Return to Transcripts main page


Dissatisfaction with Trump Fuels Democratic Election Sweep; CNN Poll: 64% Say Confidence in Trump Has Decreased. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 8, 2017 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Trust deficit. One year after a surprise election victory, our exclusive new CNN poll shows almost two-thirds of Americans say their confidence in President Trump has decreased and he doesn't deserve re-election. What's the one bright spot for the president in a sea of plummeting numbers?

[17:00:25] Clean sweep. Decisive victories for Democrats in elections in Virginia, New Jersey and across the country. One Republican lawmaker calls it a referendum on President Trump. What does it bode for the GOP in next year's midterms and efforts to pass health care and tax reform?

Mission to China. President Trump travels to Beijing and receives a warm welcome in a country he once accused of raping the United States. Now his harsh rhetoric is being replaced by calls for help to contain North Korea. How will China respond to the president's new overtures of friendship?

And granddaddy issues. President Trump gets personal in a new attack on North Korea's Kim Jong-un, going after his grandfather, a man the current dictator tries to emulate. But North Korea is now lashing back, calling the president a, quote, "lunatic old man."

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news. An exclusive new CNN poll on President Trump just released. It shows that exactly one year after his stunning upset White House win, many Americans are now voicing deep disappointment. Sixty-four percent say they've lost confidence in the president. Sixty-three percent say they don't think he deserves to be re-elected in 2020.

Those numbers helped fuel an election sweep that saw Democrats capture governorships in Virginia and New Jersey. They also won seats in state houses across the country, possibly portending a struggle for Republicans in next year's midterm election.

And North Korea is now demanding the United States oust President Trump from office, calling him, quote, "a lunatic old man." That follows the president's speech before the South Korea assembly in which he took swipes at Kim Jong-un's grandfather, who founded the country. The president said it's not the paradise he envisioned, but, rather, quote, "a hell that no person deserves."

We're covering all of that and much more this hour with our guests, including senator Roy Blunt of the Senate Intelligence Committee. And our correspondents and specialists are also standing by.

But let's begin with the wave of Democratic victories in elections across the country. Our senior Washington correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is with us for the latest.

Brianna, Republicans did especially badly in Virginia, and one Congressman there says the election was a referendum on President Trump.

That's right, Wolf. There is some bipartisan consensus that it was. And beyond the governor's races, the Democrats won mayoral races, state-level legislative seats, ballot referendums. You name it, Democrats cleaned up across the country.


KEILAR (voice-over): Tonight, one year after Donald Trump won the presidency, voters have delivered a sweeping and decisive victory for Democrats in Virginia and across the country.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: In 2005, I was head of the DSCC. And you could smell a wave coming. The results last night smell exactly the same way. Our Republican friends better look out.

KEILAR: The Virginia governor's race was expected to be a nail-biter. Instead, Democrat Ralph Northam won overwhelmingly by almost 9 points.

LT. GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA GOVERNOR-ELECT: Virginia has told us to end the divisiveness; that we will not condone hatred and bigotry; and to end the politics that have torn this country apart.

KEILAR: Northam defeating former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie, who embraced the Trump agenda but not the president himself. Trump wasted no time in blaming Gillespie's strategy and not his own dismal approval ratings for the loss, tweeting, "Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for."

Virginia Republican Congressman Scott Taylor had a different assessment.

REP. SCOTT TAYLOR (R), VIRGINIA: With all due respect to the president, I just -- I simply profoundly disagree with that. I think it's important that we come together as a country. I think it's important that -- well, leadership matters. And to me, leading is bringing people together in achieving a purpose.

KEILAR: New Jersey pick Democrat Phil Murphy to succeed Republican Governor Chris Christie, though many view the race as a referendum on an unpopular Christie rather than the president.

PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR-ELECT: We are a progressive blue beacon state that many other states used to look to for leadership on issues like women's health and the environment. And we've gotten away from that.

