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Democrats Sweep Big Races; Trump Tells North Korea: "Do Not Try Us"; Pence Heading To Sutherland Springs Today; Former Pitcher Roy Halladay Dies In Plane Crash. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 8, 2017 - 05:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[05:30:00] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, Lt. Gov. 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 an anti-Trump sentiment.

Ralph Northam spoke about that to the crowd here.

RALPH NORTHAM (D-VA), 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.

KEILAR: So, a lot of confidence that Democrats across the country are feeling coming out of this Virginia governor's race. They are definitely looking at the bigger picture here, saying that in 2018 it's 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 and if you're up in 2018 that's got to be scary if you have an R next to your name -- Christine and Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Brianna. Thank you.

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

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: In New York City, no contest in the mayoral race. Democrat incumbent Bill de Blasio easily cruising to victory over three challengers.

Elsewhere, 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 Virginia's chief homophobe.

ROMANS: Yes. Apparently, that didn't work out well for him. 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 shot and killed on live television in 2015.

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

BRIGGS: 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, good evening to you.

What do you hear from the president and White House?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, the president is trying to stay as far away from Ed Gillespie's loss as possible, though he was halfway around the world in the middle of this trip to Asia.

Minutes before his speech in South Korea this morning he was tweeting about this race, 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 and with the economy doing record numbers we will continue to win even bigger than before."

So you see the president trying to reassure that even though the candidate he endorsed lost, he's saying that the support for his policies is still there. But we've seen this time and time again where the president has endorsed someone and then once they lost he backs off of that endorsement.

We saw that with that Alabama Senate primary race of Luther Strange. And though the president had endorsed Strange, once he lost, the president got on Twitter and deleted his tweets, Dave, where he had supported him.

What all this calls into question is can the president's support help bring these Republicans over the finish line and translate into victories for them? And so far, Dave, that just doesn't seem to be the case.

BRIGGS: Yes, it is a fascinating night to interpret. We'll do that just ahead.

Kaitlan Collins live for us. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: President Trump also delivering a pointed message to North Korea last night. In his 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: All right. Let's go live to Beijing and bring in CNN's Matt Rivers. Good evening to you, Matt. The president with a very direct warning there.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely a very tough approach to North Korea, something that we've gotten used to hearing from this president.

This speech slightly different than what we've heard in the past and from other formal speeches like at the U.N. General Assembly speech he gave where he directly threatened North Korea -- threatened to completely destroy the country. Called Kim Jong Un "Little Rocket Man."

But still, the speech he gave in North Korea -- or South Korea today very much directly criticizing the system in North Korea, talking about human rights abuses there, talking about forced labor camps, talking about torturing political prisoners.

[05:35:05] So he's definitely not backing off and that's the kind of thing that we're expecting him to say to President Xi Jinping here in China over the next 36 hours or so.

We know that President Trump is inside the Forbidden City right now -- the Imperial Palace right in the center of Beijing. They're having dinner.

And then, a lot of the hard negotiations happen during the day here tomorrow. And it will be interesting to see if President Trump can get the Chinese side to do more of what he wants, which would be putting more economic pressure on Pyongyang to force them to stop developing their nuclear weapons.

One thing we know the North Koreans will be looking for towards the end of this trip is whether or not the U.S. president puts them back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. President Bush took off North Korea from that list.

President Trump has signaled perhaps a willingness to put them back on that list. That wouldn't make the North Koreans very happy. A senior administration official telling CNN that the president will make that decision by the end of this trip.

And finally, just a note about a photo op that did not happen. The president had said he wasn't going to visit the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea but this morning he attempted to make a surprise trip to that heavily-militarized border area.

He went so far as getting into Marine One, his helicopter, flew a few minutes towards the border but bad weather forced him to return back to base.

ROMANS: So the photo op that didn't actually happen.

Thanks so much, Matt Rivers, for bringing us that.

BRIGGS: It may have been the most important one of this trip.

President Trump also says the North Korean regime is putting its own people in danger.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Wow. How are the president's words going over in Pyongyang?

CNN's Will Ripley, the only Western T.V. journalist reporting from inside North Korea, joins us now live from Pyongyang.

What's the reaction, Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we haven't heard an official reaction to the president's speech, itself.

But there was an article that was published today in North Korea's leading newspaper that kind of sums up North Korea's longstanding retort to the United States whenever this human rights issue comes up, and it's an argument that's been thrown back at me whenever I've asked North Korean officials about human rights over the last several years.

This article was published before the president's speech but the context is newsworthy given what the president said, and so I'll read you a portion of it.

It says, quote, "The U.S. should not impudently 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 all other social crimes prevail."

The North Koreans here in Pyongyang will say that they do not believe their society is a hell. They say it's a collective society, a safe society for the majority of citizens.

And they say that the people who are testifying to the United Nations are often criminals who have fled this country and have a very different take on life here. But, of course, there are hundreds of defectors who have talked about the gulags, talked about secret police cracking down on any dissenting voices.

