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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Democrats Win Governor's Races In Virginia & New Jersey; Trump Speaking To South Korean National Assembly. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired November 7, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: The question, though, is whether or not he will be that way in terms of policy. He said we're making a lot of progress. What do you think he meant?
[21:00:13] JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I don't know what it means. I thought that as well -- it was very intriguing. Unless, you know, something going on in the background, but perhaps with the Chinese, all of which is a good thing. So I think both tone and content are going to be really important in this speech.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: If you're just joining us, we're waiting for President Trump to deliver an address before the South Korean assembly. It is an important speech, obviously, right across the demilitarized zone, Kim Jong-un will be watching and listening.
General Clapper, let me ask you. One of the things that our reporter Will Ripley who was in North Korea right now says the number one thing that North Koreans are going to be looking for is an announcement from President Trump about whether or not he's going to put North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terror. That country was originally on the list.
TAPPER: George W. Bush and that administration took him off in 2008 as part of the deal that they were working on them as a diplomatic gesture. What decision do you think President Trump should make?
CLAPPER: I don't think, I frankly, personally don't think he should do that. I don't see the intrinsic gain by putting him back on the terrorist list. I got to threat him which differently didn't -- treat him with all the sanctions that we've imposed on him, and of course, it does carry a lot of -- I think it's more symbolic and very a negative message to the North Koreans.
So, from the one hand he is reaching out, let's make a deal, I wouldn't do that. I'd hold that back as a stick, but not do it right now.
BASH: You have made very clear that you don't believe that the North Koreans will ever give up their nuclear ambitions. And the question is, when you hear the president like he said today say that he hopes North Korea will come to the table, come to the table to what end? If it is true that North Korea -- their whole reason for existence right now is their nuclear capability.
CLAPPER: What I suggested is not to hold denuclearization as a pretty condition for negotiations. It' -- still a long term, great objective, but I wouldn't hold it out as -- we're not going to talk to you unless you denuclearize (INAUDIBLE) I was there. They're not going to do that.
And the more of this threatening rhetoric, what that does is heighten a paranoia and would make them cling to those nuclear weapons even more.
So, I would just accept that, try to cap it -- try to stop the tests and then enter into some dialogue with them. I did not find unreasonable their request, their demand to me when I was there for entering into negotiations for a peace treaty because all we have is a cease fire. Everyone stopped shooting in 64 years in the 27th of July 1953.
From the North Korean perspective, what they see is a very formidable, overwhelmingly formidable force looking -- when they're sitting in Pyongyang looking south which they think is on a hair trigger to invade the north and overturn the regime. So I don't think it's unreasonable to have a path towards of history.
TAPPER: I want to share video right now if we can. They just removed a protester, I believe, from the South Korean assembly. Let's show that video if we can. And as we watch this video, I'm going to throw it back to Anderson Cooper.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Already (INAUDIBLE), the president's speech, obviously, there in South Korea. And as we mentioned earlier, the president did tweet about the race in Commonwealth of Virginia, essentially saying Ed Gillespie, I don't want to put words in his mouth, but essentially saying, there is, "Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don't forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!"
David Chalian, you're getting some more information about some other seats in the Commonwealth?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, the House of Delegates is getting quite competitive here. Democrats have flipped somewhere between eight and 11 seats so far. They need to get 17 to win control. And, you know, we're going to be tracking these state legislative races all night.
Just think of what's happening here, Anderson. Democrats have swept all three of the state-wide elections in Virginia today. The Democrats are on the hunt and closing in on potentially flipping the House of Delegates. It evokes a little bit of what we saw in 2005 after President Bush was reelected and the State Senate in Virginia on a big Democratic night for Virginia that sort of fore shadow the story of 2006 when Democrats (INAUDIBLE) swept, you know it well, senator, swept to control both the Senate and the House.
[21:05:02] So it is this kind of -- and you just look, Anderson, 41 percent of the electorate today that showed up identified themselves at Democratic. It's just a huge growth from what we've seen. Just in the make up of the electorate. This story tonight is about an energized Democratic Party in a battleground state showing up to make their voices heard.
COOPER: You're also seeing Jared Kushner there, Dina Powell, the Deputy National Security Adviser, there, starting to their seat waiting for the speech. David.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I think the thing we should start looking at is what's happening elsewhere. There's nothing on this scale here. But for example, in Maine there's a referendum on whether Medicaid should be expanded there. The governor, Paul LePage, has -- Republicans governors refused to do that.
Right now, it looks like voters are going to overturn his verdict on this. There was a Democratic mayor elected, Manchester, New Hampshire for the first time since 2005.
