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Buffalo Mass Shooting Leaves Neighborhood Without Key Grocery Store; Mehmet Oz and David McCormick Neck and Neck in Pennsylvania GOP Senate Race; ; Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn Loses Primary Race in North Carolina; John Fetterman Wins Democratic Senate Primary in Pennsylvania while Hospitalized. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired May 18, 2022 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is Wednesday, May 18th. I'm John Berman. Brianna is off. Chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins here with me in Washington for a special morning.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: As we are watching that is something so close right now. People went to sleep last night thinking they were going to know the answers this morning, and yet here we are.
BERMAN: No, no answers. But we are watching with the votes still coming in, in the most closely watched Senate primary of the season so far, Pennsylvania. The lead was going back and forth all night, and as of this morning, there is still no clear winner. A razor thin margin separating Trump-backed TV doctor Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick. As I said, their positions on the leader board, at least the margins have changed by the minute. Thousands of votes still left to be counted. And no matter what happens over the next few minutes, this will almost definitely go to an automatic recount.
In the governor's race in Pennsylvania, Trump-backed candidate Doug Mastriano, he has won the Republican nomination. He is Pennsylvania's leading far right figure. He was a champion of the big lie and the efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. He will face Democrat Josh Shapiro, the state's attorney general. Shapiro is the first nonincumbent to run unopposed in a Democratic gubernatorial primary since 1930.
COLLINS: Meanwhile, John Fetterman easily won the Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania, though he might be the first person to do so from a hospital bed. Fetterman is out of surgery this morning after suffering a stroke and receiving a pacemaker just hours before the polls ss closed yesterday. We'll talk to his wife in just a few moments to get an update on his condition.
In North Carolina, first term Congressman Madison Cawthorn has now conceded after losing the primary to State Senator Chuck Edwards. It is a major rebuke of someone who was once seen as a rising star in the GOP but whose political career saw scandal after scandal, from embarrassing photos to those claims about orgies that put him on the outs with his own party. Donald Trump had pleaded with voters to give Cawthorn a second chance, but they chose a different path. And this is what the candidate who defeated Cawthorn had to say last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK EDWARDS, (R) NORTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Just as I expected, he was -- he presented himself in a very classy and humble way and offered his support to our campaign in absolutely any way that we could use him. And I'm extremely, extremely pleased that we're able to end this contest on that note.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right, the marquee race of the morning that is still going on is the Republican Senate primary in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Joining us to talk about that, CNN's political director David Chalian. David, I just want to point out again to our viewers that the lead right now for Oz, 2,500 votes, 94 percent reporting. That seems like a lot, but potentially thousands of votes still to be counted.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Tens of thousands of votes potentially still to be counted. And the question that we're going to be talking about all day, John, now is what do we know about the votes? How many of the outstanding votes are pre-election early vote, absentee vote, mail vote that needs to be counted, versus vote that was cast on Election Day. And the reason I say we're going to focus on that is because we saw a pattern as the votes were coming in that McCormick was doing better than Oz in that mail-in vote, that early vote. That's what the McCormick campaign is banking on, that there is enough outstanding of that kind of vote to help overcome this lead, whereas the Oz campaign is hoping there is still enough Election Day vote to be counted because that's where he was running most competitively to be able to pad that lead.
BERMAN: We will note the irony of Republicans who bash so much mail- in voting. At least one candidate, David McCormick, may be dependent on mail-in voting to close the margin.
Let's look at one county, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, just 87 percent reporting, we had been told there were thousands of mail-in ballots that had to be recounted, or they were holding off on counting them. And you can get a sense of the difference it might make there.
CHALIAN: But look how close it is between the candidates in this county. Obviously, it's a county that Kathy Barnette seems well ahead in, but in terms of the candidates who are poised to be a winner in this race, they're basically tied in Lancaster. So it's unclear if those mail-in votes will make the difference in Lancaster.
