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AC 360 LATER

Election Day; New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Reelected

Aired November 5, 2013 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Welcome to "AC360 Later."

Tonight, election 2013, the picture tells the story. Just moments ago, jubilation began breaking out at the headquarters of Terry McAuliffe, Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia. Until now, the race was too close to call, that is, until now. We can now call it.

For that, let's go straight to Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: McAuliffe has been elected the next governor.

We project he has been elected. Ken Cuccinelli will lose in Virginia. Right now, Terry McAuliffe is the winner, the next governor of Virginia. In New Jersey, the Republican Chris Christie, we projected a while ago he will be reelected to a second term very, very easily. In New York City, Bill de Blasio, he will be the next mayor of New York, first time in, what, almost two decades there's going to be a Democratic mayor of New York City. Bill de Blasio will be the mayor of New York.

John King is standing by.

Terry McAuliffe, that was the closest of these three major contest tonight on election night here in the United States. But Terry McAuliffe, he did it, he eked it out, maybe a little bit closer than some had projected. But in the end, he wins.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He eked it out.

This will be so closely studied because Virginia has become such an important state in our national politics, presidential politics. What happened? How did it get so close? It got close in the end because of Obamacare. No question the president's health care plan and the problems with the rollout of the health care plan were at issue late in the campaign.

More than half of Virginia voters oppose Obamacare and they broke overwhelmingly for the Republican candidate, Ken Cuccinelli. This is why this one got so close at the end, Ken Cuccinelli capitalizing on his personal opposition and the voters' questions about Obamacare.

However, how did Terry McAuliffe win despite that? More than four in 10 voters in Virginia today oppose the Tea Party movement. You can see the blue. They broke heavily for Terry McAuliffe. Also, a lot of the advertising in the end targeting women voters in the Northern Virginia suburbs, that's what made the difference. Northern Virginia suburbs, 60 percent of Virginia voters, a more moderate electorate today, say abortion should be legal.

There was a lot of advertising and direct mail, radio spent on this -- and 67 percent of those voters breaking for Terry McAuliffe. The Republicans will say the health care worked. Democrats will say they managed to pushed Ken Cuccinelli, if you will, out of the mainstream and that's in the state in Virginia.

Want to take a quick look at New Jersey before we move on. Chris Christie will wake up in the morning and say I am the new national Republican model. Why? No gender gap. He won among women, he won among men. If you look over here he improved his standing. Even though he lost African-Americans, he essentially split the Latino vote, if you look at this one.

Let's pull this up a little bit. Look at the. Chris Christie is going to make the point look what happened to John McCain and look what happened to Mitt Romney. I can be competitive in those swing states where Latino voters matter. Just a quick footnote. Would he make a good president? The people of New Jersey think yes. Not by a huge margin, but yes.

But, Anderson, as we kick forward into Chris Christie 2016, this will be a question asked. The voters of New Jersey were asked today who would you pick if it were Hillary Clinton and your Republican governor, Chris Christie? Even as they reelected Chris Christie, by a narrow margin, they said we'd take Hillary for president. This is the conversation that begins tonight, Anderson.

COOPER: Interesting. John, thanks, Wolf as well.

We will be waiting to hear from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. That's Christie al Qaeda in Asbury Park you're looking at right there. The governor expected at the microphones any minute now. We will of course bring you his comments.

First though let's check in with Dana Bash at McAuliffe headquarters down in Virginia.

Obviously, a lot of excitement there, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is an understatement.

And this is excitement that people here really frankly thought they were going to feeling and seeing and a victory they were going to be able to bask in a couple of hours ago. It was much tighter than even McAuliffe's closest supporters and campaign workers thought it was going to be.

But they will take it. A victory is a victory, Anderson. And the reality of this race is that the people here in Virginia didn't love either of the candidates. I mean, if you look at sort of the general anecdotes from all the reporting that went on here, it's not like a New Jersey where there was a very -- it was and is a very popular political figure.

This was a situation where people here seemed to be deciding between two people that they didn't absolutely love. But at the end of the day, Terry McAuliffe's whole message about Ken Cuccinelli, the current attorney general, being too extreme, being too much of a Tea Partier, and particularly when it came to the last month or so with the government shutdown, that really seemed to click here in Virginia for obvious reasons, because it's where we are right now, Northern Virginia, you have so many government workers who were directly personally affected by that.

So that's why Democrats are certainly hoping that this is going to translate nationally, it will be part of the wave that they can take on and the message they can take on for the next election in 2014. But unclear how much it really is going to translate when it comes to the broader message to take back the House, which the Democrats obviously want to do.

COOPER: Dana, appreciate that.

With me tonight, blogger Andrew Sullivan, founder of The Dish at AndrewSullivan.com, also chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, GOP start and CNN political commentator Alex Castellanos, chief political analyst Gloria Borger, and chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.

What do you make of the results in Virginia? How significant?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, how significant? Ask me that in 11 months.