KEILAR: Democrats at the state level enjoyed resounding success across the country, picking up at least 13 seats in the Virginia state legislature, poised to flip control of the Washington state Senate.

[17:05:10] Voters in Maine cast ballots to expand Medicaid for low- income adults, though the Republican governor is refusing to enact the measure until it's fully funded.

TOM PEREZ, DNC CHAIR: The Democratic Party is back, my friends!

KEILAR: President Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton tweeting their jubilation. Obama writing, "This is what happens when the people vote."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer arguing for Republicans to abandon their efforts to overhaul the tax system.

SCHUMER: The Republicans should look at the elections last night, and it should be a giant stop sign for their tax bill.

KEILAR: But House Speaker Paul Ryan insisting Tuesday's results provide extra motivation to deliver.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It doesn't change my reading of the current moment. It just emphasizes my reading of the current moment, which is we have a promise to keep. If anything, this just puts more pressure on making sure we follow through.


KEILAR: Naturally, all eyes are turning to 2018. And with last night's outcomes, Democrats taking back the House of Representatives is a much more real possibility. They had high turnout, higher turnout than unusual in a non-presidential year. And that's an indication they may be well-positioned to harness the power of the president's poor approval ratings during the midterms next year, Wolf.

BLITZER: Good point. All right, thanks very much. Brianna Keilar reporting for us.

President Trump is facing some troubling numbers in an exclusive poll that's just been released. Exactly one year after his election victory, it shows a growing lack of confidence in the president and his ability to handle the most pressing issues facing the country.

Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is traveling with the president. He's in China right now.

Jim, the president is using a very different tone there than he did out there on the campaign trail.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He really is, Wolf. And the president has a crucial day of meetings coming up later today with China's president, Xi Jinping. He is counting on President Xi and his help to rein in North Korea. But the Chinese long remember how the president bashed China in the

past as a candidate.


ACOSTA (voice-over): In Beijing, they were painting the town red as President Trump and China's president Xi Jinping took in the Chinese opera and the in the capital's Forbidden City, greeted by children saying, "We love you."

But the love fest masked a critical task for the president: to push China to do more to contain North Korea.

TRUMP: It is our responsibility and our duty to confront this danger together, because the longer we wait, the greater the danger grows and the fewer the options become.

ACOSTA: Before he landed in Beijing, Mr. Trump called for China's help as he delivered a stern warning to North Korea.

TRUMP: Do not underestimate us. And do not try us.

ACOSTA: The president's speech to the South Korean assembly, while heated, steered clear of his fire and fury taunts to Kim Jong-un earlier in the year.

TRUMP: The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer. They are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face.

ACOSTA: For months, the president has wagered he can secure China's support by dialing back his own rhetoric aimed at Chinese trade practices that he once described as devastating to his political base when he was a candidate.

TRUMP: We can't continue to allow China to rape our country, and that's what they're doing. It's the greatest theft in the history of the world.

ACOSTA: The president is traveling across Asia as a weakened leader back home. The GOP was soundly defeated in elections across the U.S., including in the Virginia's governor's race, where Republican Ed Gillespie was trounced.

White House advisor blame Gillespie for embracing Trumpism without Trump.

MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: But I do think as well that there was a reluctance to have the president campaign in the state for him, and I think there's a lot of things the president could have added as far as bringing out a lot of his supporters to help support Ed.

KEILAR: Despite the bruising night, the president is taking a victory lap on the one-year anniversary of his surprising election win. Ignoring his loss in the popular vote, the president tweeted, "Congratulations to all of the deplorables and the millions of people who gave us a massive Electoral College landslide victory."

But a new CNN poll shows nearly two-thirds of Americans have lost confidence in the president since he took office. While nearly seven in ten believe other world leaders don't respect the president.


ACOSTA: Now, a GOP source who advises the White House told me that the Republican Party got owned on election night by the Democrats and that they should look at those results as a warning for the upcoming midterms in 2018.

