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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle, 5/17/22

Guests: Michael Steele, Ed Rendell, Katie Meyer, James Carville, Jen Palmieri, Eugene Robinson


On the biggest primary night yet, scandal-plagued Rep. Madison Cawthorn concedes in North Carolina. The GOP Senate race in Pennsylvania remains too close to call as Trump-backer Doug Mastriano wins the GOP primary for governor in the battleground state. John Fetterman wins the Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania after suffering a stroke.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: THE 11TH HOUR with Stephanie rule starts now.


STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, the fight for democracy votes are still being counted in critical primaries with democracy on the ballot. The economy, racial tensions and trust are as well.

We`re tracking it all on this important primary election day as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on a Tuesday night.

Here we go. Good evening. Once again, I`m Stephanie Ruhle. 175 days until the midterm elections. And tonight you know what we are up to following key primaries in Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, and in the place everybody`s watching the birthplace of democracy the state of Pennsylvania, where Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman has won the Democratic Senate nominations -- nomination just days after suffering a stroke.

His campaign says he does expect a full recovery. Fetterman will now face off against the winner of what has turned out to be a very competitive Republican primary with former hedge fund manager David McCormick, Trump back Dr. Oz and conservative commentator Kathy Barnette.

Dr. Oz is one of the many candidates endorsed by the former president, another Doug Mastriano. Remember this name. He has won the Republican nomination for Governor of Pennsylvania. This man, he was at the Capitol on January 6. He refused to accept the results of the 2020 election. And he`s now going to be running come this November.

Meanwhile, we have just learned that North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn called primary challenger Chuck Edwards to concede his race. We`ve got a lot to cover. So you know the one person who`s going to be here to do that the best Steve Kornacki at the big board. All right, Steve, here we are. It is your night. What do we need to know most at this moment?

STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Stephanie, I mean, it`s just the it is the suspense in this Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary. You mentioned John Fetterman is going to win the Democratic nomination who is going to oppose him? Look at this Mehmet Oz has been running in second place most of the night, but we`ve been watching that gap against David McCormick gets smaller and smaller. It`s down to 3,000 votes essentially right now, three tenths of one point separating Oz from McCormick, Kathie Barnette a little bit further back.

A couple of things to, and look at that, it just fell inside of 2,000 votes now. The margin of McCormick over Oz, a couple of things that are happening here. We were saying for the last hour or so that the Philadelphia suburbs which are going to account for about a quarter of all the vote in this primary. We`re very slow to report out their election day vote, the folks who went out and voted in person at the polls today.

We`re now starting to get the Election Day vote and a lot of it from these Philly suburbs and let me just take you through it and show you what we`re seeing. One of the big collar counties outside Philadelphia, this is the one where we have the most votes so far, Chester County.

You see here actually, this is good news for McCormick. McCormick is leading overall and he is leading the Election Day vote. We keep telling you there is a small sliver of ballots that were cast by mail in this thing, a lot of them got reported out early. This has been about who`s winning the election day vote, McCormick. And we just got another batch there from Chester. McCormick is leading the election day vote in Chester County.

In Montgomery County, another one of the biggies right outside Philadelphia, Barnette, Kathy Barnette actually is leading overall and leading the election day vote. One interesting thing to note here on the ballot in Pennsylvania, they list the key that it`s home county and then Barnette listed Montgomery County so did Dr. Oz, both of them list Montgomery. They are running one, two in Montgomery.

Then you to go to Bucks County, we have less of the same day voting here. But here it`s Oz who`s getting the same day vote and its Oz who`s leading so each candidate with a little something to brag about here in these Philadelphia suburbs. We`re waiting on a lot from Delaware.

But overall what this adds up to is, it`s McCormick and Oz then you can draw a line, and it`s Barnette statewide. And if you add up all of just the Election Day vote that we`ve counted the vote that was cast in person, it`s going to be like 90 percent of all the votes in this election.

Right now, let me get these numbers exactly right for you. The Election Day vote right now would be 32 percent -- it`d be 32 percent. I don`t know why this isn`t ready. Oz, 32, McCormick 30 -- that`s supposed to be a 30 --

RUHLE: You think that says 32, Steve? I know planning. Does that say any of that?

KORNACKI: OK. Oz is leading the Election Day vote critically here by one point statewide and 90 percent of all the votes that are going to be cast in this election are same day votes.

