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Interview With Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey; Trump in China; Republican Election Losses Referendum on Trump?; CNN Poll: 65 Percent Say Trump Will Divide Nation, Not Unite It; North Korea Demands U.S. Oust "Lunatic Old Man" Trump. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired November 8, 2017 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: 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.
Trumplash. Voters take their discontent with the president to the polls, delivering big election wins for Democrats and making many Republicans anxious about the midterms next year. Will more GOP lawmakers run away from Mr. Trump?
Mission to China. The president lands in Beijing, in need of help to defuse the North Korean nuclear threat. How far will he go to pressure Chinese leaders he used to bash during the campaign?
And lunatic old man, that is what the North Koreans are now calling Trump, urging his ouster after he delivered a new warning to Kim Jong- un right in the dictator's backyard. We have an exclusive live report coming up from inside North Korea.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, a just-released CNN poll is offering even more evidence of the anti-Trump sentiment that helped fuel the Democrats' election sweep overnight.
Exactly one year after the president won the White House, 63 percent of Americans now say he doesn't deserve reelection. And in roughly equal numbers, they say Mr. Trump is not honest or trustworthy, this as Democrats celebrate their big win in Virginia's governor's race and many other state and local contests across the nation.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says the results show that the door is open for Democrats to retake control of the House in the midterms next year.
The president's party is grappling with the fallout, with at least one GOP lawmaker calling the 2017 election a referendum on Mr. Trump. But the president isn't accepting blame. He argues that Republican Ed Gillespie's refusal to embrace him was the reason he lost the Virginia governor's race.
Tonight, President Trump is in China hoping to prod the Beijing government to do more to isolate North Korea. This crucial visit coming just hours after Mr. Trump delivered a speech on the Korean Peninsula warning Kim Jong-un that his nuclear regime is putting his regime in -- quote -- "grave danger."
The North Koreans firing right back tonight, calling Mr. Trump a lunatic old man and urging Americans to throw him out of power.
This hour, I will talk about all that and much more with Senator Ed Markey. He's a Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
And our correspondents and specialists are also standing by.
First, let's go to our senior Washington correspondent, Brianna Keilar, with more on the Democrats' big election wins and what it means going forward.
Brianna, exit polls show an anti-Trump sentiment rippling through this election.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. And there is some bipartisan consensus that it is as well.
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, Democratic Ralph Northam won overwhelmingly by almost nine points.
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 Trump 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 and achieving a purpose.
KEILAR: New Jersey picked 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 us for leadership on issues like women's health and the environment. And we have gotten away from that.
KEILAR: Democrats at the state level enjoyed resounding success across the country, picking up at least 13 states in the Virginia state legislature, poised to flip control of the Washington state Senate.
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, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: 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 overall 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 turn toward 2018.
And with last night's outcomes, Democrats taking back the House of Representatives is much more of a real possibility now.
They had higher turnout than usual in a nonpresidential year, an indication that they may be well positioned to harness the power of the president's poor approval ratings during the midterms next year.
BLITZER: Yes, Democrats pretty upbeat right now.
All right, Brianna, thanks very much.
Tonight, some Republicans are publicly acknowledging that they have gotten a wakeup call. Others are putting a more measured spin on the party's losses, but there's no doubt that behind the scenes, there's a lot of anxiety and maybe even some panic.
Let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent. Manu Raju.
Manu, you have been talking to a bunch of Republican senators about the election result and what it all means. What are you learning?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Some finger-pointing tonight, Wolf, some pointing the finger at the White House for these losses, and the White House, of course, pointing the finger back at the candidate in the Virginia governor's race in particular.
And some on Capitol Hill say this was a local election and really doesn't have national implications, and others are saying this is the result of the failure to pass things in Congress. And some like Republican Senator Jeff Flake told me you can only drill down on the base so hard and we're seeing the limits of that.
