trump sort of symbolically at the top of the ticket.

The question, I think, moving forward for Republicans is when you're looking at Colorado, and there was some bad data out of there, on some local races and stuff for what the Republican future looks like. It's powering these purplish-slash-evolving into blue states, you do that dance and succeed.

I think you can still in a red state or -- I think the biggest question for the future of politics is in these rustbelt states where we haven't really seen it tested yet.

BERMAN: Right.

HARLOW: Maria, is there a risk in -- you know, in getting egos that are too inflated off of last night for Democrats? I mean, Tom Perez's words, the president is coming back to a different America than he left. Is there a risk here? Do you have a caution for your fellow Democrats?

CARDONA: Absolutely. And my caution is, let's not sleep on our laurels. Let's not take anything for granted. This is the first step in what I believe is a long road back to the majority and it will be a long road. But I do think that Democrats do deserve to feel good today. You know, even yesterday we were all talking on the air about, you know, the possibility that Gillespie could win. And it ended up being kind of a blowout.

And so I think that Democrats absolutely need to be careful moving forward. We need to really plan the pathway for 2018 and that is happening now. But I think one of the lessons that we can take, and you have to give credit where credit is due, you know, the DNC and Tom Perez and all of the committees and all of the allied progressive groups, and they were all out there, including Emerge America, including Our Revolution, working together, even while some of these fissures in the Democratic Party were being made public, they knocked on one million more doors than Terry McAuliffe did four years ago. And so that is the pathway. You have to organize. You have to mobilize and you have to energize a lot of these voters who perhaps didn't come out in 2016 because they thought it was a done deal for Hillary Clinton.

BERMAN: Right.

CARDONA: And to make it relevant for their everyday life.

BERMAN: Chris Cillizza, 20 seconds or less, Republican retirements, a lot of people watching that today.

CILLIZZA: Yes. And I think you should. If you are in the governing wing of the Republican Party, yesterday was a bad day. And remember, Frank LoBiondo retired in New Jersey, swing seat, governing wing of the Republican Party. Now he retired before the election results, but go read his statement about why he decided to leave.

BERMAN: He might retire twice after the election.


BERMAN: All right. Chris Cillizza, Maria Cardona, Mary Katharine Ham, thanks so much.

HARLOW: Thank you, guys.

CARDONA: Thank you.

HARLOW: Ahead for us, a lot this morning. Do not underestimate us, do not try us. Words from the president going directly after North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. We're following his high stakes trip to Asia.

Also the head of the CIA sitting down with a known conspiracy theorist. Why? Because the president asked him to.

BERMAN: Plus red flag missed. New details about the Texas church shooter, who escaped from a mental health facility as investigators hit a new roadblock in this case.



HARLOW: President Trump landed in Beijing just hours after a fiery speech aimed at Kim Jong-un's regime in North Korea. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Do not underestimate us and do not try us. We will defend our common security, our shared prosperity, and our sacred liberty.


BERMAN: Fiery, but maybe not as fiery as we have heard in the past, and the response from North Korea, "We are done listening." CNN's Jeff Zeleny live in Beijing traveling with the president. Jeff, it was interesting. It was a newer, perhaps softer and more calculated tone we heard from the president on North Korea.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John and Poppy. It was certainly a more measured tone. The words were definitely harsh. He was definitely building an argument, in fact, to the world as well for why there needs to be a joint effort to confront the regime of Kim Jong-un. And particularly, of course, he was talking to the leaders of China here and Russia, as well, about the need to financially squeeze North Korea. But front and center in that address was also America's role in a Korean Peninsula and what America's history means in this moment. Let's watch.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: America does not seek conflict or confrontation, but we will never run from it. History is filled with discarded regimes that have foolishly tested America's resolve. Anyone who doubts the strength or determination of the United States should look to our past and you will doubt it no longer.