RUHLE: What kind of volume are you predicting in terms of mail in ballots? I`m thinking back to the last general election when former President Trump was railing against mail and you didn`t see a lot of Republicans going that route Do you think we`re going to see high volume today


KORNACKI: Well, we don`t. And that`s why I`m putting so much emphasis on the same day vote. Because what happened in this race was that early on in the night, we saw some numbers that looked at odds with the polling, it`s because a lot of counties released their mail-in vote early on.

And what we were saying from that point was, OK, that`s going to be about 10 percent, the mail votes are going to be about 10 percent of the Republican primary. What about when they start counting up the Election Day vote, that`s going to look different, that`s going to be a lot bigger. So that`s why I think that`s key when I say that Oz actually has that now leads by a little bit more than the point on the election day vote. It`s why he`s continued to chip away ever so slowly at this McCormick leads statewide.

McCormick won the mail vote early in the night by nine points. Oz has been leading the same day vote by a little over a point. And he`s been getting closer and closer. The one wildcard to keep in mind, however, is in Pennsylvania, there are more than a dozen counties that have told us they do have some mailing ballots that they have not processed yet. They are not going to process tonight, and they`re going to process tomorrow.

We are not talking about hundreds of thousands of ballots, but we are talking about potentially thousands of ballots. So we could be in a situation where we get to the end of the night. We count up all the same day vote and it`s a very, very narrow margin between these candidates in a situation like that. There could be several 1000 mail-in ballots that we are waiting for a bunch of different counties to open up process and report out tomorrow.

And if that`s giving you any flashbacks to a week of November 2020, well, it certainly is for me, because that`s what happened back then, too.

RUHLE: Well, here we go. Again, Steve, stay close. Obviously, we`re not letting you go anywhere, not even a bathroom break for Mr. Kornacki tonight, but for now, I want to continue this conversation with Mr. Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, and former Democratic governor of the state of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell. He also served as the mayor of Philly and was the chair of the DNC.

I want to start down south with you, Mr. Steele, what`s your reaction to Madison Cawthorn conceding?

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: Well, it`s kind of interesting in a couple of things. One, it says to me that Republicans can, can if they want to push back against crazy and push back against those who are outside of the mainstream, if you will, if they want to. Madison, obviously turn the corner on them. And this leads me to point number two, that the reality for him was he thought that he had a much longer runway to go out and behave and say, in a way, say things in a way that wouldn`t get him in trouble. That`s true up until he started telling little dirty secrets inside the party when he started talking about cocaine parties and orgies. All of a sudden, he`s right, proper, you know, Christian evangelicals got a little bit upset.

So the reality from Madison is a bit off a bit more than he could chew. The party came after him. And what the country should take away from that is all the other stuff that they countless, they don`t have to. They can step up and say no to the Trump lie. They can say no to the Marjorie Taylor Greene`s, the Matt Gaetz`s of the party, but they won`t. So, you know, they pick their poison, and it was Cawthorn.

RUHLE: Well, it was. Governor Rendell. Let`s talk about Pennsylvania. Doug Mastriano is now one of two people who could get the job you once held. This is a man who was at the Capitol on January 6. He continues to be an election denier pushing the big lie. How high are the stakes are the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the birthplace of democracy?

ED RENDELL (D) FORMER PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR: Thanks to anonymous, for example, if Mastriano going to become governor, Republicans will probably hold both hands as they control the legislature. That will mean that Pennsylvania will criminalize abortion. That won`t be stunning.

The only thing that`s going to stop Pennsylvania from criminalizing abortion was no exception is Dr. Barrows (ph) elect as governor. I am fairly confident that he will get elected. Republicans did us a great favor. Michael, who`s right, they can get rid of crazy, but they chose nominee crazy to the most important office in the state of Pennsylvania. I think Josh Shapiro is a terrific candidate who will steamroll the election.

RUHLE: Well, let`s bring in one of Pennsylvania`s best political reporters Katie Meyer, she covers politics power and elections for WHYY and fun fact, she was once an intern of our own Steve Kornacki. Katie, what are you hearing about Mastriano`s win? What are people around the state and saying about him?


KATIE MEYER, POLITICAL REPORTER, WHYY: Well, we had a very last minute attempt by Republican insiders in Pennsylvania to coalesce support around Lou Barletta, who had been trailing Mastriano in the polls. And that really speaks to what Republicans in this state are thinking about. Not necessarily that they can`t support Mastriano and his policies, a lot of them, as Governor Rendell mentioned are kind of within the mainstream of the GOP at this point, like, getting rid of abortion, but because they have concerns about whether or not he can be Josh Shapiro.

