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Democrats Sweep Major 2017 Contests; Trump to North Korea: "Do Not Try Us". Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired November 8, 2017 - 04:30   ET


[04:30:01] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: EARLY START continues with pictures from the president's trip to Beijing.


BRIGGS: Democrats serious big wins on Election Day. Exit polls show anti-Trump frustration is at least partly to blame. Can the Democrats carry momentum into the midterm?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anyone who doubts the strength or determination of the United States should look to our past and you will doubt it no longer.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump arriving in Beijing overnight after issuing a direct message to Kim Jong-un. He says provocations from the North would amount to a fatal miscalculation.

EARLY START's coverage from China, Virginia, and Pyongyang continues right now.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs, 30 minutes past the hour. It is a fascinating trip for the president, having dinner tonight in a Forbidden City, the first president to ever do so. We'll check in with Matt Rivers.

There's a blue wave crashing for Democrats last night, giving them a much needed moral boost. Election night a strong one for Democrats with key wins in Virginia, New Jersey, New York City and other local races. The Virginia race, though, closely watched as a national referendum on the Trump presidency.

Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam beat former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie by a wider than expected margin. Democrats now looking to build on the momentum as the countdown begins to next year's midterm elections.

CNN's Brianna Keilar has more from Northam headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam winning and winning in a much earlier evening than expected. They were biting their nails and expecting a very late night. But in the end, that's not what happened. And they're saying that this is an indication of a bigger picture of anti-Trump sentiment.

Ralph Northam spoke about that to the crowd here.

RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA GOVERNOR-ELECT: Virginia 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.

KEILAR: So, a lot of confidence the Democrats across the country are feeling coming out of this Virginia governor's race. They are definitely looking at the bigger picture, saying that in 2018, it is going to be difficult to run as a Republican. As One Democrat very deeply involved in this campaign said, there's a big Democratic turnout right now. If you are up in 2018, that's got to be scary if you have an "R" next to your name -- Christine and Dave.


BRIGGS: Brianna Keilar, thanks so much.

The state of New Jersey also going blue Tuesday. Democrat Bill Murphy will take over for Chris Christie as New Jersey's next governor, scoring a double-digit win other Christie's lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno.

ROMANS: In New York City, no contest in the mayoral race. Democratic incumbent Bill de Blasio easily cruising to victory, over three challengers.

Danica Roem making history in Virginia. The 33-year-old former journalist elected as the nation's first openly transgender state lawmaker. She defeats 13-term incumbent Robert Marshall, who proclaimed himself, Dave, Virginia's chief homophobe.

BRIGGS: Also in Virginia, former television anchor and Democrat Chris Hurst winning the 12th district House race. You might remember Hurst, his girlfriend Alison Parker was tragically killed on live television in 2016.

And in Maine, voters approved an expansion of the state's Medicaid program under Obamacare. It's a major setback for Republican Governor Paul LePage, a staunch ally of President Trump who vetoed expansion bills five times.

ROMANS: All right. President Trump weighing in overnight on the election results from the other side of the world.

White House reporter Kaitlan Collins now in Beijing, following the president.

Kaitlan, what are we hearing from President Trump and the White House this morning?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, President Trump is effectively trying to keep himself as far away from this loss as possible. And it's clearly something that's been on his mind even though he's in the middle of the trip to Asia, because just minutes before he gave that speech in South Korea this morning, he tweeted about it, saying Ed Gillespie worked hard, but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don't forget, Republicans won four out of four House seats. With the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win bigger than before.

So, we are seeing the president try to distance himself from Ed Gillespie now that he's lost. Just hours before, the president was encouraging followers to get out and vote for him, he said he supported some of the things Trump ran on.

But we have seen this before, especially if you will remember that Alabama Senate primary race where the president not only endorsed Luther Strange but came to Alabama and campaigned for him. But hours after he lost, the president distanced himself from Strange and even deleted tweets where he was supporting him. So, the president values loyalty above all else. But we rarely see it returned, especially in cases where people he's endorsed have lost.

[04:35:04] So, what this calls into question is whether the president's support can really help these Republicans and help translate into victories. So far, that doesn't seem to be the case, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Kaitlan, so nice to see you. It's evening there in Beijing on that trip. Several days to go. Thank you so much. Talk to you soon.

