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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Signs Republican Loyalty Pledge; The Women Who Donald Trump Relies on For Advice; Chinese Displays Military Might at Home and Abroad; Kim Jong-Un Girl Group Rocks North Korea. Aired 5-6:00p ET
Aired September 3, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:13] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, pledging allegiance. Donald Trump promises to support the GOP nominee, which he also promises will be himself. The latest poll shows Trump well ahead of the pack. Does that make Donald remain a Republican.
And then Donald's angels. Trump says he'll be the best thing that ever happened to women, but he's also leveled a series of crude insults. We'll look at the women behind the frontrunner.
China flexes its muscles from a maximum military parade with the latest long-range weapons to a new video showing what it would be like to attack U.S. forces. What is the message for America?
And rocking the regime. Hand-picked by Kim Jong-un, an all- female pop band brings high heels and miniskirts to North Korea's capital.
Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: Breaking news. Donald Trump pledges allegiance to the GOP. The front-runner, who's stretching his lead in the latest polls announces that he signed a loyalty pledge vowing not to run as a third-party candidate and promising to support the Republican Party's eventual nominee, which he says will be Donald Trump. I will speak with Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, and our correspondents, analysts and guests are standing by with full coverage of the day's top stories.
I want to get right to the breaking news now. Donald Trump pledging allegiance to the Republican Party, win or lose. Here's CNN's Sara Murray with this story -- Sara.
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gabriella, Donald Trump is trying to silence questions today about where his loyalties lie, pledging his support for the future Republican nominee in a speech that was peppered with insults aimed at his GOP rivals.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have signed the
pledge. So I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party and the conservative principles for which it stands.
MURRAY (voice-over): Donald Trump showing his loyalty to the GOP today, ruling out a third-party bid and promising to support the Republican nominee, no matter who it is.
After weeks of cajoling from the Republican Party, Trump moving from this defiant stance in the first debate. To praise for the party today.
TRUMP: I think the biggest thing is I went early to No. 1, and the RNC has treated me with great respect.
MURRAY: Trump's decision coming after a one-on-one meeting with RNC chair Reince Priebus. Now Trump swearing he won't go back on his word.
TRUMP: No, I see no circumstances under which I would tear up that pledge.
MURRAY: The big announcement today as another poll shows Trump on top, hitting a new national high, with 30 percent support among Republican voters in a new Monmouth University poll.
But climbing fast, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, the only candidate who appears well-positioned to pick off Trump's fans, now drawing 18 percent support, a 13-point jump from last month, while Jeb Bush remains stuck in single digits. Today Bush responded to Trump latest criticism of him for speaking Spanish.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I laughed. I mean, this is a joke. You laugh because it's so bizarre, but it's hurtful for a lot of people and Mr. Trump knows this.
MURRAY: Striving to be the happy warrior, even saying Trump is too pessimistic to be president.
BUSH: There's one candidate in the Republican Party that is preying on people's angst and fears, that has a philosophy that is not about the goodness and greatness of the American, is too pessimistic.
MURRAY: Trump responding today in his usual fashion: with ridicule.
BUSH: I watched him this morning on television, and it's a little bit sad. Don't forget, he was supposed to win.
MURRAY: Now Bush is continuing to fight back, offering his own version of the pledge this afternoon, a sheet of white paper signed by the candidate that says simply, "Voted Republican since 1972."
KEILAR: And so it goes on, Sara Murray. I swear it will keep going, I think.
MURRAY: Yes, continuing.
KEILAR: Great report. Thanks so much. Trump's dramatic announcement and news conference took place at Trump Tower in New York City. CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash was there. She has been working her sources in the Trump campaign. What are you learning, Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was a very quick meeting, about 15 minutes, I'm told, between Reince Priebus, the Republican Party chair, and Donald Trump. That's what sealed the deal, but there was nothing quick, Bri, about getting to this place.