Wolf, we'll have to wait and see whether the president reflects on any of these political problems. But back home he is scheduled to hold something of a statement, a joint statement with the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, later on here in Beijing. But because we are in China, the Chinese might be reluctant to take questions from reporters -- Wolf.

[17:10:09] BLITZER: All right. We'll see what happens over there. Jim Acosta traveling with the president in China. Thanks very much.

Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us now, Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri. He's a member of the Intelligence Committee, a Republican leader in the Senate, as well. Senator, thanks for joining us.

SEN. ROY BLUNT (R), MISSOURI: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. So your candidate, your Republican candidate in Virginia, Ed Gillespie, a man you know well, I man I know well, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, he lost by almost nine points. It was, a lot of people agree, a shellacking. A much bigger loss than many Virginia observers anticipated. What happened?

BLUNT: Well, I do know Ed Gillespie well. Think he would have been a great governor, and certainly, I wish all of the governors of all the states well, including the new governor of Virginia and the new governor in New Jersey.

I think there are still 32 Republican governors and lots of Republican legislators that are going to be doing their job.

I don't really know. I'm no real expert in -- even close to it, in Virginia politics. I do know that the demographics of that state are changing pretty dramatically. It's sort of stable in population, and the southern Virginians who are leaving aren't moving to Northern Virginia, which is not what Virginia used to be.

So I wouldn't over -- I wouldn't read too much into that. I am always -- I'm interested now, though, in why the polls are not any closer than they were. They weren't close a year ago today. Everybody thought that race would be much closer than it was. I don't know that the polls measuring the president's performance are any more accurate than the polls predicting these election outcomes, and they are way off. And I can't quite figure that out. BLITZER: Yes. Well, that's a fair question. And there's a lot of

study that's going on involving all of these polls.

But do you think -- and you know Ed Gillespie. He did well, relatively well, just barely lost to Mark Warner for the Senate seat a few years ago in Virginia. Do you think he would have performed better if he had ran closer to President Trump, invited the president to come in and campaign for him? Showed up together at various stump speeches? The president was ready, apparently, to do it, but it didn't happen.

BLUNT: Well, you know, like I said, I'm no --expert in Virginia. I'm certainly not an expert in giving people advice on how they should have won their -- their campaign or run their campaign.

I do think that Ed Gillespie had to spend a lot of time trying to solidify his own side, which is one of the challenges we had last time and one of the challenges we'll have next time. But so far that's continued to produce pretty good results in governorships and legislatures and both houses in the Congress.

BLITZER: Let's get to one of the major issues, if not the major issue on your agenda, taxes. You've argued that Republicans, Senator, should be less ambitious when it comes to tax reform and leave some of the reform for next year instead of doing it right now.

Now that you've seen last night's election results, Democrats did very well, what do you think is the best way forward?

BLUNT: Well, I think we will, at the end of the day, leave some of these reforms for next year, just because they get in the way of the real important need to have better tax policy this year to grow our economy next year.

Now, that doesn't mean we can't go to a territorial system. Our lower corporate rates are going to build jobs and make better jobs. It also doesn't mean we can't look at tax cuts for working families, but some of these intricate things are going to have to be worked through.

And my view during this whole debate has been we shouldn't spend a lot of time on any argument we can't win. There's always a chance to look at that again, but there won't be a chance to rejuvenate this economy and give the first real pay raise, the take-home pay raise to working families that they've had in eight years.

Families are frustrated. You see that also on election day. You see a lot of frustration out there. People looking at different ways to express that frustration and often voting against what appeared to just happen.

You know, this is -- the Virginia race we were talking about, I think it's the 11th time in 12 cycles where the person who, his party or her party just won the presidential election, loses the Virginia governor's race. So there is -- there is something going on where people are looking for answers. I think we can give them some of those answers in a good tax bill. BLITZER: You're a, you know, a fiscal conservative, but the

Congressional Budget Office, as you know, they just released their report, estimating that this revised Republican tax reform bill would actually raise the deficit, the national debt by $1.7 trillion over ten years.

