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Can Christie Go National?; New York Elects Progressive Mayor; What Election Night 2013 Means for 2016

Aired November 5, 2013 - 23:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: Tonight on CROSSFIRE. The winners some were on the ballot. TERRY MCAULIFFE, GOVERNOR-ELECT OF VIRGINIA: The model for bipartisan cooperation.

ANNOUNCER: One may be on 2016 ballots.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, NEW JERSEY: Maybe the folks in Washington, D.C. should tune in their TVs right now.

ANNOUNCER: But one of tonight's biggest winners still waiting in the wink. On the left, Van Jones, on the right, Newt Gingrich. In the CROSSFIRE, Henry Lee, a democratic strategist and John Feehery, a Republican strategist. What message are the voters sending today and who will listen? Tonight on CROSSFIRE.

ANNOUNCER: Democratic strategist. And John Feehery, a Republican strategist.

What message are the voters sending today and who will listen?

Tonight on CROSSFIRE.

VAN JONES, HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. I'm Van Jones on the left.

NEWT GINGRICH, HOST: I'm Newt Gingrich on the right.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight, Penny Lee and John Feehery.

There's plenty of good news for Republicans tonight. The breadth of Chris Christie's victory in New Jersey is very impressive. He won among women, split the Latino vote, and even took one fifth of African-Americans. What's more, Obamacare nearly cost Terry McAuliffe the Virginia governor's race.

Clearly Republicans now have a pattern for winning the White House in 2016 and a new star in the front ranks of possible candidates.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I know that tonight a dispirited America, angry with their dysfunctional government in Washington -- (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Looks to New Jersey to say, is what I think happening really happening? Are people really coming together?


GINGRICH: Well, the fact is, New Jersey's very impressive. I would say also frankly there are a lot of other impressive Republican governors around the country. But I think tonight we can look at this. And I know you don't want to hear it.


I think the biggest story of the actual events of today were Terry McAuliffe going from 15 points ahead 10 days ago to almost losing while outspending his opponent by at least 4 to 1. And the only change was Obamacare.

JONES: Well, first of all, you can't possibly be falling for this Chris Christie stunt where he runs the score up by dodging Cory Booker, wasting $12 million worth of taxpayer money so that he doesn't have to run against anybody. He basically run unopposed.

I could get those numbers if I ran unopposed. Number one. And number two, Terry McAuliffe broke the curse. You've never had anybody be able to win the governor's race in the White House and say -- you got your own party in the White House. This is good stuff for us, bad stuff for you guys. We've got other people who will eventually agree with me.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight, Democratic strategist Penny Lee along with Republican strategist John Feehery.

I want to talk to you. Listen, everybody is jumping up and down, saying that, you know, Chris Christie is now the savior, he can get blacks, he can get left-handed people. He can do anything. He ran unopposed. Are we just essentially -- I mean, the national Democrats didn't put a dollar in there. Isn't everybody overinterpreting this whole thing?

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Chris Christie is the clear frontrunner. Amazing victory tonight in a very blue state. I think that right now he's the guy who can go to all 50 states, he can win in the -- he's a blue-collar guy. I guarantee you that if he decides to run he will win the nomination.

GINGRICH: Penny, I know that my friend here has this model in his head. But as a professional, don't you have some admiration for somebody who can go into Trenton, bring about the reforms he did, and then win the size vote he won tonight? Clearly the largest Republican victory in modern times in New Jersey.

PENNY LEE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Sure. Absolutely. But you have to really wonder what he was run with or what party label he was run with. I mean, you have a state in which 58 percent of the voters say they don't like the GOP brand as it is right now. This is someone who voted for gun control. This is someone who voted or who he would come out for the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. This is someone who proposed or who supported Obamacare.

So you have to wonder, is he really the Republican that can take it to all 50 states? I think he's going to have a real tough time in Iowa, a real tough time in New Hampshire, and some other states.

FEEHERY: He doesn't need New Hampshire, doesn't need Iowa. He can get plenty of electoral votes going to the north and the west. I think that what Chris Christie can do is -- he broke the teachers union. He's improved the quality of governance in New Jersey. And he's someone who actually is a real leader which this country needs. A leader who can take it --


LEE: Right. But haven't we seen this before --

FEEHERY: Takes its corruption.

