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Meet the Press – November 6, 2022

Sean Patrick Maloney, Rick Scott, Dasha Burns, Vaughn Hillyard, Jacob Soboroff, Blayne Alexander, Claire McCaskill, Pat McCrory, Amy Walter, Kristen Welker

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday:

PRES. JOE BIDEN:

Vote. Get out and vote!

CHUCK TODD:

Battle for control.

GOV. RON DeSANTIS:

I think Republicans are going to win the House and the Senate. I think they are going to do both.

CHUCK TODD:

Republicans need to flip just one seat to gain control of the Senate and only five seats to win control of the House.

REP. KEVIN McCARTHY:

I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel.

CHUCK TODD:

This morning, the results of our final NBC News poll before the midterms and what it says about the GOP's chances of taking complete back power on Capitol Hill. Plus, democracy at risk.

PRES. JOE BIDEN:

You can’t love your country only when you win.

CHUCK TODD:

President Biden issues a dire warning about election deniers and the risk for our electoral system. But will those warnings from Democrats resonate with economically-challenged

swing voters in the final push before Election Day? And, "very soon."

FMR. PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

I will very, very, very probably do it again, okay?

CHUCK TODD:

Will former President Trump announce his 2024 bid before we finish counting the 2022 vote? My guests this morning: Florida's Republican Senator Rick Scott, the chair of the GOP's campaign arm and New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, the chair of the House Democrats campaign arm.

CHUCK TODD:

Plus:

MARTHA ROUNTREE:

Are you ready to Meet the Press?

CHUCK TODD:

Seventy-five years. From presidents to prime ministers, dictators to civil rights leaders, we mark 75 years as the destination where newsmakers come to make news. Joining me for insight and analysis are: NBC News Chief White House correspondent Kristen Welker, former Democratic Senator from Missouri Claire McCaskill, former Republican Governor of North Carolina Pat McCrory and Amy Walter, Editor-in-Chief of the The Cook Political Report. Welcome to Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News headquarters in New York, the longest-running show in television history, this is a special edition of Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Well good Sunday morning on our 75th birthday from our election headquarters here at Rockefeller Center in New York City. With just two days until Election Day, more than 40 million people have already cast ballots in the first national election since the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. By the way, we expect a record midterm turnout, 120 to 125 million when all the votes are counted. At stake: all 435 House seats. Republicans need a net gain of just five to take control of that chamber. It is the smallest number of seats that the out-of-power party has needed since 1932. Thirty-five Senate seats are at stake this cycle. Republicans, of course, need just one Democratic seat to flip control of that chamber. There are also 36 governors races, including in some key 2024 presidential battlegrounds like Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And in our final pre-election poll, conducted over the last three days, Republicans do appear to have the momentum. Just how big is that momentum? The question is whether Democrats can prevent what former President Obama once called a "shellacking." The president's travel in the final stretch says it all about how the Democrats believe the election is going. Outside of the Philadelphia stop with Obama yesterday,

President Biden has spent the final days of this campaign not in purple states, but in blue states: California, New Mexico, Illinois and New York, where he'll be campaigning later today in suburban New York City, Westchester County. And here's why. Biden's job approval rating sits at 44% in this final NBC News poll. By the way, all time low with Independents. His approval rating is just 28%. And let me put this in context for you. What does a job rating mean? Some people believe it’s the single most important indicator to understand where a midterm election is going. Bill Clinton’s 44% job approval rating translated into a 54-seat loss for his party. A 45% job approval rating for President Obama in 2010 translated into 63 lost House seats. Forty-six percent for President Trump, 40 House seat loss for his party. So what will 44% give us? And here is, to me, the number you probably ought to care about the most in this poll, the state of the U.S. economy. Eighty-one percent tell us they’re dissatisfied. This is the second-highest number we have ever recorded. The last time it was this high was just before the 2010 election, and you know how that one went. Alright, the generic congressional ballot here: We have it dead even – 47/47. It’s a slight uptick for the Republicans from two weeks ago when it was 47/46. Here’s something to keep in mind. Essentially a tie race probably gives the Republicans the five or six seats they need. Every percentage point that they lead the Democrats, that’s probably anywhere from another five to ten seats that would be added to their total. Just something to watch for on election night. Alright, this is key, and this is something that should make Democrats relieved this weekend. Interest in this election, enthusiasm, Democrats have now matched the Republicans dead even. In 2018, they had a slight lead, and, of course, the Democrats had the better night. But let me go inside the numbers and why there’s still some warning signs here for the Democrats. There are two enthusiasm numbers in particular that I want to point – I want to highlight here: African American voters and young voters. And as you can see – remember, Democrats had a good night in 2018. And right now, African American voters are not quite at their 2018 levels, and young voters are not quite at their 2018 levels. But look at seniors. Seniors are a little bit more. So, this is why Republicans feel good about the end of this. We also asked folks to send us what message – if you could send a message with your vote to Congress, what would you say with it? And here is our word cloud response. And as you can see: “Fix the economy,” the number one message that was sent from voters. And essentially tied for second here: “End partisanship” and “women’s rights.” So, essentially, the three big issues of the economy, abortion rights and the democracy – all represented here, and you can see the voters are engaged on this. By the way, given what happened to Paul Pelosi, we asked voters about the current climate of political violence. Voters are now more likely to view our political rhetoric as an important contributing factor rather than seeing what happened as some isolated incident. And when we asked, “Who is responsible for this elevated rhetoric?” social media companies come out on top, almost universally blamed for our current political climate. Cable news media nearly matches them, then Trump, then Republican officials, Democratic officials and President Biden there at the bottom. Let’s turn back now to the battle for the House because I want to point out some key numbers here for you to keep track of. In the seven times since the Truman era when the president’s job rating has been below 50% in his first midterm election, which is what we’re staring at with this one, that president’s party has lost an average of 43 House seats. And guess what? This cycle there are 44 Democratic-held seats that are rated as lean or toss up by The Cook Political Report. And there is just 20 Republican-held seats that are in those same categories in the House battleground. In 2018, you can see it was a much more lopsided battleground here with the Republicans basically defending almost everything and Democrats barely defending anything. In this cycle, the defense for the Democrats includes the district where Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney is running after redistricting. He also chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, charged with getting House Democrats elected and keeping their majority. And Congressman Maloney joins me now. Welcome back to Meet the Press two days before the election, sir.