Senator, are you comfortable with that?

BLUNT: Well, first of all, the revised bill is not what the final bill will be. And secondly, most of these groups that evaluate -- want to evaluate with a score that indicates a tax policy has no impact on economic decision-making, I'm sure that at the $1 trillion or $1.5 trillion level over ten, that good tax policy, just a little bit of growth in the annual growth of the economy quickly makes up for that.

[17:15:09] And every economist I'm talking to tells me that's what's going to happen if we'll stick to the main points in this bill. We're going to have not only more take-home pay now for working families, but we're clearly going to have better jobs as this bill would encourage capital to get off the sidelines and back into the economy.

BLITZER: You're one of the leaders of the Republicans in the Senate. Are you ready to commit right now, Senator, that whatever tax bill emerges from the House, the Senate -- joint House/Senate conference committee, the final -- the final bill, you will give it enough time before a final vote that the Congressional Budget Office could score it, as they say, and tell the American people how large of a deficit it would create? Because you're clearly not going to be able to pay for all of the tax cuts you want to implement.

BLUNT: Well, think the critical thing is to get a bill passed this year. And I've watched the Congressional Budget Office for a long time. They are never right. So waiting for them to see later just how wrong they are never makes much sense to me.

So no, I wouldn't commit to that. You're going to have a score, and there's going to be some argument about it. You're going to see some significant dynamic scoring.

I was with Larry Lindsey today, who was one of president a's economic advisers. I've never seen him more excited about the opportunity in a tax package than he was today. And usually I see him as a guy who's on the sort of the downside of always looking for the worst thing that can happen.

He and every other economist thinks this is headed in the right direction. I, frankly, have more faith in them than I would the CBO.

BLITZER: How are you going to make sure it meets the Senate rules, though? There are certain Senate rules in order that you can pass it with a simple majority of 50, 51, as opposed to 60. And if the CBO doesn't score it, how are you going to meet that rule?

BLUNT: I think we'll meet that rule, and actually, there are other ways that you can decide which of the many different evaluations out there you look at and decide this is the one that we have the most confidence in. You don't want to put too much pressure on the budget chairman, but he has great leeway there. And also many of these things when you begin to unplug them or plug them back in, you're going to already know what the estimated economic impact of that was.

So you're not dealing here with numbers that haven't been around for a long time, haven't been talked about. This is going to get the same number of votes, in my opinion, as we get to the final vote, irregardless of whether you use CBO scoring or dynamic scoring. Because almost everybody knows that what we're doing here will create better jobs for working families.

BLITZER: All right. Senator, there's more we need to discuss. You're a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. There are new developments unfolding in the Russia probe, other issues. We'll take a quick break. We'll resume our conversation right after this.


[17:22:31] BLITZER: We're back with Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri. He's a key member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senator, you agree with the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russia was, in fact, behind the meddling, behind the 2016 hacking and the election interference, the presidential election interference.

Does it concern you, as a result of that, that the CIA director, Mike Pompeo, met with someone who's seen as a conspiracy theorist, a man who's peddling this theory that the DNC hack was really an inside job, that Russia had nothing to do with it, and that he met with this individual, Pompeo, at the request of President Trump?

BLUNT: You know, I'm not concerned about that. My view on all of this has been we should talk to everybody that a reasonable person should talk to. We should look at everything that a reasonable person should look at. If there's somebody out there that has a dramatically contrary view, I don't have any problem with talking to them.

I do think the Russians were involved in our elections. Other countries may have been also. Russians have been involved in our elections for a long time.

I'm interested in the new information coming out about how Donna Brazile, who was the chairman at the time, says that the Russians did a lot more damage to their internal systems than I believe they've admitted up until now. I don't know why this is all coming out a year later. You would think that the chairman of the party would be yelling about this even before election day if their files were messed up in some way.