I will just say as well, I mean, these are similar concerns to the ones that people had about Donald Trump in 2016. And he went on to beat Hillary Clinton in the general election and in Pennsylvania. So, you know, you never know what`s going to happen in this.

RUHLE: Too true. Michael, let`s talk about Pennsylvania`s Democratic Senate candidates. What is it about John Fetterman that drew in voters and can he take it to November?

STEELE: The thing about John Fetterman is he`s every man. He is the neighbor next door. He`s the guy who helps you bring in the groceries. He`s, you know, he`s the, you know, the neighbor you go to when you got a problem. It comes off as this figure that is larger than politics beyond politics.

And it has translated very well for him around the state. He`s used his time as lieutenant governor. And I know a little bit of something about that job very, very well with my Governor friends across from me here.

But he knows very well how to connect to people to bring that narrative to the street, if you will. And he`s going to benefit I think mightily from this November. The Republicans are going to have a tall order kind of going after him and trying to create that separation with those voters, because he has a built in relationship that we haven`t seen in politics in a long time.

And Pennsylvania is a good bellwether, not just for, you know, Republicans to look at and see how they handle something like that, but for Democrats to understand how they can position themselves going forward in in upcoming elections.

RUHLE: Governor, what do you think of Fetterman`s win, tough for Republicans to say that Democrats are the party of coastal elites when Fetterman is your guy?

RENDELL: Yes, very hard. And John Fetterman is a great retail campaigner. We haven`t seen a retail campaigner as good as him for at least 20 years. I won`t tell you who that was. But in any, John Fetterman is incredible small groups. Incredible one on one, he`s honest, comes across as honest and he is on it. He chose what`s on his mind. He`s a very engaging guy.

And by the way, the stroke, you`ll see John Fetterman a week from now and you can`t believe that that man had anything wrong with him. He`s really dynamic, physical presence and a great guy and he`ll bring a lot of those democratic registered voters blue collar voters back into the fold.

RUHLE: Katie, would you spoke to voters from both parties? What were their biggest concerns? What were they looking for from the candidates? Because on the Republican side, you`re looking at Dave McCormick, you`re looking at Dr. Oz, let`s be honest, neither of them are Pennsylvania guys. They`re certainly not locals.

MEYER: Sure, and there definitely was a lot of that in the GOP primary when I talked to voters, you know, concerned that they`re not really conservatives, that they, you know, kind of Carpetbag in although, of course, there`s a long history of carpet bagging in the U.S. Senate.

And so yeah, absolutely. There is that part of it. I would say, you know, there are some real policy stakes here. As Governor Rendell mentioned, abortion is a big issue for both parties. Democrats are going to turn out on that, Republicans may as well.

And I think one of the things that we`re seeing among lots of voters on both sides of the aisle, is a real anti-establishment spirit. You again, you see this in the GOP primaries. You saw this with the insurgency of Kathy Barnette at the very end, although she of course, is not going to win the GOP primary there. And I think that is what Fetterman speaks to as well, somebody who has not gotten endorsements from the Democratic establishment, a real sort of alternative for the party.

RUHLE: Michael, none of these candidates when they were asked by -- none of these Republican Senate candidates when they were asked by the Philadelphia Inquirer, who won the last presidential election, none of them were willing to answer that question. One of those people is going to be running in the general. What does that say to you about the state of politics in the state of Pennsylvania?

STEELE: It sucks like it does everywhere else around the country to be rather blunt about it. It`s just the state of our politics has been messed up by the politicians and quite honestly, a lot of Americans have allowed it to happen and lot more participated in getting it to this day.


So now the question becomes, as we go into this, this general election, what kind of country do you want? How do you want it to shape itself? On the heels of what happened this past weekend in Buffalo, when you have this rise of white nationalism is a threat, not just to democracy, but to whole communities of people.

And so I think Pennsylvania should be asking whoever the Republican nominee is, OK, where do you stand on January 6, since you didn`t want to answer during the primary, you`re going to have to account for it. Because whether it`s Shapiro or Fetterman, you best believe they`re going to be asking the question out loud a lot.

And at some point, those Republican nominees are going to have to account to the Pennsylvania voters just like they`re going to have to count it ballot boxes around the country this fall.

RUHLE: And what the Democrats need to do now to win in November, governor?