I think you can overinterpret what happened. But this is clearly not some huge rejection of the Tea Party. Cuccinelli did a lot better. He was outgunned 10 to one in the last few days, in the last couple of weeks in advertising. McAuliffe was out early and just pounded Cuccinelli with the anti-woman theme.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: A lot of social issues, and positioned himself as the centrist. And if there's one thing that you can say that both Chris Christie and Terry McAuliffe had in common in their campaigns, it was selling themselves as I'm the guy that can work with the other party and get things done for you. That was their commonality.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The irony in this year in which we have done nothing but have partisan politics is that the two people who won are the people who kind of tried to run to the center the fastest.

And they were victorious. But I would argue in Virginia, one of the important things was the government shutdown, the population...

COOPER: A lot of federal workers.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: A lot of federal workers in Northern Virginia, et cetera.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: If you look at the exit polls, there were 32 percent of the voters said they were affected in some way by the government shutdown. That's a lot. And 57 percent of those people went for Terry McAuliffe and 36 percent went for Cuccinelli.

COOPER: Although, certainly Obamacare as well had an impact for Cuccinelli.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: The Cuccinelli strategy at the end of the campaign...

BORGER: Hail Mary.

CASTELLANOS: ... just bash Obamacare. That may have energized his base.

But, you know, this was a politic complicated race in a lot of ways. We had two candidates. I think Dana Bash was being very kind saying they were not exactly loved. These were two guys running against each other, neither of whom could possibly win. Voters weren't excited at all about them.

And I think the moment the race swung one way to McAuliffe, voters said, OK. Can I look at the other guy again? So we saw a lot of that in this race. I think the lessons Republicans are going to learn, one is Obamacare is powerful. The rollout demonstrates that Washington is not working and it has political impact.

But I think the other lessons Republicans are going to learn that if they had a little more money, if they had been more optimistic, if Cuccinelli had been a candidate that the establishment could have supported, he might have won this race.

The answer is yes for Republicans, mobilize your base, but still show us you can lead and be optimistic and take the country somewhere.

COOPER: Although CNN insiders will see that Alex is wearing a bunny tie and understand what that is a reference to. We're not even going to talk...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I do just want to remind everybody that we are waiting for Chris Christie to give his speech. We believe it's going to occur any minute now. We will, of course, bring that to you when he does.

What do you make of Christie's victory? Obviously, a huge victory, a landslide for him. CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, from an international perspective, I can tell you that there is a massive and mass scratching of heads as people out there look at what's going on in the United States.

I don't think they see this particular election as transformative because they're looking at midterms, they're looking at presidentials. They want to know who's going to win. But they keep thinking what is going on with the U.S. Republican Party? And remember that in Europe and around the world, even conservative parties are moderate compared to the Republican Party here. They would be more like Blue Dog Democrats.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: Which Republican Party here?

AMANPOUR: Well, precisely.

They look at the extreme wing of what they call the extreme wing of the Republican Party, and they think that's beginning to dominate. They were incredibly nonplused, as you know, by the shutdown, really worried in case they took it over the brink of the debt ceiling on a potential default. And people are trying to figure out what really is happening and is this now solidified in the U.S.?

ANDREW SULLIVAN, ANDREWSULLIVAN.COM: But this is a fantastic result for Christie, especially the demographics. His pitch to the Republican Party that I can reach women, Hispanics and African- Americans in a way that no one else can is bolstered immeasurably by this.

I would say it's qualified by that one statistic, which is that only 50 percent of New Jersey think he'd be a good president.

COOPER: That was interesting.

SULLIVAN: And 46 percent say not, because the issue with Christie I think is temperament. It's his bullying tone, it's his slight egomania that people get a little -- but I think he's -- however, the gender gap is staggering, despite that.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: I think it's an asset and a debit, by the way, the personality. I think it cuts both ways sometimes.

COOPER: I want to bring in "CROSSFIRE" host and former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. He's also the author of "Breakout: Pioneers of the Future, Prison Guards of the Past, and the Epic Battle That Will Decide America's Fate."

Speaker Gingrich, I appreciate you being with us.

As we wait for Christie to speak, Rand Paul tonight saying the Republican Party needs moderates like Chris Christie. Chris Christie telling our Jake Tapper today he is a good conservative. To you, what is he?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think he's a reformer who broadly represents conservative values. He's pro-life.

He took on the teachers union. He's done a very good job of working to change Trenton, the state capital. In many ways, he's a lot like Scott Walker of Wisconsin. I looked at that one poll that Andrew raised about how many people think he's really presidential material.

I tried to imagine in 1992 if you had run that poll in Arkansas, two years before the presidential election, what percent would have said Bill Clinton was presidential, or if you had gone to Georgia in 1975 and said, what percent think Jimmy Carter is presidential? I think that's a very hard poll for local folks, because they can't quite imagine the majesty of the White House with their particular guy.

COOPER: And there's Christie obviously and his family very happy acknowledging the crowd. As soon as he begins to talk...

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN: It was not that he would be president, but he'd be a good one. That was the question. Would he be a good president or not?

For 46 percent of you own state to say I don't think he'd be a good president -- although I take your point, Newt, about how hard it is to see that in the future. But he's got a temperament problem.

