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Erin Burnett Outfront

Police: Buffalo Shooting Suspect Visited Area In March; Interview With Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia; Cheney: House GOP Leadership Has "Enabled" White Nationalism; Social Media Sites Struggle To Stop The Spread Of Buffalo Video; Ukraine: Wounded Ukrainian Forces Evacuated From Steel Plant; Ukraine: Wounded Ukrainian Forces Evacuated From Steel Plant; Dr. Oz Holds Town Hall In Final Hours Before Pennsylvania Polls Open; Cawthorn: Confident Of Win Tomorrow, DC Return May Be "Awkward;" Ukrainians Find Ways To Bounce Back In The Face Of Devastation. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 16, 2022 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTRONT next, the Buffalo shooting rampage. We're learning that the plot may have been months in the making.

And the suspect points the gun at one person in the grocery store but said, sorry, and moved on without shooting. Why?

Plus, three Ukrainian brothers blindfolded and shot. Two murdered, one made it out alive. Hear his terrifying account.

And major twists today as we count down the final hours before a crucial primary, a controversial candidate's sudden surge, is it enough to carry her over the finish line? While in the Democratic line, the candidate suffers a stroke.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, a racist massacre may have been months in the making. We're now learning the gunman accused of killing 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket in predominantly Black area travelled 200 miles to the same area two months earlier.


JOSEPH GRAMAGLIA, BUFFALO POLICE COMMISSIONER: We have confirmed now it appears that individual was here back a couple of months ago in early March.


BURNETT: That raises so many questions, what he was doing there at that time, obviously, first and foremost. And this chilling detail comes as we're getting new video of the suspect taken into custody tonight. The police commissioner also revealing he had heavy plated armor on and was wearing a tactical helmet at the time of his arrest. CNN obtaining this image of two of the rifles found inside the alleged

gunman's car and one of the guns, see what appears to be the phrase, "white lives matter".

We have much more on the investigation from the police commissioner but we want you to know who the victims are.

Roberta Drury had just gone to the super market to buy groceries for dinner. The family said she moved to Buffalo eight years ago to help her brother who was undergoing treatment for leukemia. She was 32 years old and the youngest victim.

Marcus Morrison was a school bus aide. His family says he loved those kids and they loved him back. He was at Tops to buy snacks for movie night with his wife.

Andre Mackniel was a father of six. According to "The New York Times", he was at the store to pick up a birthday cake for his three-year-old son.

Aaron Salter died a hero. He was a 30-year veteran of the Buffalo police force and was working at the supermarket as a security guard on Saturday. Officials say he fired at the gunman but his bullet could not pierce the armored gear of the 18-year-old.

Geraldine Talley was a sister, a mother and aunt, and she was in front of the store when the shooting began. Her fiance had gone inside, he got juice. He survived.

Celestine Chaney, her son says she was at the market with her sister that day. She was getting strawberries because she wanted to make the shortcake that she so loved.

Heyward Patterson was shot while waiting outside the store. He was a taxi cab driver known for giving people rides home even if they had no money.

And there was Katherine Massey, civil rights advocate who fought to prevent needless shootings in Buffalo, killed in one.

And Pearl Young, a substitute teacher. Friends say she pent her Saturdays running a food pantry to feed the hungry.

And then there was the oldest victim, Ruth Whitfield, 86 years old. She was just returning from visiting her husband in a nursing home as she did everyday. She stopped to pick up groceries on the way home.

Omar Jimenez is OUTFRONT in Buffalo tonight.

And, Omar, what more are you learning about this horrific shooting?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, investigators are continuing to piece together more and more from what happened leading up to and during this particular shooting. Video from inside the grocery store at one point shows the alleged shooter point his rifle at a person before saying sorry, then moving on to continue to shoot and kill.

And as we know, the vast majority of the people he killed and shot were Black in this particular incident, as we also learned from law enforcement, had been to this area multiple times before.


JIMENEZ (voice-over): New details show the alleged gunman meticulously planned the attack months in advance. Investigators saying he's believed to have scouted the store in early March and prepared for a gunfight.

GRAMAGLIA: Because of the body armor he had on, he could have easily have retreated back into that store where there were dozens of other customers in that store, fleeing for their lives, which could have turned into another barricade and further slaughter.