RENDELL: A surprise turnout, just continue to tell our voters how important it is. This is not a mid-year election. This is the equivalent of a presidential election, tell them what the stakes are, clearly, and try to get Republicans on record.

Try to get, as Michael said, trying to get the Republican nominee for the Senate to declare themselves on background on most of them, magazine, assault weapons, things like that, where the tremendous majority of Pennsylvanians who want change, get them on record. Because when they go on record, they`re going to try to hold on to their base, we`re going to lose independence, they`re going to lose a lot of their own voters.

And the key here is, I think whoever wins McCormick or Oz is going to try to do what Governor Romney did in 2012. He campaigned as a right-wing conservative in the primary (INAUDIBLE) back to the governor of Massachusetts. It won`t work. It didn`t work with Governor Romney. And what (INAUDIBLE).

RUHLE: Advice from the governor get them on the record Katie Meyer, Michael Steele, Ed Rendell, thank you all so much.

Coming up on this all important primary night, we`re live in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, plus more Steve Kornacki more results.

And Eugene Robinson, James Carville and Jen Palmieri are here to break down what it all means for both parties heading into the midterms and beyond. The 11th Hour just getting underway on this very big Tuesday night.



RUHLE: Its primary election night. So let`s get back to our own Steve Kornacki at the big board. Steve, what do you know?

KORNACKI: Well, we keep seeing David McCormick and this Republican Senate primary clinging and I mean clinging to a lead over Mehmet Oz the margin here, two-tenths of 1 percent. It is 2,148 votes right now separating them.

I was just watching these returns come in in the last few minutes. Oz got a big batch of votes out of York County that had brought him significantly closer to McCormick. McCormick then countered in western Pennsylvania, in Erie County. McCormick got a good batch of votes out of here.

Just a few seconds ago, a few came in from the city of Philadelphia. They brought things and taken things a little bit but that`s the -- that`s what we`re watching right now. A few 1,000 votes here, a few 1,000 votes there, Oz can get, you know, we`ve seen them get close to about 2,000. We have yet to see him catch McCormack.

So I think there are two things to keep your eye on here as this continues to play out. Number one is the margin between these two candidates. And again, we say right now it is two-tenths of one point. Pennsylvania law calls for a recount if the final margin is less than or equal to five- tenths of one point.

So right now you would be in recount territory. McCormick would have to increase this leader. Oz would have to catch him and then move significantly ahead to fall out of that zone. So the possibility that this falls within recount territory is very real at this point.

The other thing to keep in mind, we mentioned this again, the mail-in ballots, the uncounted mail-in ballots. Now again in this Republican primary, you can see hundreds of thousands of votes over a million votes going to be cast in this Republican primary. But there are about 33,000 right now uncounted mail-in ballots. In some of them, the counties have said they are not going to get to until tomorrow. They`re not going to open and report out tomorrow.

Now what I can tell you about the mail-in ballots that have been counted so far in this race, it`s not many of them. But the mail-in ballots that have been counted so far, McCormick has led by nine points, that should say plus nine. McCormick has led by nine points.

So if that were to hold on these 33,000 remaining mail-in ballots, that could be a big significant boost for McCormack when they`re finally counted tomorrow. But keep in mind, a lot of these mail-in ballots, they`re dropped off today, they`re mailed in late, they could be different in character than the mail-in ballots that have already been counted. So take that with a grain of salt. Maybe it`s not McCormick plus nine with the rest of these mail ballots. Maybe it`s something different.

But in a race this tight the fact that we`ve got more than 30,000 mail-in ballots, many of which will not be counted until tomorrow, that looms particularly large.


So it is a very close race. Needless to say, here in Pennsylvania, we`re following every twist and turn. And it`s about as close as this one in North Carolina earlier will just show you again the upset of the night at this point was in this 11th District, far western North Carolina State Senator Chuck Edwards. You could see it here. You got the checkmark next to his name. First term incumbent Madison Cawthorn falls short in this race. We were watching this all night.

Edwards jumped out to a big league. Cawthorne did very well with the same day votes along the Tennessee border. But he didn`t do well enough. It is home county of Henderson County. That`s where Edwards wanted. Edwards wins this primary tonight. The incumbent member of Congress falls short.

RUHLE: Steve, let`s head down there to Hendersonville, North Carolina where our colleague Antonia Hylton is standing by at Madison Cawthorn`s campaign headquarters. Antonia, give us an update on the ground.

