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Trump Ramps Up Rhetoric on North Korea; Pence at DMZ: No More 'Failed Policy of Strategic Patience'. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 17, 2017 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, threats of war. North Korea warns the U.S. This a nuclear war could break out at any moment as tensions rise on the Korean plane. After President Trump's military actions in Syria and Afghanistan, what options are on the table?

[17:00:20] No more patience. Vice President Pence warns North Korea not to test President Trump's resolve, claiming the era of strategic patience is over. CNN's Dana Bash is traveling with the vice president as he delivers his message from the Demilitarized Zone.

Georgia on his mind. A competitive race to fill a Georgia congressional seat catches the attention of President Trump. Could a seat held by Republicans for more than 30 years be in play in a special election?

And murder on Facebook. An all-out manhunt is under way nationwide for a man who taped himself killing an elderly man on Easter and uploaded the video to Facebook.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Just days after parading its latest long-range missiles, North Korea warns a nuclear war could break out at any moment and accuses the United States of pushing the situation to the brink. That comes as Vice President Pence visits the most dangerous spot on earth, the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. Pence is warning the North not to test President Trump's resolve or U.S. strength, saying the era of strategic patience is now over.

President Trump says his message to North Korea is they've got to behave, but the White House says not to expect any red lines, stressing the president is not going to telegraph his moves. Press secretary Sean Spicer adds that the missile strike in Syria shows the president, when appropriate, will take decisive action.

And an urgent hunt expands nationwide for the man charged in the murder of an elderly grandfather gunned down at random on a Cleveland street after an Easter meal with his family. The suspect posted a video of the killing on Facebook and claimed that he committed multiple homicides.

I'll talk to Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of the Intelligence Committee. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they're standing by with full coverage of the day's top stories. With North Korea warning of nuclear war, President Trump has a message

for Kim Jong-un. Let's begin with our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, what's the latest there?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, President Trump is still ramping up the rhetoric on North Korea, telling CNN the communist country needs to, quote, "behave itself," but aides to the president insist he's also trying to use some diplomacy to try to resolve this potential crisis.


ACOSTA: Mr. President, how does it feel to have the whole Trump family with you today, sir?


ACOSTA (voice-over): President Trump is hardly walking on eggshells when it comes to handling North Korea. With his family by his side at the White House Easter egg roll, the president all but told North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un to cut it out.

(on camera): Any message for North Korea sir, Kim Jong-un?

TRUMP: Got to behave.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Even though the White House has been flexing its muscles lately, with high-profile military strikes in Syria and Afghanistan, the president told us he hopes North Korea will choose the path of peace.

(on camera): Mr. President, do you think North Korea can be resolved peacefully, sir? What are your thoughts on Kim Jong-un?

TRUMP: Hopefully, it can.

ACOSTA: White House press secretary Sean Spicer told CNN the president is counting on China's help. Over the weekend, the president defended his situation not to label China a currency manipulator, asking why would he do that "when they are working with us on the North Korean problem. We'll see what happens."

(on camera): Because he sort of let China off the hook.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, I wouldn't say he's let them off the hook. He understands that they can play a very important role in making our world safer; and we're going to utilize the relationships that he's built with President Xi.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But Democrats worry the president's rhetoric is getting too overheated, arguing there's no military solution with an unstable regime boasting nuclear ambitions.

SEN. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I think because of the unevenness of his statements and positions which he has taken thus far, it is highly unclear as to whether or not he has the ability to be able to think this thing through in a way that avoids an actual military showdown between the United States and North Korea.

ACOSTA: The president is also sticking to his guns on his tax returns.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show us your taxes! Show us your taxes!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show us your taxes! Show us your taxes!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show us your taxes! Show us your taxes!

ACOSTA: Spicer told reporters the president has no plans to release them, as his recent predecessors have done in the past around tax day.

SPICER: The president is under audit. It's a routine one that continues, and I think that the American public know clearly where he stands

ACOSTA: With Mr. Trump's approval rating still mired in historically low territory for a new president...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to meet you.

ACOSTA: ... he's also trying to prevent a political crisis in the state of Georgia, where young Democrat Jon Ossoff is looking to pull off an upset in a special election, what has been a safe Republican seat in Congress for decades.

[17:05:07] The president tweeted "The super liberal Democrat in the Georgia congressional race tomorrow wants to protect criminals, allow illegal immigration and raise taxes."