So around the country you're seeing these happening. And I make this as a clinical point because I've seen both sides of these kinds, of course, transferred in 2009, you could sort of feel that in 2010 it was going to be a very long night for Democrats.
And I think for Republicans, they need to contemplate is, how do you deal with -- do you embrace Trump? It's hard to run from a president of your own party. And a lot of these races that are coming up, that are swing districts, for example, in the U.S. House are in suburban areas like the ones that we have seen go Democratic tonight.
COOPER: Does this -- Ed Gillespie, notion of sort of running on policies of the president but not embracing the man himself, does that -- is that -- I mean, given what happened to Ed Gillespie is that something you think we're going to be seeing more of or is it?
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Anderson, to address David's point, I think in the midterms, right, the Congress needs to do something to run on, right? I think that's --
URBAN: -- that go Senator Santorum's earlier point, health care hasn't passed, tax reform is -- may stall. We have December 9th rapidly approaching where there could be a government shutdown, maybe not, you have DACA. There's a precipitous cliff coming up on December 9th that has to be dealt with. And so, lots of things, not too many days on the legislative calendar.
Long time ago in this town they used to go regular order, pass bills, things got done. And I think what you see in America is a lot of people just frustrated with the inability of the government to function. CHALIAN: You referenced 2006. And I just want to ask you to this point that day-to-day was just making, how did you make the calculation about an unpopular President Bush at the time? You were running in a blue state, Pennsylvania. Was it a daily calculation about how to run away? How to embrace? How did you deal with that in 2006? And, you know, --
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think I'm different because, as my buddy Van know, I mean, I don't do this every morning when I get up. And so, I felt like, you know, I'm just going to run.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's why you're a T.V. commentator now.
SANTORUM: Maybe that suited more, but -- no, I didn't, but a lot of folks did, I mean, a lot of folks tacked away from President Bush. I didn't do that. But, look, I think to reemphasize approximate the point, Congress is up for election in 2018 not Donald Trump. And so, whether they embrace Trump or not, I don't think really matters. Yet, they matters to them is that they've got to show a record of accomplishment and having -- that will benefit Donald Trump, but it will benefit more them than Donald Trump.
COOPER: Let me ask you. I mean, given what we see with democrats tonight, do you think we're going to see more retirements of Republicans in the House?
JENNIFER PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We saw New Jersey seat that should be a Democratic seat.
URBAN: I don't think we'll be (INAUDIBLE) got pushed down because of -- I mean, --
URBAN: It was safe. It was safe there for a 100 years. I think it was a personal decision.
AXELROD: It's a very good question because what happened in 2005 and 2006 was the there was a wave of retirements and that's one other reasons why Democrats were able to take over the House.
URBAN: That could just be because there's no fun to be in Congress anymore, right? That could be --
URBAN: It's been coming for a long time. And this didn't happen overnight, right? We passed -- you know, the spending billings have been slowing down, regular order ceases to exist. JONES: But there's something happening beyond just what's happening in Washington, D.C. and the dysfunction in Congress. There are real movements out there in the country that (INAUDIBLE) to deal with -- on the left and right, and some of those movements are very, very tough on people if they don't think are towing the right party line. I think that makes it a lot tougher. If you come to Washington D.C., you want to get something done, you're looking over your left shoulder and right should at all times because these movements --
PSAKI: I would say there's one other big tactical lesson I think for Democrats or anyone to take away from tonight. There's -- if we look at the House of Delegates, there's 17 seats there that Hillary Clinton won. So, looking at those and seeing how Democrats do in those seats is interesting because we've been talking about those seats in Congressional races as the ones where we have an opportunity, and there's 22, I think, --
[21:10:03] AXELROD: 23, you know.
PSAKI: -- 23, if I get my numbers correct. So that would be a real road map for Democrats. Those are a lot of suburban districts. Those are similar to some of these House delegate districts and that's the place where we could say, oh, well, we actually could --
COOPER: ` I mean, there's going to be a lot of Democrats watching this tonight would suddenly get --
COOPER: -- whether rationally or not, does this make Dems favored to win in 2018?
PSAKI: The House of Delegates races tell you more about the wins of political, you know, the political wins, I think, than actually the governor's race as much as I welcome the governor's win as well. Because they're more about generic Democrat and generic Republican and less about big candidates on television who are running against each other on major issues.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: But let's just talk about, you know, who turned out and that would also give Democrats some hope. You had a good African-American turnout here and everyone knows that was crucial to Northam winning in Virginia. But also, it's kind of the revenge of the white college graduate voters. Northam won 51 percent, and that's really high. That's really high. That's higher than Hillary Clinton won, I believe. You guys might correct me on that.