And others, Wolf, are raising concerns about what it means for the agenda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: It's not helpful. Put it that way. It's not helpful to our agenda.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: Historically, the party in power loses seats during the midterm elections. But the most important thing is to recruit good candidates and run good campaigns.
RAJU: Is Trump a liability or an asset?
CORNYN: I think it depends on the state.
SEN. CORY GARDNER (R), COLORADO: A Democrat replacing a Democrat governor, a Democrat winning in a Democrat state in New Jersey. I think what you saw last night was Democrats win expected Democrat seats.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: I think people want results. We got to start delivering results or we will have more election results like that.
If you take a look at midterm elections dating back all the way to the '80s, this is a typical cycle. The question is whether or not we produce a result and reverse that trend next year.
RAJU: Are you worried about next year? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I like a good fight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: And John McCain said that, unless we get our act together, we're going to lose heavily.
And really what that means for this party here on Capitol Hill is, they need to get tax reform done, in their eyes. If they cannot get a tax bill through, panic will really set in on Capitol Hill. That really raises the stakes for the next couple of weeks as this party tries to get united over a bill that is causing some divisions within the ranks -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, there's certainly some moderate Republicans in the Senate and the House deeply worried about the tax bill as it currently stands.
All right, thanks very much, Manu Raju, joins us from Capitol Hill.
Let's continue our conversation right now with Democratic Senator Ed Markey. He's a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator, thanks for joining us.
SEN. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thank you. You're welcome.
BLITZER: When you look at the Democratic candidates who won their elections last night, statewide, local elections, what does it tell you about the future, first of all, of your party?
MARKEY: I think last night, the big loser was intolerance.
We saw that in the overwhelming numbers in New Jersey and Virginia. We saw it in cities and towns all across the country. The middle was basically rejecting this era of intolerance, which has opened up, we saw it even in Massachusetts in our mayor's races. Marty Walsh in Boston, Kim Driscoll up in Salem, they both ran on the argument that we had to be more inclusive, that we had to democratize access to opportunity.
This message is really working. And the Republican message, where they want the tax break for the upper 1 percentile, where they want to take away health care from Trump voters, none of that is resonating with people.
Trump won. He was on probation, however, with a lot of those voters who did vote for change, but not for this kind of change. And I think last night, the bill came due, and we saw it in race after race all across the country.
BLITZER: So, how do the Democrats, your party, how do the Democrats plan to translate last night's successes into 2018 and the midterm elections? MARKEY: We have to do two things.
One, we have continue to fight the extremist policies which the Republicans are trying to push through the United States House and Senate. And thus far, that's been a very clear insight into the soul of the Republican Party, which is clearly troubling suburban swing voters.
And then the Democrats have to have a plan that lays out what our vision is for infrastructure jobs in our country, for protecting the environment, for making college affordable for every kid in our country. We have a job to do as well.
But the Republicans are giving us an opportunity to get that message out. And, right now, I would say that the independent swing voters in the United States are open to the Democratic message and gives us a big opportunity in 2018.
BLITZER: Well, what about 2020, Senator? Did anything you saw last night change your view of the ideal next Democratic presidential candidate?
MARKEY: I would say that basically each one of our candidates was running on the same general message.
We had different personalities in each state, but in general, they were each saying that they were going to fight the agenda of Donald Trump, and they wanted to have a country, a state, a city within which they wanted to live that was more open, more inclusive, less discriminatory.
And I think that that's the message that worked. I just think that this is an America which the American people don't want to see be put in place. And I think the Democrats are poised now to have a good primary. They can select a candidate who can best deliver that message.
But that's the message. In campaigns, the message is what wins. And right now, the Republicans have a losing one and the Democrats have a winning one, but an opportunity to really improve it and then to win in 2018 and to take the presidency in 2020.
BLITZER: Well, let me calm you down a little bit, because despite all your optimism, the optimism coming from a lot of Democrats, only 37 percent of Americans right now have a positive attitude about Democrats.
MARKEY: Right, but when you're talking about 2020, which is the subject right now, 64 percent of Americans in your own poll say that they feel uncomfortable with Donald Trump as president.
