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Democrats Dominate Races; DNC Chair on Wins; Trump Speaks about North Korea; Trump Invited to Forbidden City. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 8, 2017 - 14:00   ET



[14:00:26] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And here we go. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me. You're watching CNN.

Exactly one year after President Trump pulled off the biggest political upset in modern U.S. history, he is facing another Election Day wake up call. Only this one didn't go his way.

Democrats swept local and state races across the country with historic wins for minority, an LGBT candidate. And perhaps most surprising here, Virginia's House of Delegates could possibly go Democrat for the first time in nearly 20 years. Official results are still out on a couple of those raises that would make that key difference.

The biggest victories were the gubernatorial races both in Virginia and in New Jersey.

First, in New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy solidly defeated his Republican opponent, Kim Guadagno, who had struggled to distance herself from her unpopular boss, Chris Christie. And in Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam won after polls showed a very close race there against the Republican, Ed Gillespie. In the end, it was far from close.

And the president, in Asia, went to Twitter to distance himself from the losing candidate, writing this, quote, Ed Gillespie worked hard, but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don't forget, he wrote, Republicans won four out of four House seats. And with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win even bigger than before.

However, at least Republican congressman believes voters were responding to the president.


REP. SCOTT TAYLOR (R), VIRGINIA: I think that last night was a -- was a referendum. I don't think there's any way that you can look at it in a different way, to be honest with you, and be intellectually consistent.


BALDWIN: Let's start with Dana Bash, our CNN chief political correspondent. And, you know, my question to you, what should Republicans see in this

Democratic sweep, or are these victories today, Dana, being overstated?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, I don't think they are being overstated in that, you know, certainly the spin coming from people close to the White House, and others trying to put sort of a rosy look on this is, well, these are two blue states, true, and this is the way it sort of should have gone. OK, maybe that's the case, but, first of all, the margin of the win that the Democratic now governor-elect had in Virginia was huge. If you go down ballot, the fact that legislative seats in the house legislature, so many of them turned that it could be a 50/50 legislature and there were like, I believe, 17 seats that Republicans had up on the Democrats going into Election Day.

And then even look at a place like Maine, Brooke, where there was something on the ballot about Medicaid expansion and the vast majority of people there said that they want to keep Medicaid expansion.

So across the board it was a repudiation in, you know, in and of itself of --


BASH: The ideals that you're seeing from the Republican White House.

I'll say, though, Brooke, that it is an open question still, a, how much this can translate into 2018. And, b, whether or not Republicans can do the things that I'm hearing, and I'm sure you're hearing them say all day today that they need to do, which is get some accomplishments on the board.


BASH: Put some wins on the board. Don't look like they're -- they're the sort of keystone cops who have --


BASH: Suddenly have control of Congress and have very little to show for it in terms of legislative accomplishments.

BALDWIN: Right. So all of those points. But let's go back to -- I read the president's tweets. And he, you know, maybe predictably, pushed Ed Gillespie aside. What was interesting is his -- the use of the word "me," Dana. He said -- he said Ed Gillespie didn't embrace me. He didn't say "us." He didn't say "we the Republican Party," but "me." What did you make of that?

BASH: Well, technically the president is right. The president didn't go and campaign with him. You didn't hear Ed Gillespie talk about, you know, Donald Trump per se.

Having said that, there is no question in the last few weeks there -- this was a test -- and you heard it from Steve Bannon and other people kind of in the Trump camp saying that this is a test of Trumpism without Trump because Ed Gillespie really turned on the culture war, frankly, focusing hard on sanctuary cities, even though there aren't any in Virginia, on MS-13, the whole gang issue. And at the end of the day, it didn't work for him.

Now, you know, who knows if that's related to Trump or not. But the bottom line is that, yes, he might not have been campaigning with Trump, but he certainly tried to use the Trump playbook with regard to getting social conservatives and even white working class voters out and it didn't work.

[14:05:16] BALDWIN: It didn't work for him.

Dana, thank you so much.

BASH: Thank you.

BALDWIN: One person who has no doubts about what election night signified about the president, Tom Perez, the head of the Democratic National Committee.


TOM PEREZ, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: 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.


BALDWIN: Tom Perez, DNC chairman, is with me now after obviously a huge, huge night for you all.