Leading progressives believe a movement is building against the president.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I think all over this country, in red states and in blue states, people are beginning to stand up. They're beginning to fight back. They're demanding a government which does not just represent the billionaires but represents the working class of this country.


ACOSTA: Now as for North Korea, the White House is declining to draw a red line that defines just how far Kim Jong-un can go in his provocations.

And despite all the tweets and tough talk the president, the White House will not be telegraphing his next move. And as for the president's tax returns, you heard Sean Spicer talking about that in the piece earlier, Wolf. He -- the president could legally release them at any time, of course. We've talked about this time and again since the campaign. An audit does not preclude the president from doing just that. But he declined through his spokesman, Sean Spicer, at the briefing once again today, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, he did. All right. Thanks very much, Jim Acosta.

As tensions escalate with North Korea, Vice President Pence visits what's often been called the most dangerous place on earth, the dividing line between North and South Korea.

CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, is the only network reporter traveling with the vice president right now. She's joining us live from Seoul, South Korea.

Dana, you heard some pretty tough talk from the vice president today.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, and, look, at the DMZ, military officials there will say that they are always seconds or inches away from a miscalculation that could be devastating.

And traveling to the DMZ with the vice president, that was on display.


BASH (voice-over): The Demilitarized Zone on the Korean Peninsula is always a place on edge, especially now as the vice president visits and tensions are escalating.

(on camera) The vice president wasn't going to come out here, outside. He was initially supposed to stay inside, but he said he wanted to come out, and you can see what's happening. If you look over there, not only are the U.S. and South Korean troops getting ready for it, you see right over there, the man on the other side of the blue building, that's a North Korean military officer.

Here comes the vice president now. You can see those soldiers on the other side of that concrete barrier taking pictures. Those are North Korean soldiers taking photos of the vice president.

If you swing around right here, Dave, the vice president, getting a briefing, so they're taking a picture, many pictures of the vice president looking at them and looking into North Korea.

(voice-over): Minutes later Vice President Pence, whose father was a decorated soldier in the Korean war, spoke exclusively with CNN.

(on camera): I was watching you watch what is behind you earlier. What was going through your mind looking at North Korea?

MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a frontier of freedom. Now for more than six decades, U.S. forces and forces of South Korea have held the line for freedom here at the DMZ.

BASH: But there are estimates that North Korea could have a missile ready that could hit the continental U.S., Seattle, by 2020, which is going to be on your watch. I mean, is that weighing on you, and is that a deadline you all have in mind?

PENCE: I know the president of the United States has no higher priority than the safety and security of the American people.

As the president has made clear, that we're going to abandon the failed policy of strategic patience, but we're going to redouble our efforts to bring diplomatic and economic pressure to bear on North Korea.

PERINO (voice-over): Yet later in Seoul, a thinly veiled threat.

PENCE: North Korea would do we will not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region.

PERINO: That little more than an hour after visiting a DMZ post overlooking North Korea, where propaganda blares from speakers all day.

(on camera): I was just holding the microphone out so that you can hear what we're hearing, which is music right now coming from that way, and that way is North Korea. The music now is oftentimes propaganda that the North Korean regime is notoriously sending out.

(voice-over): An up-close view of a rogue regime becoming more and more dangerous.


BASH: Now the vice president is going to continue to have meetings here in South Korea -- it is Tuesday morning -- with business leaders and others continuing to try to reassure very jittery officials and citizens here that the U.S. is standing side by side with South Korea.

And he's going to have the same goal and the same problem that he's going to face in his next stop later today, and that, Wolf, is Japan. Of course, Japan is not as close, doesn't have a DMZ with North Korea, but is just as concerned about the possibility of a nuclear North Korea since it has been the shores of Japan that has seen a lot of the nuclear missile tests in the past months and even years.

BLITZER: Yes, good point and good reporting. Dana, we're going to get back to you. Dana Bash reporting from Seoul, South Korea.

Joining us now, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He's a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senator, thanks for joining us.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Under what circumstances...

MANCHIN: Wolf, it's always good to be with you.

BLITZER: Thank you. Under what circumstances, Senator, would you support a preemptive strike on North Korea?

MANCHIN: Well, basically, a preemptive strike is going to be showing that they're -- have a missile, they have capability, and they have intentions of using it on us, with that.

I just truly believe that we need to sit down in the Congress and, basically the White House needs to sit down and have a pathway forward with an AUMF, an authorization to use military force, whatever part of the world that we might need to use it in.