But, you know, another thing, Wolf, in a hearing, an open hearing we had the other day with Facebook and Twitter and Google, I asked the Facebook attorney who was there how much money did the Russians spend on Facebook? And it was $46,000 before the election.

So my next question was, well, how much did the two campaigns -- not the Republicans and Democrats, but just Clinton and Trump, spend? It was $81 million.

I think we can pretty quickly get a lot of this out of proportion. Five one-thousandths of one percent probably didn't turn the elections around, but we'd be naive to think that the Russians don't want to do things that make our system look bad. And they've got to love it that we're still talking about what they may or may not have done in our elections.

BLITZER: But some of that fake Russian news was promoted on various social media sites to maybe 150 million Americans who read that stuff and absorbed it. But let me get back to the question about...

BLUNT: I think absorbed there is the real question.

BLITZER: Well, they at least had access to it.

BLUNT: They initially said 11.4 million people might have seen it. And then they said, well, who could have seen it if everybody saw it who was on Facebook? They said, that would be about 124 million.

[17:25:13] But, remember, it was five one-thousandths of one percent of what the two other candidates were running. That was the best money anybody ever spent if it possibly competed with the millions of dollars that others were spending.

We ought to get that guy to be our advertising person, that $46,000 that we're still talking about.

BLITZER: The president repeatedly says, and he said it during the campaign, since becoming president, he says flatly there was absolutely no collusion with the Russians. Do you agree with the president? Or is that still an open question that your committee, House committees, the special counsel are looking at?

BLUNT: I think it's an open question until we nail it down, but here a year later, there's not been any real evidence that there was collusion, certainly not that the president was involved in.

I mean, they had a candidate who uniquely was identifying with the American people, but the campaign looks like to me not much of a campaign. I'm not sure that the Trump campaign was capable of colluding with the Republican National Committee, let alone the Russians. But they had a candidate who was connecting with people, and that's all that campaign really was, it appears to me.

But we have to look at everything. We're not done with this yet. The American people, the president, everybody involved deserves to know the answer to whether this is a yes or a no, and we need to get to that answer as soon as we can.

BLITZER: But you will acknowledge there were a bunch of Trump campaign official who's were talking to Russians either here in the United States or actually went to Moscow. And that's the subject of the continuing investigation, right?

BLUNT: Well, we ought to look at what they were talking about and who they were. And some of these people don't appear to be all that stable to me. But it's easy to say you're an adviser to the campaign, particularly a campaign like that that was so nontraditional. I just -- we need to look at that. And I'm glad we're looking at it, and I'm eager to look at anything anybody thinks a reasonable person should look at, read or anybody we should talk to, and we're doing that.

BLITZER: Senator Roy Blunt, thanks so much for joining us.

BLUNT: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, one year after President Trump's historic election, CNN has a new exclusive poll on his performance in office. Our political experts are standing by to discuss.

Plus, another round of personal attacks between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. Why is the North Korean regime now calling for President Trump's removal from office?


BLITZER: The breaking news. One year after President Trump's stunning election victory, CNN has an exclusive new poll on his performance in office. We asked Americans if they approve of the job the president is doing, whether he's keeps our promises.

[17:32:30] Let's get right to our political experts for some analysis.

This one question, Gloria, is the -- do you think the president is doing a good job or a poor job? Good job, only 40 percent think he's doing a good job. How much trouble is he in right now with his Republican colleagues, his Republican Party?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he's in a lot of trouble. I think his base is OK, although a little less happy than they have been over the last six months. And we see that decline in the polls among non-educated -- non-college-educated white voters. We see that decline. But members of Congress are worried.

If I were a suburban Republican right now representing a suburban district and I saw the revenge of those suburbanites in Virginia last night, I'd be worried about keeping my seat.

