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Don Lemon Tonight

Midterm Primaries; CNN Political Polls; Majority of Americans Concerned or Scared about the Way Things are Going in the U.S. Right Now; Biden Mourns Shooting Victims, Calls White Supremacy "Poison". Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 18, 2022 - 01:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: You know what that music means. It is election night in America. And we are following all the breaking news. Results coming in from big primary races in five States. One of the hottest races, the nail-biter, Pennsylvania, look at your screen. Former hedge fund CEO David McCormick neck and neck with a Trump-endorsed TV doc, Dr. Mehmet Oz. And the race is getting tighter by the minute. Straight now to CNN's John Avlon with me over here at the magic -- I should say, I'm joining him at the magic wall. Pennsylvania --



AVLON: Look, this is just stunning.

LEMON: Crazy.

AVLON: You know what I mean, Mehmet Oz now 851 up. He took the lead for the first time tonight around the half-hour ago.


AVLON: And the big dynamic here is Kathy Barnette had been eating into what might have been a clear win for him. Dave McCormick coming up the middle as the more moderate traditional Republican candidate, i.e., not election denying. He -- look, this thing is still tied. It's a point one percent race. But as these counties, particularly Bucks County, and around the Philadelphia suburbs, they're coming in with a slight edge to Oz right now. But this thing is well within recount territory. This isn't going away --

LEMON: Why is there a slight edge? What do you think is happening that there is a slight edge?

AVLON: I think Trump's endorsement is making a difference. McCormick really did well with early votes. You see, Oz really doing well in coal country.

LEMON: Right.

AVLON: And it's something to really pay attention to. You know, McCormick's strength is the suburbs, in Pittsburgh where he grew up. But, right now, you see, Oz just edging ahead. But this isn't going to be over. This is going to be days. This isn't recount territory. Every ballot counts. Right now 851.

LEMON: Did you say days?

AVLON: Possibly.

LEMON: We thought ours, maybe.

AVLON: I mean, look --

LEMON: Maybe tomorrow.

AVLON: -- hours, maybe days. Look, this is -- they do not get tighter than this, 851 votes.

LEMON: All right. To Idaho and Oregon now, where do you want to go first?

AVLON: Well, let's take a trip over to our friends in Idaho. Now, here's what's important to take a look at. The Republican governor here is Brad Little.


AVLON: He's a conservative guy. He backed the lawsuits to try to overturn the election results for Donald Trump.

LEMON: Right.

AVLON: Not conservative enough for Donald Trump. Backing instead, his own lieutenant governor. I mean, this is a front facade race here. And what you see though is that Trump endorsement, not helping the Lieutenant Governor McGeachin. Incumbent Brad Little, seeming to run away with it so far, now 45 percent. But even in the most conservative North part of the State, incumbent Governor Brad Little in poll position.

LEMON: I butchered her name earlier. I saw in the prompter, like, wait a minute, I know it's pronounced McGeachin but when you see it it's like McGeachin, right?

AVLON: Right. But that's an important thing. Look, I mean, Donald Trump's endorsement doesn't always take you over the top.


AVLON: Even in a Republican primary.

LEMON: All right. Where to now? AVLON: All right. I want to bring one other thing just back to folks' attention because it's really interesting. North Carolina, right. This is something where Donald Trump endorsed Ted Budd. This guy had had no support in the State convention. Trump endorses him. He is walking away with this thing. What's so extraordinary, you see Pat McCrory there at 24 percent?

LEMON: Uh-huh.

AVLON: One county, Mecklenburg, Charlotte, this is where he was mayor. This is a two-term governor. And Donald Trump's endorsement pushed Budd way into the poll position, and a guy who ran the State, Conservative Governor, former-mayor can only pull one county in the entire State. That's extraordinary.

LEMON: Yes, that is extraordinary. Thank you, sir. We'll get back to you.


LEMON: Wait a minute. Pennsylvania -- just kidding. We're keeping an eye open on Pennsylvania. Let's get to Harry Enten and Ron Brownstein, bring these folks into the room, into the conversation. Hello, once again. So, Ron --


LEMON: -- you see the suburban vote is shrinking tonight, right? Shrinking.


LEMON: Tell me about that. What's up with it?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, I think you see in these results, how the Trump direction for the party is self-perpetuating. Because the kind of voters who are the most resistant to it are becoming less likely to participate in Republican primaries leaving what's there. The core that remains, more Trumpy than before. You know, Charlie was mentioning before that the Southeast Philadelphia -- Southeast Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and the four surrounding counties are at 30 percent of the population.

Back in the '90s, they cast a third of the Republican primary vote. Well, I did a quick back of the envelope here tonight, it's only about one-fifth of the Republican primary vote was cast in Philadelphia and the four suburban counties tonight which reflects the movement of those counties towards the Democrats. We saw in Ohio, a few weeks ago, the share of the votes cast in Franklin, Cuyahoga, Hamilton Counties, the three biggest counties in the State was significantly lower than it was 15 years ago in the Republic primary.