And with that being said, we've been going 16 years now from the AUMF that was used up to George W. Bush from the Afghanistan and Iraq, and it's time for us to sit down, basically decide what we will do; how, if we do put people on the ground and boots on the ground, what's our end game? How do we get them back out? How do we not get trapped into nation building again? All this is very concerning to all of us.

BLITZER: Do you think it's wise not to specify a red line on North Korea, the White House today saying this president is not going to impose a red line, doesn't want to telegraph what U.S. intentions are.

MANCHIN: I think that's smart. I don't think they should be putting red line or any type of a line out.

The bottom line is if our country and the citizens of the United States are threatened and it's an imminent threat, we will do whatever it takes to defend this country and every human being that we have that's a citizen of this country there. Can be no doubt about that.

The bottom line is this. China has more to lose than anybody. China needs to step to the plate. They're talking all the good talk now. They're saying all the right things, but even as back to February 18, when they said they quit buying coal, we know that there's been coal purchased by China from North Korea since then. It's time for them to toughen up and get serious about basically stopping North Korea from their bad behavior.

BLITZER: As you know in the past few days, President Trump, he's actually been praising China for cooperating with the U.S. on North Korea. He no longer wants to declare it a currency manipulator.

How well do you think his approach is working right now in trying to convince the Chinese who have leverage on North Korea to get the job done?

MANCHIN: Well, I agree basically he should try everything humanly possible. Every diplomatic tool that you have in your toolbox, and with that being said, the president has a lot of it. He has o use everything he has to get China to engage, to make sure that North Korea knows China is serious. China does not want this conflict. We do not want the Korean Peninsula upheavaled [SIC], if you will. China has more to lose than anybody. And on top of that you have Japan very close. It's a very, very delicate position, a very, very troubled world that we have right there, and that part of the world.

So with that being said, he's trying everything possible to bring them to the table. They're either going to come to the table, get serious, clamp down, put some financial restraints and basically mean what they say. They're saying the right things right now, but they haven't basically followed through with them. So maybe now, maybe now that he knows as serious as we are.

I think basically -- I supported President Trump in the dropping of the MOAB, if you will. I -- I -- I think that showed a sign of resolve and strength that we're not going to basically say something we don't mean and follow through with it.

With that being said, I also supported the hit that we had in Syria. I think that was time, and I also share the concern about the collateral damage. These are very strategic. He has excellent people who are around, him and I believe he's listening to them. So let's see where we go, but I think the United States lass to be tough and we can't let this thing continue to fester. It's been going on for far too long.

BLITZER: Senator, yesterday President Trump tweeted this. I'll put it up on the screen: "Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem. We will see what happens."

If China fails, Senator, in changing the dynamic with North Korea, will President Trump regret backtracking on his campaign promises regarding the U.S.-China trade relationship, for example?

MANCHIN: Well, here's the thing. You know, it's one thing to have all the rhetoric during the campaign. I understand. I've been through many campaigns. There's a lot of things that are said.

Then when it comes time to govern, that's a complete different -- that's a complete different ball game, Wolf. He has to use every tool we can. Diplomacy. We are the military might of the world. We are the superpower. No one -- I don't think anyone doubts the unbelievable military we have and the superpower we have.

But with that, to use the superpower, you better use super diplomatic procedures first and everything that you can before you use your military might. I've always been supportive of that.

With that saying, China needs to step to the plate. China has not. They've talked about it. They haven't stepped to the plate, and it's time they do that. We're going to see very quickly do they mean it? Are they really going to be serious? Just like I said before, they're still purchasing coal. Don't tell me you're going to cut off their finances by not purchasing their goods and then you're still doing it.

So if they're going to be serious, the president is going to hold them serious, we know what's going on. This is not classified. It's open source so we need to get real.

BLITZER: Do you have any insight, Senator, into this latest North Korean missile test that failed over the weekend? For example, does the United States have the capability to jam those missiles?

MANCHIN: I'm on Intelligence, so with that being said we'll leave it at that. The bottom line is the United States, you know, we're an unbelievable

power, if you will. I'm not going to say, because I really don't know. I haven't been briefed on that. I -- I know one thing. We are committed to keeping this country, every citizen in this United States safe. That's our commitment. And we are basically providing our military with all the resources they need, and I will continue to do that, and vote for that, to support them.