CASTELLANOS: I think to Andrew's question about temperament, how much of this tonight was a personal victory for Christie and not a message of bipartisanship and love for the Republican Party?

I mean, nobody thinks Chris Christie is a warm, cuddly, let's all break bread and peace kind of guy. He wins because of strength. He wins because of leadership. He wins because he's a bull that will break up the political china shop.

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: And he outspent an opponent that really didn't exactly -- didn't exist. But what do people love about Chris Christie? It's not that he compromises. It's that he doesn't.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Let's listen in.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Ladies and gentlemen, tonight, tonight, I stand here as your governor, and I am so proud to be your governor.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

Born in Newark, raised in Livingston, made my wife from Pennsylvania a real Jersey girl, and raised our family right here, right here in this amazing state I love just as much as my mother and father raised me to love it.

You see, what people have never understood about us is that I didn't need any introduction to all of you. I know you because I'm one of you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

So, tonight, first and foremost, I want to say thank you, New Jersey, for making me the luckiest guy in the world.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

And the only greatest honor and privilege than being a one-term governor of New Jersey is to be a two-term governor of New Jersey.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

You got to meet my kids again tonight. And Mary Pat and I are so proud of them. Andrew, Sarah, Patrick and Bridget, I love you all.

And over the last four years, but especially this year, New Jersey got to know what a special first lady they have. I love you, Mary Pat.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

I spoke to Senator Buono awhile ago. She -- no, no. She congratulated me and was very gracious, very gracious in her congratulations. And I thank her for a spirited campaign and for her 20 years of public service to the state.

(APPLAUSE)

We came to office four years ago. We stood behind a podium like this and said that people were tired of politics as usual, they wanted to get things done. And we promised we were going to go to Trenton and turn it upside down. And I think we have done just that.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

The people of New Jersey four years ago were downhearted and dispirited. They didn't believe that government could work for them anymore.

In fact, what they thought what they thought was that government was just there to take from them, but not to give to them. Not to work with them. Not to work for them. Well, four years later, we stand here tonight showing that it is possible to put doing your job first, to put working together first, to fight for what you believe in, yet still stand by your principles and get something done for the people who elected you. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

The biggest thing, the biggest thing I have learned over the last four years about leadership is that leadership is much less about talking than it is about listening, about bringing people around the table, listening to each other, showing them respect, doing what needed to be done to be able to bring people together and to achieve what we needed to achieve to move our state forward.

Now, listen, I know that if we can do this in Trenton, New Jersey, maybe the folks in Washington, D.C., should tune in their TVs right now, see how it's done.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

See, listen, we're New Jersey. We still fight. We still yell. But when we fight, we fight for those things that really matter in people's lives. And while we may not always agree, we show up.

We show up everywhere. We don't show up just in the places that vote for us a lot. We show up in the places that vote for us a little. We don't just show up in the places where we're comfortable. We show up in the places where we're uncomfortable, because when you lead, you need to be there. You need to show up. You need to listen. And then you need to act.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

And you don't just show up six months before an election. You show up four years before one. And you don't just take no for an answer the first time no has happened. You keep going back and trying more, because when I was elected four years ago, I wasn't elected just by the people who voted for me.

I was the governor of all the people. And, tonight, overwhelmingly, those people have said, come on board. It's fine here. Let's have more people support the governor. And now we have a big, big win tonight.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

What people have told me over the last four years is more than anything else they want the truth. They want the truth. You know, we don't always agree with each other, New Jersey. Some folks don't agree with some of the things I do, and certainly they don't agree with some of the things I say sometimes.

(LAUGHTER)

But they know -- they know they never have to wonder. They never have to wonder. When they walked into the voting booth today, they didn't say, hey, I wonder who this guy is and what he stands for, what he's willing to fight for, what he's willing to do when the chips are down. You can agree with me, you can disagree with me, but I will never stop leading the state I love.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

People across the country have asked me how it is we have been able to do what we have achieved.

And I'm reminded of a story that Pastor Joe Carter of the New Hope Baptist Church told just one week ago today on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. He called what had happened in New Jersey the last year the spirit of Sandy. He spoke about people coming together. He said, when the lights went out, no one cared what color your skin was.

He said, when you didn't have any food, no one cared whether it was a Republican or a Democrat offering you the food. When you didn't have a warm place for your family because of what happened in the storm, you didn't care if it was someone who thought that government should be big or small. At that moment, the spirit of Sandy infected all of us.

Reverend Carter was right. And he prayed that day that the spirit of Sandy would stay with us well beyond the days that the recovery will take. My pledge to you tonight is, I will govern with the spirit of Sandy.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

It's true of New Jersey and all the people who live here, they're ready to live that way, too.

As your governor, it's never mattered to me where someone was from, whether they voted for me or not, what the color of their skin was or their political party. For me, being governor has always been about getting the job done first.