So, Tom, welcome, and congrats.


BALDWIN: So, congratulations, but the but is this. You know, hours before your big win, this poll came out. Your party with the lowest favorability rating in 25 years, Tom. Are you concerned that last night -- this is what I was just talking to Dana about -- are you concerned that last night was less about enthusiasm for Democrats and more about a referendum on Trump?

PEREZ: Oh, I think we had great candidates up and down the ticket and it was a referendum on Donald Trump. I think it was both. You mentioned the House of Delegates races. The last time Democrats won as many seats as they won last night was the late 19th century. That was remarkable.

The -- Virginians and folks in New Jersey and elsewhere, they were looking for healers. Ralph Northam's a healer. Phil Murphy never forgot where he came from. He's going to have folks back. They wanted folks who were going to focus on the issues that matter most. Health care was number one issue in exit polling in Virginia. And something like 75 percent of the people who listed it as number one voted for Ralph Northam because they're afraid that Donald Trump and the Republican Congress are going to take away their health care. That's a bad idea.

BALDWIN: So -- so I got you and I hear you saying it was both great Democratic candidates, but also -- also the effect of Donald Trump.

But Republican Senator Thom Tillis would disagree. He says, not so fast.


SEN. THOM TILLIS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: We learned that history tends to repeat itself. If you take a look at midterm elections dating back all the way to the 80s, this is a typical cycle. The question is whether or not we produce a result and reverse that trend next year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you worried about next year?

TILLIS: No. I like a good fight.


BALDWIN: OK. So he says he's not worried.

PEREZ: Well --

BALDWIN: Hang on. Hang on. He says he's not worried. You know, on top of that, we know the state of play in New Jersey it leans blue. We know Virginia has been going blue. Obama won in '08, 2012. Hillary Clinton won in '16. You know, is the victory lap, Tom, is it a tad too confident at this point in time?

PEREZ: Well, listen, we've got -- first of all, we've got more work to do. But let's also be clear, you know, Virginia is a purple state. You look at the polling in the run-up to this election. I mean Mark Warner -- ask Mark Warner if Virginia is a cobalt blue state. He won by less than a percent. And what you saw --

BALDWIN: No, I don't think anyone's saying it's cobalt, but it's been turning. It's been turning all along.

PEREZ: What you -- yes, it's a purple state. And so you have to compete.


PEREZ: That's why the Republicans spent so much money there because they thought they could win.

And this is a particularly important election cycle because Ralph Northam will be in control of redistricting. So this partisan gerrymandering is coming to an end. Same thing in New Jersey. And so I think that it's not just Virginia and New Jersey, but you look at Washington state, we had a huge election there in a state senate district and now the Democrats control all the branches of government. They've got the governorship, a great governor, Jay Inslee, and now they've got the house and the senate.

You look at mayors races across the country that Democrats swept, whether it was Charlotte or Manchester, New Hampshire, which hasn't gone Republican -- it hasn't gone Democratic in so long. And down in Georgia, there were two special elections in the state legislature. Democrats won them both. And, as a result, there is no longer a super majority for the Republicans. And they were trying to ram through all these constitutional reforms that the (INAUDIBLE). So, you know --

BALDWIN: Sure. I hear your list. I hear your list saying, you know, you have reason to be proud as the head of the DNC.

But let me ask you about something you had said, which was earlier you had said that winners in New Jersey and Virginia, that they won because they're quote, "sane." Tom, I've got to ask, are you suggesting --

PEREZ: Absolutely.

BALDWIN: Are you suggesting -- hang on -- are you suggesting that Republicans are not?

PEREZ: No, we were talking about -- that quote was in the context of, we were talking about President Trump. People want a president who is level headed. They want a president who don't go on a Twitter tirade and call the leader of North Korea names. The leader of North Korea is a dangerous man, but you don't do that.

[14:10:05] BALDWIN: So are you suggesting that President Trump is not sane? Tom, are you suggesting President Trump is not sane?