And so, if your -- their implications here for members of Congress and white collar districts who could look at this and say, OK, my people are motivated, my people are motivated this time to come out, and I think that'll make a difference to them how they fight on the tax bill, for example. And I think this also may imperil tax reform to some degree. I know the senator talked about that earlier. But, do people feel that they need to be as tied to Donald Trump as they were?
SANTORUM: It's not a Donald Trump tax bill. Now, --
BORGER: Well, really? This wasn't Donald Trump's candidate either.
AXELROD: -- you better tell him because he keeps saying it is.
SANTORUM: Republicans were for tax reform before Donald Trump was. So, this is more important to the Republican Congress than it was to Donald Trump, and it is to Donald Trump. So, they need to learn the lesson that minority turnout in Congressional elections in 2018 mean nothing to the Republican Party. That it doesn't matter. So --
BORGER: It matters to Democrats.
SANTORUM: I'm talking about Congressional Republicans, --
SANTORUM: -- it doesn't matter because they're not heavy minority districts. So what does matter is college-educated folks, I agree, that does matter, but also blue-collar workers who are disenchanted right now with --
SANTORUM: -- the Republican Congress. And that's why adopting Donald Trump's message in part and delivering on the core things that they promised is the one-two punch they need.
JONES: What you would have to have for this Congress to do what you want is for you to actually have a conservative Republican Party. What you have is an anti-liberal Republican Party, and that's not the same. Because what you've got now is an anti-liberal bunch of folks, they can't govern. And I think that --
URBAN: What is the difference?
JONES: -- here's the conservative. He actually has principles. (INAUDIBLE) actually believes. It was popular (ph) or not and he's willing to actually sacrifice to get there. What you see with the Republicans now, especially in their media is, what are the liberals for, we're against it. Whatever you are, we're against it. So we are not going to compromise with you. We will not find any common ground with you. If you give me a deal that gives me 99 percent what I want but it helps 1 percent helps a Muslim, I'm against it because I'm just against you guys. You can't govern with that. And so, what's going to happen is, they are not going to be able to deliver and it's going to open the door for --
AXELROD: You know what's interesting Ed Gillespie probably was kind of the portrait of this governing conservative. That's who he is. He believes in the process, he was chairman of the Republican National Committee, he was a senior adviser in the White House, and he went down that road. I think he thought Hillary Clinton was going to be president this year and that would have made his job a lot easier running for governor, but what happened was he got a challenge from a Trump guy, Cory Stewart, and almost lost the primary.
And so in order to rally the base, he essentially, you know, he jumped in the backseat of the car, the class nerd who jumped in the backseat of the car with the bad boys and he drove off, but, you know, you can't heal the party that easily. I think there are deep fissures. And Rick is right, it's not conservative versus moderate so much as establishment versus populist.
COOPER: I just want to remind our viewers. We're looking at the South Korean National Assembly where President Trump is about to speak any moment. I was going to bring that you live that's why -- which you're looking at the screen. You just saw General McMaster, our National Security Adviser, arriving. Jared Kushner is there, looks like most of the president's people are coming in. And there's obviously the chief of staff. So we, obviously, we'll bring you his remarks as soon as the president starts to speak. We can continue. As you were.
JONES: So again, I think -- you talked about, you know, the jumping in the car and run off the cliff. I think the Republican dog caught the car of government and doesn't know what to do with it. And I think it's starting to actually help Republicans see, wait all a second.
[21:15:09] I got -- I have a father-in-law who's a conservative Republican. But he's heart broken by what he sees with Republicans. Not just because of what he hears from Donald Trump, but because he just doesn't see seriousness about governing. I think you going to wind up, but pressing your own base possibly if this doesn't turn around.
SANTORUM: They're going to pass a tax bill because they have to and not because they want to, they like everything that's in it, but they're going to get a real dose of governing. Hopefully Virginia tonight will put a, you know, put a marker on this.
COOPER: Do you think that's going to motivate them?
SANTORUM: I don't know how it can't. They were panicked before Virginia. They're going to be panicked -- look, there are a lot of Republicans in Washington who believed Ed was going to win this race. So he had the momentum and he was going to come back. And we're going to show and the fact it's not that close and the House seats, the delegate races are -- look, this is another wake-up call, not that they needed one, but there's another wake-up call for Republicans in the House and Senate that you've got to put these, really in my mind, petty differences aside on some of these policy things. Learn to step up and take a bullet because maybe this isn't perfect for my district. Well, I tell you what's not perfect for your district, having a Democrat represented after you lose in the general elections.
BORGER: So do they care if Trump has their back then? I mean, he's low in the polls, but say they take a bullet, what happens?
SANTORUM: If he takes a bullet and wins, of course, Trump will have their back. If they take a bullet and lose --
BORGER: I wouldn't say of course.