In North Carolina tonight, Wake and Mecklenburg whose inner suburbs were Republicans were born in the South cast only about a fifth of the vote in the Republican primaries. Again, back to the envelope calculation. And what that means is that all of these candidates are competing more for non-urban, increasingly non-college, culturally conservative voters. And that has a magnetic pull on the entire Republican field where you see even someone like McCormick, who in the past, might have been the establishment Republican candidate staying on Breitbart Radio yesterday that he is going to go be a warrior for the Donald Trump agenda in Washington. Even after Trump had criticized him.

I mean the real story here is how the whole center of gravity of -- in the Republican party continues to be pulled in a Trumpian direction whether or not his personal choices are winning.

LEMON: I want to go to Harry Enten. Harry, I do have a question for you. But you are, as my mom would say, sitting there looking wise and otherwise. What is on your mind?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I'm just looking at two great looking gentlemen at 1:05 in the morning here in the East. Look, what's on my mind is pretty simple, which is that a suburban voter is worth as much as an urban vote which is worth as much as a rural vote.

And, yes, it's true. Look, Republicans are struggling in suburban areas versus where they were, say 20-3- years ago. But if you look at the turnout in Pennsylvania, for example, Republican turnout relative to 2018 is up compared to where the Democrats were. That is, Republicans are turning up more in Pennsylvania. We saw the same thing in Ohio. We saw the same thing in Nebraska. Seeing the same thing in North Carolina. You just keep projecting it forward.

And what I'm essentially saying is that Republicans are trading votes. And at this particular point, the votes that they are trading in seemed to be -- they seem to be getting enough votes in other areas. So, as we project forward towards the fall, well primary turnout doesn't necessarily foretell what will happen in general election. I would be very happy if I were the Republicans at this point in seeing how many of our voters are coming out and voting in these primaries versus the Democrats who are clearly struggling versus 2018.

LEMON: Oh, I see some --


LEMON: You got a yes and a no here. Charlie is going yes. You're going --

SELLERS: No, I'd like to hear the panel.

LEMON: -- respectfully. I mean, Harry --

SELLERS: Go ahead.

LEMON: -- Harry and Ron probably have higher SAT scores. And I actually not -- probably they do -- SELLERS: I didn't take the SAT.

LEMON: But -- he didn't even have to take it. He was waved in.

SELLERS: But I think what they're saying is offset by the practically and the reality of the fact that candidates win elections, right? And what you are seeing in this is a progression of primary season is a lot like when you had Todd Akin the young lady who said that she wasn't a witch. I can't remember her name.

LEMON: Christine O'Donnell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christine O'Donnell.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christine O'Donnell, yes.

SELLERS: And so, yes. I mean, I get it. I understand where the trends are but when you have a Herschel Walker on the ticket, when you have a conversation between McCormick and Mehmet Oz, when you're talking about Ted Budd, when you're talking about the -- I mean, even Charlie Dent will tell you, I believe, that Mehmet Oz and McCormick are not the strongest general election candidates who ran for the United States senate tonight. Ted Budd is not a stronger candidate than Pat McCrory. That the fact is that you have 1,000 Republicans who are better candidates than Herschel Walker.


SELLERS: But this is the Trump impact. And so whatever the trends are --

LEMON: Let them in -- let Charlie in and then --


SELLERS: Do you agree with me, too, though?

DENT: Well, let me get to Harry first. Harry is right. Look, Republican anger and energy is high. It's the midterm dynamic. And what you are seeing is that Republican enthusiasm is higher than the Democrats. Just the Democrats were in 2018. You don't need to be a statistician to figure this out. It's a midterm, Democrats are on their heels. And nothing is surprising. Now, you're right. I mean, I think you make a case that there could've been stronger candidates on the Republican's side but you don't have to be the strongest candidate to win when the win as at your back for Republicans.

SELLERS: That's right. That's right.

ENTEN: Yes, yes, yes.

LEMON: Go, go. ENTEN: I -- here -- I'm just going to take it. I'm going to take it right here and say, look, there's a difference between Federal elections that Ted Budd is running in and whoever the Republican nominee which we'll find out some time in the next 45 years, who that's be. Versus if you're running in the gubernatorial race and you're a Mastriano, right?

DENT: And --

ENTEN: There's a real example of that in 2014 where Tom Wolf, the current governor, came in in a very red year and he was able to take that because the incumbent governor was so unpopular. So, I think Mastriano is a disaster. I think Josh Shapiro is lighting the fireworks. He's very happy. But in the senate race, let's see what happens.

LEMON: Go to Ron.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, there are a couple of separate issues, right? I mean, the first issue that I was trying to raise is that the balance of power inside the Republican Party --


BROWNSTEIN: -- is clearly changing as a result of the way Trump has changed the coalition. And by alienating the voters who are most resistant to it, he's creating a Republican primary elected that is going to produce more Trumpy candidates as a general proposition as some of them are going to be weaker candidates.