JIMENEZ: In turn, what was once a neighborhood super market into a crime scene. Investigators piecing together the sequence of events from what authorities say was a racially motivated attack.

The Erie County district attorney tells CNN the suspects seemingly plan on killing more Black people if he could.

JOHN FLYNN, ERIE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: It appears that way. Again, we need to drill down further.

JIMENEZ: Federal investigators drilling down further, going to the home where the 18-year-old suspect lived with his parents, as well as the gun store where the suspect purchased the Bushmaster assault rifle.


They're also looking into his planning ahead of the attack, including illegally modifying his gun to carry 30 round magazines.

FLYNN: We're going to look into everything this young man was doing and thinking.

JIMENEZ: Including analyzing the alleged shooter's past. How last year, police paid him a visit after he did a high school project on murder suicides, according to the Erie County sheriff.

And analyzing his state of mind, just before heading to the market, he's believed to have written and posted a 180-page statement proudly labeling himself a white supremacist and outlining the attack.

The Buffalo police commissioner says he livestreamed the horrific attack that has scarred this community, still grieving over the lives of 10 of their own, gunned down in a matter of minutes.

Ruth Whitfield was 86 years old and on her way back from visiting her husband in his nursing home when she stopped for groceries. Her son called and called, no one ever answered.

You're looking for her, you find out, you go home. What's going through your head?

GARNELL WHITFIELD, JR., SON OF RUTH WHITFIELD: I'm angry. I'm hurt. She was a beautiful person. We still -- we still in the midst of this thing, one of the things we as a family wanted to ensure is that we call it what it is. It is white supremacy.

It is hate. It is racism. It is bigotry and we got to call it what it is. It is proliferating. It's not getting better.


JIMENEZ: Now, as for the alleged shooter, those who know his family say they are shocked to find out this happened and the parents were not known, at least by others, to hold extremist views.

Now the suspect in particular currently on suicide watch as we learned from officials after pleading not guilty to first degree murder over the weekend. He is expected back in court on Thursday as President Biden is expected to be here in the Buffalo area tomorrow, Erin.

BURNETT: Omar, thank you very much for all your reporting.

And on the back of the news that Omar shared, I want to go to the Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia.

And, Commissioner, I appreciate your time.

Briefly we saw you there in Omar's piece. I want to ask you about so many things, but first, you said today the shooter had on heavy plated armor, that he was shot at multiple times by the security guard but didn't go down because of the body armor. He also had a tactical helmet on, and you said he had had plans to continue his attack at another location.

What more do you know now about the full extent of his plans?

GRAMAGLIA: So we're still going through. There's going to be a lot of investigating that has to be done on this. Those warrants are being executed. They're looking through his digital footprint to see. We had that document that was put out there, so that's all being looked at, but are references to, had he made it out of there before police arrived, that he had plans to continue his slaughter.

BURNETT: He did, as is very clear from what you're talking about with the helmet and the bullet proof vest, the tactical gear. He came prepared.

Do you think, Commissioner, that he did this all on his own or do you think he had help?

GRAMAGLIA: Right now, we're looking at he was here by himself, but as I said, you never know, something can change. You know, FBI, Buffalo police, New York state police department and New York state trooper and Erie County sheriffs are all working collaboratively to see if anything else pops up. But right now, he appears to have been working by himself. BURNETT: And I know the shooter was in Buffalo in early March as well,

which could be very significant. What are you learning about that incident, Commissioner?

GRAMAGLIA: So that's something that has been revealed throughout this investigation and the search warrant that was executed out at his home. As I said before, that this is going to be lengthy and more information is going to become available to us. You know, we're putting out the information that we have now, that we know now, more will come up.

So it's a recent breaking development for us that he was here. We found some things that show that he was here in early March, and then again, we know he was here on Friday, basically going on a reconnaissance on the area.

BURNETT: Was he in the store then at that time, to do the reconnaissance?

GRAMAGLIA: He was in the store, both on Friday and Saturday. Yes.

BURNETT: And also, back in March?

GRAMAGLIA: I can't comment on back in March. We just know he was here in the area. Beyond that, I'm not going to comment on that yet.

BURNETT: So to understand where this came from, obviously, he had made all these long comments, diatribes online, these screeds. His school district said he made an ominous reference to murder suicide in June 2021.


At that time, it was virtual learning. So that's the format, through which the threat appeared.