[17:05:08] I am told that this was the result of a lot of weeks of cajoling, you know, talking, of consulting between the two principles, between their staff, and so that is basically how we got here.
But you know, of course we wanted to hearty from the candidate himself, considering the fact that it was just last month's debate that he refused to make this vow.
So I asked Donald Trump what changed? Take a listen.
BASH: What changed -- what changed over the past several weeks? You didn't want to raise your hand?
TRUMP: Well, I think the big thing, Dana, that's changed is -- and it's been obvious to all. No. 1, after I announced, we went up like a rocket ship. And I think the thing that changed is the fact that I went to No. 1 place very quickly after I signed and after I, in this building, notified everybody that I'd be running for president.
So I think the biggest thing is that I went early to No. 1, and the RNC has treated me with great respect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: So I believe the translation there, Bri, is that he's been accepted by the GOP, so he's going to formally reciprocate and accept and pledge his allegiance to the Republican Party.
But look, I mean, there's no question that it's kind of a mixed bag for Trump. I'm told that the calls he was getting to his office were overwhelmingly saying, "Don't do this. Stay -- you know, keep the door open to potentially run as an independent."
But, you know, at the same time, he has to get above where he is now. He's at 30 percent nationally, which is pretty good in this splintered field, but to get the real party faithful, people who just want to have a Republican, you know, you've got to make sure that you say that you're a Republican. There are also some legal issues in a place like South Carolina, Bri, that would have made it hard for him to be on the ballot in that primary.
KEILAR: It is interesting how he's looking down the road.
All right. Dana Bash in New York, thank you so much. With us now in THE SITUATION ROOM, we have Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina. He's actually hosting a series of town halls with the Republican presidential candidates. Donald Trump is scheduled for one of them this month.
Senator, thanks so much for being with us.
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Absolutely. It's good to be back with you, Brianna.
KEILAR: So you have Donald Trump, who did sign this pledge today. He's going to be at this town hall that you are a part of.
KEILAR: If he's the nominee, would you support him?
SCOTT: Absolutely. We definitely need any of the Republican candidates in our field would be better that Secretary Clinton, or Senator Sanders, or the former governor of Maryland.
The fact of the matter is that Donald Trump has brought a lot of energy, and enthusiasm and, frankly, some focus to the Republican primary process which has been helping.
KEILAR: I wonder, though, if you think that he might maybe hurting your party's relationship with minorities. I mean, just today he said that Americans need to speak English to assimilate. What do you think about that? Is that -- is that divisive, pushing away a part of the electorate that your party needs to embrace?
SCOTT: Well, there's no doubt that hyperbole is a part of the election process, and sometimes it gets outside the boundary. Or the president calling those who support the -- who do not support his position as crazy. So the fact of hyperbole is part of the process, but yes, we have to be very engaged in making sure that we are aspirational about our view of the future and that we are bringing America together. We need a candidate who does both, who aspires [SIC] us to be all that we can be and recognizes that we are better together.
KEILAR: I wonder, though, when Hillary Clinton does make that statement, hyperbole as it is, she's not trying to attract Republicans. Republicans are trying to attract Hispanics. And when you have a candidate like this, who's basically saying don't speak Spanish when you're in the U.S., and he's calling some Mexican immigrants illegal, that -- saying that they're -- some of them are rapists and criminals, I mean, I don't know. Is that really the same thing? Is that helpful?
SCOTT: It certainly is not my language. I look at who we are as a party, and I'm certainly excited that in 2010 we had more African- Americans running as Republicans than we have had, really, since Reconstruction. I look at the success that we've had electing Hispanics in Florida and throughout the country. Good friends of mine from Jamie Herrera in Washington state, throughout Idaho, as well. So we've done a pretty good job.