BRIGGS: President Trump also delivering a pointed message to North Korea last night. In a speech to the South Korean parliament. The president made it clear, he is more willing than past U.S. presidents to use military force against Pyongyang if it continues to threaten America and its allies.


TRUMP: The regime has interpreted America's past restraint as weakness. This would be a fatal miscalculation. This is a very different administration than the United States has had in the past. Do not underestimate us and do not try us.


BRIGGS: Let's go live to Beijing and bring in CNN's Matt Rivers.

Matt, needless to say, China does not have a sterling human rights record itself. But the question is, what is Xi Jinping willing to do for the president of the United States when it comes to containing this North Korean nuclear threat?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Chinese president would tell you, if you ask him that question, they have done a lot already. They have signed on to different U.N. sanctions, the toughest ever. And they say that they have gone well above and beyond what they should be doing.

But the Trump administration counters that. It counters the fact they want China to be doing even more. That's going to be the substance of the conversations Donald Trump will be having with his Chinese counter part here in Beijing.

They are in the Forbidden City now. The tough stuff won't happen until tomorrow when they have a formal series of events throughout the day with an expanded bilateral meeting and what kind of movement the Americans can get the Chinese to do when it comes to North Korea. That's bit of a stalemate so far.

But in terms of what's going on today. Here in Beijing right now, a lot of pomp and circumstance. Substance was that speech that President Trump gave to South Korean lawmakers, a pointed speech. It's not one that had the direct threats you heard President Trump deliver to the U.N. General Assembly where he threatened to destroy North Korea.

He didn't so far as to make any direct threats today, but he did question North Korea's human rights record and he did say that the U.S. would be more willing than past administrations to use military force. One thing we know, that the North Koreans are looking to see what the U.S. does on is whether North Korea will be added, re-added to the state sponsors of terrorism list that the U.S. government has.

President Bush took the North Koreans off that list in the mid-2000s. President Trump has signaled perhaps an intention to put North Korea back on that list. A senior administration official tells CNN that the president will make that determination by the end of this trip, something that China for its part will likely try to dissuade him against doing.

And finally, one photo-op that didn't happen, the president was going to go to the DMV today, got in his helicopter to do that, for a surprised visit, but was forced to turn back because of bad weather.

BRIGGS: Mother Nature may have been doing the president a favor there.

Matt Rivers, thanks so much. Live for us in Beijing, as he was speaking, we are seeing live pictures of the president in the Forbidden City, as Matt said, the first ever president to have dinner there. Thanks, Matt.

ROMANS: All right. President Trump also issuing what he called a direct warning to the North Korean regime. How are his words going over in Pyongyang?

CNN's Will Ripley is the only Western TV journalist reporting from inside North Korea.

He joins us now live from Pyongyang. And interesting that from the North's perspective quick to hit back at

the U.S.'s human rights record when, you know, the president said essentially that living inside North Korea is hell.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESONDENT: Yes, and, you know, they have thrown this back at me when I ask about North Korea's human rights record over several years. They point to crime, shootings in the United States. And they say that they live in a safe society here where people can walk the streets without fear of falling victim to crime.

But, of course, people who left the country paint a different picture. They tell of secret police cracking down on any dissenting voices. And you do not hear anybody speak out against the government in this country. And then, of course, there are the reports about the conditions at the gulags, children being imprisoned.

But, nonetheless, North Korea, they are responding in a new article out today to the United States' accusations of North Korean human rights violations. This article written likely before President Trump's speech, but definitely important to read this for you, because it gives you the mindset of the officials here.

Quote: The U.S. should not style itself as a human rights judge, but mind its own poor human rights records in its land where racial discrimination, gun-related crimes and other social crimes prevail.

[04:40:07] And I spoke with government officials here just after President Trump spoke and reiterated a statement that they gave to us just before the speech where they were really trying to down play the significance, the impact of his words. They said and I'll read you just a bit, quote, we don't care about what that mad dog may utter. We have already heard enough.

They pointed out there are three U.S. aircraft strike groups in the waters off the Korean Peninsula about to undertake some major joint military exercises. You have dozens of U.S. ships. Once again, a big show of force. North Korea says that just pushes them to continue to bolster their nuclear program and develop and test weapons of mass destruction -- Christine.