And when you do walk on the streets anywhere in North Korea you will never hear anybody openly speak out against the government. It just doesn't happen. It's not tolerated here in North Korea.

Also, calling President Trump a "Mad Dog," saying that his speech doesn't have much of an impact.

They say they've heard enough and they're going to move forward with their own military tests at a time and place of their choosing -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Tremendous insight and perspective from Will Ripley in Pyongyang. Thanks, Will.

ROMANS: All right. Let's talk about this with CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein, senior editor at "The Atlantic." And, CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer. He's a historian at Princeton University and professor.

Julian, first to you. What's your takeaway from the president's warning last night to the North Koreans, and their response?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Well, it's one of many warnings at this point. We've heard all variations. We've heard an assertion of the toughness of the United States.

The problem is if you keep threatening, if you keep warning but everything else remains the same, it diminishes some of the impact of that. And I think that's what some foreign policy experts are concerned with. Too much bluster and allowing the North Koreans to continue the same path undermines some of what you're trying to actually do.

BRIGGS: Ron, what do you make of the sudden pivot to the human rights angle of this, something the president has largely stayed out of? Let's consider the context that he's in China, not exactly a sterling human rights record. So why the pivot now to human rights?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Yes. In fact, China moving very much in the opposite direction with reasserting state control under Xi Jinping over every aspect of life.

Look, I think it's just -- it's just using whatever argument you can reach for in the quiver to make the case against North Korea. And, you know, it is a very situational ethics. It's very different than what we hear, for example, about the Philippines or Saudi Arabia or other regimes that the administration feels more comfortable with.

[05:40:16] But to really underscore Julian's point, I mean, the question of whether there is a military response to North Korea is a very pointed one, I mean, despite all of the rhetoric from the president.

There is a reason that Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, and Barack Obama did not go very far down that road. It wasn't because they were all callow and weak. It was because the collateral damage in exactly where he was in Seoul and potentially Japan, as well, could be enormous.

So while it is important that the president never take that off the table -- and I think many would consider it important for him raise that pressure on North Korea -- it is equally important to understand that there are also practical constraints --

ROMANS: Sure.

BROWNSTEIN: -- on whether you can turn those threats into action.

BRIGGS: Right. The numbers -- you know, 30,000 U.S. troops in South Korea, 10 million citizens 35 miles from the border in Seoul, so there is a lot there.

ROMANS: Let's talk about politics at home because last night was a really good night for the Democrats, both in Virginia, in New Jersey, in New York City in some of these -- in some of these local races.

And, Tom Perez, who runs the Democratic National Committee, the DNC, he says the Virginia results are about Trump -- listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM PEREZ, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: You have sent a message tonight, not simply to the voters in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you have sent 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 American he left. It's an America where we are regaining our values.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Julian, he's happy last night.

ZELIZER: Right.

ROMANS: He's happy, but can they marshal that happiness and make it -- and build the momentum into midterms?

ZELIZER: Well, they shouldn't assume they can and there's been many off-year elections that don't turn into big midterm waves. That said, I think he's on to a big point.

I think this -- in the end of this midterm coming up in 98 -- in 2018 will be about President Trump. And I think this argument about a different set of values that the Democrats represent will be a very important one.

The key, though, is the turnout. That's how midterms are going to be won.

And so, Democrats can't take the organizational part of the midterm elections lightly. They can't just assume everyone's going to come out. And yesterday, they demonstrated they could bring those voters out.

BRIGGS: Yes. Not to rain on Mr. Perez's parade, but CNN polling yesterday showed a 37 percent approval rating nationwide for Democrats. That's a 25-year low, Ron, so not exactly a great number for them.

But, Scott Taylor, Republican congressman elected in 2016, on a Trump wave. Said he does blame the divisive rhetoric of the president on this night and says "I do believe this is a referendum on the administration."

Is he right, Ron?

BROWNSTEIN: I think he is clearly right. I think if you look at the results you see the Trump shadow very large over both states.

First of all, in the exit polls, roughly high fifties disapproval for President Trump in Virginia, over 60 in New Jersey. And roughly, 85 percent of the voters in each state who disapprove of the president voted Democratic for governor.

That's what, historically, we have seen in midterm elections. Every midterm election since 1994, at least 82 percent of the voters who disapproved of the president voted for the other party in House races.

It's a sign that there is not -- you know, voters do no separate Republican candidates from Trump to a greater sense than they have previous presidents from candidates in their own party.

Second, you saw a very clear correlation in turnout and in preference among the groups that are for -- that are positive and negative on Trump.

As I've said to you many times, his most conspicuous weakness is his low ratings with white-collar, college-educated white voters, and that translated into astronomical margins in northern Virginia --

ROMANS: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: -- where, you know, as we said, Ralph Northam won Fairfax County by more than President Obama did in 2012.

The silver lining for Republicans, though, is that Trump -- is that Gillespie did what retain strength among blue-collar whites and rural whites, and so Republicans in those kinds of districts may be less in immediate threat. But anyone around a population center --

ROMANS: Sure.