We have two of our candidates are Hispanic, as well. Think of Marco Rubio's amazing story or Ted Cruz's passion and his compassion for people. So you see that the Republican Party, the big tent party. We have Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz. So we really are the party of the future. We need to market it well, and we need to make sure that we are sincere in our motivations, not only to attract minorities to the party, but that we have a vision that inspires people to do all that they can so that they can experience the American dream.
[17:10:15] I am looking forward to the future debate. I think we have a strong opportunity to win back the White House.
KEILAR: Senator, I want to talk to you about the Black Lives Matter movement. This is becoming an issue in this campaign season, and your governor, Nikki Haley, said this about the movement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Lives do matter, and they have been disgracefully jeopardized by the movement that has laid waste to Ferguson and Baltimore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: She went on to say that activists within the Black Lives Matter movement just yell and scream. What's your response to that?
SCOTT: Well, there's no doubt that all lives matter. And one of the things that's brought all this to a head has been the interactions between communities of color and the law enforcement community.
One of the objectives I've had as a legislator is to craft legislation, body camera legislation, that actually protects law enforcement officers and the folks that they're stopping. The opportunity to equip each and every law enforcement officer with a body camera, makes sure that we appreciate and respect all lives. And according to the polls, a 90 percent drop in complaint against officers and a 60 percent drop in use of force by officers.
So if we want to find a way to make sure that we bring America together, as I suggested earlier, the body camera legislation that I'm supporting that I sponsored is a wonderful way for us to bring our country together. That's my approach to that.
And frankly, there is never an occasion when calling for injury or death to police officers, it's never OK, no matter what you look like, no matter where you're from. We have to respect and appreciate those folks who are willing to put their lives on the line for the rest of the community. KEILAR: And there is definitely brad appeal for that body camera
law or requirement. Hillary Clinton, for instance, has made that a key part of her campaign.
I want to ask you about something you said when I asked you about the Black Lives Matter movement. You said all lives matter. And Black Lives Matter, people who associate with Black Lives Matter, they hear that as an oppositional statement to them. To them they hear that as saying that black -- there's no acknowledgement that black lives matter, and that is something that is rebuffing their slogan. When you say that, what is your reaction to that if it's something that causes offense to people who are part of the movement?
SCOTT: Well, I will tell you, if it causes offense that I say that all lives matter -- black lives, white lives, police officers, jurists, all of us, even politicians, all of our lives matter -- if that is somehow offensive to someone, that's their issue, not mine, to be honest with you.
At the end of the day, what we have to do in this country -- and I think we've seen it over the last couple years. We've seen a regression in race relations. One of the ways that we move this country forward is to talk about what we have in common, to find common ground on issues, and to look into the future together, to face our challenges, the hiccups, the potholes, and walls, and make sure that we're working together to either fill them or to remove them. When that happens, our country is better.
So if anyone is offended by the fact that I believe all lives matter, whether they're black or white, whether they're brown or yellow, then that is something that someone has to look into their own hearts and figure out why that is.
If, in fact, we're saying that the country has a provocative history on race, I affirm that fact. There's no doubt about that. But for us to find a way forward, it is truly together.
One of the things I've said since I've been an elected official is that we are better together. And I truly believe that, and I've seen that manifest in my own life.
KEILAR: The Pentagon, Senator, is assessing the naval brig in Charleston, South Carolina, today as a possible site to house Guantanamo Bay detainees. Would you support that?
SCOTT: Absolutely not. No. 1, it's already against the lands of our land for the president to move any of these enemy combatants to any location in domestic -- on our domestic soil.
The fact is simple, there is no reason whatsoever for us to even evaluate locations in Hanahan, South Carolina, or in Kansas. The facts are simple. We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars making sure that Gitmo is the location on earth for these enemy combatants.
And for the president to try to fulfill a campaign policy, as opposed to looking at national security as a primary objective, just confuses, bewilders, perplexes, places in an alternate universe -- I'm not sure what the right word is. But I know that it's not Hanahan, South Carolina; I know it's not Kansas.
