© 2021 KOSU
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Politics

News brief: Primary results, Biden visits Buffalo, Elon Musk flips on Twitter

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The votes are in for five states where people chose their candidates for the midterms in primary elections.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

One Trump ally in North Carolina, Congressman Madison Cawthorn, lost his race. And a novice candidate with Trump's backing in Pennsylvania's governor's race won. Meanwhile, a key Senate race in Pennsylvania is still too close to call.

FADEL: NPR political correspondent Domenico Montanaro joins us now with the latest. Good morning.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hey. Good morning.

FADEL: So another Wednesday, and here we are talking about former President Trump's influence on Republicans in these midterm elections. He got a big win last week in the Republican Senate primary in Ohio. But his record this week, it looks a little more mixed, right?

MONTANARO: Yeah, that's right. And, you know, let's start in Pennsylvania, where Trump endorsed Mehmet Oz - better known as TV's Dr. Oz - in the Pennsylvania Senate race. Trump had endorsed another candidate earlier on who had dropped out because of domestic abuse allegations. This race, though, looks like it's headed for an automatic recount, with the race too close to call at this point. Oz leads David McCormick, the former head of a hedge fund, by the slimmest of margins right now. And here was Oz speaking at his watch party last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MEHMET OZ: And I want to thank some other individuals who are, actually, unbelievably close friends, made a big difference in my life, were always there at every moment. Let's start with 45, President Trump.

(CHEERING)

MONTANARO: Yeah. We won't know the winner of this race for a bit, you know? Trump endorsing Oz may have helped push him, you know, ahead. But it was pretty controversial with his base. And he was likely hurt, Oz, by conservatives seeming to flock, in recent days, to conservative commentator Kathy Barnette, who campaigned as more MAGA than Trump. She likely at least took some votes away from Oz. The general election is going to be dramatic and expensive. This is Democrats' top target for a race they believe they can flip. Their nominee is now officially Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who won his primary last night in a landslide, despite Fetterman suffering a stroke days earlier and having a pacemaker implanted on primary day.

FADEL: Oh, my gosh. OK. So let's talk about another big Senate race, North Carolina. What were the results?

MONTANARO: Yeah. Well, here in that Senate race, at least, Trump-backed candidate Congressman Ted Budd won pretty handily. This is another Senate race Democrats are targeting. Their candidate is Cheri Beasley, who was the first Black woman to be Chief State Supreme Court Justice in North Carolina. Here she was last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHERI BEASLEY: North Carolina, I'm honored to be your nominee. And I'm honored to stand with all of you and on the shoulders of many trailblazers who came before, to be the first African American woman...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Yeah.

(CHEERING)

BEASLEY: ...To be your Democratic Senate nominee.

MONTANARO: A bit tougher race for Democrats there. But further down the ballot, another pro-Trump candidate who Trump endorsed wasn't as successful in his bid to win reelection for Congress last night. That was the controversial Congressman Madison Cawthorn. The freshman had landed in multiple scandals since coming to Washington. He crossed his own Republican colleagues, accusing them of participating in cocaine and sex parties.

FADEL: Yeah.

MONTANARO: And that was, apparently, a step too far. Still, he came pretty close, which shows you the power of the incumbency, even for a freshman.

FADEL: Now, there were also elections in Idaho and Oregon. What did the results tell us there?

MONTANARO: Well, Trump had a candidate in Idaho who he had backed who wasn't as successful there. Incumbent Republican Governor Brad Little was able to beat that candidate back. This all kind of revolved around his handling of COVID. Meanwhile, in Oregon, in the fifth congressional district there right now, there is a candidate who President Biden endorsed in Kurt Schrader, longtime Democratic incumbent, who looks like he may lose - but we're waiting for some results still to come in - to Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

FADEL: NPR's Domenico Montanaro. Thank you.

MONTANARO: Hey, you're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

FADEL: In Buffalo, residents are honoring the people killed in the racist massacre there at vigils.

MARTIN: President Biden and the first lady traveled to Buffalo yesterday to talk with families of the victims.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Jill and I bring you this message from deep in our nation's soul. In America, evil will not win, I promise you. Hate will not prevail. And white supremacy will not have the last word.

MARTIN: So what weight do the president's words carry in this community in this moment?

FADEL: NPR's Cheryl Corley is following the story in Buffalo and joins us. Good morning, Cheryl.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: Good morning.

FADEL: So Cheryl, tell us what the president did on this trip.

CORLEY: Well, the president said he came to Buffalo to stand with the community and to grieve with the families of the victims. And he met with them privately before giving a public speech. And during that speech, he called out the names of the 10 people who died and the three who were wounded, offering some details about their lives. And that shooting occurred at the Tops grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood. And the president called the white supremacy that the 18-year-old suspect espoused in his writings a poison.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BIDEN: What happened here is simple and straightforward - terrorism, terrorism, domestic terrorism, violence inflicted in the service of hate and a vicious thirst for power.

CORLEY: And the president told Americans that they should reject what he said were lies told for profit and political gain.

FADEL: And how did the community respond to his visit, to his words?

