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Democrats Target California House Seats; White House Blames Eagles For Cancellation; Guatemala Volcano Death Toll Rises To 75; Kate Spade, Fashion Designer, Found Dead In Apparent Suicide. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired June 6, 2018 - 05:30   ET



[05:31:10] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, eight states go to the polls last night but it's all about one in particular, California.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. Thirty-one minutes past the hour on this Wednesday morning after Tuesday primaries. And overnight, the biggest test so far in Democrats' efforts to retake the House, that California primary.

Democrats have been worried about the state's top-two jungle primary system, concerned that too many Democratic candidates could split the vote, shutting them out of districts they hope to flip this fall. There is already some evidence that may be the case.

BRIGGS: One big contest has been settled, the race for California governor. A Republican has made it onto the ballot which can certainly help with down-ballot races come November.

CNN's Miguel Marquez live for us this morning in Los Angeles. Good to see you, Miguel.

How significant is the gubernatorial number for Republicans?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For Republicans, it is very significant. They weren't sure they were going to have anybody at the top of the ticket here across California. And for -- the watchword -- the watch phrase for California is who is number two?

So, John Cox, a businessman, will face former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom for the governor's race.

They may also have a candidate facing Feinstein -- Sen. Feinstein for the Senate. The race for number two there is very close between Kevin de Leon and Jim Bradley, a chief financial officer of a company.

Democrats had targeted 10 seats across California. Remember, there's 53 House seats in California, 14 only held by Republicans. Democrats are targeting 10.

Seven of those are districts that Hillary Clinton won. They thought they could flip them. But there were so many Democrats that came into these races because of that top-two system they spread out the votes -- split the votes too much it was a concern that they weren't going to make it.

It looks like in all those races a Democrat will advance but there are still some questions out there. Certainly, the 10th, Jeff Denham. There's a very close race for number two in that race.

In the 48th, it's the Dana Rohrabacher race. He will advance but there is a very tight race between number two, three, and four in that race -- two Democrats and a Republican who are duking it out for second place in the 48th.

All of this could take days or weeks to figure out. In L.A. County, there were 118,000 people that were left off the ballot so they had to fill out provisional ballots which will take time to count.

The other thing that happens in California is that people walk in with their mail-in ballots and slip them in a box. They then have to be opened, separated, ensure that they're the correct ballots, and counted. All of that takes days or weeks.

Clear as mud in California. Back to you.

ROMANS: Love that. All right, Miguel. Thank you so much for that.

In other results, CNN projects Deb Haaland has won the primary for New Mexico's first congressional district, putting her on track to become the first Native American woman in Congress.

In South Dakota, Congresswoman Kristi Noem well ahead of the Republican primary for governor, making her the favorite to become the state's first female governor.

BRIGGS: In Alabama's second district, Republican Martha Roby forced into a run-off next month with former Democratic congressman Bobby Bright who ran as a Republican. Roby dropped her support of President Trump back in 2016 in the wake of the "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" tape.

And in New Jersey, Mikie Sherrill, a Navy vet and a former federal prosecutor, leading in the Democratic primary in the 11th district. She has more than twice the total of the leading Republican Jay Webber.

ROMANS: And she raised some significant money -- $2.9 million, I think, there.

OK, let's bring back CNN political -- senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

What do you see here? I mean, you mentioned how you saw women in these races.


ROMANS: Mikie Sherrill was a good example --


ROMANS: -- doing well.

BROWNSTEIN: Well look, first, overall it was a good night for the Democrats overall in their drive to take back the House. They got the candidates they wanted in all of the contested races in New Jersey and New Jersey may ultimately flip as many seats as California, although we focus more on California for obvious reasons.

[05:35:04] They had record turnout in Iowa.

And in California, as Miguel said, while there are still votes to be counted it appears as of right now they may have avoided what seemed almost certain, which is getting locked out of one or two or even potentially three of the seats that they were targeting for this fall under this unusual top-two primary system California which isn't really accurately described as a primary at all. It's something of a hybrid between the chaos of a primary and the consequences of a general election, and I wonder if voters are going to look at it again.

And then -- and so they basically got what they wanted out of the election and particularly in California.

You know, we don't often give credit to the party campaign committees. The Democratic National Campaign committee takes a lot of grief from party activists for when they do intervene or when they don't intervene in races, but they pretty much threw the kitchen sink at trying to avoid any shutouts in California. And if, in fact, this holds and they did avoid some, they have to -- they have to claim some of the credit.

BRIGGS: So what they're hoping there is to flip some or all of the seven districts that Hillary Clinton carried.