[17:15:06] And talking with officials yesterday, what I found quite frustrating was that they're also looking at non -- nonmilitary locations throughout the country, so every single state might find themselves housing 50-plus enemy combatants, the worst terrorists in the world. This is not a bad idea. This is an awful idea.
And I hope that we are successful at keeping the current law as it is, which prohibits the president from moving these enemy combatants anywhere in our amazing country.
KEILAR: All right. Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina, thanks for being with us. We do appreciate it.
And after a quick break, we have much more on Donald Trump's pledge not to run as a third-party candidate. Stay with us.
[17:20:30] KEILAR: We're following breaking news: Donald Trump pledging loyalty to the Republican Party. He promises not to run as an independent if he loses the nomination.
As always, Trump's announcement came amid a lot of hoopla, a new batch of one-liners as well. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have signed the pledge. I don't need money; I don't want money. And this is going to be a campaign like, I think, no other. After I announced, we went up like a rocket ship. I see no circumstances under which I would tear up that pledge.
When you get right down to it, we're a nation that speaks English. And I think while we're in this nation we should be speaking English. And that's how assimilation takes.
I want people to come into our country legally. I want to have a big, fat, beautiful open door.
That's absolutely false. I win at golf. I win at golf. That I can tell you.
Tom Brady is a very good friend of mine. He's a great guy. For those of you that don't know him, he's a very honorable guy and an honest guy and a truly great athlete. Tom Brady, I think what they've done is terrible.
And you look at Hillary Clinton. And I've said she's the worst secretary of state in the history of this country. Now in all fairness, because of the agreement that's about to be finalized with Iran, John Kerry may very well take her place. You say who negotiates a thing like that? That won't happen, I can guarantee you, with a President Trump.
So far everybody that's attacked me has gone down the tubes. As far as Jeb is concerned, I watched him this morning on television, and it's a little bit sad. Don't forget, he was supposed to win. And he just doesn't have the energy.
Kanye West, you know what? I'll never say bad about him. You know why? Because he loves Trump. He loves Trump. He goes around saying, "Trump is my all-time hero." He says it to everybody. So Kanye West, I love him. Now maybe in a few years, I'll have to run against him, so I don't know, so I'll take that back.
KEILAR: All right. CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash was at Trump's news conference in New York. She's joining us now. We also have CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger and CNN political reporter Sara Murray here with us.
OK. So Gloria, react to Donald Trump's tone there.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, if you don't want to be attacked by Donald Trump just call him your hero, and then he won't attack you. Right? That's what we heard about Kanye.
I think this was Trump 2.0. I think that he was still sort of attacking Jeb Bush, but more in sadness than in anger. And I think he was making an effort here to not take back any positions, but to get a little more presidential, frontrunner-y.
KEILAR: Frontrunner-y. I love that.
BORGER: Frontrunnery-y, if that's a word.
KEILAR: Very technical.
BORGER: A very technical term. So -- so you know, I think we've seen him sort of move to a different kind of game here.
KEILAR: Is he making a play for the party faithful?
MURRAY: You know, I think that he is trying to a little bit, or at least, you know, keep the party faithful who've already to come to him. I think that the big tell of that, right, will be how he does in the CNN debate, what Donald Trump do we get on stage at that point.
Last time we saw a very bombastic Trump, one who would not take the pledge. And now that he's sort of neutralized this issue, effectively, ahead of our stage, I think there are a lot of questions about how we will see him present himself, now that he is the clear frontrunner and is onstage again with these guys.
KEILAR: Dana, what does this buy Donald Trump, signing this pledge?
BASH: It's a great question, because he was asked whether or not, as the great negotiator that he says he is, whether he asked for something in return. He said the answer is no. He might not have explicitly asked for something, Bri, but he obviously does have political benefits to doing this.