LEE: Haven't we seen this before with Rudy Giuliani? I mean --


FEEHERY: No. They're different. Rudy Giuliani, pro-choice and had a family life that was spectacular to watch. But I'll tell you, Chris Christie has a good family life, he's pro-life and he's very conservative on most issues. I think that's the kind of guy who can win the nomination.

JONES: I just -- I'm so surprised to hear -- like, you say he's a great leader. Where is he leading New Jersey to? New Jersey has one of the worst credit ratings in the country, the bottom has fallen out. He got downgraded on his own watch. Property taxes up. Jobs down. Poverty up. Where is he leading people to?

FEEHERY: If you look at the poll numbers from the exit polls and how he led during Hurricane Sandy, he was spectacular. People saw him. And you know what, he's the kind of guy, he worked with President Obama, your friend President Obama, in a way -- in a bipartisan way to say we're going to fix this and he did fix it.

JONES: Everybody -- well, hold on now. Everybody applauded that. And that was -- I think --

FEEHERY: Right. And that's leadership.

JONES: And that's what you're supposed to do. However, there's not a governor in all 50 states that wouldn't have shown up for work that day. That doesn't make you --

FEEHERY: Van, let me tell you -- let me tell you something.

JONES: And now you got problems with --


FEEHERY: He's trying to do -- you know, I'll tell you. You have the Obama economy. It's awfully hard to fix the Obama economy. He's trying as best he can. And he got Washington screwing things up.

JONES: He's worse than every other neighboring state, though.

FEEHERY: Wait a second.

JONES: Am I wrong?

GINGRICH: I can tell how serious this candidate is for 2016 by your passion.


I mean, if this guy were as bad as you said he was, you'd be saying bring him on. You're doing more hard work.

Let me ask you for a second because it -- I think one of the most fascinating things about where we are is that your probable nominee, first lady, senator, Secretary Clinton, will be running -- in a city that 80 percent of the country is now mad at. She somehow has to become the candidate of change.

Now because I think whether it's Chris Christie or Perry or Kasich or Walker or any one of a dozen other Republicans, they're going to be the candidate of change.

How -- as a professional, how do you advise her? How does Hillary Clinton somehow become the candidate of the future with a 20- year past?

LEE: I think it's also not change. I mean, most candidates always run as the candidate of change, whether it be for governor or whether it be for president or other things. I think what you're starting to hear and you see it more and more in her speeches than what you're saying is, I can make this work. I can make -- and similar to the themes in which her husband ran for, which is, I can bring people back together again. I can make it work.

Because the one thing that you did see tonight was that hard work was rewarded. You saw that with Chris Christie. They felt that he was competent. He was a competent leader. And that he was rewarded. You saw that also in de Blasio. He had a compassion. And he said I can bring people together. I am going to be able to make this work for the middle class. Those kind of languages which I think is a similar language that you will see with Hillary Clinton being adopted. And that's the kind of thing which she will say.

JONES: And I think we've got a very, very strong candidate. But your problem is, your -- you've got a couple of strong candidates. And apparently they hate each other. I want you to listen to this sound. How is your party going to survive this kind of stuff?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRISTIE: I'm a conservative. And you know, I've governed as a conservative in this state. And I think that's left some people disagreeing with me.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: We need moderates like Chris Christie who can win in New Jersey and our party.


JONES: OK. So here you have the first thing that comes out of his mouth, Chris Christie's mouth is, I'm a conservative, I'm a conservative. He can't even get that out of his mouth. He got Rand Paul going he's a moderate.

FEEHERY: Well, at least Rand Paul saying he should be in our party. So that's an improvement. You know, we have a spirited debate in our party. And I get that. The one thing that's interesting about Hillary, though, is that Hillary-care was more liberal than Obamacare and would have been worse. Obamacare is a complete disaster.

You know, Newt is exactly right. The continuity with a president like President Obama who's by the end of this will be limping through the end of his term, Hillary has got to start running against Obama now if she wants a chance. I think the real challenge for her is Elizabeth Warren who's going to run because she's going to be the populist from the left.