If I saw the president's tweet last night about Ed Gillespie, saying, "Well, he didn't hug me tight enough. He doesn't use me enough," and I were about to vote on a tax reform bill that might cause me some issues my district. And if I were worrying about a president having my back, I would worry a little bit more after seeing that tweet last night.

You know, this president ran as an insurgent and as an outsider, and he's never managed to kind of figure out what it is you have to do to deal with the establishment that he ran against if he wants to get anything done in Washington. And as our poll shows, people don't think he's getting things done. He can blame all the people he wants, but in the end, if and when he runs for re-election, they're going to blame him; and members of Congress are wondering how long they need to stick with him.

BLITZER: In that tweet -- I'll read a sentence from it -- he said this, the president: "Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for." There you see it right there. So he had -- obviously, the president doesn't believe he personally had anything to do with Ed Gillespie, Rebecca, losing decisively in a lopsided outcome.

So what's the lessen the Democrats should take from this?

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the lesson Democrats should take, Wolf, is exactly the opposite of Trump's tweet, that Trumpism is failing, is toxic politically, and is going to hurt Republicans in these midterm elections in 2018.

What Gillespie was trying to do was harness as much of Trumpism as he could to energize those voters, energize Trump's base at the same time that he brought in more traditional Republicans, suburban voters, and he obviously failed in that regard.

[17:35:10] This was -- Republicans were hoping that this could be a model for them in 2018, and that model failed last night. So Republicans are going to have to think long and hard about how they run with this unpopular president in office, perhaps tweeting against them all the while.

And Democrats, it's game-on for them. They're in a very good position. Last night showed that their base is energized in a way that maybe they weren't even in 2016.

BLITZER: You know, Jeffrey, the House speaker, Paul Ryan, says that the -- his Republican colleagues have one important lesson to learn. They need to do what they're trying to do, get this tax bill passed, get it passed quickly. But there are a whole bunch of Republicans, especially those moderate Republicans from New York or New Jersey or California, who are deeply worried that, as it stands right now, they can't support this tax bill.

TOOBIN: The Republican Party is in a difficult place here, because accomplishing nothing is obviously bad politics. And I think that was part of the problem last night.

However, accomplishing something that hurts you politically, especially with the more vulnerable members in the states you mentioned, that's also a problem. And I don't think they have resolved how to deal with that.

But I do think by and large, Paul Ryan is right that doing something is better than doing nothing. But that also has considerable political risks for them.

BLITZER: The president told some Democrats, some Democratic senators in a phone conversation, he was overseas back here. He said that his accountant had told him that, if the current tax bill goes through, he would be personally a big loser. Do you buy that?

BORGER: Do you think he called his accountant to find out? Or do you think his accountant called him?

BLITZER: I don't know who called who.

BORGER: I'm trying to figure -- I'm trying to figure that one out.

Well, if he's going to be a big loser, first of all, we should talk about the estate tax which would, of course, benefit him and his family. But then maybe we ought to ask the question, "OK, let's see your tax returns." Because if we can see your tax returns, then perhaps we could all see whether -- how this would benefit you and how it would not benefit you. If you get rid of the alternative minimum tax, for example, how will that benefit you; how will that not benefit you?

I think it's -- I think he raised the issue, so I think other people ought to be asking the question.

BLITZER: Yes. We're probably not going to see his tax returns any time soon.

TOOBIN: You know what, Wolf, I think you're right about that.

BLITZER: I suspect we're not going to see those.

Everybody stand by. There's more we need to assess. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.


[17:42:10] BLITZER: Welcome back. We're continuing our conversation with our panel.

And Gloria, we're a year out from the president's election victory in 2016. Look at the new CNN poll. Just 30 percent say they think he'll unite the country. That's down 13 points from a year ago. Does that factor into the results we saw last night, with very impressive huge wins for women and minority candidates?

BORGER: Yes, look, I think this was an election in which people were motivated by Donald Trump and not in a good way, but in -- but in a negative way. And I think you see that in poll after poll, that people believe he doesn't unite the country.