BERMAN: We'll keep this number out there so people can see Lancaster County. Talk to us about the Barnette factor in this race.
CHALIAN: She surged in the contention when a FOX News poll came out at the end of the campaign and all of a sudden everyone said, oh, this is a three-way race. What did that do? That started splitting that Trump vote. She got a ton of attention, and so she probably has taken some Oz votes away from him, right? And so McCormick is the beneficiary of that. And we saw that, their strategy, as soon as they saw Barnette was surging and everyone was, like, wait, what is this? A three-person race? The McCormick folks saw a potential path that indeed the Trump -- the really hardcore Trump vote would split between Oz and Barnette.
BERMAN: Again, just to give people a sense of how uncertain this is, it is unusual that we have something quite this uncertain at this point.
If we look at the area where there is still vote to be counted, this is the area that still has 10 percent or more. You can see how the counties are basically split. The deep red counties are McCormick counties. The pink counties are Oz counties. So they still have some favorable real estate left.
CHALIAN: They do. And this is why both the campaigns are so focused on what that final margin will be, even though they know that may not be the final answer, because we're within, overall statewide, that 0.5 percent margin between the two candidates that triggers an automatic recount. But we know in recounts, the swing of votes in recount is not dramatic. It's not extreme usually. So both candidates are still focused on what will the final margin be before that recount is issued.
BERMAN: There is a huge difference between 2,500 and 500, if it gets to that.
Let me just pull out here for one second here, David. The Donald Trump factor -- actually I'll show you one thing that is sort of interesting here. If you look at the governor's race, the Republican race for governor here, Doug Mastriano, who was backed by Trump, albeit very late, he won clearly. All the pink counties there are Mastriano counties. But if you look in the Senate race, Oz, who also received the Trump backing, he didn't win all the same counties. It had a little bit of a different effect.
CHALIAN: I think the way this lays out geographically, John, is one of the biggest surprises of the night, that Dave McCormick had as much support in that dark red rural area, central Pennsylvania, western Pennsylvania, Trump country, when he was running against Joe Biden I think was one of the bigger surprises of the night.
BERMAN: And we won't know the whole Trump factor thing until we ultimately know --
CHALIAN: This will be key to understanding that, exactly. This was the big bet he placed on this marquee race. We saw obviously there are some Trump-backed candidates that won, some that lost. But whether or not Mehmet Oz gets across the finish line will determine Trump power right now.
BERMAN: David Chalian, great to see you. CHALIAN: You, too.
COLLINS: Joining us now to discuss is CNN senior political correspondent and anchor of INSIDE POLITICS Sunday Abby Phillip, and the founding partner of Echelon Insights, Kristen Soltis Anderson. Thank you both for being here with us this morning.
And Abby, we kind of thought we'd have all the answers by the time we woke up this morning. Obviously, we don't in the most closely watched part of races when it comes to who is going to be the Republican nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania. And I wonder what this says to you so far as we're still trying to figure out Trump's influence in this, because he was very involved in this. He did a robocall for Mehmet Oz. He trashed David McCormick even though a lot of Trump's former staffers work for McCormick right now. And I wonder what your takeaways are as far as we're waiting to find out.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY: I do think we should be careful to not take by the fact that we don't know yet that Trump is losing influence really in Pennsylvania. All of these candidates, all three of them, Oz, Barnette, and McCormick, they bearhugged Trump all the way up until the very end, even after Trump really, as you said, trashed McCormick, trashed the people who worked for him, went after him hard. McCormick still is characterizing himself, even last night, in terms that Trump framed.
So that is still true, but what is going on with Trump voters is something a little bit different. They are making determinations about who really is the heir to Trump's political legacy. And it's split. This is something that we have seen in other races, in places like Ohio as well, Trump voters are splitting about what it really means to be in the Trump mold.