PSAKI: Their care for Trump also may decrease dramatically. What, if attacks still happens or doesn't happen, a lot of them are grinning their teeth and saying we want --
PSAKI: -- the tax bill to happen we need him with us, right? That's going to happen or not happen. His political power has just been proven to be not that powerful, so what do they need him for after this? I think it's going to be --
URBAN: The tax bill will rise or fall under its own weight. Now the president has nothing to do with it. You see a National Association of Home Builders, NSIV, coming in as tax bill, traditional Republican stalwarts who support the party opposing this bill. This bill has serious problems. It will rise or fall in its merits. The president has nothing to do with it.
AXELROD: Jen, you say what do they need him for? They need him because he has the hearts and minds of a large number of Republicans in their base and they're worried about -- why did Ed Gillespie who was a champion of immigration reform and in many ways on the moderate side of some of these issue, why did he choose to embrace the cultural agenda he did at the end? He did it because he needed to earn his bona fides with the base. So it's not easy to walk away from the base of your party.
URBAN: But I think David, I think you'll agree with this, that if you pass a tax bill you will see ads talking about tax cuts, regulation reform, the stock market, increase change in people's pockets, every unemployment a historic low, $5 trillion --
JONES: If that happens, --
JONES: If that happens, that's great. But I don't think you guys take enough of a count of the fact that you have a very nasty movement inside of your party that doesn't talk about that stuff, that really does want to talk about this divisive stuff, be scared of people, these people are going to get you, the gangs are coming.
URBAN: Wait a minute. Hold on.
JONES: And that is a real thing. And guess what, that what motivates us. As long as -- the stuff you're talking about everybody could be -- URBAN: I can tell you that the stuff also calling Republicans, you
know, racist and bigots --
JONES: Which I didn't say.
URBAN: Well, you're not saying it now, I agree with you, but it's been said for a long time in a lot of ads including an ad in Virginia's race which the governor -- which now the governor elect had to back away from. So, this is not just one side, this is not just Republicans.
JONES: All I'm saying is --
URBAN: It's both sides are in the gutter on these issues.
JONES: All I'm saying is that you just gave a great story about having some actual accomplishments, which would be wonderful, some of them, some of them I would be against, and be able to run on actual substantive stuff. And I'm saying, if that happened, we would be in a different place in this country.
My fear is that there is this other movement out there. And you don't like it when people call you names about it. I like it better when conservatives stand up to it, but there is a nativist nasty thing out here that does seem to have a real effect and you starting this race. I'm not making it up. I just --
URBAN: Van, you have a point, obviously. Look, it is easier to run on accomplishments than it is on fear. And I think that when we pass this tax cuts, we'll see the stool (ph) of tax cuts regulation reform, the economy churning along, that's going to be a narrative, fuzzy puppies and rainbows. Lots of --
[21:20:02] AXELROD: Listen, Donald Trump got elected not on accomplishments and not on --
AXELROD: He got elected as an anti-establishment insurgence. The real challenge is having governed that way. And now he's running to real obstacles.
URBAN: Revolutionaries don't make great leaders.
JONES: I will say something about what senator just said, though, I think that we have gotten in this log jam now where if somebody says I'm concerned about Mexican gangs, somebody might say, well, you're just a racist.
COOPER: Just tell our viewers the president and the first lady have entered the room. They're not speaking right away. So you can --
JONES: Good. So -- and that's not going to work because -- SANTORUM: It's the same thing as saying I want to reform social
security and you want to cut (INAUDIBLE) and throw off a cliff. I mean, so --
JONES: Or I say I want to help, you know, kids and you call me socialist. I mean, so there's this name calling it goes back -- I agree with you that's bad, but at the same time, your concern rightfully so, would being wrongfully labeled can sometimes mean you don't fight hard against the real Nazis out there and that --
SANTORUM: I would make the argument the same is true on the left. I would argue the same true on the left and has been for quite some time. And that's one of the reasons Trump has done as well as he has is because, you know, the left has (INAUDIBLE) looked down at the folks, you know, from Texas who shot that guy in the church. I mean, they looked down their nose at those two guys.
SANTORUM: That's how they feel.
COOPER: Let's continue this discussion after the president's speech.
David Axelrod, on a trip like this as the president is being introduced, we obviously going to bring it to our viewers as soon he start to speak, how much preparation is there in terms of the words that go into what the president says?
AXELROD: Well, there should be enormous preparation because every word actually matters and you got multiple audiences, you know, the Chinese, the North Koreans, the South Koreans, and our own country. So, you know, the speeches when President Obama gave them were very much the discussion of the subject of debate discussion, words were measured very carefully. And I hope and I trust that is the case here.