It was flagged by the instructor, police intervened, suspect stayed at a facility for a day and a half.

And -- so all of those things occurred, right? People notice, people raise the flag, people put him in some sort of mental evaluation situation. Do you think the shooting was preventable or was everything done?

GRAMAGLIA: No, everything that was done that could be done. The New York state police, per mental health law brought him in for an evaluation. At the time, medical doctors would evaluate the individual, talk to him and make a determination whether they're going to hold him for further evaluation or release him. He was released at that time.

BURNETT: So we don't much about his family, Commissioner. What we do know is two people who worked with his parents at the New York state Department of Transportation, that's where they work, say they were not. His parents were not known to hold extremist views. One co-worker said about his father, he's a very liberal person,

similar to myself, and what I've heard about his son are not his beliefs.

Do you have information about the family relationship here and his family?

GRAMAGLIA: So, I don't and I think one thing that's important is that this individual, and I have yet to say his name, nor will I, he is not of our community. He does not live here. He lives more than three hours away, more than 200 miles away.

So he is not of this community. The New York state police and the FBI are handling that part of the investigation. We have this, of course, we're talking, but I don't have the deeper details on --

BURNETT: On the family.

GRAMAGLIA: -- what interviews are being conducted there. Yes.

BURNETT: One thing I know, though, that you are intimately familiar with because of where he is now is what he is doing now, and I know that during his arrest, the suspect made, we understand, some very disturbing statements about his motive and about his state of mind.

Is there anything more you can tell me about that, Commissioner?

GRAMAGLIA: So I can't, because he's been arrested. He's been arraigned and it's going through the judicial process. If any statements that may have been made will have to be revealed in court and dealt with through that process. So I'm barred from making comments about any of those statements. But he's where he belongs, sitting in a jail cell where he belongs for the rest of his life.

BURNETT: All right. Commissioner, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

GRAMAGLIA: Thank you for having me.

BURNETT: All right. And next, the mayor of Buffalo tonight saying that politicians who push racist conspiracy theories are complicit in this attack.

Plus the horrific story from a Ukrainian who was blindfolded, bound and shot, two brothers killed. He miraculously survived.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What do I think of the Russians? I hate them with all my soul. They are animals. They should burn in hell.


BURNETT: And with just hours before polls open in Pennsylvania, CNN's KFILE just uncovering an interview with Republican candidate Kathy Barnette who claims she was leading buses of pissed off patriots, her words, to D.C. on January 6.



BURNETT: All right. Republican Congressman Liz Cheney accusing her own party of legitimizing the kind of hate that inspired the mass shooting in Buffalo, tweeting, quote, "The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism and anti-Semitism. History has taught that what begins with words ends in far worse".

The suspected gunman behind the racist attack wrote about a conspiracy theory that white Americans are being replaced by minorities and immigrants, something that has been pushed by many on the right.


REP. SCOTT PERRY (R-PA): What appears to them is that we are replacing national born Americans, native born Americans, to permanently transform the political landscape of this very nation.

J.D. VANCE (R), OHIO CANDIDATE FOR U.S. SENATE: Democrat politicians who have decided that they can't win reelection in 2022 unless they bring in a large number of new voters to replace the voters that are already here. That's what this is about.

LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK (R), TEXAS: They are allowing this year, probably 2 million. That's what we apprehended, maybe another million into this country. This is trying to take over our country without firing a shot.


BURNETT: Donie O'Sullivan is now OUTFRONT.

And, Donie, we know from the alleged shooter's 180-page rant that he was fixated on this so-called replacement theory and his rant, plus, the live video of the shooting was posted on social media platforms. So how quickly has it spread in terms of you know people gobbling it up who believe?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erin. I mean, the perverse fact of the matter is that this was made for a social media massacre. The suspect streamed live on a platform that is important that is popular with gamers, video gamers, called Twitch. That platform is owned by Amazon.

Only 20 people that we've seen from screenshots of that, actually watch that stream live. One person who watched it live, apparently took to 4Chan, which is this hate-filled forum, which is suspect is believed to have been influenced by in the shooting. And the person wrote on 4Chan, they said, just 20 minutes ago I witnessed a mass shooting at a Tops supermarket live on Twitch, with 20 other viewers.