ZELENY: So, again, those words are hanging in the air here as the president arrived in Beijing, of course, for one of the most consequential stops in his tour across Asia. The economic message here -- in the economic meetings are first and foremost on the agenda as well as North Korea.

The president trying to make the argument here as the red carpet was indeed rolled out for him when he arrived. He's sleeping now, but he will have meetings tomorrow with President Xi Jinping. Of course, North Korea on the agenda, but that's not all that is on the agenda here -- John and Poppy.

HARLOW: Not all at all, for a lack of a better way to say that, Jeff Zeleny. There's also an interesting dynamic going on between these two leaders, this power struggle between President Xi and President Trump.

ZELENY: There really is and that's why this meeting is the most consequential stop because, you know, China, of course, is an economic super power and President Xi Jinping has been consolidating power at the same time President Trump has indeed been losing it.

[09:20:00] Of course, he's been -- you know, it's been one year since his election, and there's no question, there's so much flattery going on here. The president was invited to have dinner at the Forbidden City, the only foreign leader to do that in generations here.

But when President Trump was flying over to Asia, a reporter asked him a question if he was worried about the fact that President Xi is more popular, and he said, "Excuse me, so am I." So, President Trump clearly is defensive about his own popularity, and of course, this is all the more -- a central question here now with the election results back in the U.S., in Virginia and New Jersey.

But front and center, when these two leaders meet today it's a power struggle as they really shape a new relationship for a new economic relationship and dynamic going forward. You'll remember, President Trump talked so much about China.

He said it was raping U.S. jobs and taking down the economy. I do not expect to hear any of that today. It's all the president trying to bring him onboard, but a power struggle, no question -- John and Poppy.

HARLOW: What happened to that tariff that was going to be laid on Chinese imports? We'll see. Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

ZELENY: Or the currency manipulation, which never happened.

HARLOW: There you go. There's a long list. Jeff, we appreciate it.

Joining us now, CNN military and diplomatic analyst, Rear Admiral John Kirby. It is nice to have you here with us. John is right when he said, yes, this was a fiery speech, but it was not as fiery as it could have been. Notably missing the words rocket man, fire and fury. Why? Why this change? I assume you are happy to see a little bit -- toned down rhetoric?

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RETIRED), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Yes, I am. No, I was, Poppy. Look, I think the speech was adequate to the task and it was appropriate for the audience and the venue where he was, the National Assembly there in Seoul. That is not the place to be throwing around fire and fury and rocket man.

That said, those who wanted him to be muscular on Pyongyang, I think got what they wanted out of that speech. I think in general what I was happy to see in it was that he kind of aligned himself, finally, with the rest of his national security team because for months his team has been working well.

I think in a very measured deliberate way to come up with a strategy to deal with what is undoubtedly a much more urgent problem for them than it was for the Obama administration. And yet, he's been out there tweeting things like rocket man, and saying things like fire and fury, and actually undermining the diplomatic efforts that his own secretary of state has been trying to pursue.

So, for me, it was gratifying to see him speak in more measured and deliberate tones. What I would like to have heard that I did not hear was any mention about the strength of the bilateral relationship with South Korea.

The speech was almost all dominated by looking at the past and how great South Korea is, which they are, and about North Korea, he did not really advance anything about the alliance that we share with South Korea.

BERMAN: You know, when we think of the past, he had one interesting line and we had to chance to play it for you there, "Anyone who doubts the strength and determination of the United States should look to our past and you will doubt it no longer."

There are some who are noting as he stood there in that part of Asia, part of the U.S. past includes dropping two atomic bombs on Japan, was that part of that message or is it just the entire U.S. military past he was talking about? KIRBY: When I heard it last night, John, that's what I thought the latter. I thought he was really speaking towards -- to the whole history of the U.S. in the Pacific and primarily the military history in the Pacific region, which doesn't include Hiroshima and World War II. That's the way I took it.

I can see where so many people might take it the other way. Also, sort of irony of the line is that some of that past, even though he likes to throw strategic patience under the bus and claim that President Obama didn't do anything.