BRIGGS: But if they can get those seven or if they can get five -- that's of the --


BRIGGS: -- 23 needed to take back control of the House --


BRIGGS: -- how significant is their efforts right there in California and how -- and are you seeing energy of that blue wave we've so much discussed?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Well, mixed signals on that.

First of all, Dave, I think one thing that's really striking to me is how many of the 23 seats -- how big a share of them they can win back in states that are essentially blue. The Republican holdouts in states that have become more Democratic at the presidential level.

And if you look at New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Minnesota, California, and the suburban seats around Philadelphia which have been reliably Democratic since Clinton in 1992, that would take you almost all of the way or potentially, all of the way toward the 23.

So part of this -- a big part of this is finding ways to purge out or beat Republicans who are in these red pockets of otherwise blue places. They're not going to win all seven, in all likelihood, of those California seats that Hillary Clinton won. In many cases, Democrats have not won any other contests -- statewide contests in those congressional districts in the last several years.

So several of them are challenging but they got through, in some ways, the biggest risk on a number of them last night which was, as you point out, the possibility that this large -- these large democratic fields could splinter the vote.

Now when you look at places like in California in Orange County, the seats being vacated by retiring Republicans Ed Royce and Darrell Issa, the Dana Rohrabacher seat where he's an incumbent who only got about 30 percent of the votes, those are real opportunities. Steve Knight in the 25th.

And as we talked about in a number of these cases and in other states like Iowa, New Jersey, and New Mexico, the trend of Democrats banking on female candidates continues big-time. I mean, the gender gap can be overrated historically I think in a lot of different ways but this year it looks like a real phenomenon. And certainly, that is where Democrats are putting a lot of chips on their hopes of taking back the House.

ROMANS: Let's talk about the gubernatorial race in California. It shows you how --


ROMANS: -- valuable a couple of tweets from the president can be in a party --


ROMANS: -- where, as Dave --


ROMANS: -- keeps pointing out, like 87 percent approval --


ROMANS: -- of the president among Republicans.

Look at Antonio Villaraigosa -- that was a big surprise there. But, John Cox, he had --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. ROMANS: -- the beneficiary of a couple of tweets from the President of the United States and just leapfrogged above Antonio Villaraigosa.

BROWNSTEIN: And also, Christine, interestingly, had the -- was a beneficiary of a lot of spending by Gavin Newsom and this was the big debate among Democrats.

On the one hand, you had most national Democrats arguing that the party would have been better off with both Newsom and Villaraigosa in the final two because on the one hand, that would have kept out any Republican, right, so there would have been no Republican at the top of the ticket to drive Republican turnout.

And on the other hand, you would have had a Latino -- the first Latino with the potential to be governor, and that could have increased Latino turnout in California.

So most national Democrats thought a Democrat-Democrat race was better.

Newsom very strenuously argued the opposite. Now, he -- you know, obviously, it's in his interest to be facing Cox in the general because he has so much of a greater likelihood -- he's virtually certain to win in a general.

But Newsom argued that a Democrat-Democratic race would divide the party, would lead to a lot of money being spent that didn't need to be spent on an intraparty fight, and that in fact, you'd be better off with him against the Republican and they can a kind of more coordinated turnout drive and all of that.

He spent a lot of money promoting Cox and trying to tear down Villaraigosa, which succeeded. So now, we're going to see a road test of that argument -- his argument which, again, coincides with his self-interest that the party is better off if he's facing Cox than Villaraigosa.

BRIGGS: Well, speaking of intraparty feuds, what is the message that Democrats are taking to the voters? Are they split on what type of candidate they want to see, whether it's a progressive or whether it's more --


BRIGGS: -- the conservative Conor Lamb type of Democratic?

[05:40:00] BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Look, you're never going to get consistency on that all across the country. I mean, these districts are different.


BROWNSTEIN: But I do think that -- and there -- and there -- and there are -- there are definitely different shadings. I mean, you know, you look even -- you look even last night at the seat -- at the seat against Mimi Walters where the more progressive kind of Sanders- Warrenesque candidate beat a more centrist candidate to face Mimi Walters in Irvine, California.

So those differences are going to be there but I think in practice you may not see as much differentiation in what they are kind of trying to sell to voters.

I still think, as we talked about before, the closest thing Democrats have gotten to a message for the midterm is around health care and the idea that if you returned the Republicans to Congress they will take another run at repealing the Affordable Care Act, and the actions the president is already taking is resulting in big premium increases that we've seen in a number of states.

And that the tax cut will eventually require them if for any kind of fiscal sanity to go after Medicare and Medicaid again. And I do think that will be kind of a central argument for Democrats in the fall.