Twitch took down that video, they said, two minutes after the violence began, but it wasn't soon enough. People on that Website, on 4Chan, which is been known to peddle hate, has started organizing and sharing tips on how they could re-upload copies of the video. And what we've seen over the last 48 hours or so, that's videos being uploaded across the internet and on to social media platforms, on to some obscure sites, being viewed millions of times. Some of these news outlets are estimating.

So, look, this is a kind of perverse fact of the matter here, is that there is an audience for this content. There are supporters for this. As you know they're long people who have a morbid sense of curiosity who want to watch the stuff.

BURNETT: All right. Donie, thank you very much. it's incredible and now it went to 20 people but now up to 1 million watching it.

The mayor of Buffalo said people pushing this replacement theory, are partially to blame for these attacks.

Listen to this.



MAYOR BYRON BROWN, BUFFALO, NY: These public figures are absolutely complicit. They trade in hate speech. They propagate hate speech. They try to proliferate hate speech and indoctrinate people in the community in these misguided theories.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Reverend Mark Blue, president of the NAACP branch in Buffalo.

Reverend, I am so sorry for this horror that has been inflicted on your community. Do you agree with the mayor?

REV. MARK BLUE, NAACP BUFFALO BRANCH PRESIDENT: I agree that this hate speech has been propagated. It has been shared with all of social media. But I also caution that we need to deal with all media, because of how they marginalize African-Americans and minorities, how they stereotype us.

There -- it's not a good light in which they see African-Americans and minorities, especially in families. So it's very important that we eliminate this. And that's one of the main tenants of the NAACP is to eradicate racism.

BURNETT: Now, you're standing in Buffalo tonight, you are born and raised their. I know you know the mother of 20-year-old Zaire Goodman. And he was shot in the neck, but miraculously survived, miraculously.

How are you helping people in the community right now, in the face of such an unbelievably traumatic and horrific event?

BLUE: But one of the things that our branch is doing, we're going to be setting up a GoFundMe page. And that is to help the victims that have been rabidly taken advantage of in this era. All of the NAAPC will be following with us, as we send the link to our state, our president, Hazel Dukes, and as she sends it out to all of the other branches the NAACP branches. They've been asking, what can we do?

We talked about prayer. Prayer is one step, but being able to help support financially is the other step. And that's what we're going to be doing very soon.

BURNETT: So federal prosecutors of course are working now to bring charges against the suspected shooter. And depending on the charges, the Justice Department could know they could go for life in prison, or they can go for the death penalty. How do you feel about this right now? Should the suspect face the death penalty?

BLUE: Well, an eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth. He killed ten people.

Should he spend the rest of his life in jail? Listen, I am a man a faith. And I believe that the punishment should fit the crime. If the death penalty is on, I am proponent of making sure that this heinous act does not happen again.

But I also don't want him to be a martyr. And that is one of the things that can happen with the death penalty. People will want to follow his example. So I'm going to let the justice system handled that, and I will agree with whatever disciplinary actions and punishment that the justice system will do.

BURNETT: Reverend Blue, thank you so much, I appreciate your time.

BLUE: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

BURNETT: Yes, sir.

And next, the Azovstal steel mill siege appears to be ending. Ukrainian soldiers leaving the plant that they have been holed up in four months, many so desperately wounded and ill. It is a major win for the Russians, who now control the strategic port city. This is a very big deal.

And a dramatic ending to Pennsylvania's primary. It doesn't get more dramatic than this on both sides. CNN's KFILE just uncovering an interview with Republican Kathy Barnette. We'll hear what she said about January 6th, and what she did that day.



BURNETT: Tonight, the siege of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, the last thing standing between Russian and control of the key port city, now appears to be over because we've got new images coming showing buses carrying wounded, many of them wounded, servicemen and Ukrainian fighters out of Azovstal, and out of Mariupol. The Ukrainian military says the Mariupol defenders have, quote, fulfilled its combat mission. Of course, this means it's all under control of Russia. And it comes as we're learning horrific new details about a Ukrainian

man, buried alive along his two brothers.

Melissa Bell is OUTFRONT tonight in Kyiv.


MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is where Mykola Kulichenko was buried alive. The blindfold, he says he and his two brothers were made to wear by Russian soldiers, still strewn by their shallow grave.

Mykola shows us where the bullet entered the cheek. His brother, Yevhen and Dmytro, were killed. But he managed to escape their tomb.