And what we saw last night, let's look at the state of Virginia, you had a very good African-American turnout. You had one in five voters were African-American. And I think that that is important as Democrats look to 2018.

I mean, Barack Obama went to the state of Virginia and made the point of saying that, "You know, Democrats get kind of sleepy in off-year elections. They don't -- they don't generally turn out."

I think you saw a variety of women being elected down-ballot. You saw African-Americans, one Sikh, transgender, and so I think it was a very, very different kind of electorate that turned out this time. You know, there's a dispute about whether this was the beginning of

the resistance or not, but it was certainly a reaction to the last year of Donald Trump, and I think not only in Virginia but also in New Jersey and state legislatures.

BLITZER: A lot of them, first, the Democrats.

TOOBIN: The peril at the moment is more to the Republican Party than it is to Donald Trump. Lots of presidents do poorly in midterm elections...


TOOBIN: ... and then go on to win. Barack Obama had a historically terrible re-election -- midterm in 2010 and then won fairly easily in 2012.

BLITZER: Same with Bill Clinton.

TOOBIN: Same with Bill Clinton. So -- and, you know, we're not even up to the midterms yet.

Certainly, all the signs are very bad for the Republicans going into 2018, but I don't think anyone should necessarily draw the extrapolation that Donald Trump is destined to lose, even if the Republicans do poorly a year from now.

BLITZER: You know, he tweeted this, the president, aboard Air Force One: "Congratulations to all the deplorables and the millions of people who gave us a massive 304 to 227 Electoral College landslide." You see a picture with some of his senior staff aboard Air Force One while traveling through China. So clearly, he's very pleased right now with what he's seeing.

BERG: Well, reliving some good memories, as well. It's the anniversary of his victory. So makes sense that he would mention that victory, the historic nature.

But his brand politically has been dented, Wolf. And so Donald Trump is returning to that touchstone, because his whole brand is built around winning, built around success, and there isn't a lot of that politically for him right now. He's endorsed multiple candidates now -- Ed Gillespie, Luther Strange, and failed to lift them to victory. And so Donald Trump has to be wondering now, how powerful is his political brand? So he's trying to remind people --

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: And this attempt (ph) -- sorry.

BERG: -- that there was a time when it was powerful.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I just also want to say that, you know, the Democrats can't get so cocky here that they don't address that there are huge divisions within the Democratic Party. What you saw in Virginia was a candidate who fit the state, you know.

He wasn't too far left for the state of Virginia. And if Democrats start having litmus tests for every single candidate that they run, they're going to have problems, including their presidential candidate in 2020.

And I think that, you know, this is a great victory for them, but they have to be careful here not to over read this.

TOOBIN: Actually, I'm not sure about that. I think being against Donald Trump may be enough. I think, you know, there is always this mythology, oh, you need an alternative platform. You need to --

BORGER: In 2018, it's enough.

TOOBIN: OK. Well --

BORGER: Maybe now but if they don't do nothing --

TOOBIN: But one election at a time, Gloria.

BORGER: No, no. It may be enough in the midterms --


BORGER: -- but it isn't going to be enough in 2020. And if you want -- really want a sweep, you have to make sure your candidate matches your voters.


BORGER: And so you can't --

TOOBIN: At some point.

BERG: Yes.

BORGER: You know, you can't run cookie cutter candidates. That's the point.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Everybody is going to be trying to learn lessons from last time, going ahead.

TOOBIN: You're going to hear a lot about Donald Trump from Democratic candidates in the next --

BORGER: Oh, I agree.

BLITZER: I'm sure you will.

BORGER: I would think so.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks, guys, very, very much. We'll be hearing a lot about the President in the upcoming elections.

Just ahead, North Korea demands the United States remove President Trump from office, calling him a lunatic old man. Was the regime responding to a new personal attack from the President?