Now, that doesn't mean that we don't have principles. We have many of them. And we have stood and fight -- fought every day to cut taxes, to reduce the size of government spending, to reform pensions and benefits, to reform a broken education system and to make sure that we create opportunity again for New Jerseyans.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

And for the next four years, for the next four years, we will fight to make those changes permanent, and we will fight to make them bigger. I didn't seek a second term to do small things. I sought a second term to finish the job. Now watch me do it.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

I want to thank a few people in addition to my family before we go tonight.

I want to tell you that I over the last year have had the greatest campaign team any governor could ever ask for. They ran a flawless campaign. And I thank them for it.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And I want to thank my cabinet and my senior staff, who especially over the last year have worked tirelessly with me to help bring back, bring back the great state of New Jersey from the second worst national disaster to ever hit this country.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

And I want to thank the second woman who said yes to me when I asked...

(LAUGHTER)

... New Jersey's great lieutenant governor, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

I used to tell folks all the time that I had the greatest job in the world, that for a Jersey kid to be elected governor of the state where you were born and raised is the greatest job that you could ever have in your life. And I loved it. Every day, I would get up and know that I had a chance to do something great.

I didn't do something great every day. But I had a chance every day to do something great for people that I would probably never meet and certainly never know. But on October 29 of last year, that job changed. It's no longer a job for me. It's a mission.

You see, a mission is different than a job. A mission is something that's sacred. It's a sacred trust that was thrust upon me and you on October 29 of last year. And that mission, that mission is to make sure that everyone, everyone in New Jersey who's affected by Sandy is returned to normalcy in their life. And I want to promise you tonight, I will not let anyone, anything, any political party, any governmental entity or any force get in between me and the completion of my mission.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

You see, for those veterans out there tonight, you know, you know how sacred a mission is. Sacredness of the mission of a soldier is that no one ever is left behind. No one is ever left behind on the battlefield.

And on the battlefield that Sandy turned this state into, New Jerseyans will never leave any New Jerseyan behind.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

I'm resolved, I'm resolved to complete this mission, not because of me, but because of you. For the last year, I have had a lot of people ask me for hugs, a lot of people.

(LAUGHTER)

(SHOUTING) You will get your hug later, brother.

And I can tell you this.

(SHOUTING)

I guess there is open bar tonight, huh?

(LAUGHTER)

Welcome to New Jersey.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

People asked me for hugs to comfort them. People asked me for hugs to make sure I wouldn't forget them. People asked me for hugs just to know that the leader of this state cared about them.

And people came up to me all the time in the aftermath and said to me, Governor, where did you get the energy? Where did you get the energy day after day after day to do that? And I told them, you don't understand, do you? Those hugs gave more to me than I could ever give back to them. They gave me hope and faith and optimism for our future.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

The people of New Jersey have given me much more than I could ever hope to give back to them. They have given me hope. They have given me faith, and they have given me their trust.

And it's with that hope, with that optimism, that faith and that trust that we together confront the next four years of opportunity for our state. I know that, tonight, a dispirited America, angry with their dysfunctional government in Washington...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

... looks to New Jersey to say, is what I think happening really happening? Are people really coming together? Are we really working, African-Americans and Hispanics, suburbanites and city dwellers, farmers and teachers, are we really all working together?

Let me give the answer to everyone who is watching tonight. Under this government, our first job is to get the job done. And as long as I'm governor, that job will always, always be finished.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

I think tonight most particularly -- and I know my dad and my brother and sister who are here tonight with me share this same view -- I think tonight most particularly about my mother. All of you who have heard me over the last four years know that she was and still is the dominant influence in my life.

As I said on the video... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

As I said on the video, my mom used to say to me all the time, Christopher, be yourself, because then, tomorrow, you don't have to worry about trying to remember who you pretended to be yesterday -- powerful words from a woman who I miss every day.

But, tonight, tonight, I know that my mom is looking down on New Jersey and saying to me -- I can feel it -- she's saying to me, Chris, the job's not done yet. Get back to work and finish the job for the people of New Jersey.

That's exactly what I will do. I love you, New Jersey. Thank you very much.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

COOPER: There he is, Chris Christie, the newly reelected governor of New Jersey, making a victory speech to the Garden State and, without a doubt, beyond.

Back with the panel, also at Christie headquarters in Asbury Park, Jake Tapper, who had -- enjoyed exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the governor today.

Alex Castellanos, you've written a lot of these kind of speeches. How did he do? What jumped out at you?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: That wasn't an acceptance speech. That was an announcement speech.

Here was somebody that's saying, "Look, we shook up New Jersey. Guess what? Take a look at Washington. Washington is going to get a lesson from this tonight." And it was good to see Governor Christie overcame his shyness. And was able to be forceful like that.

And laboring with that false modesty, as there often is with Christie, and in a way people find it comforting. Because when Washington's out of control, when government's out of control, you want somebody there. He didn't use a lot of fancy words. He's real people talk. Real people stories. There was a lot of political bull in there. But very good political bull.

SULLIVAN: Nothing policy specific he'd done. Waiting for him to tell me what he'd done.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: He didn't do the list speech.