So that's an Achilles' heel that gives the real opportunity for the Democrats then to fill in the details as to what we will be doing to substitute for the Trump presidency.
BLITZER: Yes, that 37 percent number, by the way, it's a favorable -- only 37 percent of the American people have a favorable opinion of Democrats. You can see that right now, and that's the lowest it's been, by the way, in 25 years. So you guys have a lot of work to do as well.
Stand by, Senator. I know you agree with me.
We're going to take a quick break. We will resume this. There are other important issues developing as we speak. We will be right back.
BLITZER: We're back with Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Senator Ed Markey.
And we're following the breaking news. On our brand-new CNN poll, 68 percent of Americans now say they don't believe the leaders of other countries respect President Trump. This as President Trump is in the midst of a very, very, critically important trip to Asia.
We will talk about that with Senator Markey.
Stand by, Senator.
Right now, I want to quickly go to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He's traveling with the president in Beijing.
Jim, the president is facing considerable challenges in China, just hours after he suffered a very serious political setback here at home.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
And the president has a whole series of very critical meetings later today with the Chinese President Xi Jinping. He's asking President Xi to help him rein in North Korea. And he issued that call in a speech to the South Korean Assembly last night.
Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now, the president may also act unilaterally against North Korea.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters the president may decide to put North Korea back on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. He may do that before the end of this trip. But, Wolf, it's a good thing the president can focus on foreign
policy, because, as you said, he's facing major political problems back home. Of course, there were those election losses in Virginia and elsewhere around the country.
But here's how the president was responding. He responded on Twitter by blaming the Republican candidate in Virginia, Ed Gillespie. But he's also celebrating his election win from one year ago, putting out this tweet: "Congratulations to all of the deplorables and the millions of people who gave us a massive 304-227 Electoral College landslide victory."
Of course, Wolf, the president is neglecting the fact that he lost the popular vote in the 2016 election. He's also ignoring some very serious poll numbers in our CNN poll which shows that the public does not believe he deserves reelection, they don't trust him, and they have lost confidence in him since he was elected a year ago, Wolf.
It's a good thing he's here in China, because he's facing a great wall of opposition back in the U.S. -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, he's going to continue that trip for several more days.
Jim Acosta, thanks very much.
Let's get back to Senator Markey.
Senator, do you think President Trump struck the right tone in his message to Kim Jong-un?
MARKEY: Well, I am encouraged this afternoon that the Trump administration is now saying that they are dropping the precondition that Kim has to have already given away all of his nuclear weapons on a verifiable basis before the Trump administration is willing to sit down with him.
I think that is a much more realistic position to take. So I think that the president has a chance here with President Xi to say to him that if China would be willing to put a vice-like grip on the oil that flows into North Korea, the revenues that are generated from slave labor, from cryptocurrency, that the United States would be willing to go to the table, because we would now have an alliance between China and the United States to accomplish that goal.
So, my hope is that the president, who prides himself as a negotiator, will now try to find a way of driving North Korea to the negotiating table, so we can deal with this threat of an ICBM with a hydrogen bomb on top of it that can reach the United States of America.
BLITZER: Do you think that U.S. should once again list North Korea as a state of sponsor of terrorism, because the White House is suggesting the president may do that at end of this week?
MARKEY: Well, again, I think that obviously North Korea is a state sponsor of terrorism, from my perspective.
But I think, at the same time, it has to be done in the context of ultimately getting to the negotiating table, to partnering with China and with Russia if possible, which are the key economic apertures that North Korea has, in order to force a negotiation on the nuclear weapons program.
Time will run out if the president doesn't get to the table soon, because that's the only way we will end this threat. There is no military solution to this problem. It must come at the negotiating table.
BLITZER: Senator, the head of the organization that represents U.S. diplomats is now raising the alarm about the status of the State Department.
She writes this. And I will read it to you: "Our leadership ranks are being depleted at a dizzying speed. Were the U.S. military to face such a decapitation of its leadership ranks, I would expect a public outcry."