LEE: I think there's a lot of people that are very excited as you're already starting to see. The thousands and hundreds of thousands of people that are already starting to support, ready for Hillary, the super PAC that is out there right now. And it is stemming a lot of support across this country. It's not just isolated to the northeast as your candidate for the frontrunner is right now. She's going to be able to have a broad coalition of individuals --

FEEHERY: Is she going to run against Obama? Is she going to run for continuity with Obama?

LEE: On certain issues she will -- there will be some defining -- there'll be some defining issues in which I'm sure she will. There'll be some of those moments in which she will be able to define the stakes of the election in her own way.

GINGRICH: How much do you worry, looking at the degree to which McAuliffe began to fall apart in the last 10 days despite a 4-1 spending advantage? How much do you worry that if Obamacare can't get fixed that by next summer it is a really big problem for the Democratic Party and for liberalism in general?

LEE: I -- there's a lot of people. We all are disappointed in the rollout and how it's taken place because we also know that there are some very good things that are part of Obamacare. I for one was denied earlier this year health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. I now have it because of Obamacare.

So there are good things that are a part of it. And we're all disappointed that it wasn't rolled out in a way that which highlighted that. So I think there is some concern out there for it. But if you look at the two candidates, both Terry McAuliffe and Chris Christie both said that they would be for the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. So they were supportive of it.

You also saw -- you also saw right now in the polls, 54 percent of Virginians actually support Obamacare. So I don't think the verdict is out there and we've got a long ways to go.

JONES: Well, listen, we've been talking a lot about Obamacare, we've been talking a lot about New Jersey. But next I want us to focus on another political star and he's just across the river from New Jersey, in New York City. When we get back.


JONES: Welcome back. In the CROSSFIRE tonight, Penny Lee and John Feehery.

Now are you paying attention to what's happening in New York City tonight? We're talking about everything else. After 20 years of the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and the middle class getting left behind, Bill de Blasio ran against income equality, explicitly, and he won big.

Now while the Tea Party conservatives are fighting over how stingy the Republican Party ought to be and how much they should give away to the rich, I guarantee you, you're going to see progressive Democrats run this race again in 2014 and 2016 with the same result.

So do you, John.


You've got a progressive movement that is growing across the country. De Blasio is a big representative. You mentioned Elizabeth Warren. We're going to have some fire on the left to counteract some of this fire on the right. And we actually want to govern and not make the government -- make the country ungovernable.

FEEHERY: Let me make --

JONES: What do you say to that?

FEEHERY: One observation. Last 20 years are the greatest 20 years in New York's existence. Because of Republican governors.


JONES: If you're rich.

FEEHERY: I was just in New York the other week -- for everybody. It's a safer city, it's a better city. Everyone's working. You know, everything works. I mean, Bloomberg has his problems but he made the city work building on Rudy Giuliani. The fact of the matter is, if you want to turn away from the best city over the last 20 years go for it.

JONES: You can't keep --

FEEHERY: But I think -- I think de Blasio is going to be a disaster.

JONES: You think universal pre-K is going to destroy New York?

FEEHERY: I think there's a lot -- I think more liberal government are going to bring it back to the battle days where you had high crime and low -- people didn't want to move there anymore, it's going to be a problem.

JONES: We'll see. But I'll tell you this. I think you can keep all those good gains which can also make sure that more people can participate. If you're a low income, working class person in New York it's tougher and tougher.


GINGRICH: But one of de Blasio's first positions is going to be to squeeze down and cripple the charter school movement on behalf of the teachers union.

JONES: Why do you -- he hasn't said that. He wants to make sure that charter schools aren't an escape valve out of the public school system but instead are an experimentation to make the public schools better.

GINGRICH: Right, but --

JONES: That's a good thing.

GINGRICH: You just said the same thing in a different language.


But the -- but the fact is, even with Giuliani and with Bloomberg trying all out, they could not reform the schools because the teachers union was too strong. That's just a fact. Now the idea that de Blasio is going to come in as an ally of the teachers union and magically get them to reform I think is --

JONES: Aren't you proud of progressives at the local level, in the state houses and cities like New York coming on strong like we are?