And that's a phenomenon that we don't know how that's going to -- at the end of the day, maybe in a general election, they all come home, and they all do what Republicans in Washington want them to do. But I think that there is really among the electorate a lot of thinking about what does it really mean to be Trump? Is it about election denial? Is it about policy positions, about abortion, other things, or is it about something else, about personality, and the kind of Trump vibe? I think those are all things that the electorate are sorting out.
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, FOUNDING PARTNER, ECHELON INSIGHTS: I did some focus groups for "The New York Times" of Trump voters across states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, places where Trump is really trying to make an aggressive push in many of these primaries. And what we found was that when you ask these voters, do you want candidates who will back a Trump-like agenda, almost every hand goes up. And then when you say do you want a candidate who has Trump's personality, every hand goes down. And so for a lot of these Republican voters, being a candidate that
you interested in supporting is more about the agenda, are you focused on issues like immigration, securing the border, trade, trying to get the economy going again, that's what they're interested in, much more than someone who walks, talks, and sounds like Donald Trump.
And I think to the extent we can learn any lessons from last night, this was a bit of a mixed result, Trump had some successes, some losses, is that Donald Trump is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. You as a candidate have to be a somewhat good candidate. You can't just sort of dial crazy up to 11 and hope that Trump will drag you across the finish line.
But in many of these cases, if there is a competitive race and a good candidate who sort of is pushing back, you can wind up like Madison Cawthorn or you can wind up like the lieutenant governor of Idaho who was Trump-backed, who came to national notoriety for making a lot of noise. Every time the governor would leave the state in Idaho, she would repeal all of the COVID mandates and things, and then as soon as he'd come back to the state, he would put them all back in. That's the sort of thing you would think, isn't that tailor made to activate the Republican base? She got blown out last night. So Trump is not a get- out-of-jail-free card.
PHILLIP: There is also the case of the Pennsylvania governor's Republican race where you did have a candidate in Mastriano who didn't even benefit from Trump's endorsement until the very last second. And in so many ways he -- I was watching him last night, his mannerisms, the language that he used, he is trying to actually mold himself like Trump. And from the Republican perspective, a lot of Republicans, I think you would agree, believe that he is pretty far to the right on election issues, on abortion, on a lot of those issues.
So it is interesting to me that Mastriano is a little bit of both. Like, maybe he's some of the policies, but I didn't hear him talk about inflation last night. I didn't hear him talk about the economy last night. He was talking about Critical Race Theory. So just some questions for me about what Pennsylvania voters are doing. They're known to just make up their own mind, but I think it's a real mixed bag last night when you look at how they made some decisions.
ANDERSON: Definitely the governor's race is going to give the national GOP more headaches at this point than the Senate race seems to be. National Republicans breathing a sigh of relief that Kathy Barnette does not seem to be likely --
BERMAN: Can I talk about the Democrats for a second here in John Fetterman, who has won the Democratic nomination for Senate there, and what we might be learning about what Democrats want to see around the country.
ANDERSON: I think both parties, you're finding the primary electorates want someone who is a fighter. They're looking for someone who says I'm moderate, I can work with the other side of the aisle, that has fallen out of fashion on both sides. Fetterman is someone who is much more willing to say I'm going to be a fighter. That's what voters are looking for these days.
COLLINS: But it fell out of fashion not that long after Biden won the presidency on that. And obviously, you can argue that's a rejection more of Trump who is running against him, of course, but you are seeing this where we're talking about Republicans and what the base looks like there. I have an argument that Kathy Barnette was making, saying that Trump didn't create the base, the base created Trump. And I do wonder, obviously, it is a very different base, but what that does that mean for what it signals for Democrats going forward? Because John Fetterman was someone who did not -- he touted the fact that he didn't have a lot of mainstream endorsements. He said that that was a good thing for him, while Conor Lamb, who he won decisively over, is someone who people saw as this rising star in the Democratic Party.