First of all, the fact is that, as you were talking about with Sara, there are some in the party faithful, just even looking at some focus groups and anecdotally, who were not happy about the fact that he would not make the vow to be a Republican. So that again, as you said, neutralizes the issue.
But also it buys him something that he has really been craving, which is to be, you know, kind of part of the establishment. If you heard him going after, over the past month or so or even before that, the Republican establishment, it's because he said they weren't nice to him. Well, now they are being nice to him, so he's trying to kind of love them back and take on the mantel of frontrunner. Because even he says he was pretty surprised, as everybody else, that he's in this place.
[17:25:14] KEILAR: I want to take a look at this poll. It's a Monmouth University poll. It's another high for Donald Trump. Check this out.
He is in -- Jeb Bush is in single digits, a distant tie for third. So that's certainly not where he wants to be.
Check out the photo that Bush tweeted out: "Votes Republican since 1972, signed Jeb Bush."
Question to you, Gloria. If I'm Donald Trump, you know I would respond with "Not a politician until 2015." I mean, isn't that his appeal?
BORGER: Well, maybe he's going to do that, Bri.
KEILAR: Does it matter that he's voted Republican since 1972, in this thing where -- this cycle where outsider status is what matters?
BORGER: Well, first of all, what Jeb is trying to do is bolster his own conservative credentials here, saying, you know, "I'm more conservative than this guy. You ought to know that -- you know, that he was a Democrat all along." And I think that you're going to see more of this. We may see more of this in our debate coming up.
I also would say what Donald Trump buys himself, by the way, is valid access. Because in a state like South Carolina, he couldn't have run in the primary unless he had signed this pledge.
So I think Donald Trump gets a lot more out of this than Republicans do, because if I were Hillary Clinton, I would use this against Jeb Bush and any Republican candidate and say, you know, "This is the party of Trump."
KEILAR: I think -- sorry, go ahead, Dana. BASH: Just real quick, I also think that the -- another winner
here is Reince Priebus, the RNC chair.
BASH: This could have gone a completely different way. If he would have antagonized him. He did it once a little bit by calling him and saying, "You've got to tone things down." And then when Trump went after him, he stopped doing that. He really worked this in a way that this came out in his favor.
MURRAY: But I do have to say now Reince is still dealing with Donald Trump being the Republican frontrunner. A guy who would say...
KEILAR: There's that.
MURRAY: ... everyone needs to speak English; a guy who has said many inflammatory things about women, which you guys are covering. You know, Reince has sort of been put in this box where he has to play nice with Donald Trump and sort of watch all the hard work he spent the last four years doing kind of crumble before his eyes.
KEILAR: All right. Thank you guys so much. That was a great panel.
Coming up next, this is a really interesting story we have for you. The women behind the front-running Donald Trump. We'll tell you all about them.
[17:32:08] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: We are following breaking news, Donald Trump today signing the Republican National Committee's pledge to remain loyal to the party. Trump did some name-calling today, too, much of it aimed at Jeb Bush.
In recent weeks, Trump also has drawn criticism from what he said about women, yet women are among his closest advisers.
CNN's Brian Todd has a closer look at the ones who have Trump's ears. Who are they?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, those two women in particular are Trump's glamorous wife Melania and his daughter Ivanka, who's a regular on "The Apprentice." He has sworn that they're going to have prominent roles on the trail. He probably can't get them out there soon enough given his very public exchanges with women.
TODD (voice-over): He's been scolded, cornered, has taken the toughest jabs on a highly charged campaign topic.
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS DEBATE MODERATOR: You've called women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.
TODD: Donald Trump later appeared to blame that on FOX moderator Megyn Kelly's hormones. Democrats pounced.
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Donald Trump made some pretty misogynistic sexist remark.
TODD: Since then Trump said he cherishes women and will, quote, "take care of them." As he ramps up his run for the White House he's relying on two women very close to him.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And you know who's very good advice? My wife. You know who else? Ivanka. Anybody out here heard of Ivanka? She's good for advice. She's very smart.