I had to live to tell the story, not to Ukrainians, but to the world, he says.

The regional prosecutor's office says a war crimes investigation has been opened.

This is Mykola's house where he lived with his two brothers along with their sister. On March 18th, he says, Russian soldiers came to the vigil looking for a man they believed were responsible for an attack on one other convoys. And that is when the family's nightmare began.

Three soldiers enter the house, looking for anything that might link the brothers to the attack on the convoy. They found nothing, but what they did find was something to link the families to the military, in the shape of their grandfather's military medal.

They also found Yevhen's military bag, since as a reservist in the Ukrainian army, he was preparing to go and fight.

For four days, their sister Iryna, heard nothing from her brothers, until Mykola came back from the dead.

I came home, and there was Mykola, I looked at his eyes and asked where the others. He said there are new others.


Mykola says that after being taken from their home, the three brothers were blindfolded and interrogated in a cellar for four days. They were then beaten and taken to the side of their execution. Two months on, he still struggles to speak.

What do I think of the Russians? I hate them, with all my soul. They are animals. They should burn in hell.

It was only after the Russian withdrawal that a month after their execution, Yevgeny and Dmytro were given a proper burial, a tombstone and the peace that Mykola has been denied.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BELL (on camera): Erin, it is in those parts of Ukraine that were occupied by Russian forces for some time that so many of those war crimes are now being investigated. And there is, of course, a sense of relief now in those parts of the country that that occupation should be over.

Worse news, of course, for Ukrainians as you mentioned in the Azovstal steel plant. This was not their preferred outcome. These had be fighters who had been holding out, a key symbol of their resistance in their fight against Russia. Russia, therefore, confirms its grip over Mariupol but good news for the families who are immediately involved and will at least be getting their sons and daughters home, once they're taken back to those border regions of Donetsk and an exchange can be organized there.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Melissa Bell, tonight in Kyiv.

I want to go now to retired General Mark Hertling, former Army commanding general for Europe and the Seventh Army.

So, General, you hear Mykola's story and it is so horrific what happened, beaten, blindfolded, bound with his brothers, shot, buried alive. He was able to escape, his brothers were not. It's a horrible story and yet, you know, in a village last week, you know, I hear about, you know, torture where peoples' finger nails were ripped off.

I mean, the stories we're hearing are horrible. Is it possible that we will still hear worse -- worse stories involving Russian forces?

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Erin, you can write that down as it will happen. We have seen so many horrific things, so many criminal acts, so many acts of depravity and bestiality and just horrible things that have occurred in this campaign. We're bound to see more.

This story about the two brothers is just, to me, just despicable. There have been wars where brothers have fought on opposite sides in civil wars. There have been wars -- we have cemeteries in the United States where brothers who have fought in wars together are buried side-by-side. I've never heard anything like this before, where brothers have been tortured together and buried alive together and then one survives.

I can understand this soldier's hatred of the Russian people, because just through a second effect, I feel the same hatred. It's just despicable. It's inhuman and they should be punished for it.

BURNETT: So what about what's coming out of Mariupol? I don't know how many of the deeply wounded survived, you know, talk to get some of the families there. Some of these soldiers were incredibly wounded. They had lost limbs. We don't know how survived.

We do know that the survivors are now coming out and that is a blessing for their families, we hope. We hope that they will survive. However, it does mean that Russia now has full and formal control of Mariupol. That is extremely significant.

And I wonder, General, if you can put it in context. I know we hear in places Russians aren't making the progress they want. They're not -- they're losing to the Ukrainians. They're not fording rivers, yet are now in control of Mariupol which is a crucial city that gives them Black Sea access and a land bridge to Crimea.

How important is it?

HERTLING: Well, I push back on the premise a little bit, Erin, because I don't think they're in full control of it yet. We're talking about 300 or so wounded soldiers, certainly amputee, burn victims, gunshot wounds, but there are still fighters in that Azovstal steel plant.


HERTLING: And they have held over 12,000 Russian soldiers for a period of two months at that site. This is going to be -- this is going to be reflective of what the United States did in Pearl Harbor. This will be the sort of thing where Russia will rise -- excuse me, Ukraine will rise like a Phoenix from this and say these were the heroes of our nation that prevented Russian forces to go to the Donetsk and other areas in the Donbas to fight.