ANTONIA HYLTON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey Steph. While it has been a somber and kind of strange night here at Madison Cawthorn`s election night event, for a while his team wasn`t saying much to reporters, people were kind of just milling about. And then Madison Cawthorn finally came out and spoke to his supporters saying verbally that he felt that he could still win. But shortly after that, he immediately left the building.

And according to his spokesperson, Luke Ball, quickly called a State Senator Chuck Edwards and conceded the race. And this is even before NBC News or CNN has called this race.

And you know what he really didn`t present with much of the usual bravado. He looked a bit tired, disappointed, as he spoke to reporters, frustrated, and his staff again was really quiet. And frankly, this didn`t come as much of a surprise to us here on the ground. We had spent the entire day in a Republican district here at a precinct talking to voters, many of whom were using words like immature, not ready to lead to describe him. And these are people who are Republicans who formally in many cases had supported him and now we`re looking towards one of his seven challengers, many of them mentioning State Senator Chuck Edwards.

And so you know, this is all coming after one controversy after another, Republicans both at home here in North Carolina and in Washington, DC, sharpening their knives and turning against the 26 year old congressman. So what many voters were saying was that tonight if he lost would be entirely his fault. And it looks right now like that`s the way that it`s going, Steph.

RUHLE: When your own party turns on you is a problem. Let`s switch gears and head back up to Pennsylvania, where NBC`s Vaughn Hillyard is live from Dr. Oz`s campaign headquarters in Newtown, Pennsylvania.

Vaughn, you have been covering this campaign for months. It was just three weeks ago, you were at that muddy rally where Donald Trump endorsed Dr. Oz where he burry McCormick, how did we get here three weeks later, with the margin this close and McCormick and a lead?

VAUGHN HILLYARD, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You know, it was three weeks ago Stephanie at that very rally that I was having conversations with countless voters, David McCormack, or Mehmet Oz, and there was a lot of waffling in the answers.

Trump was there rallying in rural Pennsylvania for Mehmet Oz. But there was a lot of apprehensiveness among a great number of voters. What did that ultimately lead us to? Kathy Barnette. Now, of course, she is not going to be our storyline tonight, nor tomorrow. She`s not going to win this thing.

At the same time, the conversations that you and I were having, Stephanie, was the extent that Kathy Barnette would dilute the vote for David McCormick and Mehmet Oz. And look where we`re looking right now. Steve was looking at that map, and he was calling out the suburb areas around the greater Philadelphia area where we are standing right now. The Bucks County is one of them. This was an area that Mehmet Oz was looking to capitalize on campaigning heavily in these areas, the more affluent conservative suburbs of the Philadelphia area where Mehmet Oz has been appearing on TV screens.

The concern was that Kathy Barnette was going to cut into his difference here. And that`s exactly what she did. I was just talking with an advisor to Kathy Burnette, who said that they believe they weigh took a greater share of votes away from Oz. The other county as an example is the one right next door, Montgomery County.

Stephanie, where did Dr. Oz hold his final rally? It was Montgomery County. Who`s leading in Montgomery County right now, it is Kathy Barnette. Kathy Burnette lives in Montgomery County. She has 33 percent of the vote there. Then there`s Mehmet Oz at 27 percent. And then there`s McCormick.

When we`re talking about a race of just a few 1,000 votes, that is what we`re talking about Kathy Barnett`s potential impact here on this race. We`re at polling location here earlier today, Stephanie, a great number of voters said they were heavily considering her. Of course not enough ultimately voted for her to give her the win, but she may have changed the outcome in this race if Mehmet Oz is not able to take the lead here.


RUHLE: So she took a big bite out of Oz, her advisor, happy to talk about that with you. How about his advisors? Has his campaign said anything to you tonight?

HILLYARD: Yes, just in the last 10 minutes, they said they feel good about the direction this is heading. Well, noting it is tightening. And I think Steve is better at actually cracking down the numbers. And you know what, I got to be frank with you, Stephanie, you know, you have these conversations. Campaigns are usually hedging their bets on the day, you know, as polls are closing. We didn`t hear that from these campaigns here. There was an acknowledgement and recognition that this was going to come down to the wire.

And despite the millions of dollars in research and polling conducted into this very race, there was sort of a head nod that we were going to be right where we are right now. And that is why here is those ballots, as mail-in ballots are opened up and counted here, you know, we may be booking a hotel for a couple more days here in Pennsylvania, Stephanie.