TODD: Trump is said to be heavily influenced by his 33-year-old daughter Ivanka and his 45-year-old wife Melania, a former cover and swimsuit model, born in Slovenia who sells a successful line of jewelry and skin care products on QVC.
MELANIA TRUMP, WIFE OF DONALD TRUMP: I hope you tune in or call me.
TODD: Trump says Melania will soon be campaigning for him and that behind the scenes she scolded him to stop attacking Jeb Bush.
What will Melania and Ivanka advise him on? No comment from Trump's camp.
TRUMP: Omarosa, so you're the team leader and you lost.
TODD: But Omarosa Manigault, a three-time contestant on Trump's NBC reality shows "The Apprentice" and "Celebrity Apprentice," says these women will help him zero in on issues that matter to female voters.
OMAROSA MANIGAULT, HOWARD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: Fair pay, issues regarding women's health, education. You know, those are things that I think that they could be very helpful to Mr. Trump on.
TODD: Melania has appeared on "Celebrity Apprentice."
M. TRUMP: I cannot believe they spelled my name wrong.
TODD: Ivanka is the regular.
D. TRUMP: So, Ivanka, who would you fire?
IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: I'd fire Martin.
TODD: And she's introduced Trump on the trail.
I. TRUMP: He says what he means and he means what he says.
TODD: Three of Trump's top eight campaign officials and one of his Iowa co-chairs are women. Analysts say they'll have to balance out Ivanka's and Melania's inexperience.
SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: They're not people who will run for office, who've run for campaigns before. I'm not sure they're the kind of asset when it comes to appealing to women voters that he might think they are.
TODD: How will Ivanka and Melania shape Donald Trump's world view?
[17:35:02] MANIGAULT: I believe that Ivanka and Melania, they're able to kind of soften Trump's edges. You know, he has some very sharp edges to him, and they are able to kind of soften that, and give him a perspective from a woman, but also to insert a little compassion into his perspectives on issues that are important to them.
TODD: Now there's another strong, very accomplished woman who Omarosa Manigault says is a very big influence on Donald Trump. His older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, 78 years old, a senior federal judge who serves on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. She's got a reputation for being tough behind the bench with a strong command of her courtroom and a good command of her brother's attention -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Very interesting. Brian Todd, thank you so much.
And coming up, from a massive military parade displaying the latest long-range weapons to a new video showing what it would be like to attack U.S. forces, China is flexing its muscles. What is the message here?
[17:40:32] KEILAR: China today did some serious muscle flexing, putting its military might on display. A signal to the outside world especially the U.S. that it's a force to be reckoned with. That show of strength is also taking place well beyond China's borders.
And CNN's chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is here to tell us all about it.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: So a military parade like this is meticulously choreographed, planned, fine-tuned right down to the last tank, the last soldier, the color of the smoke coming out of the back of the jets flying over. And it's choreographed because it has a message. Certainly for a domestic audience this is a message of strength. To the Chinese people, 1.4 billion of them, even as the economy is faltering, but also overseas and particularly to the U.S., a message aimed at the U.S. and some of those weapons aimed at the U.S. as well.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): China's massive military parade in Beijing today delivered a very clear message far away to America. On grand display in the Chinese capital, new weapons which U.S. officials believe are designed specifically to target U.S. military assets. A new ballistic missile with the range to strike the U.S. naval base at Guam earning it the nickname the "Guam killer." A new anti-ship ballistic missile which analysts call the "carrier killer," unveiled today for the first time. And high above a fly-over by China's new J- 15 fighter, soon to be deployed on China's own new aircraft carrier. Its first.
All this today watched not just by China's elite, but Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Pentagon brushed off the show of force.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People know the strength of the United States, the strength of our military, and I think it's safe to say that we don't need to display a parade necessarily for people to understand what the United States is capable of.