CORLEY: Well, the reaction was pretty mixed. There were lots of people who lined up outside the community center where President Biden spoke. Sean Collier (ph) was one of them, a General Motors factory worker. He was glad the president came. He said the visit was part of the healing that Buffalo needs. And he appreciated Biden coming especially to speak with the victims' families.

SEAN COLLIER: Approaching their hurt and their pain and their anguish, and then the community pain and anguish, was the first step.

FADEL: Now, he didn't say very much about gun control, right?

CORLEY: Well, he made a passing reference to keeping military-style weapons off the streets. And he alluded to his 1994 crime bill that banned assault weapons, saying the country was able to do that in the past. Some said they didn't expect the president to talk about gun reforms because he doesn't have enough votes in Congress to make that happen. And others said it just wasn't the right time to talk about it. Local activist Taniqua Simmons said the president needed to talk specifically, though, about what the government would do to combat hate crimes.

TANIQUA SIMMONS: I mean, how can we heal when we are being hunted? We are living in fear. I have anxiety leaving my house because I don't know what's going to happen to me.

FADEL: The 18-year-old who walked into that supermarket and started shooting has already been charged. What happens next?

CORLEY: Well, he has a court date tomorrow morning. For now, he faces a single count of first-degree murder. More charges from the county district attorney are expected. And investigators are going over a lengthy document that he posted online. And there is a federal investigation underway. So he may face federal hate crime charges.

FADEL: And before this grocery store opened in this area, the one where this attack happened, this mostly Black neighborhood was a food desert, right? So the fact that it's closed is yet another blow. When will it reopen? What are residents doing in the meantime?

CORLEY: Well, there's no indication that it will reopen any time soon. And the store is offering a shuttle bus service to take people elsewhere.

FADEL: Wow. NPR's Cheryl Corley in Buffalo. Thank you so much.

CORLEY: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

FADEL: Elon Musk scored a deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion. Now he's got doubts, serious doubts, he says. And that may lead him to kill the transaction.

MARTIN: Or maybe the notoriously eccentric tech tycoon is just looking around for a better bargain. And all of this is playing out, of course, on Twitter.

FADEL: NPR tech correspondent Shannon Bond joins us to explain just what is going on. Hi, Shannon.

SHANNON BOND, BYLINE: Hi, Leila.

FADEL: OK, Shannon, why is Elon Musk having second thoughts? Why is he saying he's having second thoughts?

BOND: Well, Musk said at a conference in Miami on Monday that he's concerned about the number of fake accounts on Twitter.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ELON MUSK: You know, at the end of the day, acquiring it - it has to be fixable and fixable, you know, with a reasonable timeframe and without revenues collapsing along the way and all that sort of stuff. And so, you know, I really need to see how these things are being calculated.

BOND: But, you know, for years, Twitter has said it estimates less than 5% of accounts are fake. But on Tuesday, Musk demanded public proof of that number. Otherwise, he said, quote, "this deal cannot move forward." Remember, he initiated this deal. Also, without providing any evidence, he claimed 20% of accounts may be fake. Then one of Musk's followers tweeted that the Securities and Exchange Commission should look into this. Musk tweeted in response, hello, @SECGov, anyone home? @SECGov is the agency's official account. And, Leila, that's the same agency that in 2018 fined Musk $20 million over his false claims on Twitter that he had funding to take Tesla private.

FADEL: OK. So is this a bluff to get a better deal? Or is Musk trying to pull out?

BOND: Well, if he does walk away, he'd almost certainly be on the hook to pay Twitter a $1 billion breakup fee. And experts I've spoken with say Twitter could even, maybe, potentially sue him for further damages. Now, Musk is relying on his Tesla shares to finance this deal. And the price of those has fallen sharply. So many observers speculate Musk intends to renegotiate his price for Twitter. And at Monday's conference, Musk suggested he might do just that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MUSK: In making the Twitter offer, I was obviously reliant upon the truth and accuracy of their public filings. And if those filings are not accurate, it's simply not - that's - it's not - you can't pay the same price for something that is much worse than they claimed.

BOND: But, Leila, Musk waived due diligence in doing this deal. And that's like buying a home without doing an inspection.

FADEL: So what impact is the drama having on Twitter?

BOND: Well, its share price is way down. And there are worries it could tank even further if Musk backs out. And this is just adding to massive uncertainty and disruption for the company. Twitter has frozen hiring. It's cutting spending. Several top executives are leaving. So whether Musk goes through with the deal or walks away, the whole process risks leaving Twitter weaker than it was before, damaged.

FADEL: OK. So to recap, a little over a month ago, Musk offered to buy Twitter. Twitter initially resisted, later accepted. Now Musk is the one with cold feet, right?

BOND: Yes. Right. And Twitter says it's still committed to getting this deal done at the price Musk agreed to. CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted a lengthy rebuttal to Musk's criticism. Musk replied on Twitter with a poop emoji.

FADEL: (Laughter) NPR's Shannon Bond. Thank you so much.

BOND: Thanks, Leila. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Hey! Did you enjoy this story? We can’t do it without you. We are member-supported, so your donation is critical to KOSU's news reporting and music programming. Help support the reporters, DJs and staff of the station you love.

Here's how:

Related Content