RUHLE: Well, all the research they did neither of those gentlemen were counting on the Barnette Ultra MAGA effect, but we`re seeing it tonight. Vaughn Hillyard, thank you stay close.

Coming up, those results still coming in. And we are all over it. But guess who`s up, James Carville, Eugene Robinson and Jen Palmieri here. When THE 11TH HOUR continues, do not go anywhere.



RUHLE: The polls are now closed in all five primary states and our own Steve Kornacki back at the big board. Steve, give us an update in Pennsylvania.

KORNACKI: Yes, so again, the lead here from McCormick sitting at about 2,200 votes fraction of a percentage over Mehmet Oz. Let me just show you where the outstanding votes are here. And again, there`s two things here that are happening. There`s the Election Day votes, the same day votes, the ones that folks went and cast in person at the polls today, that`s basically any vote we`re getting the rest of tonight, just about all that we expect he`s going to be same day vote.

So, where we have the most outstanding same day vote is for instance, right outside Philadelphia, one of those collar counties Delaware County, this is a big county. And you can see we just do not have that many votes that have been recorded out here. So we`re waiting on Delaware County.

We`ve got a lot now from Chester County and going through to Philadelphia suburbs, but we still have a fair amount to come next door from Montgomery County. And we still have some to come, a fair amount to come from Bucks County as well. So those Philadelphia suburbs, those immediate Philadelphia suburbs, I think are still going to be the biggest single source of outstanding votes to come in tonight.

And again, let`s see if that shakes this up at all here. The other issue though, as I mentioned, is mail-in ballots, ballots that either arrived late today were dropped off today, were postmarked. There`s all sorts of different combinations here. Different counties are handling mail-in ballots differently. There are some counties that just made a decision that we`re not even going to look at mail-in ballots until the morning after the election.

So, there`s -- we`re not sure on the exact number, but I would say there`s at least 33,000 mail-in ballots that have not been counted and that are not included in this. And many of those 33,000 are not going to be processed and reported out until tomorrow at the earliest. So that`s the other key variable here.

We`re looking at same day vote particularly in the Philadelphia suburbs. There are some other counties to with same day vote still to come. That`s going to have a lot to say about how this McCormack-Oz race shakes out.

But then when that is all done tonight, we are going to be an overtime waiting for potentially tens of thousands of mail-in ballots to be processed to be counted, to be reported out and again, I had mentioned this so far in the mail-in vote. McCormick has been leading it by nine points over Oz. This is one of the things this -- that`s supposed to be a nine. This is one of those, I don`t know. He`s been leading it by nine points over Oz. This has been one of those trends we`ve seen in Republican primaries throughout the country so far this spring.

Oz is endorsed by Trump. Barnette ran hard trying to get the Trump vote. The candidates who have been most aligned with Trump or endorsed by Trump have generally done the worst with the mail-in vote and the best with the same day vote.

So that could portend well for McCormick if we do end up tonight, in a real close situation, McCormick versus Oz and there`s this many uncounted mail- in ballots. There might at least based on how these Republican primaries had been going so far this year, there might be an advantage for McCormick there in those ballots.

RUHLE: And why is itm why did they do worse on the mail-in ballots? I`m having flashbacks of the 2020 presidential election. Is this because Trump so desperately hates mail-in ballots?

KORNACKI: Well, I think Trump set it in motion. I mean, what we were talking about in Pennsylvania in the fall of 2020. If you remember that week, you know, Joe Biden with every mail ballot update got closer and closer to Trump and Pennsylvania till he finally overtook him and he won the state.

Trump had been telling people don`t vote by mail, vote in person. A lot of Republicans that seems got that message.

Again, if you look at the total participation in this Republican primary, we have well over a million votes that have been cast in this thing. Probably about 10 percent of the ballots in this Republican primary for Senate are going to be cast by mail when all is said and done. If you take a look at the Democratic race, you got huge numbers there to accept probably about half of all the votes in that Democratic primary are going to be cast by mail.


So it`s just each party treats the idea of voting by mail very differently. So the universe of mail ballots is very small in this Republican primary. And yet, the margin between McCormick and Oz is so tiny right now that the remaining mail-in ballots could be the difference maker in the Republican primary.

RUHLE: My gosh, it`s like the presidential election all over again, Steve, stay close. This is the biggest primary night so far this year, which is why we brought in the big guns Democratic strategist James Carville. He helped elect former President Bill Clinton in the early 90s. Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Washington Post. And Jennifer Palmieri joins us, former White House Communications Director for President Obama and Head of Communications for Hillary Clinton`s 2016 campaign.