And as Harry and Charlie says, that may not matter much. 75 percent of Americans are saying, we're on the wrong track. 65 percent are saying that they are losing ground because of inflation. And in that kind of headwind, a lot of candidates who would lose in a more neutral environment are going to get over the top. But eventually, you will get back to a more neutral environment.


And the question will be, I think, in that kind of, you know, landscape whether the consistent tilt now in Republican primaries, four candidates who are very Trumpy, who are denying the election, who are running on banning abortion without exceptions for rape and incest at six weeks, whether you can win when you don't have this giant tailwind at your back. And even in a year where there is a tailwind at you're back, there will be candidates as in 2010 and 2014 who are simply a bridge, too, for Mastriano, maybe one, you could see them in Arizona and other States as well.

LEMON: OK. So, let me just say that I pay attention. And I am listening to the lady to my left, Alice Stewart, who made this point earlier. And now all the guys are making all the same points that Alice Stewart made earlier except they went like this.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: They said it with more authority. And they're certainly -- LEMON: You said --

STEWART: -- much more handsome than I am.


LEMON: -- you said -- I think what you said, I'm paraphrasing here is that, what Republicans need to do is nominate candidates or run candidates who can win in a general, right? Is that what you said?

STEWART: Absolutely. We're -- we need to nominate people that are reflective of the Republican Party. Not the Trump wing of the party. And look, Ron knows the cross tabs, suburban, urban, all these voters. And Harry knows Republican and Democrat. The CNN poll that came out last week showing that the enthusiasm amongst -- registered voters is nine points higher for Republicans than the last poll. And six points higher for Democrats. You know those numbers?

But the key here is the independent and undecided voters. Those in the middle. Those people are pissed off with the inflation, with the economy the way it is, with what's going on at the border, with what's going on with foreign policy. And with all of those aspects in the toilet --


STEWART: -- that is motivating these independent voters. And I think, if I could put one button on the Ted Budd story, Donald Trump is going to claim victory for that. He does deserve a lot of credit for that. But also, the Club for Growth went in full speed ahead going after McCrory, painting him as a liberal, which he is not. So, there is also a lot of money going against these candidates in addition to Trump. The --

DENT: It's not just Trump.

STEWART: -- it's not just Trump in that specific case. Ted Budd benefited from Trump and Club for Growth going against his opponent.

LEMON: Mark, he said if you were -- I think -- who was it that Ron said if I were -- Ron or Harry, I forget, correct me whoever it is. If I were a Republican tonight, I would be very happy about the enthusiasm and moving forward. We're going to talk about what happens next week in the primaries. But is -- would you be very happy about that?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes -- I mean, yes. But, I -- you know, I do think we have to say this in -- the Republican Party, that we knew when Charlie was in congress, you know, for the many years.

LEMON: There's no more.

PRESTON: The Republican Party that is now is no more. So, while I do take to heart what Alice is saying and there are a lot of Republicans that are saying that. The fact of the matter is, is that the Republican Party has now evolved and it's now become a mixture of let's take Donald Trump out of because at some point he's not going to be here anymore.

But Trumpism is still going to be here. And what is Trumpism? It's a whole lot of things. It's conservatism to the nth degree. It's this Christian nationalist agenda, you know that they're pushing. If you look at who Trump is surrounding himself with, and if you look at those who are trying to align themselves with, that is where the power-based of the Republican Party, I think, is headed.

LEMON: I'm getting way ahead of myself here. But I -- that's -- I think that it's going to be interesting to see what happens if Trump actually does decide to run in 2024. Because I -- I'm not sure that he could stand another loss to this, right? He likes to be the kingmaker.


LEMON: And I think he has a better chance of being a kingmaker than being a king once again. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. Charlie Dent -- Ron, is that you?

PRESTON: Trump made a lot of --

SELLERS: Can I mention a name?

LEMON: We got -- we got -- go on.

SELLERS: I mean, we only mentioned the name one time and John Avlon said it. And I know with the Republicans are supposed to be jumping up and down and doing cartwheels and drinking moet tonight, probably the rose flavored kind. But the fact is Cheri Beasley should be so excited tonight.

Like the -- we're talking about all of this headwind and everything else but I'm excited to actually give money to a candidate who can win a purple state. Cheri Beasley is the former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. She lost her last race by like three votes. I, mean it was an extremely close race for her reelection. She is a formidable candidate. And Ted Budd is the closest thing to Mastriano as you can get.

So, while we're talking about the fringes of the party in this race in North Carolina, the fringe is you cannot paint Cheri Beasley out to be Bernie Sanders. You simply cannot. She's as close to center, a moderate Democrat as you can get. And what I'm saying is that Ted Budd is the fringe. Ted Budd is everything that represents Trumpism and everything else.

And so, while you may be jumping for joy, what I'm saying is Democrats are excited. Not only about Fetterman, because we believe he has a chance. But I guarantee, if you talk to a Democrat tonight who is in the no, who's funneling money, who wants to bundle money, and bundle dollars, they're going to say the name Cheri Beasley over and over and over again.