Do you agree with that assessment?
MARKEY: Yes, I think that obviously there are people in the State Department, there are people at the EPA, there are people at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, there are people all across the federal government who are discouraged.
Many of them are fearful for their employment. That is not a good message to be sending to the rest of the world. Right now, we pretty much have a president and we have a president who has declared war on the deep state.
Well, what we call the deep state are the career State Department employees, EPA employees who have dedicated their lives to protecting our country. So it is not a good message to be sending while he's in Korea or in China or when the world is meeting right now on the climate change treaty in Bonn in Germany.
The whole world is coming. And Syria has now agreed to sign onto the Paris agreement, along with Nicaragua, leaving the United States as the last country in the world. That has to be discouraging to State Department employees who worked so hard to negotiate that agreement.
BLITZER: Is it appropriate, Senator, for President Trump to ask the CIA director, Mike Pompeo, to meet with a conspiracy theorist who argues that the Democratic National Committee hack last year was an inside job and that Russia had nothing to do with it?
MARKEY: I think it's very important for the CIA, it's very important for each and every one of the president's Cabinet officials to not allow for a compromise of the integrity, of the credibility of their agency.
And it doesn't take a lot to discourage people, not just here in the United States, but all around the world, that something has gone awry at the highest levels of our government.
So I would -- if I were Mr. Pompeo, I would cast an arched eyebrow that could hit the ceiling towards any request from the president that has him meeting with conspiracy theorists on any issue, much less the ones that he's been requested to meet on.
BLITZER: Well, do you think that compromised Mike Pompeo, the CIA director's integrity?
MARKEY: I think it hurts whenever the president is seeking to inject his conspiracist theories into the federal government.
And I think it has to resisted by every single official. And that goes, by the way, for when the president is asking for a reexamination of NBC television licenses because he calls it fake news, and then equating NBC equals CNN, and then in the very near future after that, in other words today, asking the Justice Department, questioning whether or not CNN has to be divested as part of the Time Warner and AT&T merger.
All of this just goes to whether or not there's a fundamental compromise of our institutions that people have to have confidence in, in order for them to be able to work effectively.
BLITZER: Senator Markey, thanks for joining us.
MARKEY: You're welcome.
BLITZER: Just ahead, we will have more on the Democratic victories in elections across the United States. Do they give the Republicans more flexibility in opposing President Trump?
Plus, more from our exclusive new CNN poll on the president. How much pressure are Republicans under to help fulfill his campaign promises?
BLITZER: Breaking tonight, a new CNN poll showing Americans' confidence in President Trump has plummeted since he won the White House exactly one year ago. That kind of discontent helped drive Democrats to vote in yesterday's elections, leading to significant losses for the president's party in state and local races across the country.
[18:31:11] Let's break it all down with our correspondents, analysts and specialists. Abby Phillip, you're our newest White House correspondent. Welcome to CNN. You've been a contributor for a while, but now you're formally our White House correspondent. Good luck in the new assignment. We're thrilled that you're with us.
Put last night's election results in some sort of context for us. How big of a deal was this for Democrats?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it was actually a pretty big deal. I mean, two governors' mansions went to the Democrats last night. New Jersey not a huge surprise, but Virginia, the margin of that win was really enormous, almost nine points for Ralph Northam.
But I think down ballot, when I talked to Republicans today, a lot of Republicans are pointing to the down-ballot significance. You have Democrats within two seats of taking control of the House of Delegates. That's been in Republican hands...
BLITZER: In Virginia?
PHILLIP: ... in Virginia -- for 17 years. And what that says to a lot of Republicans nationally is that there's a potential for a lot of down-ballot effects -- house of delegates, House of Representatives, Senate races, potentially -- in 2018, that could flip to the Democrats, and that's beyond just the dynamics in the governor's mansion. It speaks to the possibility for a wave election in this next year.