Part of that past, the reason why we are so well postured militarily in the region is because President Obama did pivot the majority of U.S. military forces to the Pacific because we did put advance radar systems and advance ships and more troops in the Pacific region to build alliances and foster relationships. So, part of the reason he has capabilities is because of the previous administration.

HARLOW: That's a really interesting point. It seems like in the last 48 hours he has made somewhat of a pivot at least in his language when it comes to trying to make very clear that, yes, the United States prefers diplomacy. All of those around him in the intelligence and military community have said that.

But he talked 24 hours ago about making progress on that front with North Korea and the words he used last night, America does not seek conflict or confrontation, but we will never run from it. Notable to you?

KIRBY: Yes. I was actually glad to hear him talk about diplomacy in that way, and I think it's valuable that he puts that front and center, as the rest of his team has. That said, Poppy, when he said that, you know, people are talking about he cracked open this door to diplomacy.

He also kind of closed it a little bit because as soon as he said it he then said but you will have to meet the preconditions of no more aggressive actions and provocative behavior, and you will have to dismantle your nuclear program, which is we've all known from listening to Will Ripley, they absolutely are not going to do that.

[09:25:10] When you set preconditions like that to negotiations, you essentially close off negotiations. So, I was glad to hear him talk about diplomatic solutions. I don't think he really advanced the ball much on it.

BERMAN: Everything can be learned from listening to Will Ripley. All right. Admiral John Kirby, thanks so much for being with us.

KIRBY: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: All right. Today marks one year since Donald Trump was elected president and he would be the first, second and third person to tell you the stock market has made huge gains since then.

HARLOW: CNN chief money correspondent, Christine Romans is here with us before the bell. Every time the president tweets and we don't talk about the stock market enough, I just think of you.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: He was standing in Seoul and talked about what a miracle it has been in the American economy and stock market. He talked about ISIS and his Supreme Court pick, too. The stock market is really a scorecard that this president really likes to take credit for. Let's look at what happened over the past year. Do you remember on election night last year --

BERMAN: I do remember election night.

ROMANS: I do remember the Dow being down 900 points. The world markets freaked out because they did not anticipate a Trump victory, and then it was off to the races. This is the Dow up 30 percent, 30 percent.

Now let me give you some perspective. That's the Trump bump. Let's put it on top of the overall bull market and you can see how far we have come here. That Trump bump is 20,000, 21,000, 22,000, 23,000, and closing in on 24,000. There's a lot of reasons here.

You know, corporate profits are very good. Companies are making tons and tons of money. The economy is strengthening. The job market is strengthening. Consumers are spending. You have global economic growth in general and peace, relative peace.

So, these are all reasons why the stock market has been going up. But presidents get too much credit and blame for the economy and stocks. If you look at the chart again, you can see that a lot of people felt pretty bad under that Obama stock market rally.

In fact, that's one of the reasons why Donald Trump got elected and now you have the president cheerleading the market. There's an interesting E-trade poll that found 61 percent of investors think it's a strong U.S. economy that is driving the things overall.

That is about twice as much as those who said it was President Trump overall that was driving the economy. I will say, after Trump was elected, lots of business leaders felt like a switch had been flipped on from anti-business to pro-business, and a lot of that is sentiment and psychology.

HARLOW: But it matters.

HARLOW: Regulations being cut. Tax cuts, they think, are coming. If it's not tax reform they still think it will be big cuts for big companies and companies will make more money. The stock market reflects how well companies are doing, not necessarily how well you are doing, and companies are doing great.

BERMAN: I will be watching the markets to see how they react to the election results overnight, which, you know, purpose a counterweight to the administration going forward. All right. Guys, thanks so much. Thanks, Christine.

A conspiracy theorist and a CIA director sit down for a meeting. This is not a bad joke. This actually happened and it happened because President Trump wanted it to. What sources are telling us about why they met, next.