PEREZ: What I'm suggesting is president -- what I'm suggesting is that President Trump routinely engages in conduct unbecoming the president of the United States. He's the most divisive president in American history. And what people are telling us, the voters of Virginia and New Jersey and elsewhere is, I'm fed up with the division. I want

somebody who I can be proud of. I want someone who my kids can be proud of. I want someone who's going to be looking out for me. And they're not seeing that in this president. And that's why you saw a pretty overwhelming repudiation.

Now, we have more work to do. And I -- you mentioned that poll. I know that we have to earn the trust of voters. It's not simply something you're given. We're doing that by leading with our values day in and day out, talking about how health care should be a right for all and not a privilege for a few. Talking about how we're going to continue to fight for good jobs that pay a decent wage, the right to form a union, making sure that women continue to have a right to make their own reproductive health decisions and not have someone else do it. These are the issues people care about. We need immigration reform, comprehensive immigration reform. All

these things are what we're fighting for. And regrettably the Republicans are currently debating a tax bill that is basically a massive giveaway for very, very wealthy people. And voters are watching.

BALDWIN: Well, we'll -- we will see. We -- they are watching and we will see if what happened last night and a lot of the wins of your party will, you know, make those Republicans, those rattled (ph) Republicans, you know, get behind the president and sign this thing or not.

We'll see. We're all watching.

PEREZ: Yes, we will.

BALDWIN: Tom Perez, thank you so much. Thank you. Good luck, sir.

PEREZ: It's a pleasure to be with you. Have a nice day.

BALDWIN: Thank you. Thank you.

Coming up next here, speaking of the president, President Trump making a high stakes visit today to Beijing. Expected to discuss trade and North Korea and potentially another side issue, three college basketball players from UCLA have been arrested in China for shoplifting. We're asking, since President Trump is there, will he intervene?

Also, breaking news today, actor Kevin Spacey now under criminal investigation for alleged sexual assault. A mother going public today. What she says Kevin Spacey did to her son last year in Nantucket.

And, it was a speech viewed millions of times.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out.


BALDWIN: You remember that? That was pretty powerful. That was the head of the Air Force Prep School reacting after racial slurs were written on the door of a black cadet. Today, a stunning update on who wrote those racist messages.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


[14:17:27] BALDWIN: You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

President Trump issuing a blunt warning to North Korean dictator Kim Jon-un, telling the North not to underestimate the power of the United States, saying, quote, do not try us. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I also have come here to this peninsula to deliver a message directly to the leader of the North Korean dictatorship. The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer. They are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face. North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves.


BALDWIN: It was tough talk from President Trump, but he stopped short of actually articulating a new strategy for dealing with North Korea. The president did, however, take the opportunity to mention his election victory and plug one of his golf courses.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Woman's U.S. Open was held this year at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

And the top four golfers, one, two, three, four, the top four were from Korea. Congratulations.


BALDWIN: With me now, Fareed Zakaria, host of "Fareed Zakaria GPS."

On substance, Fareed, how did he do in that speech?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": It was a -- it was a good speech. I think what President Trump did was something that frankly not enough presidents have recently done.

BALDWIN: What's that?

ZAKARIA: Which is to speak frankly about the nature of the North Korean regime. This is probably the most evil regime in the world today in the sense of the cruelty it inflicts on its people. I think it -- he took a page out of Ronald Reagan's book when Reagan called the Soviet Union an evil empire and people said, oh, dear, that's destabilizing. Well, it's never destabilizing to talk about -- you know, to tell the truth.

Now, does it produce a new strategy? No, it doesn't produce a new strategy. But does it do something important in telling -- in speaking truth to power? Absolutely. I think the more American presidents can do that, the better.


He's moved on to China. In fact, the president has received an honor not granted to any U.S. president since the founding of the People's Republic of China, an official dinner inside the Forbidden City. But a reminder here, President Trump has spent the past few years slamming China. Here he was.

[14:20:14] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can't continue to allow China to rape our country. And that's what they're doing.

China's taking our jobs, our money, our base, our manufacturing.

What they've done to us is the greatest single theft in the history of the world.

The greatest abuser in the history of this country.

Rampant theft of intellectual property.

A currency manipulator.

They break the rules in every way imaginable.

I have many friends in China. They agree with me 100 percent.

We have lost all of their respect.

They think we're run by a bunch of idiots.


BALDWIN: So with all of that, why did President Xi allow him in the Forbidden City do you think?