With that being said, we'll use it as wisely as we possibly can where needed. I can't say and confirm one way or the other that anything was done differently than they just basically don't have their technology perfected enough to do what they want to do. They're working very feverishly on that, and that's something that we're not going to tolerate for them to have the capabilities of doing damage and striking the United States of America.

BLITZER: I raise the question, and I understand completely the sensitivity of the whole issue, but as you know, it's been widely reported that the U.S. did have a cyber capability to set back Iran's nuclear program, the so-called Stuxnet virus. That was very effective, at least for a while, in setting back the Iranian nuclear program. Do you want to get into that at all and talk a little bit about various capabilities?

MANCHIN: Let me just say that, you know, the citizens of the United States of America support the greatest military the world has ever known, and we're going to do everything humanly possible to protect our country.

We know the capabilities of our adversaries. We know Russia's capability in hacking. We know Syria. We know Iran. We know Russia. We know them all. With that being said, we're going to make sure that we're going to stay as humanly possible a step ahead.

So we'll do whatever we can, but I can't confirm or deny any of the things that you're saying. I know there's an awful lot of speculation out there, but with that being said, we know people want to do us harm.

North Korea is basically a rogue player right now. They could care less about being any type of status within the world power whatsoever, and they believe they have to have nuclear power and show the ability to strike the superpower of the world, the United States of America, for them to be basically taken serious, and we're not going to tolerate that.

BLITZER: Senator, we have a lot more to discuss. I need to take a quick break. We'll resume our conversation right after this.


[17:23:33] BLITZER: Our top story. After putting its latest long range missiles on parade and launching a spectacular missile test failure, North Korea is now warning a nuclear war could break out at any moment.

President Trump is warning North Korea to behave.

We're back with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He's a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senator, we were expecting North Korea possibly to carry out its sixth underground nuclear test over the weekend, but apparently they didn't go through with that test. Is President Trump's tough talk working?

MANCHIN: Well, not just the tough talk. I think that seeing that basically the action that was taken in Syria, the action that was taken in Afghanistan, knowing that the president and this administration basically means what they say, and they're going to tell you what they mean, I think that's going a long way giving pause to everybody.

But I still pursue, and I would encourage the administration to pursue diplomatic resolve. That's where China plays a big part in this. All the players and actors over there have to be involved, and South Korea, too. You know, I was watching where Vice President Pence is on the DMZ line. We were there.

We had a group over in October that I was there, and that's a very fragile place. It's a -- it's so surreal when you're there and seeing the tension that goes on, but this has been going back and forth for 60 years. I don't know why the leader -- their leader, North Korea, would want to raise the ante right now, because I think that, hopefully, that China will get involved. And if they don't, I'll take the president at his word that we are not going to allow them to continue to develop a nuclear weapon that can reach America.

[17:25:17] BLITZER: How concerned are you, Senator, about the possibility of North Korea launching a major cyber-attack against the United States? In other words, how good is their capability?

MANCHIN: Well, North Korea basically -- we have cyber hits from all over the world on a second-by-second basis. It's unbelievable. But like I say we are the best in the world and we're able to and we're working very feverishly to make sure that we're able to defend and secure our country and keep our country safe.

But North Korea basically will do all they can do. They have to understand we'll retaliate. We're not going to sit back and take it. So if they think they can play their games, and that's going to continue for us just to hunker down and say, "Well, that's not that bad; that didn't do much damage," I don't think that that's going to happen. I really don't. I think with McMaster and you have Mattis now and all the people that we have, Dunford, great people in the right place that makes great decisions, great advice to the president. And from what I can see so far, Wolf, he's taking that advice, and I hope that continues.

BLITZER: All right. Senator Manchin, thanks so much for joining us.

MANCHIN: It's always good to be with you, Wolf. Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you. Coming, a top North Korean official accuses the U.S. of pushing the

two countries to the brink of nuclear war.

And breaking news. New developments in the nationwide manhunt for the suspect in a videotaped killing that was posted on Facebook.

BLITZER: Very sharp talk on North Korea from the vice president, Mike Pence, as he visits South Korea and warns the Kim Jong-un regime not to test President Trump's resolve.

[17:31:33] Let's dig deeper with our experts and our analysts.

Gloria, the vice president says flatly "The era of strategic patience is over." I'm not exactly sure what that means, but what does it mean to you in terms of policy going forward?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, when I heard him say that to Dana Bash, my ears kind of perked up, because it seemed to me that he might be saying there ought to be some kind of negotiations. There ought to be some kind of talks.