But clearly -- I mean, clearly, what drives this election from the point of view of Democrats is the notion that Republicans in Congress, after initially when Donald Trump was elected, trying to take on a more kind of independent posture toward him have kind of really abandoned any notion of oversight or check or constraint.

And I think the core question before voters -- although Democratic candidates are probably not going to articulate this and emphasize it in advertising -- is do you want to give an unfettered hand to the president or do you want to reimpose some kind of check on a president on his policies?

People may agree -- some people may -- you know, some people may like but whose temperament still leaves many voters uncertain.

ROMANS: Interesting. I think that Iowa turnout is really interesting. Some of these counties --


ROMANS: -- Ron, say the turnout was bigger than even --


ROMANS: -- on Democrats in 2006. Remember what happened then? That was when they minted a guy --


ROMANS: -- nobody heard of named Barack Obama, essentially elevating him to what would become the presidency. So I don't know what to make of it just yet but there's a lot of energy happening in places like Iowa right now.

BROWNSTEIN: More state legislative flips as well last night.


BROWNSTEIN: I mean, the turnout among Democrats is more positive for them than the generic ballot polling, so you have kind of two mixed signals going on the macro level.

ROMANS: Ron Brownstein.

BRIGGS: A lot to keep our eye on. All right, Ron, thanks so much.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

BRIGGS: Ahead, the White House claiming canceling the Eagles' visit was the team's fault. Was the president actually smart to cancel, did he have any choice, and does the president know the words to "God Bless America?"


[05:47:01] ROMANS: Let's get a check on "CNN Money" this morning.

Global stocks higher right now after the Nasdaq had a great day. It hit its second-straight record high. That rally in tech pushed all of Wall Street higher.

Corporate tax cuts fueled another buyback bonanza in May. Look at this. American companies took their tax goodies and spent it on buying back their own stock. A record $201 billion buying back their own stock.

Apple made up nearly half of that. Last month, Apple pledged to spend $100 billion on stock buybacks.

For the first time in at least 20 years, there are more job openings right now than there are workers to fill them. The Labor Department says the ratio of job seekers to job openings dropped below one in April. That's the first time since they started keeping track back in 2000.

There are a whole bunch of jobs open today -- 6.7 million open jobs. There are 6.3 million Americans who are officially unemployed.

That low ratio could help boost wages. Wage growth has picked up in recent months but not by much.

So look at these numbers. Why can't the unemployed workers, 6.3 million, just step into those open 6.7 million jobs?

A couple of problems here. Open jobs are not in the same place as the people who are looking for work right now, and skills. The available workers, in many cases, do not have the skillset that employers need.

JetBlue does not want your emotional support hedgehog on its flights, the latest airline to tighten rules for emotional support animals.

Starting July one, only cats, dogs, and miniature horses are allowed on board. No more hedgehogs, ferrets, snakes, spiders, and any animals with tusks. Darn it.

JetBlue also wants more documentation about an animal's health and behavior, citing risks from untrained animals in its cabins. Unlike pets, support animals don't have to be crated and they ride for free, so airlines have seen a huge spike in recent years. And other airlines have had problems with dog bites and animals getting lost and snakes on planes, and they're just trying to get control of all of this.

BRIGGS: I've only seen a dog. Have you seen anything -- have you seen a hedgehog?

ROMANS: I haven't. I don't -- I have --

BRIGGS: An emotional support hedgehog?

ROMANS: -- my children. I'm trying to keep track of my children. I don't usually notice other people's problems.

BRIGGS: Let us know, folks. All right.

Storms and heavy rain possible for parts of the Plains and Gulf Coast.

Here's meteorologist Karen McGinnis.


KAREN MCGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Dave and Christine, just about four million people today running the risk of some severe weather as they watch a weather disturbance move across the Dakotas, eventually making its way towards Minnesota and into Iowa.

Large hail, gusty winds. I can't rule out an isolated tornado but it does look like the wind and the heavy rainfall will be the major portion of it.

All right, we've had a forecast out with what the radar is anticipating. You see late in the day from Minneapolis, Des Moines, it looks like a pretty good line of showers and storms moving through there. But eventually, we'll expect some of that wet weather for Chicago and into Indianapolis.

There's another little weather maker just kind of stalled down along the Gulf Coast region. That will trigger some showers and storms all along the Gulf Coast. You may remember a couple of weeks ago it was Alberto so this lingering weather system is just going to plague this area for a while.

[05:50:12] Enjoy the nice weather in New York, and Washington, D.C., and Boston because you know what? As we head towards the weekend those rain chances go up just like we knew that it would. Anyway, a weather disturbance moves through New York.