BLITZER: You know, David, do these results give Republicans more flexibility in potentially opposing the president, let's say, on tax -- tax cuts or health care?
DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": So on health care, I think yes, right? I mean, Republicans have had several bites at the apple. Voters told the exit pollers [SIC] -- pollsters that -- that by almost four out of ten voters thought health care was a primary issue in determining their vote.
Clearly, if they're repudiating Republicans, it's a signal to Republicans they want to move on from this issue.
On the other hand, with taxes, Wolf, I think Republicans have to try and pass taxes, and that might mean folding in and going along with the president's plan. After all, if Republicans don't pass tax reform in this Congress, they risk being, essentially, the anti-immigrant, anti-free trade, anti-climate science party, and leaving it at that. They don't want to be in that position.
BLITZER: It's very interesting, Bianna, because if you take a look at the poll -- let's get the reaction, first of all, from the House speaker, Paul Ryan. He says the Republicans need to deliver on their promises. But our poll shows only 40 percent think President Trump is doing a good job keeping his campaign promises. How much will fulfilling those promises help Republicans next year in the midterm elections?
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, YAHOO! NEWS: Well, look, Wolf, you can almost separate the two. You could argue that this is a Paul Ryan sort of ambition more than it even is President Trump's ambition. That's why Paul Ryan was the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. That was his No. 1 objective, was bringing tax reform into legislation.
The president obviously needs a win when it comes to legislation this year. Didn't happen with health care, could very well be in jeopardy with regards to tax reform.
But don't underestimate the power of a good economy. There is a reason that this president every single speech that he gives, whether it's here or abroad, tauts [SIC] -- touts the stock market performance and touts economic growth. I think supporters and those who are not even in Trump's camp will give a president the benefit of the doubt when they see the economy improving, when they see unemployment declining, and when they see the stock market continuing to rise. And that is what the president is going to be riding on. It is what he's going to continue to be talking about, regardless of whether any legislation comes forward.
So when you talk about the president saying this isn't an indictment on him. Yes, you could argue that he's a bit tone deaf. On the other hand, when voters are talking about the economy overall, the president would like to think, at least, that he's the one who should get the credit for it.
BLITZER: Yes. Brianna makes a good point, Ron, and you and I remember when, during the Bill Clinton campaign, they said, it was the economy, stupid. And as far as Americans' attitude towards economic growth right now, the economy, unemployment, the stock market, those numbers are very favorable.
[18:35:10] RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, but I would respectfully disagree.
I think the point is that what we are seeing about Donald Trump is a very personal verdict. And the fact that his approval ratings are so low at a moment when the economy is so good is really the point. It is really Americans' judgment about the way he has approached the presidency.
And that was the big headline, I think, out of yesterday's results, which is that Trump is not immune to the laws of political gravity. You know, you had a lot of Republicans and even some Democrats saying this year that, because Trump was such a singular and unique figure, that voters who aren't happy with him were less likely to take it out on Republicans than they would have been for another president.
And in fact, we saw last night that that idea simply did not hold up. Eighty-five percent of the people who disapproved of Donald Trump's job performance voted Democratic, roughly, in both New Jersey and Virginia. All of the key Democratic constituencies that have registered big discontent with Donald Trump in the polls -- millennials and minorities -- had very solid turnout.
And then you saw this suburban tsunami, where Democrats had astounding margins. I mean, Ralph Northam won Fairfax County outside of D.C. by more than double what Mark Warner did in 2014 or Terry McAuliffe -- double what Terry McAuliffe did; more than Barack Obama did in 2012 in the presidential race. And so you kind of put all that together, and you wonder if passing the tax cut is really an answer to that problem, because as you know, Wolf, in many blue states, it would raise taxes on voters in the upper middle class, precisely many of those white- collar voters who moved so sharply away from the Republicans last night. And for the white-collar-district Republicans who are kind of wondering how to respond to that rejection of President Trump, what Paul Ryan is offering them is really putting out fires with gasoline. So we'll see how that proceeds.