Mr. Carville, you have stayed up late. I wanted to turn to you first. We`re not going to have a final answer in the GOP primaries for a while but President Biden already weighed in. And he`s not mincing words. He said this in part, these candidates are not your father`s GOP. They have fought a malicious, chaotic primary campaign to be the most extreme. And they`ve shown people their authentic selves that whoever emerges will be too dangerous to craven, and too extreme to represent Pennsylvania in the United States. That`s a wow, what do you think?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That`s a lot. Well, it did a couple of things that kind of encouraged me coming out of Pennsylvania. Fetterman, who I was actually fall Connellan was turned out to be a really great candidate. And I`m now self-appointed chairman of Louisianians for Fetterman in a general election.

But remember, if it`s Oz or McCormick that first time candidate, the other thing that is really important, remember here, they have a terrible gubernatorial candidate. And it`s just not a lot of ticket splitting in In this day and age, even in Pennsylvania. He`s going to be somewhat of a drag and both it no matter who it is Oz or Feldman, or both first time statewide candidate, first time candidates of any kind. And it`s a slippery surface out there. And I think Fetterman`s footing is a lot better.

So I`m encouraged by what I see out of Pennsylvania. I mean, it`s not -- I`m not overly whelming encouraged, but I feel better than I did when I woke up this morning. And I feel very good about North Carolina, because their nominee, but remember, is an enthusiastic backer of the Rick Scott plan. And we don`t need to get into that tonight. But to say that it`s a political liability is it`s a political liability, trust me, and you`re going to hear a lot about that.

I see Eugene smiling, because he knows exactly what I`m talking about. And he knows a bit about North Carolina because he -- he comes from below today, as we say.

RUHLE: North Carolina don`t like their taxes being raised shocking.

CARVILLE: We`re not working people. No, they don`t need a tax increase. I don`t say no, no home healthcare workers, parking lot attendants, agricultural workers, you know, but wants to tax them all. That`s not going to sit well.

RUHLE: No, it will not. Jennifer, let`s talk about the power of Trump though, because his candidate for governor did win in North Carolina. But Madison Cawthorn, right. He comes from the school of Matt Gaetz. This is Trump`s boy, he lost. What does this tell you about the power of Trump? We don`t have to look too far in Pennsylvania to see what it`s meant for us at the very least very tight.

JEN PALMIERI, FMR. WHITE HOUSE COMMS. DIR. FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes, I mean, it`s hard. If you if you look at the primaries that we`ve had thus far, it`s hard to have a clearer picture emerge of specifically what happens to Trump endorsed candidates. But it`s pretty clear about what he has reaped on this party.

I mean, Madison Cawthorn, I think probably fell in his own way. You know, we had good reporting from a reporter about what we were saying to her in line about thinking that he just isn`t the right kind of leader not ready to mature.

But in Pennsylvania, you know, don`t forget that it was the heart of Trump`s stop the steal campaign, right. So what he`s sort of unleashed in that our Republican primary voters that very much believed that the election was stolen from them. It`s not Doug Mastriano, who is emerged at the Republican candidate as a Republican nominee for governor. He was at the Jan. 6 insurrection, but all of the Republican candidates that were running for governor were in some way supportive the stop the steal, didn`t believe that Biden had won, you know, and this is what Trump has sowed.

You know, the Republican Governors Association put out a statement saying congratulations, Doug Mastriano and something like we`re going to spend our money what we think we can win, because they don`t actually believe that they can win this state now that we have like Mastriano has won.

So you see, he has -- and even went McCormick and Oz, they -- I was in Pennsylvania for a week with the circus. They spent two tens of millions of dollars trying to say that the other one was a phony, the one other one wasn`t really like Trump.


And I think you know, that`s going to fit with -- that`s going to sit with Republican voters too. So he has spurred this whole belief and stop the steal. And that gives you candidates like Mastriano. And he`s pitted Oz and McCormick against each other spent tens of millions of dollars saying that they`re phonies. And then they`re going to go up against somebody like Fetterman, who is probably one of the most authentic and compelling candidates I have seen in a long time. So, the scorecard for Trump I think is pretty much (ph) the primary.

RUHLE: I`m always confused by stop the steal, don`t believe the presidential results, but believe all the down ballot races where Republicans won. Very confusing for me.