They prevented that from happening for two months and that is a critical factor in war, when you can take forces off the front line of the battlefield and hold them in place to conduct these kind of operations.

BURNETT: And it's critical, as you point out, with so few to hold off so many, as they have been able to do, and those who are doing the holding off, we speak to them.


I mean, you know, they're talking about drinking water out of batteries. They're exhausted. They are extremely sick, and yet still fight.

General Hertling, thank you so much as always.

HERTLING: It's a pleasure, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. And next, the Pennsylvania Senate race in complete disarray. This is a stunning thing. And both sides, Democrat, Republican, anybody's race on the GOP side. As for the Dems, the frontrunner revealing he just suffered a stroke.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As you can see, we hit a little bump on the campaign trail.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: And Congressman Cawthorn, who brought loaded gun to the airport, claimed congressional colleagues invited him to an orgy, is on the ballot tomorrow. Trump has come in though with the last minute push. Will it save Cawthorn with the voters?


BURNETT: New tonight, you're looking at live pictures of town hall being held by Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate, Dr. Mehmet Oz, who's fighting to win a close three-away election and it is close.

On the eve of the primary, Oz surprising in the audience, just moments ago, with a phone call from his most important supporter.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT (through telephone): I'd like each of you to get out, vote for Dr. Oz in the Republican primary.


Winning this Senate seat is a must, it's an absolute must-win and he'll be able to do it.


BURNETT: It comes as our own KFILE unearths previously unreported comments from Kathy Barnette, Oz's opponent who's been surging late in the race. They say she was bringing three buses of, quote, pissed off patriots, that's her quote, to the Stop the Steal rally that happened just before the January 6 insurrection.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT tonight in Pennsylvania.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRRESPONDENT (voice-over): A chaotic close to the Pennsylvania Senate primary. The leading Democratic candidate, John Fetterman, will spend Election Day in a hospital, recovering from a stroke he suffered late last week that his campaign did not reveal until Sunday in this video with his wife by his side.

GISELE BARRETO FETTERMAN, WIFE OF LT. GOV. FETTERMAN: We hit a little bump in the campaign trial.

LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Yeah, it was on Friday. I just wasn't feeling very well, so I decided, you know, I need to get checked out.

BARRETO FETTERMAN: I made you get checked out.


ZELENY: On the eve of the primary, one of the closest watched Senate races, more drama and uncertainty on the Republican side where it's a three-way fight to the finish.

A late grassroots surge from Kathy Barnette is threatening to upend a vicious months-long battle between TV celebrity, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and David McCormick, a former hedge fund executive and Army veteran. All three are trying to win over undecided voters.

KATHY BARNETTE (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: I honestly believed 13 months ago that if Pennsylvanians knew they had a better option, you would have the good sense to take it.

ZELENY: Donald Trump weighs heavy over the race, where his endorsement of Oz has outraged many hardcore members of MAGA movement, who are turning to Barnette. Her candidacy caught fire with a compelling personal story and repeated false claims the 2020 election was stolen.

BARNETTE: I don't think we have any more room to just pick a warm body with an R next to their name and call that a win for us.

ZELENY: In a radio interview today, Barnette would not commit to supporting the GOP nominee if she doesn't win.

Do you believe that's dangerous for the party given how important this seat is?

DAVID MCCORMICK (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, listen, I think the stakes are so high, we as Republicans have to win this seat. So I believe I'm going to win this primary, but if I weren't to win, I would support whoever the candidate was that was selected by the voters.

ZELENY: Republicans are not deciding whether to choose a candidate in Trump's mold, that's been settled, but rather, how Trumpian they hope their next senator will be.

DR. MEHMET OZ (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: The 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, is actually going to call in.

TRUMP: He's a loyal MAGA person and again, I've known him for a long time, and he'll be your next senator. He's going to win it all.

ZELENY: Oz has struggled to close the sale with conservatives like Rick Hohenshilt.

RICH HOHENSHILT, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: Trump is not Jesus. He is capable of making a mistake. The stuff I've seen about Oz, he doesn't come across to me as a conservative.

ZELENY: Even Trump's endorsement isn't enough to sway you?

HOHENSHILT: No, it's not.


ZELENY (on camera): So, it's a key question here, how persuasive can the form president be. You can see Dr. Oz campaigning behind me here, this final stop of this primary season.