BLITZER: Yes. It's by no means a done deal that that tax cut, that tax package is going to pass.
Look ahead, Abby, to next year, the midterm elections, the lessons from last night going forward.
PHILLIP: I think it's just really unclear for Republicans right now what the verdict is on Trump. I mean, there's an argument to be made that Ed Gillespie didn't go all in. Donald Trump wasn't in the state. He couldn't really go in the state. He didn't win it in 2016, and he probably may not have helped all that much.
But it's not clear whether they can do Trump-lite. In fact, maybe they can't. And it's not clear whether Trump is going to be helpful, particularly in purple states.
I mean, I will say, though, that there are a lot of red states out there where Trump is probably going to be an asset. And I'm certain that, in 2018, you'll see a lot of Republicans saying, "We have to take this down to the state and local level and run these races locally, figure out what works here and not run them nationally. Otherwise, we're going to get swamped."
BLITZER: The president frequently visited Virginia since taking office, but to go to his golf club in suburban Virginia outside of Washington, D.C. And not on one occasion did Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate for governor, show up and play golf...
PHILLIP: Not even for lunch.
BLITZER: ... or do anything like that. They were never seen together. So what does that say to you?
SWERDLICK: Well, I mean, I think that Democrats need to take a lesson from this, that they ran candidates who ran smart races at the local level. The first Asian-American woman in the House of Delegates, the first transgender woman in the Virginia House of Delegates. These candidates both were running as symbols of -- anti-Trump symbols but also ran good personable campaigns, Wolf.
On the other hand, I don't think Democrats can overlearn the lesson of this race. These were -- these were races that were ripe for them to win in Virginia and New Jersey, New York City, et cetera.
BLITZER: Abby, I want you to weigh in, as well. Go ahead. Bianna I mean.
GOLODRYGA: I thought you said Abby.
BLITZER; I met Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: Again, I just think going back to the point we were discussing with Ron, I don't disagree with him, but I think the other headline that did stand out to me in that new poll was the number and the majority of Americans who feel that the economy is in good shape. The president is going to take credit for that, regardless of whether or not that is merited. And it is something that he can tout in ways that those running for Senate, even governorships can't really do.
That was the only argument I was trying to make. So I think, obviously, legislatively and what voters think of the president's character is very important, and we did see an indictment overnight, as well. But for Democrats to take that and run with it without taking major lessons that they need to work on within their own party, they still have a long road ahead in recovering. Yesterday, though, was a very key important night for them.
BLITZER: Well, very quickly Bianna, how much -- how much credit does the president deserve for the economic numbers: low unemployment, Wall Street doing great, the economy seemingly doing very, very good?
GOLODRYGA: Well, look, corporate earnings have been very good throughout the year. The stock market, the Dow has been up some 30 percent this year alone.
You look at the larger picture, though, and we have been on this trajectory for about eight years or so.
In addition to the U.S., don't forget we're a global economy, so we're seeing other countries around the world seeing double-digit growth the same time we're seeing about, you know, 2 or 3 percent growth in GDP. So this is all happening at, let's say, a perfect time for the president to come out now and say that he can take credit for it.
[18:40:6] Obviously, this is happening on the heels of a recovery from the worst recession we've seen since the Depression. And we have seen, if you go back and you look at the chart, you do see continuous growth from President Obama's time. But this president, President Trump, is right to take credit, at least for a year, under his tenure of economic growth and stock market growth, at least.
SWERDLICK: Yes, the Dow is up about 20 to 30 percent under President Trump, but it was up 150 percent under President Obama over eight years.
GOLODRYGA: But also psychologically, the president...
BLITZER: Yes, go ahead.
GOLODRYGA: I'm sorry.
BLITZER: Bianna, go ahead.
GOLODRYGA: President Trump is able to tout this in a way that could, at least psychologically, be a daily reminder for Americans of what President Obama and previous presidents didn't do. They didn't start speeches every single day talking about what the Dow did that day.