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY:

Good to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let me start with this: What constitutes a good night for Democrats on Tuesday?

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY:

We're going to hold this majority. That constitutes a good night. We're going to defend our mainstream democratic values against the threats to our democracy. We're going to protect women's reproductive freedom and voting rights. We're going to give you cheaper prices for gas and groceries, health care, and housing. And we're going to give you safer streets by funding good local policing with accountability but also doing something about gun violence. And that is a plan for the future. And because our candidates have real plans they're going to do better than people think on Tuesday night.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you acknowledge, though, that all the data seems to point in the other direction?

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY:

Oh, look, I think the poll you just showed shows it's basically tied with the numbers in 2018, which if I recall was a pretty good year for Democrats. I think this race is razor close, and I think everybody who cares about the extremism in this MAGA movement, the racism, the anti-Semitism, the violence needs to get out and vote. And that's not just Democrats. That's Independents and fair-minded Republicans who watched the January 6th hearings, who know what we're up against, who listen to Republicans oppose things like social security and Medicare, want to put it on the chopping block every five years. That's your next guest, by the way, that's his plan. And we've got a plan to cap seniors' out-of-pocket costs in Medicare. There are big differences. I want everybody to go out and vote.

CHUCK TODD:

If you lose your race, does that mean this was a wave?

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY:

Oh, come on. I've always had a tough race, Chuck. I beat a Republican to have this seat. I'm the first gay person ever elected to Congress from New York. I'm raising an interracial family in a county Donald Trump won in 2016 by 20 points. It has always been improbable that I would serve in the Congress. I have to go out and earn it every two years.

CHUCK TODD:

So you--

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY:

And I've--

CHUCK TODD:

--don't believe--

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY:

--won five times--

CHUCK TODD:

--that your loss--

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY:

--because--

CHUCK TODD:

If you happen to lose, you don't think that somehow is part of the national wave, that you got sort of rolled out that way?

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY:

Well, I guess what I'm not going to do is play hypotheticals with you when we're two days out from an election and I've won--

CHUCK TODD:

Fair enough--

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY:

--five times in a district where everybody said I couldn't. I mean, if we were having this conversation in 2012, you would've made fun of me for even running, because I was running against a Republican incumbent with a bunch of money and nobody thought I could win. So people like me weren't supposed to serve in Congress from New York until I did it. So with all due respect, what Democrats are going to do right now is going to go out and fight with everything we've got for seniors who need costs capped in Medicare, for people worried about gun violence in our schools, for people who want to have a real plan to go forward together without the anger and the fear and the hatred, fighting for women's reproductive freedom and voting rights. That's what we're going to do. And I'm going to let the pundits kind of make predictions. We're going to let the voters speak on Tuesday.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to talk about a couple of messaging things that we've seen pop up. There's a lot of blue state Democrats on the House level that are in these competitive seats, Oregon, New York, California. And I'm curious, do you think the abortion message doesn't work as well in blue states because voters don't believe it'll ever be illegal in their state, but it does work pretty well for some of your red state Democrats? Have you noticed this yourself?