Because they know as well as everybody else that there aren't any good options here. What are they going to do? Start a war? They're not going to start a war. And the president himself said during the campaign, if I recall, that he wouldn't mind -- what was it? -- having a hamburger with Kim Jong-un.

So I think that maybe they are talking about that. You know, they know that you could have China impose more sanctions, but how far is China willing to go? You know, the Obama administration tried that, so I think they are basically out of options here.

BLITZER: Yes. The North Korean deputy ambassador David Chalian to the United Nations says the U.S. Is pushing the situation to the brink of war. So is the tough talk coming not just from the president or the vice president but the secretary of defense, the secretary of state and others, is that moving North Korea at least in the right direction a little bit?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, actually I think that tough talk is more aimed at China. I think -- I think it's sort of, you know, it's a by-product. Tough talk about North Korea is to get China to do more in terms of sanctions, get them to exercise the learning that China has over North Korea.

And I also think, Wolf, we really do have to separate right now the tough talk from actual policy. Because as you were just saying, the Obama administration, go back to the Bush administration, trying to get China to leverage its power to help North Korea get to a place that would be acceptable to the United States and not pursue a nuclear program. This has been a decades long U.S. policy that hasn't been working all that well, and aside from the tough talk, I don't hear a ton of difference right now.

BLITZER: You hear -- Chris Cillizza, you hear major differences now as opposed to what we heard during the Obama administration? CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Tonally,

but that -- to David's point, that's the point. I mean, I think in some ways what this is we are going to tough talk. We're going to sort of puff our chests out more than we believe the Obama administration did, and then we're going see if it does anything with China.

You know, somebody asked me, well, does this mean that China is now on our side with North Korea? I said, well, Donald Trump shared a piece of cake with, you know, the Chinese president at Mar-a-Lago. I'm not sure we can draw a ton of conclusions based on two days of talks there. Donald Trump thinks they went well. We don't really know what the Chinese president thinks, necessarily. That doesn't mean much.

But I do think this is talk which can lead to policy theoretically, but that's not what this is, to David's point.

BORGER: Anything that happened before was not good, so anything that happens now is going to be better. This is the -- this is the sort of Trump doctrine. And it -- for lack of a better way to describe it. And so even though the Obama administration did many of the same things, including trying to get China to do more, et cetera, they are doing this for the first time so their feeling is it will be better.

CILLIZZA: Donald Trump believes -- every administration believes this to some extent, but Donald Trump very much believes he was elected to sort of be the anti-Barack Obama as it relates to foreign policy. There's too much kowtowing to world leaders, that we need to reassert what it means to be America again. That when we say there is a red line or a line that's been crossed, we act on it, as he did in Syria and President Obama didn't.

[17:35:14] So I think all of this, particularly given we're 88 days in, you have to frame it as a reaction in some ways to how he got elected and how he sees the world, which is the opposite of what Obama does.

BLITZER: But what Obama never did during the eight years of his administration -- this is what White House officials point out repeatedly -- he never attacked the regime of Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons. Attacked ISIS in Syria but not the regime of Bashar al-Assad. And he never dropped this mother of all bombs that had been in the U.S. arsenal since 2003. So he is taking new steps.

CHALIAN: He is. There are some new tactics being employed that -- that display strength that they think works for them. But to Chris's point, not only do they not like red lines; they don't like to draw red lines either. So yes, they want to move through, Donald Trump does, with action.


CHALIAN: But we didn't even know that a humanitarian crisis and terrible images of children being attacked with chemical weapons was a red line for this administration. He never really...


BLITZER: Go ahead.

CILLIZZA: And I'm not sure that he knew until it happened and he saw the images.

BORGER: But then he says it crosses every red line.

CILLIZZA: All the lines.

BORGER: All the lines. All the lines.

BLITZER: All right, guys. There's more coming up, including a special election that could rock the political landscape nationwide. What's at stake tomorrow in Georgia for Republicans and Democrats?


[17:41:07] BLITZER: All political eyes are on a special House election in Georgia where Democrats are fighting to put a longtime Republican stronghold in the blue column. Chris Cillizza, explain what's going on, because this potentially could be a major vote tomorrow.

CILLIZZA: Eighteen candidates running in what's called a jungle primary, which means everyone is in it. The top two vote-getters advance. You have four Democrats, one serious one, Jon Ossoff, who's gotten a lot of attention, raised $8.3 million in the first three months of the year, which is amazing. Eleven Republicans, four of whom are serious.