LEE: Absolutely. And I think to your other point on the income inequality, this is going to be a theme, I think, throughout not only '14 but also in '16. As we're starting to seat the incomes do increase at a greater level more and more. There's a great movie Robert Reich has put it out there, "Inequality for All," and it really shows kind of the gap in which we are dealing with right now. And this is going to be --

(CROSSTALK) GINGRICH: Republicans have a very simple answer. It's called the Obama economy. I mean, our position is going to be really simple. When you have lots of regulations, big government messing things up, you refuse to allow acceleration, you cripple --- you cripple small business with Obamacare, you don't get jobs. You don't get jobs you're going to get income inequality.

JONES: There aren't you ashamed? You guys in the Republican Party actually got some really good ideas for job creation. You know who's been championing them? President Obama in his jobs program which is all your ideas. And you guys won't even let it -- you won't even vote for your own ideas.


FEEHERY: Republicans by and large have not put forward higher taxes as a strategy, for regulations, bigger government.

JONES: Obama's cut taxes.

FEEHERY: You know what, I think the fact is that Republicans do -- the biggest thing that they want is economic growth. Economic growth. They want to --


JONES: Why won't you vote for President Obama's jobs plan which is (INAUDIBLE)?

FEEHERY: Well, because they don't want to kill jobs. This is the problem --

JONES: This is your ideas in his jobs plan.

FEEHERY: It's not our ideas. Raising taxes and more regulations is not our idea. And that's just nonsense.

LEE: But, John, we have tried trickle down before. And trickle down does not produce the jobs in which we wanted to. We need to continue to make the investments, investments in education and investments in other infrastructure. Those kind of things. That's what we need to be responsible about. That is what is actually going to create the jobs. Not another --


FEEHERY: It hasn't worked for President Obama. Why would --

LEE: Not another tax cut.

FEEHERY: Why do you think it we keep working with President Obama?

GINGRICH: Let me just ask this. Very simple question. Given the general mess in Obamacare which I think is -- even if you're an optimist going to be a drag on the system, you have a pretty high likelihood going into '14 with the weakest continuing economy since the Great Depression. Now I realize it was all George W. Bush's fault. And I know it's the House Republicans' fault and then it was somebody else's fault.

But isn't there a point here where the country begins to conclude that big government ideas don't work very well? I mean, forget the 30-day embarrassment of the Web site. But if it becomes a 90-day embarrassment of the Web site there's a point where the whole system becomes a running joke.

LEE: Well, I think it was really interesting to see what happened during the shutdown. And that was people realized how government is affecting their life and how much they actually do need to it carry on certain functions, how much they want it to be able to be there. Whether it'd be for the FAA, whether it'd be for the safety patrol, where or not be for the teachers or other things. There was actually that they saw that there was value to having government.

Now what they want is to have it more efficient and more effective. And that is the conversation that I think both sides need to be having at a greater level is how do we make it more affordable, more effective and more efficient and how do we make it produce for the taxpayers.

FEEHERY: Yes, you know, if you think about it. If your polls show that people blame both side for the government shutdown. It was a dumb idea.


LEE: That -- come on.

FEEHERY: It's a terrible strategy --

LEE: You know, 85 percent of --

FEEHERY: A terrible strategy by -- the president and Terry McAuliffe certainly don't think so.

LEE: John, that's not true.

FEEHERY: The fact is, both sides have ample share to blame. And they also -- most polls show that most people didn't really notice the government shutdown that much. Now I know that there's government -- essential government --

LEE: Why did Terry McAuliffe win?

FEEHERY: I know. Terry McAuliffe --

LEE: Win in large part because of the shutdown that happened. Because voters in Virginia came up in arms and said we want somebody that can actually be effective.

FEEHERY: Terry McAuliffe --

LEE: Not just --


FEEHERY: Terry McAuliffe mostly won because single women voted against Ken Cuccinelli because of the social issues. And that's what the polls show. Forty-six --

LEE: He took a huge --

FEEHERY: He did -- he did -- yes, because Virginia is top heavy with government workers.

LEE: And then --

FEEHERY: But the fact --

LEE: They saw -- the government workers saw the value of their own job.