[01:15:00] LEMON: I'm glad you butted your way in. That was a very good point, Bakari.

SELLERS: You gave me a compliment.

LEMON: Even with the chicken wing sauce under your tie.


LEMON: It's Bakari --

SELLERS: I had calamari with a little -- what's the dipping sauce called?

DENT: Take him out.

SELLERS: Little cocktail sauce. It was good.

LEMON: Not Sriracha.

SELLERS: No. I tried to hide it.

LEMON: All right. We got -- it's late you all.

SELLERS: Now, I'm self-conscious.

LEMON: It's late and you can tell. Your tie --

SELLERS: It's not late on the West coast.

LEMON: -- your tie is on you.

SELLERS: People in L.A. are judging me right now.


SELLERS: Let me, button up.

LEMON: Standby everyone --

SELLERS: We're just getting started out here.

LEMON: -- the senate race in Pennsylvania maybe the hottest thing going this election night. But there is a race in Oregon tonight that is a big test for President Joe Biden. That's next.


JASON CHINNOCK, CEO, DUCATI NORTH AMERICA: We released last year the very first motorcycle with radar. And what that's allowed us to do is to be able to put some technology in a motorcycle that gives features of safety for the rider including blind-spot indicators, that's been used on cars for years. So, we're not only dedicated to that performance but also to try and improve our environmental impact and also the safety for the riders themselves. LEMON: There you go, Key Race Alert for you, Dr. Mehmet Oz is lead -- his lead is increasing in Pennsylvania in that tight GOP senate race. Let's go to John Avlon at the magic wall. John, what's going on? How tight is it now?


AVLON: It's -- I'll tell you. Right now, Dr. Oz up 1,127 votes. Still statistically tight, 31.2 to 31.2 with McCormick. Here's what's happening, Oz seems to be gaining in some of these counties, suburban Philadelphia, Bucks County in particular where his headquarters is.

So, he's making some incremental gains. He switched the momentum into the poll position. But really, we're talking 1,000 votes here. Here's a major X-factor to pay attention to though. Lancaster County, OK. Right this -- you see, Kathy Barnette in first place, McCormick second. The key issue to watch here -- and this is getting in the weeds but this is what we're doing at this time of the hour, it's 7,000 outstanding votes that have gone through reprocessed. They're primarily mail-in votes. McCormick could have a real edge in that. So, it's one more reason why this thing is far from over. And it could be not hours but days because we are well within recount territory.

Now, I want to bring you big attention to a Democratic race. Not a lot of them going on right now. But this house race in Oregon is really key. Take a look at this house race for district five in Oregon. OK. You say, why are we paying attention to this? It's because here you've got a centrist incumbent, Kurt Schrader. Endorsed by the President of the United States. Right now, 40 percent in. He is being beaten handily by a progressive candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who he outspent six to one. This is partly the perils of redistricting. It's a more liberal district than it was when he had been holding it in the past, and he's held this since 2009.

But this is the President's prestige on the line. A lot of money coming in for Schrader. Right now, progressives in poll position in Oregon five. So, it's a reminder that the center is under attack in both parties right now. This is a cautionary sign for some Democrats.

LEMON: John Avlon, you're amazing. How do you say that again, Lancaster?

AVLON: Lancaster.

LEMON: Thanks, John. What did you say, Pennsylvania Dutch?

DENT: Yes, fill Don Lemon down the stairs, he shoos. He's a nice fellow. That's what they'd say.

STEWART: I'll tell you what, that Oregon race is an example. If I was a Democrat running right now, I would have alligator arms around Joe Biden. I would not want to be hugging onto him because of the way the economy is and all of the issues --

SELLERS: But that's --

STEWART: -- that are dragging down the ticket.

SELLERS: But it's Oregon. Like, that's not -- like, indicative of the rest of the electoral field.

STEWART: It's --

SELLERS: That is one of the most -- that is one of the more liberal places in the entire union.

STEWART: But not when it comes to pocketbook issues. People are still concerned --

SELLERS: I don't disagree --

STEWART: -- when they're paying $5 a gallon of gas in Oregon.

SELLERS: -- I don't disagree with you. I do think that inflation, like --

DENT: Yes, but isn't that her -- what she made about running the right Republican? This is running the right Democrat in Oregon, no?

SELLERS: I just don't think that this -- you can't extrapolate him. And Harry in -- Harry and Ron can probably. But you can't extrapolate a Schrader loss across the Democratic field. I don't think that's fair or accurate.

DENT: But the Democrats are probably going to lose that seat. Kurt Schrader is a moderate Democrat. He's a veterinarian. That seat can easily go Republican. And I bet if this -- McLeod-Skinner, if she is the nominee, Republicans are going to target that seat. And there's a good chance they're going to win it.

SELLERS: Republicans won't win that seat Republicans and I'll bet you whatever you want to.

DENT: It's a pretty competitive seat.

SELLERS: But they won't --

DENT: And Schrader --

SELLERS: I'll bet you whatever you want to. They -- I'll bet you --

DENT: -- Schrader reflected it pretty well.