BORGER: Although we did see that just, you know, a half an hour before the speech or whatever it was, he was tweeting about Ed Gillespie. I don't --
COOPER: A speech like this is written in advance more than that.
BORGER: Yes, but you work on the -- I mean, (INAUDIBLE) you tend to work on these things.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My guess is what -- isn't happening is that Donald Trump is reading over the speech and carefully --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I like the sound of this word or that word better. I think the staff is working this over and giving him that speech.
(CROSSTALK) PSAKI: No, absolutely. I think in this speech we've heard him speak quite a bit about North Korea, right, and every time he seems to escalate the rhetoric. Now, what's interesting today is he kind of dialed the rhetoric back a little bit as he was standing next to the president of South Korea.
The people have heard him say, we all heard him say many, many times. I'm going to pressure the Chinese. I'm going to work with the Chinese. Well, he's going to China. He's going to meet with Putin. So, at a certain point, the rubber meets the road. I mean he has to do something. Is there a diplomatic strategy happening? Are we going to learn some more details about that? What is the military plan? What are the conditions for that? There are some very specific details, in our experience -- in my experience with President Obama where you'd expect to lay out, you'd expect to move the ball forward on one of those.
AXELROD: These are opportunities. These are forums to advance that agenda.
BORGER: And you also worked with John Kerry. So the question is what's the secretary of state role in crafting a speech like this? What is Rex Tillerson's --
PSAKI: Well, the typical role is he would be very involved and you'd be keying off the secretary of state active diplomacy, maybe giving hints of what is happening behind the scenes. Now that is not the typical relationship. Donald Trump has criticized Tillerson. He's also criticized a diplomatic path forward (ph).
So if he changes on that note, that's a positive sign because you're not going to move forward on a diplomatic path without the support of the president of the United States. That's another piece to look out for in the speech. But if it's just more rhetoric about rocket man and the fat (ph) and the other, I think it will be disappointing to people in Asia and people he's going to meet with over the next couple days.
URBAN: I would just say, Jen, and everybody, you know, all that traditional things have got us where we are today, existential threat to the world with a maniac with nuclear weapons. I think the old ways of dealing with this gentleman, you think you're going to sit down across the table and have a meal and maybe negotiate something is ludicrous.
JONES: You want war?
URBAN: I've sat in the desert. I've been to a war. I don't want to see a war.
JONES: So what's the solution? I mean --
URBAN: I think solution is to try to figure out a different approach with the Chinese and Russians and others. But, clearly, listen -- COOPER: And the president is about to speak. Let's listen in.
TRUMP: Assembly Speaker Chung, distinguished members of this assembly, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the extraordinary privilege to speak in this great chamber, and to address your people on behalf of the great people of the United States of America.
In our short time in your country, Melania and I have been awed by its ancient, modern wonders, and we are deeply moved by the warmth of your welcome.
Last night, President and Mrs. Moon showed us incredible hospitality in a beautiful reception at the Blue House. We had productive discussions on increasing military cooperation and improving the trade relationship between our nations on the principle of fairness and reciprocity.
Through this entire visit, it has been both our pleasure and our honor to create and celebrate a long friendship between the United States and the Republic of Korea.
This alliance between our nations was forged in the crucible of war and strengthened by the trials of history. From the Inchon landings to Pork Chop Hill, American and South Korean soldiers have fought together, sacrificed together, and triumphed together.
Almost 67 years ago, in the spring of 1951, they recaptured what remained of this city, where we are gathered so proudly today. It was the second time in a year that our combined forces took on steep casualties to retake this capital from the Communists.
Over the next weeks and months, the men soldiered through steep mountains and bloody, bloody battles. Driven back at times, they willed their way north to form the line that today divides the oppressed and the free. And there, American and South Korean troops have remained together holding that line for nearly seven decades.
By the time the armistice was signed in 1953, more than 36,000 Americans had died in the Korean War, with more than 100,000 others very badly wounded. They are heroes, and we honor them.
We also honor and remember the terrible price the people of your country paid for their freedom. You lost hundreds of thousands of brave soldiers and countless innocent civilians in that gruesome war.
Much of this great city of Seoul was reduced to rubble. Large portions of the country were scarred severely, severely hurt by this horrible war. The economy of this nation was demolished.
But as the entire world knows, over the next two generations, something miraculous happened on the southern half of this peninsula. Family by family, city by city, the people of South Korea built this country into what is today one of the great nations of the world. And I congratulate you. (APPLAUSE)
In less than one lifetime, South Korea climbed from total devastation to among the wealthiest nations on Earth. Today your economy is more than 350 times larger than what it was in 1960. Trade has increased 1,900 times. Life expectancy has risen from just 53 years to more than 82 years today.