BROWNSTEIN: And yet, if you project forward from last night, where the Republicans are in more trouble are places that are doing better, where there's this cultural disconnect with President Trump.
I mean, the Democrats gave a very positive signal, received a very positive signal last night on one piece of their puzzle for 2018. It showed that Republicans are facing a significant backlash to the Trump era in these prosperous, white-collar suburbs.
What they didn't do was make any real inroads among the blue-collar whites in the rural areas that the other part of the equation. They can win back the House, probably, just through suburbia, but that is a very, very narrow path with very little margin for error.
To really have a shot at maintaining a majority in the House, they have to find a way to also make further inroads into what we can call Trump country than they did last night in Virginia. But that suburban side, where people are doing well, is actually the greater risk to Republicans, clearly, now in 2018.
BLITZER: Let's not forget: a lot can happen over the next year before those midterm elections. Everybody stand by. Much more right after this.
[18:46:45] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're back with our analysts and new measures of Americans' discontent right now with President Trump, exactly one year after his election, David, a year ago. And now, we look at this new CNN poll, only 30 percent, look at this, only 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?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure, it has to, Wolf. I mean, President Trump has portrayed himself as a uniter. He has gone out there and been divisive in many instances and you look at the exit polls, you had 80 percent of voters of color voted for Ralph Northam. You had over 60 percent of voters under 45 vote for Ralph Northam. You had over 60 percent of women vote for Ralph Northam. That to me reflects that President Trump has not broaden his reach past what is his core base, which is working class white men.
BLITZER: It's not surprising, Abby. The president didn't blame himself for the problems in Virginia, the Republican candidate had. He tweeted very quickly after the results were known, Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate, worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for.
So, he knows who's to blame.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's just the president trying to have it both ways here. I mean, for the last week before this election, he was sending out tweets, he did a robocall, and White House aides genuinely thought that the level of engagement they had with that race, it officially branded Gillespie as a Trump- endorsed candidate. And frankly, Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist declared before the race was even over that Ed Gillespie had perhaps successfully run a Trumpism without Trump campaign.
So, the reality ended up being a little bit different, but I think Trump is -- the other problem for I think Republicans is that Trump is not always the most reliable political partner. He might be willing to throw you under the bus if things don't go well. I think you kind of saw that in Alabama too where his endorsed candidate did not win. So, I think Republicans are preparing for that in addition to all the other political --
BLITZER: You know, Bianna, the former president, President Obama, he tweeted, quote: This is what happens when the people vote.
How important was that Democratic turnout last night?
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it reminds me of what President Obama said the day after the election from the White House. He said there were consequences from elections. Elections have consequences. We had a very low voter turnout last year and you look at what's happened and what's transpired in the year where voters are inundated every single day with what seems to be a different sort of scandal, so much Russia-related news and just internal rift within an administration, I think you're seeing what the president -- what President Obama was referring to.
Even David Chalian, I heard on his podcast today said the percentage of voter turnout for Northam was greater than it was for Hillary Clinton last year as well. So, this if anything else should be worrying, if not for anything else should be worrying Republicans when you're seeing this real push and increase in numbers and enthusiasm for people really taking to the polls.
BLITZER: And, you know, Ron, the president tweeted from aboard Air Force One, he tweeted a picture of himself sitting at the desk on Air Force One with his senior staff.
[18:50:01] He tweeted, this is what happens -- excuse me, she tweeted, congratulations to all of the deplorables and the millions of people who gave us a massive 304-227 Electoral College landslide victory.
He'd much rather focus in on the big win a year ago than what happened last night.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. Look, there is a significant portion of the country that is deeply invested in Donald Trump who feels that he is speaking for them against economic changes, cultural changes, demographic changes in many cases that make them uneasy, but it is now somewhere between 36 and 38 or 40 percent of the country that feels that way.
There has been an erosion from a year ago. You know, I have a piece today in the CNN digital magazine "State", and I think the clearest impact of the first year of Donald Trump has been to widen all of the divisions that preexisted him in American politics.