ROMANS: Will, let's listen to that stern warning from the president. That warning that the North Koreans say are nothing more than words of a mad dog. Let's listen.


TRUMP: 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.


ROMANS: That, you, speaking directly to the North Korean regime and the president saying, make no mistake, American restraint is not weakness.

RIPLEY: Yes. And this could actually infuriate the North Koreans in some ways, even more than some of the fiery rhetoric because he directly attacked their system here that they say they are fighting to protect, the reason they are developing these weapons is because they want to keep their weapons in power.

And so, to once again directly talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong- un, you know, granted, in a respectful tone than using a demeaning nickname. But still, essentially attacking the essence of his -- two previous leaders, his father and his grandfather built here and calling it a living hell, accusing him of crimes before God and man, but then offering a path to what President Trump calls a better future with the caveat that North Korea would have to completely denuclearize and give up all of the weapons that it is so close to developing.

I can tell you, and I've been told this repeatedly, that is a nonstarter for the North Koreans. They are not interested or willing to consider that idea at this point of relinquishing their nuclear arsenal. And, in fact, they are ready to do more tests. They say they'll choose the time and place.

ROMANS: Yes, their nuclear sword as they call it. All right. Thank you so much, Will Ripley. Great to see you. Great for that context and perspective and access.


ROMANS: You know, he talks about the conditions in North Korea. There is no free press.

So, when we get Will there, it's always amazing that he gets to ask people questions. He points out people on the street will not be critical of this regime. They will not.

BRIGGS: Yes, a unique perspective nobody else can give you.


BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, the vice president heads to Texas today in the wake of the church shooting. And now, a staunchly pro-gun Texas senator says he is ready to take action when it comes to background checks. That's next.


[04:47:20] ROMANS: It is the stock market rally that just won't quit. The Dow just nailed the fourth record high in a row. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 also very close to the highest levels in history.

So, it's easy to forget exactly one year ago, one year ago on election night, President Trump's victory tanked global markets. You remember that? Dow futures plunged nearly 900 points. Then, by morning, investors turned it around. The Dow spiked more than 250 points, hitting a record high the day after the election. That was the first of more than 70 records the Dow hit during Trump's

first year, smashing through 20,000, then 21,000, then 22,000, then 23,000. The Dow is now nearly 30 percent.

Unlike most of his predecessors, Trump takes credit for Wall Street's rise and credit where it's due. Tax reform and deregulation are boosting the current rally.

But this bull market is not all Trump. Look at this: corporate profits and recovering U.S. economy is driving this, too. The current rise is built on the monumental climb made while president Obama was in office. This is the second longest bull market in history.

There is also a risk in Trump cheer leading the markets. What if stocks tumble? Will he take credit for that or take the blame for that?

And the people who elected him might not feel this hot economy. Fewer than half of Americans are currently invested in the market.

BRIGGS: Vice President Mike Pence heading to Sutherland Springs, Texas, today. He will visit with the victims of the deadly mass massacre and plans to escape at a prayer vigil. This morning, we have new details about the gunman who killed 25 people and an unborn child. Devin Kelley escaped from a behavioral health facility in New Mexico back in 2012, months after he was accused of abusing his ex-wife and her child.

ROMANS: Documents show he was sent there for pretrial confinement. Law enforcement was advised he was a danger to himself and others after he was caught sneaking firearms on the Holloman Air Force Base. The suspect's phone has been sent to an FBI lab. But so far, investigators have not been able to break into it.

BRIGGS: Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas says he's working on federal and state level to make sure information that could stop dangerous people from buying guns is recorded to the National Criminal Background Check system in a timely fashion.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: This seems to be an area where there is bipartisan support to come in and fix the background check system, to make sure that we keep firearms out of hands of convicted felons, people with mental illness, people who commit domestic violence and the like. If we can address that and close those gaps, I think that would be a big improvement.


[04:50:03] ROMANS: According to an ATF official, there is no evidence that bump stop was used by the Texas gunman. We are learning the Senate judiciary committee will hold a hearing on bump stocks. That's in response to the Las Vegas massacre.

BRIGGS: Ten victims from the Texas church shooting remain in critical condition. Families of those killed will receive $6500 each to help cover funeral services from a state fund. Officials say a company stepped forward to donate all the caskets.