SELLERS: Republicans will not win that seat. This is not indicative. What you have is, you -- what you have in the Democratic Party is you have a changeover because people feel as if leadership -- this is more of an outsider versus an insider type of election than a referendum on where we. Republicans aren't going to win the seat. And Jamie McLeod- Skinner ran a great race.

LEMON: Mark Preston, let's talk about this since they're saying, you know, they're going to win or Republicans --

SELLERS: Diving deep into Oregon policy.

LEMON: I know. This CNN polling shows 53 percent of Americans are burned out with politics right now. 23 percent marks said that they're fired up. What kind of a political figure can breakthrough in this climate? Someone's got to be able, really, to channel that. Whatever that is.

PRESTON: You know, unfortunately, I don't think that you're going to have somebody, you, know we're talking about running up in the middle in these races. Someone's going to come and run up the middle and save the Republicans as it stands right now.

I think that -- by the way, I'm surprised that it's only 53 percent of Americans that are really tired by politics. Because when you think about politics, all you do right now is think about strife, anger, arguments. I mean, I don't know about anyone in the panel, but you know when I go out socially, I got to kind of try to make a point of saying, like, I don't want to talk about politics tonight, you know. Because it has really poisoned, you know, the national conversation.

But as I was saying before the break about the Republican Party not being the same, the Democratic Party is not the same as it was, you know, five years ago, you know, six years ago. And it's never going to go back as well. I mean, to the point of Fetterman's wife tonight on our own ear saying, you know, we'll embrace the progressive title if you want to talk about minimum wage at $15. If you want to talk about, you know, health care for all, and what have you.

But what that's going to do though is it's going to squeeze out the likes of Conor Lamb in the centrists -- and I know Bakari doesn't want to hear that. But --


SELLERS: Yes, I just -- but I have to fundamentally disagree with you because I think the facts don't bear out what you're saying. You know, like, you're saying it's not the same Democratic Party it was five years ago. The facts don't --

PRESTON: It wasn't. It's not.

SELLERS: -- the facts don't bear that out. In 2008, who was the President of the United States? Barack Obama. Who was his vice president? Joe Biden. Who was the speaker of the house? Nancy Pelosi. Who was the leader? I mean, we had the number two in charge was Chuck Schumer. We had Jim Clyburn and we had Steny Hoyer. These are still the same --

PRESTON: Who's driving the national conversation right now? Because I'll tell you right now, it's not Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. It is the more liberal wing of the party.

SELLERS: It's not true because --

PRESTON: Where AOC -- where a one term --

SELLERS: That's not --

PRESTON: -- excuse me, two-term Carson (ph) but who just gets elected and immediately is looked to as a soothsayer for --

SELLERS: But that's fundamentally not true.

PRESTON: -- what the future --

SELLERS: I mean, if we are going to --

PRESTON: But it is.

SELLERS: That's not true. Because I can ask you right now who's driving the conversation? And if I were to say the person driving the conversation, even to is my chagrin -- chagrin, is Joe Manchin. That is a fact.

PRESTON: Well, that isn't --

SELLERS: Joe Manchin is driving the conversation along with Joe Biden. That is a fact. And Joe Manchin is anything but the center.

PRESTON: He's only driving the conversation though, Bakari, because he has the power and the ability to stop what Democrats are trying to do.

SELLERS: But there's --

PRESTON: Because --

SELLERS: But I just thought you said he wasn't.

PRESTON: -- because there are other Democrats that disagree with you.

SELLERS: I mean, Joe Manchin is driving the conversation.

LEMON: There's a difference between driving the conversation and driving politics. Joe Manchin maybe driving the politics but I don't think Joe Manchin is driving the conversation.


LEMON: I still think that -- I honestly still think that Trump is driving the conversation. And not Joe Biden or Joe Manchin.

PRESTON: Yes, but would Trump has done though is because it forces us to talk, you know, about Trump all the time because he takes all the oxygen out of the room. But the fact of the matter is that the Democratic Party has dramatically changed, you know, since 2016. Yes, Barack Obama made history and what have you. But let's go back to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and, you know, go overall those issues and how Hillary Clinton --

SELLERS: Bernie Sanders' got --

LEMON: But Mark -- SELLERS: Bernie's --

LEMON: Hold on. hold on. I don't think that's a polling. The polling doesn't show that Democrat -- the party has dramatically changed. The polling shows that the Republican Party has dramatically changed. The Republican Party has moved further to the right that Democrats have moved to the left.

PRESTON: Because the polls has been so much on the changing of the Republican Party --

LEMON: But as far as Donald Trump is driving the conversation, not because he takes the oxygen out of the room. It's just because all of these really far extremist candidates are somehow winning because of Donald Trump, not because he takes the oxygen out of the room. That's why I think he's driving the political conversation.

STEWART: At the same time, you also have on the Democratic side the far-left wing of that party, the AOC's and the squad, they are dominating the conversation. They are dictating a lot of what the platform is. The only difference with Joe Manchin is he's able to affect the politics in the senate --

LEMON: But Alice, is that right though?