AMANPOUR: You saw it in the polls for weeks before now is that people do want to see politicians, a, doing stuff and getting stuff done. And b, working together to do that. And I think that is one of the reasons people like him so much.

BORGER: He says I'm a leader. And if you look at President Obama, no drama Obama, this is all drama all the time, you know. I'm going to lead you on a mission; we're on the battle field. It's a reaction to Obama.

SULLIVAN: Every presidential candidate is in some way a response to the previous president.

BORGER: Exactly.

SULLIVAN: The last -- what people are looking for will be after Obama is someone not aloof, not professorial, someone with that kind of punchy, pugnacious personality, someone who seems completely comfortable in his own skin. I think he's a terrific candidate. I really do. I just think that ego of his needs a little reining in.

COOPER: Speaker Gingrich, I just want to bring you in. You've obviously -- you've done a lot of these kind of speeches. You've heard a lot of these kind of speeches. What do you make of what you heard tonight from Chris Christie?

NEWT GINGRICH, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": I thought it was a very effective speech. He was letting us into his town or his state of New Jersey. He was sharing with us how he feels.

This is a guy who believes that character is far more important than policy, and that people ultimately invest their trust in a leader, not in a program.

And he was saying to folks around the country, "Look, I like to get together with folks. I like to have things done jointly. I don't want us to be involved in partisan politics. And together we can make a big difference." I suspect it was a relatively effective speech.

I'm not sure I agree with Alex that it was an announcement speech. I think it was an introductory speech. This is the first really serious look many Americans will take at him. And I suspect they found it to be an interesting person. Not closing the sale, but an interesting person.

BORGER: But Newt, let me ask you this. You've been in South Carolina. You've been in Iowa. You know those states. You know how tough it is. Do you see Chris Christie doing well in any of those states?

GINGRICH: I think it depends on how he campaigns and what he does. This is a guy who first of all -- nobody ever wants to look at this option. You put together New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, New England, California and you are a long way towards the nomination without having to do any of the traditional things. So...

BORGER: Skip the primaries?

GINGRICH: No, you don't skip them. I'm just saying you can build a very big system that is very muscular.

You go to a place like Iowa. Remember, the current governor of Iowa is a moderate conservative, not a hardliner. And he is the most elected figure in Iowa history, I think, at least at the governor level. So I think these states are complicated.

What the country wants is real change. Eighty percent of the country dislikes Washington. I think -- I think we will nominate a governor in all probability. And you have to say that Chris Christie is on the short list of people. He's not the frontrunner because nobody is. But he is in the front ranks along with six or seven other people.

SULLIVAN: But Newt, do you think that those images of him arm in arm with President Obama, that stigmatized him so deeply with the base will resonate? Surely they'll be used in primaries, right, against him?

GINGRICH: Look, all you've got to do, as Jonas, who works for me, is from New Jersey, turned to me and said, "If you love the Jersey shore, then you wanted to see the governor thank the man who was bringing him resources. Because they were hit really hard." I was just in New Jersey last night talking to people who are still hit really hard.

SULLIVAN: Of course. But the base didn't like it at the time at all.

GINGRICH: Chris Christie is going to look at folks and say, "I'm going to do what I can for the people I serve. I was serving as governor. When I'm president, I'm going to do what I can for you." He's going to lose part of the base, but I think he could actually build a pretty successful campaign. Think of him as the Scott Walker of the east. These guys are very similar in the reforms that they've been able to implement.

CASTELLANOS: Let's remember, too -- let's remember, too, that this was the Republican party that just nominated Mitt Romney with the Tea Party active in it and all of that. These things don't have to be unanimous.

BORGER: They'll say never again, though.

CASTELLANOS: I just saw a couple of months ago Chris Christie on a stage with three other Republican governors, two of them who are talked about in running for president. Even when the crowd of Republicans disagreed with Chris Christie, they loved him. Because of his strength, because of his passion, because of his leadership.

I think the speaker is right in that sense. It would be a very different kind of campaign. And also, this is going to be a very long campaign in the sense that...

SULLIVAN: It's already beginning.

COOPER: I want to bring in Jake Tapper, who's on the scene in Asbury Park.

Jake, you spent the day with -- with the governor. What did you hear tonight? JAKE TAPPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I agree that this was an introductory speech. But I also agree with Alex that there's no hiding the fact that Governor Chris Christie is very seriously entertaining running for president in 2016.

In addition to the remarks you heard tonight in which he talked about people coming together in the state, we can teach people in Washington, D.C., where there is dysfunction, a thing or two, there's another introduction, another way he can greet Republicans who are looking for a leader for 2016. And that is with these remarkable exit polls, where you see Governor Christie, who ran against a Democratic woman, and yet he won the women's vote here in New Jersey. He tied with the Democrat with Hispanic voters. He won 20 percent of African- Americans. He won all income groups. He won voters over the age of 30. He won 31 percent of Democrats.

That is a far more effective -- to the elites and to the activists out there who want to win the White House back, that's more important than the speech he gave, which was, I thought, an effective speech, perhaps a little schmaltzy for some. But ultimately, talking about who he is at his core instead of laying out an agenda for the second term.

