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EARLY START

Trump Launches 'Thank You' Tour In Cincinnati; Trump Reveals Defense Secretary Pick; Trump Takes Victory Lap At Carrier Plant; Kerry To Address Carnage In Aleppo. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 2, 2016 - 05:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[05:30:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: -- inclusion and separation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: President-elect Trump offering up a message of inclusion, calling on Americans to come together as he embarks on his whirlwind 'thank you' tour.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN HOST: Trump called him the real deal and now Gen. James Mattis has been tapped to head up the Pentagon, but this nomination is facing a potential roadblock.

ROMANS: And top Republicans antsy about one of the finalists for secretary of state. Why many of them would rather not see David Petraeus get that nod. Welcome back to EARLY START this Friday morning. I'm Christine Romans.

RIPLEY: I'm Will Ripley in for John Berman once again this morning. It's 5:30 on your Friday and it's great to be with you. And I'll tell you what, it was just like old times last night for Donald Trump. The president-elect in vintage form on the first leg of his 'thank you' tour, delivering an "America First" message to thousands of supporters at a rally in Cincinnati last night, calling on the country to come together. The president-elect reveling in the moment after three weeks of meetings in the Trump Tower board room.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: This is the moment. This is our chance. This is our window for action. This is the hour when the great deeds can be done and our highest hopes can come true. We're going to do it, folks, we're going to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIPLEY: So much familiar rhetoric, the crowds -- I mean, this Cincinnati rally looked and felt just like he was on the campaign trail again, those campaign events that helped propel Trump to victory. The president-elect clearly in his element. We get more now from senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Will, true to form, Donald Trump pulled no punches at this rally here in Cincinnati, doing the equivalent of an election touchdown dance. Trump railed against the new media and he vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare and build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

But the big news of the night came when Trump announced he's going to pick retired Gen. James Mattis as his next Defense secretary. Here's what he had to say at this rally in Cincinnati.

TRUMP: We are going to appoint "Mad Dog" Mattis as our secretary of Defense. They say he's the closest thing to Gen. George Patton that we have and it's about time, it's about time.

ACOSTA: Trump made that announcement despite the fact that his own transition spokesman Jason Miller announced earlier in the evening on Twitter that no decision had been made on Defense Secretary. Trump has more stops on this so-called 'thank you' tour planned for next week -- Will and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Thanks, Jim. Now that retired Gen. James Mattis is the nominee for Defense Secretary he's going to need a special clearance from Congress to assume that post. A decades-old statute requires a civilian leader of the military to be retired at least seven years to qualify for the appointment, but it's meant to ensure civilian control of the military. General Mattis retired from active duty three years ago. A Trump transition official tells CNN the president-elect does not expect a problem getting Congress to waive the requirement.

RIPLEY: Yes, it happened in 1950. General Marshall was the last time. Just one other time, actually. This Trump 'thank you' tour might be more accurately described as a victory lap, really. The president-elect making a stop at that Carrier plant in Indianapolis, the one where he just save about 1,000 jobs. CNN's Martin Savidge tells us Trump's visit left a lot of hard to please Hoosiers very impressed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Morning Will, morning Christine. There are still a lot of people in Indianapolis that are in a state of shock -- a good shock -- because they never really truly believed that Carrier could be prevented from taking hundreds of jobs down to Mexico, as it said it was going to do back in February.

Yesterday, President-elect Donald Trump, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, also the governor of Indiana, showed up and they were given almost a hero's welcome there at the Carrier plant. It was a hand selected group of employees that took them on a tour of the facility, but it was all smiles, it was all handshakes. And it was then, during a speech, that Trump made a revelation that really surprised a lot of people, implying that he never really thought he could save Carrier, either. Here's his words. TRUMP: I'll never forget, about a week ago I was watching the nightly news. They had a gentleman worker, great guy, handsome guy. He said something to the affect no, we're not leaving because Donald Trump promised us that we're not leaving.

And I never thought I made that promise and then they played my statement and I said Carrier will never leave, but that was a euphemism. I was talking about Carrier like all other companies from here on in because they made the decision a year and one-half ago. But he believed that that was -- and Icould understand it. I actually said I didn't make it. When they played it, I said I did make it but I didn't mean it quite that way.