SCIUTTO: Still as President Obama gets ready to welcome the Chinese president to Washington for a full state visit later this month, China is increasingly flexing its military muscle far from its shores. Chinese Navy ships entered waters off Alaska for the first time this week at the same time President Obama was visiting.
And China continues to militarize manmade islands in the South China Sea, waters the U.S. considers international. We came face-to- face with the Chinese military there on board a U.S. surveillance aircraft this May.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the Chinese Navy. This is the Chinese Navy. Please go away quickly.
Bonnie Glaser, Center For Strategic And International Studies: China's navy is going to be operating as increasingly as a Blue Water Navy around the world. And the United States is just going to have to get used to it.
SCIUTTO: Though today's ceremony did not mention the U.S. the Chinese company produced this video showing a Chinese attack on forces very much resembling American ones, with an overwhelming Chinese victory.
SCIUTTO: U.S. Navy confirmed today that those Chinese ships off the coast of Alaska are heading home, but, Brianna, you really can't underestimate the importance of that trip. You know, the perception had been for so long that China was only interested in things that happened very close to its borders. And now you're seeing with those manmade islands, that 600 miles away, coast of Alaska a few thousand miles away and of course very close to the U.S. They were trying to project power now far beyond their borders. And that's a real message to the U.S. and a real challenge.
KEILAR: And they were upset when U.S. troops were going to be in northern Australia where -- with that installation.
KEILAR: It really is telling.
Jim Sciutto, thanks so much.
Joining me now to talk more about this, we have former State Department senior adviser, Christian Whiton, and we have Asia expert Gordon Chang, he's a columnist for Forbes.com.
So, Gordon, you heard that report. Tell us your assessment of how urgent the China threat is.
GORDON CHANG, FORBES.COM COLUMNIST: Well, I think Beijing really would like to put in our mind the notion that they can strike us at any time, because you know when a group of those missiles passed the reviewing stand today, the announcer said that they could, quote, "hit Hawaii." And that certainly is a message.
You know, they showed us the carrier killers. And they were very nice because what they did was they put the DF-21D on the side of that missile. Now operationally they would never do that, but they were sending a message by trying to sort of put those letters on the missiles. And I think that's going to be an important story for us going forward.
KEILAR: Christian, if you were advising administration officials now as you have in the past, what would you say about the China threat?
[17:45:01] CHRISTIAN WHITON, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SENIOR ADVISER: Well, I'd say it's extremely belligerent. This is the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II when most people around the world are saying, you know, we should look back and take lessons on how to prevent war, and here you have China basically goose stepping through. And it's not just soldiers and veterans. But as Gordon pointed out, very sophisticated weapons, so a very serious threat.
It's a growing threat. People often compare our defense budget to China, and say, well, gee, the American defense budget is overwhelming but we have obligations to the Middle East, we have obligations with the resurgent Russia, and you know, this freedom of navigation that we have guaranteed in the Pacific since 1945 for the benefit of all is really coming into question. So, you know, we may need a bigger Navy.
KEILAR: That's an interesting point, Christian. You obviously saw that Russian President Vladimir Putin was at this military parade. That alliance, the Russia-China alliance, what does that mean? How troubling is that for the U.S.?
WHITON: That I think there's a little less than meets the eye. Actually it's to Putin's benefit to be -- to go and appear next to Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, because fewer and fewer foreign leaders want to be seen with Vladimir Putin. There's serious energy cooperation between the Chinese and the Russians, but at the end of the day China still has some deep suspicions about Russia, and Russia probably has some suspicions about a billion Chinese looking at its thinly populated Russian Far East.
So, you know, you have these big gas deals, Russian gas supposedly going to China, but I think there's less than meets the eye.
KEILAR: That's really interesting.
Gordon, the president will be hosting the Chinese president soon during a visit. What message does he need to send to him about this posture, this sort of belligerent posture?