COOPER: Jake, after spending the day with him, when you take the train into Trenton, there's a slogan on the bridge that says, "What Trenton makes the world takes." If he's been made in Trenton or he remade Trenton, can the rest of the country -- I mean, does what plays in Trenton play in the rest of the country?

TAPPER: I mean, that's a good question. I mean, it's hard to argue that Trenton or New Jersey writ large is any more -- any less of a harbinger of the rest of the country than, say, Massachusetts is, where Mitt Romney was governor. I think that the point is resonant that it's not a Republican state. He doesn't have to worry about the same types of conservative base issues that he'll find in a Republican primary.

But that's not his pitch. His pitch is, do you want to win the White House or not?

And the truth of the matter is, his argument, I think, is there is an opening in the Republican for that -- Republican Party for that. There are a lot of conservatives who are going to line up and compete for conservative votes, whether it's Ted Cruz or Rand Paul or Bobby Jindal or Scott Walker. But I do think that there will be a slot for a Chris Christie type.

He did talk about this in our interview today. He said, you know, "I think there are some Republicans that are more interesting -- more interested in winning the argument than they are in winning an election" -- Anderson.

CROWLEY: I think one of the things also about Chris Christie in looking ahead to the base, et cetera is, it wasn't just Mitt Romney. It was also Bob Dole at the end of his second term. It was also George W. Bush, that the Tea Party said, "Now, these guys we've tried too many times. But in the end it's about getting your guy in the White House. And if he can sell electability and those numbers for him are great, the Democrat graphics are great, that always trumps. It really does.

CASTELLANOS: Electability is important for Republicans. But Chris Christie has another argument that is not just process and electability.

He -- what do people hate right now? What have we seen the past? Washington. Everybody's tired of it. If there's one thing Democrats and Republicans agree on, the old way of doing things in Washington has to change. Who speaks straight? Who is anti-politics? Who is the antithesis of all the mess in Washington?

BORGER: And the antithesis we were talking about before of President Obama. This is a politician who is not as cerebral as President Obama but speaks from the gut.

CASTELLANOS: Man of action.

BORGER: Yes, you know, "I'm a man of action." My question is, how does that wear? You know, how does that wear with the voters?

AMANPOUR: Do I -- Am I reading this right? Did anybody pick up Mr. Conservative, Newt Gingrich, suggesting that, actually, one could afford to sort of, you know, maybe ignore some of the so-called base in an effort to get to Washington?

BORGER: That wasn't his strategy.

AMANPOUR: But he said that.

SULLIVAN: I wouldn't take strategic advice from Newt Gingrich.

AMANPOUR: I'm asking you whether he did.

SULLIVAN: I think you're onto something though.

COOPER: Newt -- Newt, is that what you said? Is that what you meant?

GINGRICH: Well, what I said was, I think there are two different challenges for Christie.

One is I think you can go into a state like Iowa, where the governor has a very large majority of support. You can go into South Carolina, where Nikky Haley is governor as a reformer. In both cases, you've got very reform-oriented governors, and you can get a very respectable vote. Whether you win or lose, you can do well enough you're certainly surviving to go on to other place.

He has a huge opportunity in New Hampshire, where I think he fits pretty well.

And he's not -- he's not where Romney was at this stage in Romney's campaign. Christie in many ways is a genuine reform conservative who, for example, on right to life is very solid. And I think that he's got people who are going to be willing to go out and talk about why he's solid.

I do think what he's got to think about is, if he wins the nomination, he has to make sure -- we just saw this happen to some extent in Virginia -- he has to make sure that there is not a third party. So he doesn't have to court and win over everybody on the hard right. But he has to make sure that they aren't so disaffected that they decide to take a walk, because they decide that they don't want to be part of. That's a balance for him.

SULLIVAN: I think that part of the message tonight. I think Cuccinelli did better than most people expected. I think the Tea Party is still alive and well at the base.

And I think Christie's idea of political combat is really rough. I can see a primary process in which he goes up against Ted Cruz, and it is not pretty; and he divides the party and allows a Tea Party alternative to emerge. That's the danger. He's probably smart enough to avoid that.

I think in the south too, what gets him over the bump, over being a New Jersey northeastern guy his pugnacity. He has a -- he's for bombing invading, doing everything we can possibly want -- he will take us back to Bush and Cheney in foreign policy. And that -- Policy does matter as well.

AMANPOUR: What about where I come from across the Atlantic. People just dismissed the fact that the Republicans could win next time. Everybody is just talking about Hillary Clinton. So my question is, does this change that? Is Chris Christie a real challenge to a Hillary Clinton?

BORGER: In his own state she was beating him as the poll showed.

COOPER: You think he would beat her?

SULLIVAN: I think he would be a walkover if it was him versus Hillary Clinton.

BORGER: He could. He really could.

COOPER: Jake, it would be certainly an interesting matchup. You know, I guess she would be accused of being a Washington insider, he the outsider among many other things.