STEWART: There's a difference between --

SELLERS: It's not.

LEMON: It's not. I don't --

STEWART: -- there's a difference between what's going on --

LEMON: -- I don't hear people talking about -- I don't hear people talking about AOC. I hear conservatives.


DENT: Look what's happening, after this 2022 election, the Republican Party and Congress will become much more Trumpian. And the Democratic Party is going to become much more progressive. Because the Democrats are going to lose, are going to be people like the Kurt Schrader in the general elections. The more moderate ones are going to be -- many of them are going to be cleared out. And you're going to have a much more progressive --

LEMON: Listen, this is of the conversation.

DENT: That what's going to happen.

LEMON: I think people -- I think Democrats are disappointed in the President, right? In the current president. This is what the polling shows for everybody. The majority of Americans are concerned, are scared about the way things are going in the U.S. right now. And mainly, that is on Joe Biden. He is the leader of the country. SELLERS: I hate these polls in the way that they frame the question because what we're doing here is what we should not do on TV, which is a both-sides argument. And I will utterly and outlay reject a both- sides argument. These parties are not the same. They are not going in --

LEMON: I just said the polling shows that Democrats have not --

SELLERS: Wait a minute --

LEMON: -- and Republican have moved further to the right and Democrats have --

SELLERS: No, no.

LEMON: -- It's not the same thing.

SELLERS: I hear you and I --

LEMON: And Democrats mostly argue about policy and Republicans are arguing about crazy, like, anything.

SELLERS: And that's my -- that is my point. Because what we're not talking about here is the elephant in the room which is Buffalo, New York. And we're not talking about the fact that you have a party and for whatever you may say about the Democratic Party. We're talking about the way that we get -- the way that we remedy inflation, the way that we deal with criminal justice reform. We're talking about voting rights. We're talking about abortion.

We're not -- what we're not doing, though, however, and we may talk about issues in inappropriate way. But what we're not doing though is, like, Elise Stefanik who's talking about the Great Replacement Theory. What we're not talking about is a party who's running on xenophobia and bigotry and all of these other things.

And so, look, while we're having this conversation, we do have to acknowledge that there are other factors in the room. And this is not a both sides thing. And unless the Republican Party carves out that cancer, then they're going to have a hard time in November.

LEMON: Right.

DENT: I'll acknowledge that the Republican Party is all kinds of problems. But I think it's fair to say though that I've always felt that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are two different sides of the same coin. They both appeal to anger.


Trump on a cultural level. It was the Mexicans, the Muslims, the Chinese. They're the reason why you're miserable.

Bernie Sanders, it's an economic anger, you know. It's the rich guy. It's the chemical industry. It's the oil industry. It's the gas industry. It's pharmaceuticals. These are a lot of ordinary Americans, Democrats are struggling in industrial America because industrial America thinks that many in the Democratic Party and the far left are at war with them. They disrespect what they do.


LEMON: Part of what you're saying is -- there is a big difference.

DENT: Yes.

LEMON: One of them traffics in lies and racism and bigotry, right, especially when you look at the big election lie and what one says about immigrants.

And the other one does not do that. There is a big difference there.

PRESTON: Right now, we're not doing --

LEMON: Both sides.

PRESTON: Equal sides. We're not doing that. We're just simply saying if you look at where we are now, and where these parties were, they are in a much different place. Structurally, which you know isn't sexy to talk about on TV. Structurally, you know, they're not in the same place as far as raising money, who controls it, what corporations are really big.

I'm just saying. Things are changing.

DENT: I just don't -- I just don't think --


LEMON: Hold that thought. I got to get to the break. Hold that thought. I got to get to the break. I'm sorry.

So CNN is projecting that John Fetterman has won the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary. And it's been a dramatic few days after he suffered a stroke just last week. We have an update on that coming up right after this.



LEMON: Back now with our continuing election coverage. CNN projects Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman has won the Democratic nomination for Senate. Let's go straight to Mr. John Avlon at the Magic Wall. John, what do you have for us?

AVLON: I just want to hammer home what a crushing this is. We've been looking at the Republican race for Senate all night. It's too close to call. Three candidates splitting it up. John Fetterman from a hospital bed winning almost 60 percent of the vote. Conor Lamb, centrist congressman from St. Mary around Allegheny County, Beaver County that Fetterman is from, people thought he would make a classic general election candidate. Fetterman knocked him across the board.

So you got basically a unified Democratic Party around Fetterman for Senate, around Shapiro for governor. In contrast to this very fractured Republican Party.

Fetterman doesn't neatly fit the boxes. He is very progressive on policy, but he has this kind of blue collar populist persona. And so it's going to be a fascinating race.

But you got to say Fetterman's team crushed it tonight. And this is a pretty unified Democratic Party heading into the fall against those tough headwinds of a pendulum swing towards the Republican Party in midterms.

LEMON: All right. Thank you there, sir.