FEEHERY: The fact of the matter is the economy under President Obama has been a disaster because of more regulations and higher taxes and government gridlock. And this has been -- this is why people are rejecting -- I don't think that Bill de Blasio's plan is going to work in New York City.

JONES: Listen. I -- there's this myth out there that President Obama has been able to get his agenda through. And the reality is, his jobs plan was 100 percent Republican ideas and Republicans refused to pass it. So you have an active pattern of sabotaging this president. And I think that you guys should be ashamed of that.

If you believe -- if you have always as a party believed in infrastructure for this country, you always have except when Obama was for it. You always believed in the Mitt Romney-Heritage Foundation- Nixon-Newt Gingrich individual mandate until Obama was for it, and then you were against it.

I don't think that is going to be something that people want to give more power to in this country. What do you think?

FEEHERY: These -- these mandates put out by the president in Obamacare that kill jobs and small business that's --

JONES: The "Wall Street Journal" said that's not happening. The "Wall Street Journal" said that's not happening.

FEEHERY: Well, it is -- it hasn't been fully implemented but it will happen. And most small business owners will tell you they're afraid of this, and I think that's why they're not hiring.

Listen, all (INAUDIBLE). The jobs creation in this country is terrible under President Obama.

GINGRICH: Now that's an objective fact. But stay here. Next we "Ceasefire." Is there anything the two of you can agree on? We also want you at home to weigh in on today's "Fireback" question. Now that Governor Chris Christie has been re-elected, do you think he is the 2016 frontrunner? Tweet yes or no using hash tag crossfire. We'll have the results after the break.


JONES: Coming up, the answer to our "Fireback" question. Now that Governor Chris Christie had been re-elected, do you think he is the frontrunner for 2016? We want you to tweet yes or no using hash tag crossfire. We're going to be right back.


GINGRICH: We're back with Penny Lee and John Feehery. Now let's call a ceasefire. I think you all can agree on something.

Penny, why don't you tell us what you all agree on?

LEE: Well, I think what we can agree on, and I can say this I think from the former head or executive director of the Democratic Governors Association is that we have some really exciting governors on both sides of the aisle. These really are -- what we saw tonight was two very exciting races.

I'm glad that Terry prevailed on the Democrats. But what we're starting to see is real innovation coming from these governors. They've always been kind of laboratories of leadership or laboratories of ideas. And we're starting to see that kind of play out also. I think we can both agree that governors are exciting -- times ahead.

FEEHERY: There's -- Penny, there's no doubt about it. And I think from the -- while looking at the mess in Washington, the best hope of governance in America is with the governors. And they're doing a good job, Republican governors, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, even Rick Scott has come back to doing some real innovative things.

I think that that's the future. And the best thing about it is you've got a bunch of different ways to experiment and see what works. And this is what the American system is all about.

JONES: What do you think about a Jerry Brown in California? He's come back from the dead and brought California back from the dead.

LEE: Yes, Governor Moonbeam. I mean, who would have thought?

JONES: Yes. And now -- just be conservative?

LEE: Basically conservative. Has made the top choices that needs to be. They are starting to see a surplus come through and he's going to be able to start making those investments that are needed to be made.

GINGRICH: Somebody's going to write an amazing biography sometime. You know, a governor fails the Senate, mayor of Oakland. JONES: Yes.

GINGRICH: Attorney general, back to governor.

LEE: Back -- yes.

FEEHERY: And that's -- and that's the thing that's most important is he can -- they all as governors have to make the tough choices. That's what Jerry Brown has done.

JONES: Penny and John, I want to thank you both.

If you want to -- stay a part of this conversation please go to Facebook or Twitter. You can weigh in on our "Fireback" question. Now that Governor Chris Christie has been re-elected do you think he is the 2016 frontrunner?

Right now 42 percent of you say yes and 58 percent of you say no. The debate continues online at as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

We also want to congratulate you, Newt Gingrich, on the publication of your new amazing book called "Breakout." You should really read it. I love it.

From the left I'm Van Jones. Didn't think I was going to say but I did.

GINGRICH: Yes. From the right I'm Newt Gingrich.

Join us tomorrow for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

CNN's coverage of election night tonight continues now with "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" in New York.