Like Korea, and since my election exactly one year ago today, I celebrate with you.
The United States is going through something of a miracle itself. Our stock market is at an all-time high. Unemployment is at a 17-year low. We are defeating ISIS. We are strengthening our judiciary, including a brilliant Supreme Court justice, and on and on and on.
Currently stationed in the vicinity of this peninsula are the three largest aircraft carriers in the world, loaded to the maximum with magnificent F-35 and F-18 fighter jets.
In addition, we have nuclear submarines appropriately positioned. The United States under my administration is completely rebuilding its military and is spending hundreds of billions of dollars to the newest and finest military equipment anywhere in the world being built right now.
I want peace through strength.
We are helping the Republic of Korea far beyond what any other country has ever done. And in the end, we will work things out far better than anybody understands or can even appreciate.
I know that the Republic of Korea, which has become a tremendously successful nation, will be a faithful ally of the United States very long into the future.
What you have built is truly an inspiration. Your economic transformation was linked to a political one. The proud sovereign and independent people of your nation demanded the right to govern themselves. You secured free parliamentary elections in 1988, the same year you hosted your first Olympics.
Soon after, you elected your first civilian president in more than three decades. And when the republic you won faced financial crisis, you lined up by the millions to give your most prized possessions -- your wedding rings, heirlooms and gold "luck" keys to restore the promise of a better future for your children.
(APPLAUSE) Your wealth is measured in more than money. It is measured in achievements of the mind and achievements of spirit. Over the last several decades, your scientists have -- engineers -- and engineered so many magnificent things. You've pushed the boundaries of technology, pioneered miraculous medical treatments, and emerged as leaders in unlocking the mysteries of our universe.
Korean authors penned roughly 40,000 books this year. Korean musicians fill concert halls all around the world. Young Korean students graduate from college at the highest rates of any country. And Korean golfers are some of the best on Earth.
In fact -- and you know what I'm going to say -- the women's U.S. Open was held this year at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey...
... and it just happened to be won by a great Korean golfer, Sung Hyun Park, and eight of the top 10 players were from Korea. And the top four golfers -- one, two, three, four -- the top four were from Korea. Congratulations.
Congratulations. Now, that's something. That is really something.
Here in Seoul, architectural wonders, like the 63 Building and the Lotte World Tower -- very beautiful -- grace the sky and house the workers of many growing industries. Your citizens now help to feed the hungry, fight terrorism, and solve problems all over the world. And in a few months, you will host the world and you will do a magnificent job at the 23rd Olympic Winter Games. Good luck.
The Korean miracle extends exactly as far as the armies of free nations advanced in 1953. Twenty-five miles to the north, there it stops. It all comes to an end, dead stop. The flourishing ends and the prison state of North Korea, sadly, begins.
Workers in North Korea labor grueling hours in unbearable conditions for almost no pay. Recently, the entire working population was ordered to work for 70 days straight or else pay for a day of rest. Families live in homes without plumbing, and fewer than half have electricity. Parents bribe teachers in hopes of saving their sons and daughters from forced labor. More than a million North Koreans died of famine in the 1990s, and more continue to die of hungry today. Among children under the age of 5, nearly 30 percent of afflicted and are afflicted by stunted growth due to malnutrition.
And yet, in 2012 and 2013, the regime spent an estimated $200 million, or almost half the money that it allocated to improve living standards for its people, to instead build even more monuments, towers, and statues to glorify its dictators. What remains of the meager harvest of the North Korean economy is distributed according to perceived loyalty to a twisted regime.
Far from valuing its people as equal citizens, this cruel dictatorship measures them, scores them, and ranks them based on the most arbitrary indications of their allegiance to the state. Those who score the highest in loyalty may live in the capital city. Those who score the lowest starve.
A small infraction by one citizen, such as accidentally staining a picture of the tyrant printed in a discarded newspaper, can wreck the social credit rank of his entire family for many decades.
An estimated 100,000 North Koreans suffer in gulags, toiling in forced labor, and enduring torture, starvation, rape, and murder on a constant basis.
In one known instance, a nine-year-old boy was imprisoned for 10 years because his grandfather was accused of treason. In another, a student was beaten in school for forgetting a single detail about the life of Kim Jong-un. Soldiers have kidnapped foreigners and forced them to work as language tutors for North Korean spies.
In the part of Korea that was a stronghold for Christianity before the war, Christians and other people of faith who are found praying or holding a religious book of any kind are now detained, tortured, and, in many cases, even executed.