Eugene, what do you make of this argument we keep hearing that some Republicans are getting very worried that the party is getting too extreme, these extreme candidates are winning. Is there any evidence of that? Because more and more candidates just keep getting more extreme?

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Right. Well, you know, I`m sure, a lot of Republicans who are worried that the party is getting too extreme. The problem is the Republican base is fine with what`s happening to the party. The Republican base is still a cult of personality for Donald Trump.

And in the end, you know, we`ll see what happens in the, you know, between Oz and McCormick and who wins that win. That`s kind of a marquee race tonight. But I think Trump will be able to claim he didn`t have that ban at night.

And I don`t think, you know, in terms of what Democrats should come away with, Fetterman has turned out to be a terrific statewide candidate in Pennsylvania. And I think they should feel pretty good about that race. They should feel good about North Carolina is, as Carville said, the Rick Scott plan is a millstone around the neck plus ball and chain around the ankle of anybody who endorses it.

And remember what happened the last time Donald Trump ran, you know, lead a Republican ticket in election. They lost everything and lost The White House in both chambers of Congress. So, be careful what you wish for if you want to be a Trump cult personality, and you end up being that, that might not be good for your party, even in the short run to say nothing of the long run.

RUHLE: I am often surprised when people keep talking about Trump as the kingmaker, forgetting the fact that he lost the last election. James, what have you learned? What have you heard about voter turnout tonight?

CARVILLE: You know, I`ve seen it, it`s pretty comparable. And I think this is good news. I`m not an expert on this kind of thing. But the Democratic turnout in Pennsylvania was very comparable to the Republican turnout. We had no -- Shapiro got 100 percent of vote because he`s a gubernatorial nominee. And the Fetterman race was never that tight, and they spent a ton of money.

I was expecting to have a much higher turnout differential between Republicans and Democrats in Pennsylvania. We certainly saw that in Ohio. And we certainly saw that in Texas, you know, which is more Republican states, but I don`t know what to make of it.

But earlier today, I was expecting a turnout differential to be somewhat higher for Republicans than it turned out to be tonight. So I don`t take it as bad news for sure. I can`t tell you how good of news it is. But if you look at the total vote, at least the last time I looked at it, it was pretty, pretty comparable, which I think is in the whole good news.

RUHLE: All right, then Mr. Carville, Eugene Robinson, Jennifer Palmieri, thank you for all staying up late with us. If you look to the left of your screen, Dr. Oz is speaking. He is just telling his supporters at his campaign headquarters that we will not have results tonight. But he is assuring them when they get the results possibly tomorrow. He believes he will be the winner.

Coming up, an outreach of helping hands for a still healing community when THE 11TH HOUR continues.




JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We have to refuse to live in a country where black people going about a weekly grocery shopping can be gunned down by weapons of war deployed in a racist cause. We have to refuse to live in a country where fear and lies are packaged for power and for profit. You must all list this great cause of America. This is worth requires all of us presidents, politicians, commentators, citizens, none of us can stay on the sidelines.


RUHLE: Don`t get confused or worried. There`s a lot more election results to cover here tonight. But the last thing before I leave you is about people, not polls and a helping hand. That is why President Biden was in Buffalo today.

For many who called the east side of Buffalo their home, the Tops supermarket was the only option for low cost healthy food selections. Since this past weekend`s massacre, volunteers at nearby food distribution centers have been handing out bread, milk, eggs, and other goods so people don`t need to leave their neighborhood for essentials.

That still might not be enough for those who do need to get a fully stocked grocery store and who wouldn`t? Well help came today from two big rides share companies, Uber and Lyft.


New York Governor Kathy Hochul says anyone living in the neighborhood around the Tops market can now get coupons from those companies enough to cover the costs of a ride or to, to nearby grocery stores.

Tops is also providing a free shuttle bus for residents to get there -- to get to one of their other locations. Now, here`s how you can help. The supermarket chain has also launched a Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund. According to accompany tweet, Tops has seeded the survivors fund with $500,000 to get it started. 100 percent of the contributions donated to this fund will go directly to the victims and survivors of this atrocity.

Obviously, nothing is going to bring back the loved ones tragically lost that day. But hopefully with a little help the community can begin to heal. And on that very busy note of tonight, what a night we`ve had, I wish you a good night. And from all of our colleagues across the networks of NBC News, thanks for staying up late. Our primary election coverage continues with my friend and colleague Ari Melber right after a short break, and I`ll see you at the end of tomorrow.