SAVIDGE: All told, it looks as though around 800 jobs have been saved at Carrier. Carrier also, according to Donald Trump, is going to invest about $16 million in facilities in the U.S. Indiana is giving Carrier about $7 million over 10 years. But again, many people never thought they would see this day -- Will and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[05:35:13] ROMANS: All right, thanks so much for that, Martin Savidge.

It is jobs day in America. This month's report is big. It's the final hurdle for the Federal Reserve before its last meeting of the year, December 14th. Solid job gains are expected and that should cement a rate hike. Here's what we expect. One hundred eighty-one thousand new jobs created in November. That would be more robust than last month's tally of 161,000. The jobless rate likely stayed at 4.9 percent. We're expecting wages -- 2.7 percent growth there. All of that according to a survey of economists by "CNNMoney".

This data will tell us more about the economy that Donald Trump inherits as president and the economy that President Obama is leaving behind. There is one more jobs report left after today. And Obama's presidency, up to this point 15 million new jobs have been created since he took office.

And there is an expectation because of some strong data we've seen that the Federal Reserve could really start raising interest rates quickly, Will, and that's one of the reasons why you're seeing the bond market -- bond yields up, 18-month high overnight. The bond market really responding quickly to this idea that higher rates are coming.

RIPLEY: And Trump saying that if he's going to get this four percent growth that he's promising there needs to be more people working, but the --

ROMANS: Yes.

RIPLEY: Can you find the workers is the question.

ROMANS: Where are those workers going to come from? Will it be immigration? It doesn't seem likely. RIPLEY: Can't let them into the country -- skilled workers.

ROMANS: Right, we'll have to see. All right.

RIPLEY: Democrats also more than a little nervous this morning about meetings set for today between President-elect Trump and Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitcamp of North Dakota. There are reports that this red state Democrat who is known for voting across party lines is being seriously considered for several key cabinet posts. Democratic leaders are panicking because if she joins the Trump administration her seat in the U.S. Senate would likely be filled by a Republican. Listen to our Manu Raju trying to pin Sen. Heitcamp down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: But are you open to taking a position in the Trump administration?

SEN. HEIDI HEITCAMP (D), NORTH DAKOTA: Well, I think it's absolutely critical to have a conversation and I think it's good for my state. It's good for the work that I do here to understand and share some priorities for the country and for the state of North Dakota, and I look forward to that discussion.

RAJU: There's some speculation it could be Ag or Interior. Have you had --

HEITCAMP: I have no idea. Honestly, you know as much as I know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIPLEY: We also know that Democratic Party leaders have already met privately with Heitcamp and they are urging her not to accept a position with the Trump administration.

ROMANS: Republican leaders are growing increasingly edgy about the prospect of David Petraeus being nominated for secretary of state. One GOP senator telling CNN there's a high level of angst about the former CIA director because of his conviction for mishandling classified information. Top party operatives believe a Petraeus pick would spark a confirmation fight in the first weeks of a Trump administration.

So let's talk about all of this with CNN POLITICS reporter Eugene Scott. And one thing about the secretary of state post in particular, since we're on that subject with Petraeus here, it almost feels like a real-life audition playing out before us. We know these four. We're watching it with cameras staked out. We're watching who's coming in and out of Trump Tower. At this point, Bob Corker -- Sen. Corker -- has been discussed. Rudy Giuliani -- haven't heard his name --

RIPLEY: In a while.

ROMANS: -- in a few days --

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes. ROMANS: -- but he is the most loyal --

SCOTT: Yes.

ROMANS: -- of these -- of these candidates. What do you making here?

SCOTT: Well, I think it's not completely clear where the administration is leaning. I wish it was -- we would be able to say we know for sure it's going in this direction, but --

ROMANS: And David Petraeus would need a pardon if something that --

SCOTT: Yes.

RIPLEY: And he'd have to get permission from his parole officer --

SCOTT: Right.

RIPLEY: -- for his work travel.

SCOTT: So to me that seems like it would be unnecessarily messy. Like you shouldn't have to go through all of that to have a secretary of state unless you really want that secretary of state.