North Korean women are forced to abort babies that are considered ethnically inferior. And if these babies are born, the newborns are murdered. One woman's baby born to a Chinese father was taken away in a bucket. The guard said it did not deserve to live because it was impure. So why would China feel an obligation to help North Korea?
The horror of life in North Korea is so complete that citizens pay bribes to government officials to have themselves exported aboard as slaves. They would rather be slaves than live in North Korea.
To attempt to flee is a crime punishable by death. One person who escaped remarked, "When I think about it now, I was not a human being. I was more like an animal. Only after leaving North Korea did I realize what life was supposed to be."
And so, on this peninsula, we have watched the results of a tragic experiment in a laboratory of history. It is a tale of one people, but two Koreas. One Korea in which the people took control of their lives and their country and chose a future of freedom and justice, of civilization and incredible achievement, and another Korea in which leaders imprison their people under the banner of tyranny, fascism, and oppression.
The results of this experiment are in, and they are totally conclusive.
When the Korean War began in 1950, the two Koreas were approximately equal in GDP per capita. But by the 1990s, South Korea's wealth had surpassed North Korea's by more than 10 times. And today, the South's economy is over 40 times larger. So you started the same a short while ago, and now you're 40 times larger. You're doing something right.
Considering the misery wrought by the North Korean dictatorship, it is no surprise that it has been forced to take increasingly desperate measures to prevent its people from understanding this brutal contrast. Because the regime fears the truth above all else, it forbids virtually all contact with the outside world. Not just my speech today, but even the most commonplace facts of South Korean life are forbidden knowledge to the North Korean people.
Western and South Korean music is banned. Possession of foreign media is a crime punishable by death. Citizens spy on fellow citizens. Their homes are subject to search at any time, and their every action is subject to surveillance. In place of a vibrant society, the people of North Korea are bombarded by state propaganda practically every waking hour of the day.
North Korea is a country ruled as a cult. At the center of this military cult is a deranged belief in the leader's destiny to rule as parent-protector over a conquered Korean peninsula and an enslaved Korean people.
The more successful South Korea becomes, the more decisively you discredit the dark fantasy at the heart of the Kim regime. In this way, the very existence of a thriving South Korean republic threatens the very survival of the North Korean dictatorship.
This city and this assembly are living proof that a free and independent Korea not only can but does stand strong, sovereign, and proud among the nations of the world.
Here the strength of the nation does not come from the false glory of a tyrant. It comes from the true and powerful glory of a strong and great people, the people of the Republic of Korea, a Korean people who are free to live, to flourish, to worship, to love, to build, and to grow their own destiny.
In this republic, the people have done what no dictator ever could. You took, with the help of the United States, responsibility for yourselves and ownership of your future. You had a dream, a Korean dream, and you built that dream into a great reality.
In so doing, you performed the Miracle on the Han that we see all around us, from the stunning skyline of Seoul to the plains and peaks of this beautiful landscape. You have done it freely, you have done it happily, and you have done it in your own very beautiful way.
This reality, this wonderful place, your success is the greatest cause of anxiety, alarm, and even panic to the North Korean regime. That is why the Kim regime seeks conflict abroad, to distract from total failure that they suffer at home. Since the so-called armistice, there have been hundreds of North
Korean attacks on Americans and South Koreans. These attacks have included the capture and torture of the brave American soldiers of the USS Pueblo, repeated assaults on American helicopters, and the 1969 downing of a U.S. surveillance plane that killed 31 American servicemen.
The regime has made numerous lethal incursions in South Korea, attempted to assassinate senior leaders, attacked South Korean ships, and tortured Otto Warmbier, ultimately leading to that fine young man's death.
All the while, the regime has pursued nuclear weapons with the deluded hope that it could blackmail its way to the ultimate objective. So -- and that objective we are not going to let it have. We are not going to let it have. All of Korea is under that spell divided in half. South Korea will never allow what's going on in North Korea to continue to happen.
The North Korean regime has pursued its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in defiance of every assurance, agreement, and commitment it has made to the United States and its allies. It's broken all of those commitments. After promising to freeze its plutonium program in 1994, it repeated the benefits of the deal and then, and then immediately continued its illicit nuclear activities. In 2005, after years of diplomacy, the dictatorship agreed to ultimately abandon its nuclear programs and return to the treaty on nonproliferation. But it never did. And worse, it tested the very weapons it said it was going to give up.
In 2009, the United States gave negotiations yet another chance and offered North Korea the open hand of engagement. The regime responded by sinking a South Korean Navy ship, killing 46 Korean sailors. To this day, it continues to launch missiles over the sovereign territory of Japan and all other neighbors, test nuclear devices, and develop ICBMs to threaten the United States itself.
The regime has interpreted America's past restraint as weakness. This would be a fatal miscalculation.