We're outside of Philadelphia, these key critical suburbs here, the former president called in said winning this seat is a must, true for Dr. Oz, Erin, but also true for the former president -- his prestige also on the line.

BURNETT: Absolutely. All right. Jeff Zeleny there in the room, as he said, just outside Philadelphia.

I mean, this is a crucial race. To help me make sense of it, because, you know, it's amazing to have something like this, a three-way race this tight.

I want to bring in Harry Enten, our chief data reporter.

So, Harry, surprise surge of Kathy Barnette, you know, this three-way race entering towards the end of the Republican primary, you got Dr. Oz. You got David McCormick who's the much more moderate, traditional Republican, where are we on the night before this primary?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: You know, sometimes, I'll come in and I'll say, I know where we're going to end up. I have no idea what's going to happen tomorrow night which is what make it is so fun.

You know, if you look at the polling right now, we had a Fox News poll that came on the last week. What does it show? It shows Oz, Barnette, McCormick, all tightly close together. You do see momentum for both Oz and Barnette, you know, we're talking about that momentum that Barnette has, but Oz also has momentum.

But here's the thing I think is so interesting. If you ask them, the voters, essentially, do you have favorable or unfavorable view of the different candidates? Oz, who was nominally out of the polls, and plurality of voters actually have unfavorable view of him versus a favorable. So he may actually win despite being the least-liked candidate of those top three, which is truly quite bizarre in a bizarre race.

BURNETT: Absolutely bizarre.

All right. And then -- here's the thing. It's bizarre on the Republican side and just got incredibly bizarre and unprecedented on the Democratic side. Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman who was cruising to victory, massive spread on the Democratic side, and then kind of went silent for a last couple days.


People said, does he have COVID, isn't talking about it -- well, it turns out he had a stroke on Friday and he's still in a hospital. He's going to spend election day in the hospital.

ENTEN: Yeah.

BURNETT: Now, he says he's on the road to a full recovery, but obviously, you know, this is a serious health issue that he's going through. Has this changed the dynamic of the race at all?

ENTEN: I don't think so. I mean, look, if the Republican side is really close, the Democratic side is anything but.

You're looking at a 39-point lead for Fetterman over Conor Lamb. John Fetterman ran one of the better campaigns I've seen this entire cycle.

I mean, look, we don't know what is going to happen, this is a last second thing, but 39 point leads are often difficult to basically make up even with this developing things. So, I think Fetterman is probably safe tomorrow.

BURNETT: Probably safe tomorrow. It is an incredible development though, when you see this. And, obviously, everyone hoping he's going to be better and fully on his way.

ENTEN: Yeah.

BURNETT: But this is an unprecedented moment.

All right, Harry, thank you very much. And I hope everybody is going to join us tomorrow because our special coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. for this unprecedented race and also others.

And let's talk about one of those, Congressman Madison Cawthorn under fire for a series of controversies, now with this message.


REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): Really never seen the swamp launched such a coordinated attack against any individual in politics except for Donald Trump.


BURNETT: And our trip out of Ukraine. As devastation stretched for miles and miles, it was also incredible to see this, natural beauty in that country coming back.



BURNETT: North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn telling CNN he's confident he'll win the GOP primary, admits, though, returning to Washington may be, in his words, a little awkward.

Dianne Gallagher is OUTFRONT.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The mountainous tree covered landscape of western Carolina has become an ugly political battleground.

AD ANNOUNCER: Cawthorn will lie about anything. GALLAGHER: As Republicans wage an all out war on embattled but Trump endorsed Congressman Madison Cawthorn. He faces off against seven GOP challengers in Tuesday's primary, who cast the scandal plagued representative as absent, fame hungry, even dangerous.

WENDY NEVAREZ (R), NC SENATE CANDIDATE: A lot of things that he has said and done recently has aired in other countries as propaganda. That goes back to a national security issue.

GALLAGHER: Pitching themselves to the very red district as more serious, less distracting alternatives.

CHUCK EDWARDS (R), NC STATE SENATOR: Instead of talking about what lingerie that our congressman might like to wear in his spare time, we need to be talking about inflation and real issues.

GALLAGHER: Republicans have rallied around the other candidates, like state Senator Chuck Edwards, who has the backing of North Carolina's most powerful players, including Senator Thom Tillis.