The real question here is...

BLITZER: This is Tom Price's seat.

CILLIZZA: The real question is -- this is Tom Price, the health and human services secretary. It's a pretty reliably Republican district. It was actually close in 2016 but has been a very Republican district. The question here in...

CHALIAN: Close in the presidential.

CILLIZZA: In the presidential. Not terribly close down-ballot.

BORGER: Not at all.

CILLIZZA: The Republicans have held it since the '70s.

BLITZER: Let me put up on the screen...


BLITZER: ... how close it was in the presidential race in 2016. You see Trump and Hillary Clinton. He won -- he carried that district, David Chalian, by less than 5,000 votes. CHALIAN: Yes, I mean, and 2012 presidential race in that district, I

think Mitt Romney won it by 22 points or 23 points or something like that, so it's a pretty dramatic swing, which is -- I'm one of those people, Wolf, I think -- and you'll see this happen with both the Democrats and Republicans tomorrow. They will overinterpret the results no matter what they are.

BLITZER: We always do.

CHALIAN: There's no doubt about that. And I tend to throw had a little cold water on special elections as being some great big ability to be the fortune teller of what's to come. But here's why I think tomorrow is important.

I think tomorrow is important, because it is exactly the kind of district where Hillary Clinton made inroads with suburban well- educated voters that had been reliably Republican that Chris was talking about but that were anti-Trump and really resistant to Trump. And so if, indeed, the electoral framework of the country is shifting after the first 100 days of Donald Trump, this is the kind of place that we should see it.

I know on television screens we see the bluest of blue cities with the protests and the resistance, but this is actually electorally the kind of place that, if the Democrats are able to use Trump as a foil, this is the kind of place they should be able to.

BORGER: And let me just give you a little history here, because this is the same district that Newt Gingrich represented for 20 years, and also Mitt Romney won this district by 23 points.

So you see that the Romney Republicans were very popular in this district, not so much Donald Trump. And if the Democrats win, and you're right, they will overinterpret this and say the resistance has come to Atlanta. But it will be very, very good news for them. And even if they're close and they don't win, they're still going to say it's very good news.

BLITZER: If he gets 50 -- if Ossoff, the Democratic candidate, gets 50 percent of the vote, he wins; he's the next congressman from that district. But if he doesn't get 50 percent, then in June, what, there's a runoff.

CILLIZZA: That's right. There will be a runoff between him and the top performing Republican, who I think will be Karen Handel, who's run state-wide a couple of times. She ran for the Senate. She ran for governor. Best-known candidate in a crowded field.

The one thing I'll say about the close counts. Winning is the most important thing to be predictive of winning. Coming close, which Republicans claimed -- Democrats claimed in Kansas last week, and they may claim in Georgia...


CILLIZZA: ... I think is spin. Gloria is 100 percent right. They will absolutely, if it's close, say, "Well, he got 47 percent."

But you mentioned it, Wolf, June runoff. That's two months. It's not two weeks from now. It's a time for a whole campaign to be one v. one, Republicans versus Democrats.

BORGER: Can I also say the window in this election has been pretty short relatively, and so somebody with better name recognition like Karen Handel might have, really, a leg up when you compare it to the newcomer, Ossoff. Right? And so he's 30 years old. He's not been involved in politics other than legislatively working for a congressman. So, you know, I think that she could have a leg up. She's run for statewide office, but she's lost twice also.

CHALIAN: It was wise for the Democrats, John Lewis, the congressman, Hank Johnson, who Ossoff worked for, to get in and really coalesce around one candidate early, because the Democrats really coalesced around him. We don't know what this race looks like without a completely split Republican field.

CILLIZZA: And we would never have thought three months ago when Tom Price was picked that this would be a competitive race, so there is credit due to Democrats for getting this, to David's point, on the radar.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's see what turn out is like tomorrow, and we'll get a better sense at this time tomorrow night.

All right. Guys, thank you. Breaking news coming up, a nationwide manhunt and a new reward in the gruesome killing that was posted on Facebook.


[17:49:57] BLITZER: We're following the nation-wide manhunt for the suspect in a killing that was recorded on video and posted to Facebook. A $50,000 reward is now being offered for information leading to Steve Stephens who's charged with murder in the shooting death of an elderly man. CNN's Brian Todd has been working this story for us.