Let's get to Ron Brownstein, Harry Enten joining us -- no, Ron Brownstein is here.

Ron let's talk Fetterman, you know, he obviously got sick. His wife noticed, right, and saved his life. What would we do without women saving us here? How do you think this plays out in that campaign?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, first of all, I think one aspect of this that's really important hasn't been discussed much, and is also present in that Oregon race that we were talking about in the earlier segment is that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have discredited centrism for a lot of Democratic voters.

I mean I think, you know, the historical calling card of the Democratic centrist is, as someone was saying to me today is that they are the ones in the end who can get things done, who can make deals, who can work across-party lines.

Manchin and Sinema really haven't advanced that vision of centrism. They've really been more saying no to their own party. And Tripp Gabriel of the "New York Times" really captured this on a terrific piece on the Pennsylvania senate race the other day. All of the Democrat voters who he talked to said look, I don't want another Manchin, you know.

And even though Conor Lamb said he would end the filibuster for voting rights, I think too many voters felt that what the party needs, especially given what is going on in all of the red states right now with this kind of wave of socially regressive legislation is someone who will more kind of take it to the Republicans.

And the price that Manchin and Sinema have imposed on the image of centrists in the Democratic Party among Democratic voters, I think you can't underestimate. And you're seeing a reflection of it tonight.

Now, you know, look, I mean Fetterman has ideological vulnerabilities. But as John Avlon correctly noted, his persona is very different from the kind of ideological caricature of an ivory tower liberal, which is what usually goes along with that. And the question is whether he can -- as Bakari said, can he get the African American turnout in Philadelphia? Can he slightly reduce the cavernous Democratic deficits in the middle of the state, in the, you know, the part -- what James Carville used to call the Alabama between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

You know we don't know. And it's a very different race against Oz, where Oz he can portray as a carpetbagger. Obviously McCormick he can portray as kind of an out of touch rich guy.

So he could be a formidable candidate. He is also Don, an indispensable candidate for Democrats because they've got four -- at least four really tough senate incumbents to defend in Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, and New Hampshire. And their odds of winning all of them in this environment isn't great, which means that they're going to hold the senate, they probably have to pick up at least one Republican seat, and their best chance is clearly Pennsylvania.

LEMON: Harry, I want you to weigh in here because listen, different people show up, right, for primaries and the general. So we may see more people come out in the suburbs, more people come out in the cities or what have you.

But I've been watching you talk about John Fetterman as well. An unusual candidate in many ways. Very casual. I'm not sure if I've ever seen the guy in a suit. But go on here.

ENTEN: No, I would say I know something about casual being the only gentleman here without a tie.

Look, here is the situation. Ron hit it very well which is Democrats need a win here.



ENTEN: I don't really see a situation where Democrats hold the Senate if they don't win in the state of Pennsylvania. You know, Wisconsin was spoken about earlier on in the program. But the fact is Ron Johnson is running for reelection in Wisconsin.

You don't defeat incumbents of the opposition party when the president's approval rating is at 40 percent in a midterm election.

Now look, John Fetterman really doesn't though have much of a track record running statewide, right in a general election. He ran as the lieutenant governor for Tom Wolf.

But we don't really know how voters will react to him. I honestly, you know, a phrase I used last night on Erin Burnett's program is "this is going to be a lot of fun," at least in terms of people like myself who watch electoral politics.

Because whoever the Republican nominee is, John Fetterman is so unusual and, you know, dresses so oddly and talks in a way that a lot of Democrats don't really talk, but will that be able to get him over the top given that he is seen as this more progressive candidate? I don't know.

LEMON: Well, that's why I said he has a sort of an every man appeal about him. And when I say what happens, how does his illness play? Does that help or hurt him?

I mean that he is more relatable to people now. And also America loves a comeback story. If he comes back and he heals, right. So that's why I raise that question. I think it's legit.

ENTEN: I think it's a legit question. And we're going see how the candidates sort of play it out. Everyone has someone in their family who has had illness at one time or the other.

LEMON: Amen. Yes.

ENTEN: And so I don't think that this is something that keeps him down. As long as he is able to show that he is up to the task. And we have no reason to believe that he isn't at this particular point.

So I think it's just going to be a very interesting fall campaign regardless who the Republican nominee is.

LEMON: All right. Stand by, everyone.

President Biden paying his respects in Buffalo at the site of the racist massacre in a mostly black neighborhood where ten people were shot to death while shopping for groceries over the weekend. And slamming what he calls the poison of white supremacy.



LEMON: So listen. We have a key race alert. Look at that. Dr. Mehmet Oz increasing his lead over Dave McCormick in the Senate Republican primary in Pennsylvania. Ahead by 2,741 votes at this point.

Boy, this is a nail-biter, and it won't be decided tonight. It will probably be decided in the morning. Who knows? Maybe it will be decided in the next few minutes while we're on the air. What do you think?

DENT: Well, I don't think it's going to be decided tonight, no.