AD ANNOUNCER: Putin used Cawthorn's claims --

GALLAGHER: And the six figures that a Tillis connected super PAC has dropped on attack ads.

CAWTHORN: I have really never seen the swamp launch such a coordinated attack against any individual politician except for Donald Trump.

GALLAGHER: Former President Donald Trump endorsed the 26-year-old Cawthorn more than a year ago, though he's generally stayed away from the race. But on the eve of the primary, Trump posted on his Truth Social platform, alluding to Cawthorn's struggles to stay out of the headline, like calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a thug, and the pending misdemeanor charges for driving with a revoked license and being stopped for carrying a gun through airport security for a second time.

Trump saying, recently, he made some foolish mistakes which I don't believe he'll make again. Let's give Madison a second chance. And we found plenty of voters in Cawthorn's hometown of Hendersonville who plan to do just that.

SHIPLEY, HENDERSON COUNTY VOTER: I think he's a good kid. It's political. Everybody is doing what they can to make themselves look good and make the opponent look bad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of it is made up, fabricated stuff.

GALLAGHER: But for others, between the unflattering headline, poor congressional attendance and fights over whether he shut down district offices, it's just too much drama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's real narcissistic and I'm just not into that. GALLAGHER: North Carolina's 11th district is massive and rural,

making voters both physically and digitally hard to reach. But one Cawthorn misstep that did seem to reach the entire district, his move late last year when new maps were drawn to leave it behind.

CAWTHORN: I will be running for Congress in the 13th congressional district. This move is not an abandonment.


GALLAGHER (on camera): But there were plenty of people who did feel like they were abandoned when the court struck those maps down and Madison Cawthorn came back to the 11th. Now, something that is going to add to the unpredictability of tomorrow here in North Carolina, unaffiliated voters. More than 40 percent of all the ballots that have been cast in the Republican primary during early voting in this district have come from those unaffiliated voters, Erin, and a winner, if they're declared tomorrow, would have to get 30 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.

BURNETT: All right. Dianne, thank you very much for that reporting.

And next, our trip out of Ukraine. Homes and bridges, one after the next, destroyed. Yet it was incredible to see just how fast Ukraine is trying to bounce back where it can.


BURNETT: Leaving Ukraine this weekend began as it did two months ago before dawn, as air raid sirens echoed across Kyiv.

But this time, there weren't hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees. In fact, the roads were empty. Before 6:00 a.m., we drove through the devastated suburb of Irpin. We're on the main road, the one the Russians took in. And this is what's left of suburban life and a gas station like that.

And then we came to the water. The world won't ever forget the bridge in Irpin, the scene of a horrifying graphic image, the one where Sergei found out his children were killed by seeing their backpacks on Twitter. The scene of desperation and innocent death.

Yet the view as the sun rose the morning we drove through Irpin was pristine. Fog rises from the marsh. It was a painful beauty to witness. And just past Irpin on that main road, you go to Bucha, seen of a civilian massacre.

In Irpin, Bucha, Borodianka, upscale suburban life we saw on display, except here, suburban shopping malls and if you see here, one is a winter sports facility, they now look like this, completely blown out.

And along the road, I was struck for some reason by the trees, in places where there seemed to be intense fighting, the massive trees were broken like sticks but I was equally moved by the speed with which Ukraine is trying to restore life. So, bridge after bridge, it's taken out. I mean, you see it

everywhere. Massive bomb holes everywhere, already with a temporary dirt path, though, alongside them down in the waters so cars can move. You can see there. There were checkpoints everywhere and I didn't film them, but here you get a sense of the X-shaped anti-tank blockers and sandbags.

At one point, we came upon the road blocked for real. This truck had been stuck for a long time, it was going nowhere and there was nowhere to go around, so we had to turn around. We found a long dirt road that eventually came out on the other side because the Ukrainians once again finding a way to do things.

One thing they have not solved though that is crucial if Ukraine's economy is to survive and that is fuel. Right now, gas station after gas station is empty. The ones that have fuel limit purposes to about 2 1/2 gallons a visit, and the lines we saw last week were hours long just for that much.

Now, many of the trucks we saw waiting at the border, you see here, will refuel in Poland. It was all trucks at the border waiting hours and days, because when we got there this time, there were virtually no cars. Everyone who has wanted to leave Ukraine, who can leave Ukraine, has gone.

Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.