TAPPER: That's right. One other thing I want to point out, which we haven't talked about when it comes to a candidate's strengths or weaknesses, you can't see them from where I'm standing. But there is a balcony here in the Asbury Park convention hall, and up there that's where the elite reception was for some of Governor Chris Christie's more well-heeled friends.

And we all remember during the presidential race, and some of this is laid more bare in the new book by Mark Halperin and John Hyalman, about this group of very, very wealthy men, called -- they call themselves, I think, the Billionaires' Club -- looking for somebody on a white horse, because they were worried about Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republican field. No offense, Speaker Gingrich.

And they went out and tried their best to convince Governor Chris Christie to run. He has some very, very rich friends, Governor Chris Christie. Some people who have wanted him to run in 2012 and who want him now even more to run in 2016. You cannot discount how important that is when and if he actually launches his presidential race.

BORGER: And, you know, after the government shutdown, where Republican businessmen got very nervous and very upset, now they're getting involved in primary races, because they're picking the more establishment, more conservative, less Tea Party Republicans, they're going to be more generous, involved in these Republican primary, I think. And we saw a lot last time of super PACs. But I think they're going to pick somebody early, and they're going to figure out what they need to do. And they're going to try and do it because they want to win. But they're not behind a Ted Cruz. They'd be much more likely to be behind a Chris Christie, as Jake points out.

CASTELLANOS: By the way, let's not give Hillary Clinton the mantle of the Democratic Party just yet. Here, this Democratic Party has moved left of Bill Clinton.

AMANPOUR: Well, who could beat her?

CASTELLANOS: I'll tell you the era of big government is back. This party is left of Clinton. And I think this party now belongs to Elizabeth Warren, de Blasio here in New York. This a party -- and the blue dog Democrats were wiped out. Animated by social activism on the Internet.

And once America goes forward a generation in politics, it hardly ever goes back. That happened to Hillary Clinton last time. So I think you could see a groundswell on the left for someone other than Hillary Clinton.

BORGER: Who else?

CASTELLANOS: I think you could easily see an Elizabeth Warren. I mean, one thing Hillary Clinton has connected her to the future is we've never had a female president. That would impress an Elizabeth Warren.

CROWLEY: She's extremely powerful. Yes, but she doesn't have Hillary Clinton's resume, let's face it. I mean, look, I don't know who would beat who.

BORGER: She signed a letter asking Hillary to run.

CROWLEY: We all thought she was going to win last time. I don't think it's impossible that someone could beat her in the primary. But I also think, you know, that that would be one whale of a race to have Chris Christie versus Hillary Clinton.

SULLIVAN: Chris Christie ace great campaigner. He's a great national retail politician. For all her virtues, that is not a strength of Hillary Rodham Clinton. And she's never really fought a tough race and won. She had an easy race and lost. And, you know, people want a campaigner as well as a potential president.

COOPER: There's Terry McAuliffe on stage in Virginia. As soon as he starts to speak we'll listen in a little bit, as well. Actually, let's just listen in now. It sound like he's starting.

TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), GOVERNOR-ELECT OF VIRGINIA: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terry, Terry, Terry!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terry, Terry, Terry!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terry, Terry, Terry!

MCAULIFFE: Thank you. Thank you. What a great night, everybody, huh?

You know, over the past few months I've started speeches thanking a lot of political figures. But I'm so glad that tonight that the person introducing me is my best friend and my wife, Dorothy.

And I want you to know just a few weeks ago we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.

When we decided to do this campaign, we decided together, because we understood that it was a journey that we were all going to have to take together. And Dorothy, I could not be happier than to have you standing at my side tonight. Thank you, doll.

And to our five children, who have been involved in this campaign from day one, I want to thank Dori, Jack, Mary, Sally and Peter for all the work that they have done. Thank you.

All seven of us are so incredibly grateful to the most amazing volunteers and team leaders ever assembled in the history of a governor's campaign.

Just as I walked up here, they gave me the final numbers. Since January, you have knocked on 2.5 million doors in the commonwealth of Virginia. I mean, you have to pause for a second to comprehend such a large number.

The truth is that I got a lot of my energy from seeing you all working so hard. When I came to a canvas kickoff or a phone bank, I saw so many of you, I want to tell you, it fired me up; it kept me going 100 percent during those 16-hour days. So thank you. We love you. And you are spectacular.

I know all of you gave up time from your family, because you believed this election was so important. And thank you so much. And I want all of you here, who worked so hard since this campaign began, to give yourselves an enormous round of applause.

And I want to thank -- and I don't have words to really express, but I want to thank my extraordinary campaign staff, particularly the field team, for what they did to break records all over Virginia. Give yourselves in the campaign a great round of applause.

And let me say this. I also want to thank the absolutely historic number of Republicans who crossed party lines to support me. You were powerful messengers for our mainstream campaign. Thank you.

Most importantly, I want to thank the voters of Virginia who went out and voted for us today. From Lee County to Virginia Beach to Winchester, thank you for what you did to help us get elected the governor of the commonwealth of Virginia.