He is a candidate -- he is a president who likes as he was as a candidate. He believes it is in his interest up and down on o all of the fault lines of race, generation and class and geography that have divided Americans, and that has produced a passionate attachment for a portion of the electorate, but as last night showed, it's also produced a very, very strong backlash in not only core Democratic constituents like minorities and millennials, but these college- educated white voters that Republicans believed largely leaned toward them.
And I think the lesson of last night is that yes, there is still a strong Trump core, but for Republicans representing suburban areas, this can be a risky road he's led them down.
BLITZER: So, very quickly, Bianna, we know what happened to repeal and replace of Obamacare. How much trouble is tax reform in right now?
GOLODRYGA: Well, as Paul Ryan said, I mean, we're down to final weeks, so we got the CBO score suggesting there's $1.7 trillion. So you're dealing with a billion dollars, excuse me, so you're dealing with another headache internally amongst Republicans. And as was mentioned earlier on the panel, you have a possibility where they're going to have to side with the president on some of his initial plans going forward. That's not going to make a lot of their constituents happy. So, I think you're really going to be focusing on internal rift within the party as a whole.
BLITZER: Yes, the CBO score, $1.7 trillion over ten years if this tax bill in its current state goes through.
Everyone, stand by. There's more news we're following.
President Trump may have toned down his rhetoric on North Korea, but Kim Jong-un's regime has not done the same. We're going to have an exclusive report from inside North Korea on the newest name-calling.
[18:57:17] BLITZER: Breaking tonight: North Korean officials reignite the war of words with President Trump, mocking his age and questioning his sanity.
Just hour after the president's speech in South Korea, Kim Jong-un's regime says it's time for Mr. Trump to go.
CNN's Will Ripley is the only Western TV journalist in North Korea right now. Will is joining us live.
What are you hearing, Will, from the North Koreans?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's becoming increasingly clear here in Pyongyang, Wolf, that North Korea is sharpening its attacks on President Trump despite his more moderate tone when he was speaking in South Korea. In fact, just a few minutes ago, we got a look at North Korea's leading newspaper, which finally mentioned President Trump's speech in the context of the fact there were protests outside of the national assembly where he was speaking. Of course North Korea only reporting about the anti-Trump protests.
Not the protesters in support of the president. They liken his words to, quote, warmongering, filthy rhetoric spewing out of his snout like garbage that reeks of gun powder to ignite war. North Korea not mincing their words.
Another article out in state media. I'll show a quote from that. It says, quote: The U.S. must oust the lunatic old man from power and withdraw the hostile policy toward the DPRK at once in order to get rid of the abyss of doom.
What we're not hearing, at least not right now, Wolf, though, are direct threats to attack the mainland United States with nuclear weapons like we've seen North Korea do and threatened in the past.
BLITZER: North Korea, Will, is also attacking the United States for its human rights record, apparently, in response to the president's speech before the South Korean national assembly.
RIPLEY: Yes, there was actually an article put out before the president's speech laying into the United States on human rights. It's a laughable argument for much of the world to compare the United States and North Korea on the issue of human rights.
But that's the narrative inside this country, that the U.S. is dangerous and chaotic and they say their society is safe even though U.N. testimony reports secret police cracking down on any dissenting voices and putting entire families into gulags, the kind of things that President Trump mentioned in his speech.
But this is argument is one that's been thrown back at me a number of times when I've asked North Korean officials over the past several years about human rights. They say, look at the United States. I'll read you this quote from "Rodong Sinmun". It says: The U.S. should not style itself as a human rights judge but mind its own poor human rights records in its land where racial discrimination, gun-related crimes and all other social crimes prevail.
Every time there's a mass shooting in the U.S. like the one that just happened this Texas or anytime there are riots, that gets a lot of play in North Korean state media because it reinforces their narrative against the United States -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Will, thanks very much. Will Ripley joining us live from Pyongyang, North Korea.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.