[17:51:33] BLITZER: Breaking news. As President Trump launches a personal attack against Kim Jong-un, North Korean regime is calling President Trump a lunatic old man and demanding his removal from office.

Brian Todd is joining us with more. Brian, you've got new information. What's the latest?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. Many observers are saying tonight that the North Koreans responded that way because President Trump, again, made his attack against Kim Jong-un so personal.

This time, Mr. Trump invoked Kim's grandfather, Kim Il-sung, a man who is so worshipped in North Korea that his grandson tries, in so many ways, to emulate him, from his man of the people style to his clothes, and even to his hair.


TODD: President Trump squares up symbolically against Kim Jong-un, saying he's got a personal message for the North Korean dictator -- your nuclear build up and missile tests are putting your regime in danger.

Then, Trump gets more personal, going after Kim's grandfather.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves.

TODD: Tonight, analysts are saying the President's jab at Kim's revered grandfather, Kim Il-sung, was likely very intentional.

DR. SUE MI TERRY, SENIOR FELLOW FOR THE KOREA CHAIR, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I think Mr. Trump mentioning Kim Il-sung was a calibrated and careful dig because he knows that Kim Jong-un does model after Kim Il-sung.

TODD: Was the President advised to get personal with Kim and his grandfather by White House and intelligence officials?

The White House and CIA aren't commenting tonight, but experts say there's little doubt Kim Jong-un has sought to emulate his grandfather, the founder of North Korea, from the clothes Kim wears to his distinct hairstyle.

JOSEPH DETRANI, FORMER SPECIAL ENVOY FOR SIX PARTY TALKS WITH NORTH KOREA: Kim Jong-un wants to project the image of his grandfather. Kim Il-sung was viewed and is viewed by the people of North Korea as a great revolutionary.

He gave them independence. He fought against the colonials. He fought against Japan. He fought against the United States in the Korean War.

TODD: Experts believe the grandfather, Kim Il-sung, is viewed more favorably by North Koreans than Kim's father, Kim Jong-il.

Kim Il-sung was seen as much more of a so-called man of the people than Kim Jong-il, who was known as reclusive, moody, and a leader who presided over economic decline and a devastating famine.

One analyst believes President Trump's dig was meant to undermine Kim Jong-un with North Korea's elites who were watching Trump's speech closely and who remember how well they lived under the grandfather.

TERRY: I think even the elites would take that to heart because I think elites secretly agree that that is true, North Korea is not what it used to be. North Korea and South Korea were on par with each other, but North Korea is this terrible place that Mr. Trump did describe.

So I think Kim Jong-un is going to take it personally. He will be embarrassed by it.


TODD: Will it embarrass Kim enough to get him to negotiate a drawdown of his weapons program? Experts say that's not likely at all. And North Korean defectors tells us that, given what they know about Kim Jong-un, he's likely going to respond personally to President Trump.

His regime has already come out with a statement demanding that Mr. Trump be thrown out of office, as we've been reporting, and calling him a, quote, lunatic old man. Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, in that speech in South Korea, President Trump also took a shot at China, question why any nation would support North Korea at all. But now that he is in Beijing, the President will have a tough time, apparently, convincing the Chinese leader to come down much harder on Kim Jong-un.

[17:55:03] TODD: He really will have a tough time with that, Wolf. Chinese leader Xi Jinping is said to dislike Kim Jong-un. He maybe even detests him, and he is furious with Kim's weapon build up.

But the Chinese simply do not want North Korea to implode, so getting them to level more sanctions and clamp down harder, that's going to be tough task for the President in Beijing.

BLITZER: Yes, it will. All right, Brian, good report. Thanks very much.

Coming up, a wave of Democratic victories across the country, sparking growing concern among Republicans. Is it all foreshadowing next year's midterm elections?


[18:00:00] BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Lack of trust. New CNN polling exposes Americans' escalating doubts about the President's honesty and a growing opposition to giving him a second term. We're crunching the numbers.