BROWNSTEIN: -- looking at these results for the Republican Party has to have a chill this morning. ROMANS: If you're a Republican, how do you -- and you want to run for reelection, Julian Zelizer -- how do you look at this case -- the Gillespie case -- and figure out do you embrace Trump, do you not embrace Trump, do you try to kind of embrace Trump? You don't have him tweet on your behalf but not show up -- I mean, what is the lesson -- the takeaway for someone who wants to run as a Republican?

[05:45:08] ZELIZER: I actually think most Republicans will be stuck exactly where Gillespie is.

ROMANS: Really?

ZELIZER: Now, while some might take the lesson let's go more Trump in or others might say let's distance ourselves and be more like a Sen. Flake, I think in the end most people will feel that pull and push and try to be right in the middle, and that's why Republicans are so vulnerable right now and they're getting a wakeup call about the political cost of a Trump presidency.

I don't think there's many directions they can go --

ROMANS: But just last night the president --

ZELIZER: -- so I think this is where they're going to go.

ROMANS: -- tweeted about Ed Gillespie --

ZELIZER: Right, and a lot of Republicans will be unhappy and unsettled by that because they are paying the cost for the president and they want some sense of loyalty.

And now, we're about to deal with the tax bill and he's asking a lot of northeastern Republicans to take a tough vote --

ROMANS: Yes.

ZELIZER: -- and so they're going to watch that tweet and they're going to say will he be there with me after I take that vote --

ROMANS: That's a very good point.

ZELIZER: -- and I'm not sure he will.

ROMANS: That's something that's going to matter way --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

ROMANS: -- before the midterms.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

ROMANS: Interesting. All right.

Ron Brownstein, Julian Zelizer, thank you so much, guys. Nice to see you today.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:50:25] BRIGGS: Vice President Mike Pence heading to Sutherland Springs, Texas today. He'll visit with victims of Sunday's deadly church massacre and plans to speak 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 in 2012, months after he was accused of abusing his ex-wife and her child.

ROMANS: Documents show he was sent there for pre-trial confinement. Law enforcement was advised he was a danger to himself and others after he was caught sneaking firearms onto Holloman Air Force Base.

The suspect's phone has been sent to an FBI lab but, so far, we're told investigators have not been able to break into it.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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 the 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 will be a big improvement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: According to an ATF official, there is no evidence that a bump stock was used in that Texas shooting.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on bump stocks. That's in response to the Las Vegas massacre last month.

Ten victims from the Texas shooting remain in critical condition.

All right, 51 minutes past the hour.

Would you get in a taxi without a driver? It may happen sooner than you think. Details next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [05:56:37] BRIGGS: Shock and sadness around the sports world this morning following the sudden death of former star pitcher Roy Halladay in a plane crash. He was 40 years old and leaves behind his wife Brandy and two children, Braden and Ryan.

Halladay was piloting a small single-engine aircraft when it crashed off the coast of Florida Tuesday. The NTSB is investigating.

Halladay retired in 2013 after 16 seasons with the Blue Jays and Phillies, winning more than 200 games, two Cy Young awards. He also threw a perfect game at post-season, a no-hitter.

The Blue Jays call Halladay one of the franchise's greatest and most respected players, but even better human being.

I can vouch for that. I grew up with Roy. I played baseball with him as Little Leaguer, against him as a high-schooler. He will be missed by everyone. He was a great, great man.

ROMANS: Where is he there? Right next to the coach on the top?

BRIGGS: Top row, second from the left.

ROMANS: Where's Dave Briggs?

BRIGGS: Right below Roy, as I always was. We were always below Roy. He stood like a giant amongst us all.

ROMANS: Our thoughts and prayers with his family this morning.

All right, let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream." It is that time.

Global stocks lower after the Dow hit a fourth record high in a row. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 closed lower but just below all-time highs.

Stocks are going strong on the one-year anniversary of the Trump bump. The Dow up nearly 30 percent since the election.

This bull market, though, not all about Trump. Corporate profits have been strong. The U.S. economy has been recovering steadily since that financial crisis and the current rise is the tail end of the second- longest bull market in history.

Looking for a higher paycheck -- a bigger paycheck, then think about switching jobs. Workers in almost every industry saw a pay bump when they switched. That's according to new research from ADP and it comes at a time when employers are scrambling for workers.

In September, there were 6.1 million job openings. That's nearly a record high for job openings, overall.

All right. Would you get in a taxi without a driver?

Waymo plans to launch a ride-hailing service using fully self-driving taxis, a first for tech companies. Even during tests, self-driving cars have a human behind the wheel ready to take over if anything goes wrongs.

Waymo's new service will begin in Phoenix in the next few months before eventually launching nationwide.

BRIGGS: Would you?

ROMANS: I don't know. I think I'd really pay close attention. I'm not sure I'd read a book or something. Would you?

BRIGGS: I'm a late adopter of technology. I'd let all the glitches come out and then adopt in a few years.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. We'll see you tomorrow.