SELLERS: I'd rather be Dr. Oz than McCormick right now. I mean when you're at a race like this with 94 percent of the vote in and you're up 2,700 votes, that's kind where you want to be.

DENT: Right now I'd rather be Oz than McCormick. That's you. You always want to be ahead.

LEMON: You always want to be ahead.

Listen, we want to talk about something else that's really important that happened today. And we should talk about it. President Joe Biden not hesitating to call this deadly mass shooting in Buffalo, New York an act of domestic terrorism. And he did not hesitate to call out the hateful ideology behind the shooting either.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're seeing the mass shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, El Paso, Texas, and Pittsburgh. Last year in Atlanta, this week in Dallas, Texas, and now in Buffalo -- Buffalo, New York.

White supremacy is a poison. It's a poison running through our -- it really is -- running through our body politic. It's been allowed to fester and grow right in front of our eyes. No more. I mean, no more.

We need to say as clearly and forcibly as we can that the ideology of white supremacy has no place in America.


LEMON: Bakari, let's get back to the folks here in the studio. Was it important for him to give that speech and to call it is what it is?

SELLERS: I mean I think it was very important. And I think that the person who displays empathy most is Joe Biden. And part of the reason that Joe Biden is president of the United States and not Donald Trump is because Donald Trump is fundamentally incapable of doing what Joe Biden did today.

But in the larger, if you take a step back in the 50,000 foot view in analyzing what happened in Charleston, analyzing what happened in Atlanta or looking at what happened in Buffalo this week -- you realize that there is a void that's not being filled.

And we've had a lot of conversation about demographics, Ron and Harry. We've had a lot of conversations about Democrats and Republicans, myself and Charlie and Mark and Alice.

But it's weird to me that white Evangelical Christians are quiet. It's weird to me that there is a group of individuals in this country who, when these things happen, take a step back.

And until we really begin to look deep at what the original sins of our country are and have a conversation that's not rooted in politics, we're all political commentators, and Mark actually has one of those sophisticated titles down there like "senior political analyst" of all things great.

PRESTON: That's not even the best one. I got a better one. We'll talk about that in the 3:00 hour.

SELLERS: If we drop those titles and we drop Democrat and Republican, you know, I'd sit back and just look at my colleagues and be like, you know, what are white folk going to do.

LEMON: Yes. Well, I mean listen. Alice, let's talk about that because you have Republicans who -- lawmakers who have promoted this, you know, great -- this racist replacement theory. Matt Gaetz, Scott Perry. What is the responsibility, do you think, of Republican leaders to get their members to stop trafficking in racism and hate?

STEWART: : To say stop trafficking in racism and hate. And do it --

LEMON: Yes. But what does it take for them to get them to do that?

SELLER: But they haven't even done that, to Alice's point.

STEWART: They need to talk the talk and walk the walk. They need to go out there and condemn this type of activity.


STEWART: And I agree with Bakari commenting on no one better to console these victims and console the family members and the first responders than Joe Biden. He's been there. He's felt pain before, and he did a tremendous job showing empathy to them.

And making it a clear point that this is an act of domestic terrorism which should be punished accordingly. But also talking about this being a racially-motivated hate crime and doing so in a way or talking about this is the act racial hatred of a minority of people of this country that should not dominate and dictate how the rest of this country acts.

And the key thing is the -- whether you're Republican or Democrat, white or black, we cannot tolerate this. And this is a situation where we need to take the politics out of this and go against people that are engaging and acting out on such racial hatred. It is not a partisan issue. This is an issue that just needs to stop.

LEMON: It is domestic terror. I mean it is hard to say that it is not a partisan -- well it's not a partisan issue. It shouldn't be politics but the people who are trafficking in it, if you would -- and this goes back to you saying that the Democratic Party has changed. The Republican Party has changed.

But if you look at just quite honestly on the Democratic side, people who are -- you might think are far left, they don't get elected to office as much as these far right extremist people who traffic in this stuff on the right side.

It's not the same to the point that you were trying to make. We're not both sides in this. This is different. Republican extremists -- or Republicans are trafficking in this. Some Republicans but it has become -- it's not just the experience in their party, the moderates in the party, the people who should know better, aren't saying anything.

PRESTON: What I think is happening right now and this is what I feel for Alice and Charlie and Republicans that I grew up with in Washington where a good heart, you know. Policies may not agree with Bakari but can go out and have a beer with Bakari after. I think what's happening right now is that Republican leaders -- some Republican leaders have lost control of the party. And they're never going to get back. To your point, some Republican leaders have embraced this and are using it to their advantage to try to gain power.

LEMON: We'll be right back. Charlie, we'll be right back.


LEMON: A night of major drama, this election night. Tightest races, Pennsylvania's GOP Senate primary. Trump-endorsed TV doc, Mehmet Oz now increasing his lead over hedge fund guy Dave McCormick.

But it's close, we may have days to go until we've got a winner. So make sure you stay tuned to CNN for all of the latest.

Thanks for watching, everyone. Our live coverage continues with Rosemary Church.