RIPLEY: Senator McCain and others are saying that he's the most qualified -- coming to his defense.

SCOTT: Well, it depends on what you think the qualifications are, right? There are people who are more in the Romney wing and think that he would be a stronger pick given his reach at this point and his appeal and his knowledge internationally.

RIPLEY: But that's messy, too, for a totally different reason.

SCOTT: Right.

ROMANS: Because he didn't -- he's out there saying Mitt Romney's just sucking up, you know.

SCOTT: Yes.

ROMANS: That you can't wipe away all of those months of criticism.

SCOTT: Well, I don't know if that's actually true. I mean, what we do know about Donald Trump -- he has said that he doesn't hold these huge grudges, he's a dealmaker. He sees this as a battle and a fight and he won, and he's not here to keep account of who did him wrong.

ROMANS: There's some -- in the Senate, you know, people are really supportive of Bob Corker --

SCOTT: Right.

ROMANS: -- but then there's an Iran deal problem because he's been criticized for being, you know -- the Iran deal is an issue for Donald Trump, who was very critical of the Iran deal. SCOTT: Yes. Corker came out really early in support Donald Trump, especially among Republican establishment lawmakers and voters and I think Trump wants to reward that. I mean, Trump values loyalty and Corker was that.

RIPLEY: "Mad Dog" Mattis. How big of an issue is this civilian control of the military going to be? He's only been retired for three years, it's supposed to be seven. Obviously, in the past, Congress has confirmed other recently retired generals.

SCOTT: Yes.

RIPLEY: But is this going to be a major issue this time, do you think?

[05:40:00] SCOTT: I think so, especially for Democratic lawmakers. I mean, we know that Donald Trump loves strong men in generals but I think too many is a cause of concern for people. That's why we don't have this happen without congressional approval. And so, I think whether or not he'll be able to move forward depends on how Congress responds to him.

RIPLEY: And this is critical, too, because he's -- he has been a critic of U.S. strategy in the Middle East.

SCOTT: Right.

RIPLEY: We could see a total reversal of what the U.S. has been doing under the Obama administration.

ROMANS: Well, he has said, you know, he knows more than the generals but you've got the generals in there. And he has said that he is the voice for middle-class but there are billionaires on the cabinet. But he, you know -- he really believes that these are people who can get stuff done and that is the most important thing. And I would say of those sort of people with Wall Street ties on the cabinet, they're not really through the Wall Street main -- the main Wall Street --

RIPLEY: Right.

ROMANS: I mean, they're always giving contrarians and then --

RIPLEY: Yes.

ROMANS: -- they've really been on the outskirts. Let's talk a little bit about --

RIPLEY: Well that's the global -- it brings up the globalization issue.

ROMANS: The globalization. Let's listen to what -- last night I think he just had a -- he had a moment that really crystalized I think what his world view --

SCOTT: Right.

ROMANS: What his theme song will be for the next four years -- listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: America will start winning again, big league. The advantages are going to come back to our country and they haven't for many, many years. There is no global anthem, no global currency, no certificate of global citizenship. We pledge allegiance to one flag and that flag is the American flag.

'THANK YOU' TOUR CROWD: USA, USA.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIPLEY: NAFTA supporters shaking in their boots hearing those words.

ROMANS: Yes, there's no NAFTA flag and there may be no NAFTA when he gets done with it. And Wilbur Ross, as Commerce secretary, has said NAFTA will be one of the first things they're going to look at. They're going to take a look at what they need to fix it, fine tune it, or change it.

SCOTT: I mean, he ran on being a revolutionary in terms of trade policy and so we'll see whether or not he's able to carry that out. Those Ohio voters are certainly hoping that he is. That is one of the reasons why he actually won that state. Will he be able to do for them what he was able to do for the 1,000 workers in Indiana with Carrier remains to be seen.

ROMANS: I mean, there are tens of thousands of jobs right now packing up for -- you know, factory floors closing right now, right now today in those states, moving to Mexico and other places. And the question is what will be the broader policy of the United States to prevent those from going? I mean, the president can call up -- he's been -- you know, he can call up CEOs, but can you call every CEO?

SCOTT: Right.