ANDERSON: One thing that Fetterman has that I think Biden also has is the ability to talk to working class voters, that sometimes very sort of far progressive left will struggle to win over working class white voters who live in more rural areas. And that's where Fetterman is going to try to go on the offense in a place like Pennsylvania where that will be important to win. The question is, does he have enough -- does he have too much baggage where Republicans will find him to be an easy target in the general?
PHILLIP: And President Biden talked about the working class factor in his statement last night, which was notable that he even put out a statement --
ANDERSON: The only thing he weighed in on last.
PHILLIP: -- really getting in there to say Fetterman is aligned with me.
But I do think what is interesting to me often about the Democratic electorate is that they tend to be pretty pragmatic in situations like this. They try -- they gravitate toward candidates that they think will have broad appeal, that they think will have appeal to working class voters, and that might be the best contrast in a -- to a Republican field.
So I get the sense there is some of that happening with Fetterman too. They think he looks like a guy that Trump voters would vote for. The problem though, for Fetterman, is that he actually has to build a Democratic coalition. He has to actually have some appeal with black voters, in Philadelphia, with women voters in the suburbs, et cetera. And can he do that is still a real question. As you mentioned, Kaitlan, he has some baggage, and he's going to have to work to undo some of the water that he took on in a primary, especially toward the end when some opponents were talking about that incident we are pulled a gun on a black jogger when he was mayor.
COLLINS: Something that he says he's not going to apologize for but has sought to explain. Thank you both so much for joining us to break it down as we wait to see what happens in Pennsylvania on the Republican side.
Speaking of John Fetterman, who, of course, won his primary from a hospital bed after he had a pacemaker surgery, his wife is going to join us live in just a few moments to tell us how he's doing.
BERMAN: The mass shooting in Buffalo creating a food desert in the neighborhood where it happened. Special report ahead.
And a major discovery beneath the U.S./Mexico border. A huge drug tunnel equipped with electricity, a ventilation system, a rail service. This is a sight to behold.
COLLINS: Some really grim new details are emerging this morning about the racist attack in Buffalo that left 10 people dead. Just 30 minutes before that attack, the gunman was in an online chat room telling people about the horror he was about to carry out.
The shooting has left a Buffalo neighborhood without its main grocery store, one that had become a community necessity.
CNN's Omar Jimenez is live in Buffalo on all the latest that we're learning not only from investigators but how this community is still reeling -- Omar.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kaitlan. I mean, this supermarket is essential in this community and a lot of people fought really hard just to get it opened in the first place. But at least while the investigation into the shooting is ongoing, no one can use it. So people who would ordinarily have easy access to fresh produce don't. So for the time being, it's come down to neighbors helping neighbors to find a way forward.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): Food drives --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you doing?
JIMENEZ: -- are now temporarily lifelines for residents in this east Buffalo neighborhood after a massacre at their only area supermarket left not just pain, but a hole in the heart of a community.
LACRESHA BARTON, LIVES IN BUFFALO NEIGHBORHOOD WHERE MASSACRE HAPPENED: I'm going to have to drive, like, you know, 10 or 15 minutes away. Now maybe more than that.
JIMENEZ: There's now nowhere nearby to get fresh produce for residents.
BARTON: Some broccoli, fresh broccoli. JIMENEZ: Like LaCresha Barton and her 4-year-old daughter.
BARTON: I travel a lot of places. That's not even in my route to go get food. The other stores you're getting junk food and it's not good for you or your kids. For the families, eating junk.
JIMENEZ: The Tops supermarket opened back in 2003.
AVERILL DOVE, GREW UP IN BUFFALO NEIGHBORHOOD WHERE MASSACRE HAPPENED: I was actually born over here. It was a big win, we felt like, for a place where you don't really get many wins.
JIMENEZ: While Tops has pledged to reopen and is providing shuttle service to another location, it's unclear when it will ever come back in this neighborhood. Life without it is a new sudden reality.
DOVE: Yes, you know. You ask anybody who lives over here, like, to lose a staple in your community like that, you almost don't get over it. And to have someone come from outside and not like you for the simplest thing, the things you were born with, like you can't change that.