ZAKARIA: First, I'm glad you put that compilation together because not enough people realize, Trump, on the campaign trail, was incredibly tough on China. Interestingly, when I was in China a few months ago, the Chinese took it very much in their stride. They didn't mind. They said, look, the guy is a business man. This is his opening salvo. This is his way of striking a deal. We're willing to cut deals. We're willing to cut deals on trade. We're willing to do, you know, whatever it takes. So they didn't seem as phased as I thought they would be by the rhetoric.


ZAKARIA: They do think that Trump is -- you know, this is a highly personalistic regime and I now mean the United States. They look at it as king Donald and so they really want to try and wow him.

BALDWIN: Impress him? Yes.

ZAKARIA: And schmooze him and play him.

You know, what's interesting to me is, wherever I go around the world, the focus -- I've never quite seen this before, the focus is entirely on the personality of the president. They all try to figure out, how do you get to Trump. How do you wow him, how do you woo him, how do you seduce him, because the feeling is, he's very impressionable. He doesn't have a strong policy orientation in one direction or the other. If he falls in love with you, you know, that's going to be great. If he falls out of love with you, it's going to be bad. So they're all trying to impress him personally. I think the Forbidden City is very much that. Clearly Trump likes pomp and circumstance. He likes to be flattered. This is the ultimate flattery. They said that this was going to be a state visit plus, meaning, we'll go beyond what we've done for other president because they know Trump loves to hear that.

BALDWIN: It was plus. We'll see if it pays off. We'll see if his tone changes on China as we watch the rest of this trip very closely.

Fareed, as always, thank you so much. Fareed Zakaria.

ZAKARIA: All right.

Coming up next here, breaking news, as Republicans are trying to pass the first overhaul of the nation's tax code in 31 years, the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, just released its score. It is now looking good for the Republican Party.

Plus, we can all pretty much agree jury duty, Fareed, not at the top of anyone's favorite list. But if you walked in and saw President's Obama, can you imagine? That happened today. We'll show you a not so typical day at a Chicago courthouse.


[14:27:36] BALDWIN: Now, even though the president is getting most of the headlines, it was a truly historic night last night full of firsts across America. So check this out.

In Virginia, the first openly transgender candidate winning a seat in the house of delegates. Danica Roem actually beat the guy behind the state's bathroom bill. Also in the Virginia house, and we're talking to her next hour, Kathy Tran, becoming the first Asian American women to be elected. And Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala elected as Virginia's first Latina state lawmakers.

In Minnesota, the first openly transgender person of color elected to the city council, taking more than 70 percent of the votes. In St. Paul, the city electing its first mayor of color, Melvin Carter III.

In South Carolina, the city of Georgetown elected its first black mayor.

In Seattle, Jenny Durkan slated to become the city's first lesbian mayor. Also in Seattle, Zachary DeWolf becomes the first openly gay schoolboard member.

In Charlotte, Vi Lyles becoming the first African American women to be elected mayor there.

In Georgia, two cities elected their first African American mayors. You have the city of Milledgeville electing its first black female mayor.

And in California, Palm Springs to be exact, electing its first openly transgender candidate. And Santa Barbara, its first Latina mayor.

In Montana, Wilmot Collins, who came to the U.S. 23 years ago from Liberia, will become the first black mayor in states history.

In Manchester, New Hampshire, Joyce Craig, the first female mayor for the state's largest city.

In Pennsylvania, the first openly trans person to hold public office. And Lancaster electing its first Latina city council woman.

So, finally, in New Jersey, Sheila Oliver becoming the first African American woman elected lieutenant governor. While voters in Hoboken appointing the first Sikh mayor in the state's history.

Again, a long list of firsts. And did you notice a theme, women. Women winning in 2017.

Breaking news today on the Republicans proposed tax bill now. The Congressional Budget Office, the CBO, the independent score caper (ph) who estimates what new legislation would cost just said that the current plan would add a whopping $1.7 trillion to the deficit. This is coming in as President Trump is trying to court moderate Democrats who are a little wary about the bill's possible tax cuts for wealthy Americans.

[14:30:08] On a phone call all the way from Seoul, South Korea, the president told Senate Dems that he had spoken to his own accountant --