CHANG: I think the most important thing that President Obama needs to convey is American will. You know, we Americans -- and you heard it from the Pentagon spokesman saying well, we have an overwhelming military presence around the world, and yes, we do, and the Chinese understand that, but the Chinese think that that's irrelevant because they think this is an issue of will. They think that they have got lots of will and we don't have very much of it.
Now they very well may be wrong, but the concept here is that deterrence is breaking down, and nothing ever good happens when you have an adversary believe that you are weak. So I think President Obama needs to sort of disabuse the Chinese of that.
KEILAR: All right. Gordon Chang, Christian Whiton, thanks so much to both of you.
And coming up, check this out. Yes, high heels, mini-skirts in Pyongyang, an all-girl band formed by Kim Jong-Un rocks the regime.
[17:51:53] KEILAR: North Korea's communist regime is rocking out to an all-female pop band. It's hand-picked by the country's ever- cool and stylish dictator.
I want to go live now to CNN's Kyung Lah in Seoul.
This is pretty interesting, Kyung.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very interesting and gathering a lot of interest here among North Korea watchers. Whether Kim Jong- Un's embrace of some parts of Western culture might signal any sort of change of heart in the regime.
LAH (voice-over): Welcome to North Korea's hottest pop band, Moranbong. A violin-wielding, high heel-wearing, Kim Jong-Un-loving girl group. Formed, according to North Korea's propaganda, by the supreme leader himself.
At this concert a long-range missile launches on the big screen behind them. Frenzied fans on their feet. The music crescendos as the missile strikes a picture of the United States.
North Korea's age-old message delivered by women in a communist version of a Chanel suit. It is a modern, powerful twist for the repressive regime's brainwashing of its people. While Kim Jong-Un has reportedly executed members of his own family and inner circle, he's pitching himself as an exciting young leader, says North Korean Studies professor Yu Ho-yeol.
PROF. YU HO-YEOL, NORTH KOREAN STUDIES, KOREA UNIVERSITY: He, Kim Jong-Un, is a leader who are familiar with such kind of a strange and new and otherwise cultural image.
LAH: It is a calculated departure from the propaganda of his father's era. At North Korea's only airline, Air Koryo, flight attendants ditching the staid, Soviet-era uniforms, and replacing them with this, the leggy outfits gracing this month's cover of North Korea's magazine.
The new North Korea spotted on Kim Jong-Un's very own wife, Ri Sol-ju. She is North Korea' Kate Middleton, spawning a Westernization of fashion in Pyongyang, down to the high heels.
But nothing happens by accident on the hermit kingdom's propaganda TV. No citizens on earth are as happy as us, says North Korea's announcer, as Kim Jong-Un takes a ride at this brand-new amusement park.
Pictures on his private plane show him as a progressive leader cementing his people's loyalty.
North Korea watchers saying updating its propaganda from this to something more modern, more outside world, does have some political benefit. But there is some risk to the regime.
The ladies of Moranbong perpetually in praise of Kim Jong-Un clearly got some ideas from their enemy on the other side of the DMZ -- South Korea's K-pop bands. Let in some new ideas?
YU HO-YEOL: They want to look beyond the screen. Maybe it's a risk to the regime itself.
LAH: A challenge not on a military front but one of human curiosity.
LAH: Here is the head-scratcher in all of this. That South Korean band that North Korea is copying, well, it is the very band, that very same song, that they objected to being played on the propaganda speakers that South Korea had erected on the DMZ.
[17:55:05] So, Brianna, they are willing to declare war over the message from the South, the music from the South, but are copying it themselves. So it's really something that is quite curious.
KEILAR: It sure is. Kyung Lah for us in Seoul, thank you so much for that great report.
Coming up, frontrunner Donald Trump pledges allegiance to the GOP. He promises to support the Republican nominee, which he also promises will turn out to be Donald Trump.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KEILAR: Happening now. Breaking news. Trump's promise.
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DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have signed the pledge.
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