Coming up for today though, a high temperature of 70.

Back to you guys.


ROMANS: All right, Karen. Thank you so much for that.

BRIGGS: Ahead, iconic designer Kate Spade dead of an apparent suicide. An outpouring of support from friends and fans around the world. More, next.


[05:55:02] ROMANS: Welcome back.

The White House claims the Philadelphia Eagles are to blame for the cancellation of Tuesday's Super Bowl celebration, accusing the players of pulling a political stunt. Administration officials insist the decision was only about the National Anthem, not about racial issues.

The president holding an alternative patriotic celebration, singing along to some of the worlds from "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America."

A 7-minute rousing event that featured some controversy. At least one person taking a knee during the Anthem, but some were in the crowd yelling this at the president.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop hiding behind the armed services and the National Anthem.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much, everybody.

CROWD (booing heckler).


BRIGGS: The president's decision to cancel the Eagles' celebration having a ripple effect on the NBA Finals. Players from the Cavaliers and Warriors not expecting to visit the White House anytime soon.


LEBRON JAMES, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: It's typical of him. I mean, I'm not surprised. No matter who wins this series, no one -- no one wants an invite anyway, so it won't be Golden State or Cleveland going.

STEPHEN CURRY, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: I agree with Bron. I'm pretty sure the way we handled things last year, we'll kind of stay consistent with that.


BRIGGS: Last year, the world champion Warriors were disinvited by the White House after some of their players criticized the administration, including Steph Curry.

President Trump goes to FEMA headquarters today for a briefing on the 2018 hurricane season. Recent new estimates put the death toll from Hurricane Maria at more

than 4,600 -- more than Hurricane Katrina which killed more than 1,800.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked if the president would still rate the response to Puerto Rico a 10 out of 10.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The federal response, once again, was at a historic proportion. We're continuing to work with the people of Puerto Rico and do the best we can to provide federal assistance.


BRIGGS: First lady Melania Trump will join the president for the trip to FEMA, making it her first public appearance in front of reporters in nearly a month. She appeared Monday at a private Gold Star family reception.

ROMANS: Education secretary Betsy DeVos says guns will not be a focus of the federal School Safety Commission. During a Senate hearing, DeVos told lawmakers the focus will be on keeping students safe but claimed guns are not part of the commission's charge. Even the White House said age restrictions for certain firearm purchases would be on the agenda.

Now, the commission was formed after February's Florida school shooting that killed 17 people.

A memorial this morning at Arlington National Cemetery to mark the 50th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination. The service will include remarks from former President Clinton, as well as Kennedy family members.

Questions have been raised recently by RKF's family about whether convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan was actually responsible.

BRIGGS: At least 192 people are missing in Guatemala since the Fuego volcano erupted on Sunday. The death toll now rising to 75.

Another explosion on Tuesday sending rescue workers scrambling for cover. Hot gas and molten rock still streaming from the volcano with everyone in the area ordered to evacuate.

ROMANS: Shock and sadness following the apparent suicide of iconic designer Kate Spade. She was 55 years old.

A New York police source says Spade was found hanged by a scarf tied to a doorknob in her bedroom in her apartment in New York.

Officials say a suicide note was found at the scene. In it, Spade addressed her daughter and her husband, although the context not totally clear.

The designer launched the Kate Spade New York brand in 1993 and opened her first shop in the city three years later.

Many fans and friends, including celebrities like Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump, posted fond remembrances online.

And for a generation of women -- you know, your first paycheck, that's when you got your first Kate Spade bag, really.

BRIGGS: Yes, so iconic.

ROMANS: You know, with the label on the outside. Very simple, classic. She really defined a generation of women.

BRIGGS: We just don't understand the pain she was in.


BRIGGS: A 13-year-old daughter.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us this morning. I'm Christine Romans.

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


GAVIN NEWSOM (D), WINNER OF PRIMARY FOR CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: We're engaged in an epic battle. It looks like voters will have a real choice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If they are really looking to be an enormous blue wave, a lot of people did expect it to start in California.

BROWNSTEIN: It was a good night for Democrats. It's a likelihood that they will not get locked out of any targeted seats.

TRUMP: We always proudly stand for the National Anthem.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The president plans on making the NFL and patriotism an issue throughout the 2018 midterm campaign.

JAMES: It's typical of him. No one wants an invite anyways.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It looked like I was saying I didn't apologize, and I was mad at me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would have wanted him to say I'm never going to stop apologizing and then be that great example.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are not going to see him campaigning at the level that we have seen him do in previous election cycles.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We will be getting to the developments on all of those stories, none of which are going away.