ROMANS: Two U.S. senators, one Democrat and one Republican, teaming up to close a loop hope that allows the Texas gunman to legally purchase a firearm. New Mexico's Martin Heinrich and Arizona's Jeff Flake introducing legislation designed to prevent military service members convicted of domestic violence from acquiring firearms.

BRIGGS: That information could have stopped the firearm sale to the Texas gunman. Right now, the Code of Military Justice doesn't technically address domestic abuse, but there are provisions that could allow some flexibility allowing military officials to report a broad range of offenses.

This morning, shock and sadness around Major League Baseball and the entire sports world. We are following news that former star pitcher Roy Halladay died in a plane crash. He was 40 years old and leaves behind a wife and two children.

Authorities say Halladay was piloting a small single engine aircraft when it crashed in shallow water off the coast of Florida Tuesday. He was the only person on board the two-seater plane and police they received no distress calls. The NTSB is investigating the crash.

Halladay retired in 2013 after 16 stellar seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies, winning more than 200 games, two Cy Young Awards. He also owned the only no-hitter in national league postseason history, also threw a perfect game.

The Blue Jays released a statement saying the organization is grief- stricken by the loss of, quote, one of the franchise's greatest and most respected players, but even better a human being. It's impossible to express what he meant to this franchise.

Roy Halladay a friend of mine from childhood. I grew up playing Little League with and against him, playing high school ball against him. Here is our little league photo. Roy is in the top road, second from the left.

ROMANS: Oh, Dave.

BRIGGS: A great pitcher, but an even better man. I tell you, if you check Roy's Twitter feed, you will learn, flying was who he was in his core. He's a son of a pilot. He loved flying. There's nothing that would have kept him out of that plane.

ROMANS: Let me ask you, when was it clear, as a kid, this guy was special athletically?

BRIGGS: Day one. In Little League, there was something different about the way he threw a baseball. He had to listen to it. He didn't have to see it. You heard it and knew he was better than everybody else.

But that just makes you think, well, he was that gifted. He was also that hard working. So, he was the best and hardest working player I have ever known.


BRIGGS: He had it all. He was a great man. He will be missed by his family and millions of friends.

ROMANS: Our thoughts are with his family this morning. Too soon.

All right. Fifty-three minutes past the hour. Would you get in a taxi without a driver? You may have a chance, sooner than you think. Details on CNN "Money Stream", next.


[04:57:45] ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on CNN "Money Stream" this morning. Global stocks mixed after the Dow nailed its fourth record high in a row. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 wasn't slightly lower, but starting the day near records here.

U.S. stocks still going strong at the one year anniversary of the Trump bump. The Dow is up nearly 30 percent since the election. This is not just the past year and it's not all about Trump. Corporate profits and a strong U.S. economy have been driving this and the current rise is on the second longest bull market in history.

Are you looking for a richer paycheck? You should think about switching jobs. Workers in almost every industry saw a pay bump when they switched jobs. That's according to new research from ADP. It comes at a time employers are scrambling for workers.

September had 6.1 million job openings, near a record. But high job openings are both good news and bad news. It means employers are hiring, but also the companies either can't find skilled workers or they are not paying for them. Wage growth has been sluggest and was sluggest again n October.

All right. Would you get in a taxi without a driver? Waymo plans to use fully self-driving companies. Even during tests, self-driving companies have a human behind the wheel just in case to take over if anything goes wrong.

Waymo has already been testing fully self-driving cars on public roads in Arizona. Waymo's new service will begin in Phoenix in the next few months before eventually launching nationwide.

Dave is not ready.

BRIGGS: I'm often terrified in taxis with drivers. So, without them, I'm not quite there. Are you?

ROMANS: Improvement.

BRIGGS: Maybe you are right.

ROMANS: Maybe the Waymo drivers don't drive with both feet, both left pedals. BRIGGS: Maybe true.

All right. EARLY START continues right now with the latest with the president's trip and visit to the Forbidden City.


BRIGGS: Democrats with a series of big wins on Election Day. Exit polls show anti-Trump frustration is at least partly to blame. Can the Democrats carry momentum into the midterms?


TRUMP: Do not underestimate us, and do not try us.