This is a very different administration than the United States has had in the past. Today I hope I speak not only for our countries, but for all civilized nations when I say to the North: Do not underestimate us. And do not try us.
We will defend our common security, our shared prosperity, and our sacred liberty. We did not choose to draw here on this peninsula...
... this magnificent peninsula the thin line of civilization that runs around the world and down through time. But here it was drawn, and here it remains to this day.
It is the line between peace and war, between decency and depravity, between law and tyranny, between hope and total despair. It is a line that has been drawn many times in many places throughout history. To hold that line is a choice free nations have always had to make.
We have learned together the high cost of weakness and the high stakes of its defense. America's men and women in uniform have given their lives in the fight against Nazism, imperialism, Communism, and terrorism. America does not seek conflict or confrontation. But we will never run from it.
History is filled with discarded regimes that have foolishly tested America's resolve. Anyone who doubts the strength or determination of the United States should look to our past, and you will doubt it no longer.
We will not permit America or our allies to be blackmailed or attacked. We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction. We will not be intimidated. And we will not let the worst atrocities in history be repeated here on this ground we fought and died so hard to secure.
That is why I come here to the heart of a free and flourishing Korea with a message for the peace-loving nations of the world: The time for excuses is over. Now is the time for strength. If you want peace, you must stand strong at all times. The world...
(APPLAUSE) The world cannot tolerate the menace of a rogue regime that threatens with nuclear devastation. All responsible nations must join forces to isolate the brutal regime of North Korea, to deny it and any form, any form of it, you cannot support, you cannot supply, you cannot accept.
We call on every nation, including China and Russia, to fully implement U.N. Security Council resolutions, downgrade diplomatic relations with the regime, and sever all ties of trade and technology. 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.
And to those nations that choose to ignore this threat -- or worse still, to enable it -- the weight of this crisis is on your conscience. I also have come here to this peninsula to deliver a message directly to the leader of the North Korean dictatorship.
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.
North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves.
Yet despite every crime you have committed against God and man, you are ready to offer -- and we will do that -- we will offer a path to a much better future. It begins with an end to the aggression of your regime, a stop to your development of ballistic missiles, and complete, verifiable, and total denuclearization.
A sky-top view of this peninsula shows a nation of dazzling light in the South and a mass of impenetrable darkness in the North. We seek a future of light, prosperity, and peace. But we are only prepared to discuss this brighter path for North Korea if its leaders cease their threats and dismantle their nuclear program.
The sinister regime of North Korea is right about only one thing: The Korean people do have a glorious destiny. But they could not be more wrong about what that destiny looks like. The destiny of the Korean people is not to suffer in the bondage of oppression, but to thrive in the glory of freedom.
What South Koreans have achieved on this peninsula is more than a victory for your nation. It is a victory for every nation that believes in the human spirit. And it is our hope that someday soon all of your brothers and sisters of the North will be able to enjoy the fullest of life intended by God.
Your republic shows us all of what is possible. In just a few decades, with only the hard work, courage, and talents of your people, you turned this war-torn land into a nation blessed with wealth, rich in culture, and deep in spirit. You built a home where all families can flourish and where all children can shine and be happy.
This Korea stands strong and tall among the great community of independent, confident, and peace-loving nations. We are nations that respect our citizens, cherish our liberty, treasure our sovereignty, and control our own destiny. We affirm the dignity of every person and embrace the full potential of every soul. And we are always prepared to defend the vital interests of our people against the cruel ambition of tyrants.
Together, we dream of a Korea that is free, a peninsula that is safe, and families that are reunited once again. We dream of highways connecting North and South, of cousins embracing cousins, and this nuclear nightmare replaced with the beautiful promise of peace.
Until that day comes, we stand strong and alert. Our eyes are fixed to the North and our hearts praying for the day when all Koreans can live in freedom.
Thank you. God bless you. God bless the Korean people. Thank you very much. Thank you.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Very strong speech by the President of the United States before the Korean National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea. But his message was directly aimed at the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.
The President of the United States warning him he must give up the North Korean nuclear program otherwise it will face a disaster.
This is very different administration than the U.S. has had in the past. The President said do not underestimate us, do not try us.
Jake, strong words from the President directly aimed at the North Korean leader.
TAPPER: Well, there's also a lot that was aimed at the South Korean government and South Korean assembly. And these people in South Korea, a lot praised for what they've been able to accomplished in a short amount of time
But you're absolutely definitely right. Telling Kim Jong-un and his regime and no one certain terms do not try is, do not underestimate us.
[22:00:03] There was also a small portion of the speech were he said that the President, he was ready to offer a path to a much better future for North Korea.