REV. PAUL THOMAS, PASTOR, BETHEL AME CHURCH: This community does what this community always does, shows love. This community has not failed to demonstrate that same love and that same ethic, when one person hurts, we all hurt.
JIMENEZ: Paul Thomas is the pastor at Bethel AME Church just a few blocks from the supermarket.
THOMAS: Access to the nearest produce bearing or protein bearing market is about two miles away.
JIMENEZ: All of the census tracks around this particular Tops were listed by the USDA in 2019 as not only largely low income, but also low vehicle access. And one tract roughly 45 percent of households are without vehicle access and over half a mile away from a supermarket. And that data is from when Tops was still an option. Now the nearest supermarkets are nearly two miles away. This one even further.
DOVE: Any which direction you go, the grocery store is about two to three miles away. So this is just one direction we decided to go.
JIMENEZ: There are other places to get food near the Tops, but usually without the resources of fresh produce.
THOMAS: You have corner stores, you have family dollars, so the gaps with being able to access those resources is an issue.
JIMENEZ: The local food drives are currently a band aid in comparison to what the grieving community needs long term.
BARTON: I've been scared to even go to the store by myself or take my daughter to the store. Because I don't even know, you know, if I'm going to be targeted.
JIMENEZ: So for now, Barton makes do with what she can get.
CRYSTAL PEOPLES-STOKES (D), MAJORITY LEADER, NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY: I know that there are people who are feeling some kind of way about the thought of having to walk back in that market. But no evil, racist, bigoted person is going to scare me out of my community.
JIMENEZ: But for many others, it's a high bar.
(On-camera): Are you ever going to be able to walk inside that Tops again?
PHYLICIA DOVE, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: I think some real heavy work needs to be done to address this issue. Especially in this community, for people to feel safe again.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): It was a safety that was snatched, but one at least some from the neighborhood feel won't be lost.
A. DOVE: I was shot right here right in front of this house in 2003. And it was difficult to come back to my grandmother's house. It took some time. But you get back.
JIMENEZ: And it's going to be a long process. Resilience has been on display here. But there are still funerals to go, there are still healing to do. It's been days since the shooting at this point, but losing the supermarket is going to be felt likely in this community for much longer, along with mourning the losses of 10 of their own -- Kaitlan.
COLLINS: People say they're scared to go to the grocery store. Omar, thank you.
We also have a major development out of Kyiv this morning, where the first Russian soldier on trial for war crimes has just pleaded guilty. CNN is live at the courthouse with more.
BERMAN: And new votes trickling in from Pennsylvania in this critical Senate primary. Look at the margin separating the top two candidates. Not much. Stay with us.
BERMAN: This is CNN's special live coverage, still counting votes in Pennsylvania and the Republican Senate primary. You can see Mehmet Oz, a 2564 votes ahead at this point. He was about 2700 votes ahead when we came on the air at 5:00 a.m.
Where are the votes still to be counted? Well, we're not totally sure. It does seem throughout the entire state there are a few. There might be some election day votes still to count in Allegheny County, which is a county that Dave McCormick did very well in. He edged out or is edging out Mehmet Oz by about 6,000 votes there. But there are also some counties where Oz seems to be doing well, where there might be some votes left to be counted there, like Philadelphia, where he's got a 4,000-vote edge, just 93 percent reporting at this point.
Whoever does win this race will face off against Democrat John Fetterman, the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania. You can see how well he did in this race. Nearly 60 percent of the vote. Of course, on election day itself, Fetterman was in the hospital having a pacemaker put in -- Kaitlan.
COLLINS: And, of course, those are raising big questions about what this is going to look like going forward for him, winning this race in such an extraordinary way. So, of course, joining us this morning to talk about all of this is his wife, Gisele Fetterman, who was the one who urged him to go to the hospital in the first place.