RIPLEY: And how can you compete when you have those Carrier workers making $30 an hour and $30 a day is the wage in places like Mexico. Even lower in Vietnam and elsewhere.

ROMANS: Yes, yes.

SCOTT: Right. It's a -- it's a policy that's in place for a reason -- for a reason.

RIPLEY: Yes.

ROMANS: All right. So nice to see you, Eugene Scott.

SCOTT: You all, as well.

ROMANS: Have a great weekend.

SCOTT: Thank you very much.

ROMANS: I know. Isn't it fun having Will here on the set?

SCOTT: It's awesome, yes.

ROMANS: Don't tell John Berman but it's really fun to have him here.

RIPLEY: Big shoes to fill. Nice to see you guys.

ROMANS: Nice to see you, Eugene.

RIPLEY: Your time now is 5:42 and, you know, speaking of U.S. policy in the Mideast, the United Nations is describing the situation in east Aleppo as a "descent into hell". There are thousands of civilians who are trying to flee -- trying to get away -- out of the range of these airstrikes that are battering this area. The desperation, the death toll is growing and we have a live report coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:47:25] ROMANS: Friends and neighbors gather tonight to mark a somber anniversary in San Bernardino, California. It was one year ago today 14 people were killed, 22 others wounded at a holiday party. They were gunned down by a couple claiming to be carrying out orders from ISIS. The suspects, a husband and wife, were killed in a shootout with police. Police are still not clear what motivated their deadly rampage.

RIPLEY: It is so hard to believe it's been a year already. And there's more devastating news this morning out of Tennessee, three more bodies discovered. Eleven people are now confirmed dead with those wildfires still burning in the eastern part of the state. Crews are combing through the debris in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. They're looking for any signs of life. Firefighters are facing days of dry weather. There's no rain in the forecast until Sunday morning at the earliest and they fear that those dry conditions could restart fires that are still not completely contained.

ROMANS: The latest now on the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Syria. Secretary of State John Kerry set to meet today with Russia's foreign minister as the fighting and bloodshed in eastern Aleppo intensifies. Bombs falling on homes, hospitals, schools. Food and medicine all but gone. The U.N. calling the bombardment of civilians a "descent into hell".

CNN's Muhammad Lila live in Istanbul with the very latest. "Descent into hell" -- you know, U.N. officials saying these people are simply without any hope.

MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN: And Christine, you know the latest numbers from the U.N. say that an estimated 31,000 people have had to flee their homes not in the last month, but just in the last week alone. Most of them have escaped from the eastern part of the city to government-held areas in the western part of the city.The U.N. has gone on record suggesting that what's happening right now in Eastern Aleppo could turn it into "one giant graveyard."

Now, Jan Egeland is the U.N. special envoy for Syria and he's been speaking out about this. These are some of the strongest and most condemnatory comments to date. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAN EGELAND, SPECIAL ADVISER TO THE U.N., SPECIAL ENVOY FOR SYRIA: The desperation has never been at this level. People are exhausted, they are malnourished, they are really without hope. I feel a strong sense of responsibility here. We've failed these people who are now besieged in their fifth year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LILA: And speaking of besieged, the rebels in the eastern part of the city have been surviving -- because food can't come in they've been surviving by growing their own food in parts of the city that are fertile enough to grow that food. But there's a real concern now that as the government forces move in and retake those neighborhoods, even those tiny little areas where they're growing food might be taken away and that makes starvation much more likely.

[05:50:06] Very quickly, a group -- a coalition of 37 NGOs around the world, including the Syrian-American Medical Association, have put out a call asking and pleading for relief supplies to be airdropped into the eastern part of the city as a way to save the people's lives there. Very quickly, it put out a statement saying, "All the hospitals in eastern Aleppo have been bombed. The injured now have nowhere to run (sic). Our people are on the brink of annihilation." That the "world has failed to take any meaningful action to start eastern Aleppo's suffering or provide basic resources to those in need."

That's basically a call to save those lives because as the government continues to move into those neighborhoods there's a very high likelihood that more people will be killed and other people might starve -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Muhammad, thank you so much for following that for us from Istanbul. Just a tragic situation there still in Aleppo. Thanks.