Look. I know this has been a hard-fought race. Part of that, as you know, is the nature of politics. And part of it was that the attorney general and I had some very big differences on some very important issues. And let me say this: I think every single person in Virginia is glad that the TV ads are now over.

And I know that passions are high. But I think it's important to recognize that, while the attorney general and I had a lot of differences, he is a principled man who has sacrificed an enormous amount of time away from his family. I thank Ken Cuccinelli for his service and dedication to the commonwealth of Virginia.

Virginia and America have seen contentious races before. And every time, we end up coming together to pursue the common good. One particularly famous Virginian confronted a very bitterly divided electorate after the presidential election in 1800. But instead of relishing his victory or governing only for his supporters, Thomas Jefferson devoted much of his first inaugural address to bridging partisan divides.

He said, quote, "But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle." Two hundred and thirteen years later, the truth is, is that our differences of opinion are still often not a difference of principle or goal.

Over the next four years, most Democrats and Republicans in Virginia want to make Virginia a model for pragmatic leadership that is friendly to job creation. A model for strong schools that prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow. A model for welcoming the best and brightest scientists and innovators, no matter your race, gender, religion or whom you love. And a model for an efficient transportation system that reduces gridlock for our families and our business.

But all this is only possible if Virginia is also the model for bipartisan cooperation.

And that's a view that I share with the next lieutenant governor of the commonwealth of Virginia, Ralph Northam.

While there are a lot of proud Democrats here -- and aren't we proud tonight, folks? -- I'm also particularly proud to public all the Republicans who are here tonight. Give them a great round of applause.

The truth is that this election was never a choice between Democrats and Republicans. It was a choice about whether Virginia would continue the mainstream, bipartisan tradition that has served us so well over the last decade. At a time when Washington was often broken, just think about what Virginia has been able to accomplish when we work together.

Under Governor Mark Moyer, we preserved our AAA bond rating and he made the single largest investment in k-12 education in Virginia history.

Under Governor Tim Kaine...

COOPER: That's Terry McAuliffe, who won a closer race than a lot of people anticipated against Cuccinelli. We'll check in with John King, who's at the Magic Wall in D.C. John looking at some of the numbers.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You just heard at the end Terry McAuliffe talking about two Democratic governors. Before the current Republican Virginia governor, Bob McDonnell, you had Mark Warner. You had Tim Kaine. Doing what they did to win their races by turning the D.C. suburbs -- Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Prince Williams County. You see all the blue right there. That is enough for the margin of victory Terry McAuliffe winning a narrow race, despite look at this: most of the state red for the Republican Ken Cuccinelli but much more of a population up here, especially key voting blocs, the northern Virginia suburbs close to D.C. making all the difference tonight for Terry McAuliffe. That's how he won it in the numbers, this narrow victor.

Let's take a quick look at some of the exit polls. The reason this got so close at the end, Ken Cuccinelli over performing the late polls, is because 53 percent of the electorate opposing Oklahoma care. The roll-out of Obama care a big factor in the end. Ken Cuccinelli closing in on this race, because he won more than eight in ten of the opponents of Obama care in Virginia. That helped him close, Anderson, but not close enough.

Let's take a look as we look this over. OK, you just heard Terry McAuliffe saying Virginians wanted a mainstream governor. He convinced Virginians, more than four in 10, opposed the Tea Party. McAuliffe said he would Ken Cuccinelli was a Tea Party governor and he would take a Tea Party agenda. He also appealed to women, a lot of the ads in the McAuliffe campaign and from Democratic leading groups stressing Ken Cuccinelli's opposition to abortion rights and birth control. The gender gap a huge factor in Terry McAuliffe winning a narrow victory.

And again, if he won by just a bit, this would be why in the very end he convinced -- we lost that here; we'll bring it back for you here -- he convinced the people of Virginia in the end -- all right. That one's not going to work at the moment. That Ken Cuccinelli, he convinced a majority of them, a bare majority that Ken Cuccinelli's positions were too conservative for the state. Now we get it right there, popped back up for me. Convinced a majority, 50 percent, he was too conservative for the state, and he won those voters overwhelmingly, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. John King, appreciate it. Thanks very much, John.

Alex, as we wrap up the coverage, what do we take away from Christie tonight?

CASTELLANOS: Well, I think when you look at who's going to be left standing here, serious candidates, people you could actually see sitting in that Oval Office in the big chair, the Republican field narrows.

You can see that Rand Paul has a constituency. You can see that a Ted Cruz now has a constituency. You can now see that there's, I think, a constituency for someone like Chris Christie running for president.

COOPER: What about Terry McAuliffe?

CASTELLANOS: Terry McAuliffe right on his heels. Right on his heels. No. It's a -- it's a good thing in politics that candidates run against each other. Or else sometimes no one would win.

SULLIVAN: It's the Iran-Iraq war in Virginia, wasn't it?

COOPER: We've got to wrap up our panel. That does it for this edition of AC 360 LATER. Thanks for watching. Our live election coverage continues next with Jake Tapper, and at 11:30 Eastern, a special live late edition of "CROSSFIRE."