Brian, investigators say they received literally hundreds of tips.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, investigators have received hundreds of tips, and they say they have searched dozens of locations to now avail. The resources of the Cleveland Police, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals, and the ATF are being deployed in this case tonight. Just a short time ago, Cleveland's Police Chief said this is now a national search for a suspect who is armed, dangerous, and unpredictable.


TODD (voice-over): Tonight, chilling new details on what might have motivated suspect Steve Stephens to gun down a 74-year-old man at random on a street in Cleveland. In a video Stephens later posted on Facebook, he's heard approaching

victim Robert Godwin, then asking Godwin to say a woman's name. Stephens is heard in the video saying, quote, "She is the reason why this is about to happen to you," then the gun is fired.

JAMES SCHIELD, FORMER COORDINATOR OF THE FUGITIVE TASK FORCE, UNITED STATES MARSHALS SERVICES: He is trying to shift the blame. He is not taking the blame himself. You know, he is kind of saying she made me do it.

TODD (voice-over): The woman in question told multiple news agencies she is overwhelmed by the killing of Robert Godwin. She told CBS News that the suspect, Stephens, is, quote, "a really nice guy, kind and loving to her children." Stephens' mother had earlier told CNN, Stephens had told her he was, quote, "mad with his girlfriend that's why he is shooting people." But Cleveland's Police Chief, this afternoon, placed the blame squarely on Stephens.

CALVIN WILLIAMS, CHIEF OF POLICE, CLEVELAND DIVISION OF POLICE: You know, we've interviewed several people involved in this, and I don't think there is any rhyme or reason for it happening. I don't think there is anything that we can point to specifically to say that this is what sparked this. Only Steve knows that.

TODD (voice-over): Tonight there's a reward of up to $50,000 for information on the fugitive. Police say they did have brief contact with Stephens on his cell phone in the aftermath of the killing on Easter Sunday.

Cleveland's Police Chief says this is now a national search, that Stephens is believed to be armed and dangerous and driving a white Ford Fusion with temporary license plates. His victim, Robert Godwin, had 10 children who are devastated.

ROBERT GODWIN, JR., VICTIM'S SON: This man right here was a good man. And I just -- I hate that he's gone.

TODD (voice-over): Stephens had claimed on Facebook that he committed multiple homicides. Police say they have no knowledge of other victims. The Police Chief sent a signal to people who may have been in contact with Stephens.

WILLIAMS: If there is someone that's helping Steve, or if you think you're helping Steve, you're really not. You're going to get yourself in trouble along with him.

TODD (voice-over): I asked former U.S. Marshal James Schield about that. What is the Chief saying when he says that?

SCHIELD: Well, I mean, either the Chief is aware of someone that is providing that type of help. That's not surprising. Or he could be saying, we don't have anything else. There's somebody else out there that might be providing some help. Sometimes many fugitives will resort to going to people that owe them something, that are friends, close associates, people they can trust.


TODD: James Schield says officials involved in the manhunt will now be looking to see if Steve Stephens makes some kind of costly mistake, maybe tries to contact someone who he knows or if he tries to get access to money or other resources that he is going to need during his time on the run.

Wolf, they're going to be looking at ATM machines all over this region, all over the country really at this point.

BLITZER: I'm sure they are. In the meantime, Brian, there have been, what, several false leads in this case?

TODD: That's right, Wolf. There has been a report of a cell phone ping which might have signaled a location earlier today. That report later got knocked down. Several Philadelphia schools had to be on lock down today while police there were chasing reports that Stephens was in that area. Those reports also turned out to be unfounded.

BLITZER: All right, Brian, thanks very much. We will stay on top of this story. Brian Todd reporting.

[17:53:53] Coming up, just days after parading its latest long-range missiles, North Korea warns a nuclear war could break out at any moment while Vice President Pence visits the Demilitarized Zone and faces North Korean troops, and CNN's Dana Bash.


BLITZER: Happening now, brink of war. As North Korea shows off its military might, it's accusing the U.S. of putting the world toward a nuclear conflict. CNN is live on the Korean Peninsula with Vice President Pence who is warning Kim Jong-U.N., don't test President Trump.

Got to behave. Mr. Trump sends a message to North Korea about its nuclear threats with U.S. warships on alert in the region. Is the President drawing a red line for the defiant dictator?

[18:00:05] Facebook killing. There's a new reward tonight for information leading to the suspect accused of committing cold-blooded murder and then posting a video of it online.