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY:

Well, of course when abortion is literally being taken away by an initiative like in Kansas of course people are going to pay more attention. But of course Pat Ryan won a race none of you thought he could win in upstate New York, leaning in to protecting women's reproductive freedom right here in New York. My own opponent pretends there's no threat to it in New York, but of course he voted to ban abortion when he was in the assembly. And if he had his way every state in the country could ban it for any reason without exceptions. So the threats are real. If these guys control Congress the first thing they're going to do is they're going to try to pass a national abortion ban. And bear in mind, 75% of the Republicans now in the Congress support a national abortion ban. That means California and New York and other big blue states are on the chopping block too. And so of course they want to disguise it and try to confuse or lull voters into a false sense of security. But when the wolf comes to the door, it's wearing sheep's clothing. And that's what voters in blue states need to understand.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you believe the Democrats should've worked sooner on getting a better crime message? It's an argument Stan Greenberg, Bill Clinton's long-time pollster, has made and said that Democrats didn't learn, even though many in the party said the right things about avoiding the phrase defund the police, that there wasn't enough done fixing the problems that clearly showed up in 2020 House races. What say you?

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY:

Well, let's look at the record. I mean, for one thing we passed the most important gun safety legislation in 28 years, stood up to the N.R.A., stood up to the big gun lobbies, and no Republicans, except a handful, were willing to help. That's really important. In addition to that, we passed the most important local police funding, $300 million over the next five years, out of the House. That's called the Invest to Protect Act. And if you look at our front-line candidates, my goodness, whether it's Steven Horsford in Nevada, who's put billions of dollars through his legislation into violence prevention initiatives that are evidence-based, or you're talking about Matt Cartwright in Pennsylvania, who's been a leader in getting cop grants out there to hire and train more police officers. In my own district I've brought back $7 million for local police departments, including new technologies like shot-spotter technology, like license plate readers, like body cameras. We've got a record of delivering for public safety, and we're proud of that record.

CHUCK TODD:

Yes and there's a bill, though, that was going to be a pretty big bill that every single national law enforcement group supported. It was called the Community-Oriented Policing Services Bill, COPS was short of it. Let me show you the bill's co-sponsors here, because it's a who's who of who Republicans are targeting in these House races; Tom O'Halleran, Arizona 1, Elissa Slotkin, Michigan 7, Angie Craig, Minnesota 2, Elaine Luria, Virginia 2, and Abigail Spanberger, Virginia 7. Was it a mistake not getting this bill passed? You could've gotten it passed. These members of Congress needed it, and they're all on the front line.

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY:

I just told you those members were in the lead on passing $300 million of funding for police departments under 125 officers. That's every precinct in every town-- and every cop, you know, in my district is in a department under 125 officers. Those members took the lead. And so the fact is that together with the gun safety legislation, which the cops demand, because they don't want to roll up to a scene and have a kid with an AR-15, we have done real things. Now, let's contrast that to what our opponents have done, which is nothing on gun violence, which is nothing on supporting our police. My own opponent cut police budgets in Westchester County when he had the chance. I mean, my goodness, at some point the record should matter here, and we've got a strong record of supporting police.

CHUCK TODD:

Final question here: Midterm results are very much always connected to presidential job rating. How much responsibility do you think President Biden has for this political environment?

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY:

I think the president gets a bum rap. By the way, he's been a leader on public safety his whole career. He's also fixing our roads and our bridges. He's bringing jobs back from China. He's capping seniors' out-of-pocket costs in Medicare. He took on the big drug companies. If you want to know why all this dark money's coming into these races it's because we took on the big drug companies. He's helping our veterans with extraordinary health care, $250 billion. He's done gun safety legislation. And let's not forget the Rescue Plan that saved every small business and restaurant and live venue in the country. I think the guy gets a bum rap. I think he's working through the damage of the Trump years and the pandemic, and he's not getting enough credit for it. Now, we've got more to do, and he'll be the first one to tell you that.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, based on all of your answers to me it sounds like you don't believe Democrats did anything wrong. You believe if you don't do well, it's simply you had bad messaging or you didn't communicate it right. Is that your basic take here?

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY:

Well, first of all, neither you or I know what's going to happen on Tuesday. So what do you say we wait to see? But secondly--

CHUCK TODD:

Oh, yeah--

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY:

--look, what I'm telling you is we're not perfect, but we are responsible adults who didn't attack the Capitol on January 6th, didn't try to whitewash it, don't pretend we're for law enforcement and then ignore 140 cops getting beat up on that horrible day. I’m – we're not perfect, but we've got a plan for gun violence and for bringing jobs back from China. You don't like it? What's yours? We took on the big drug companies. The other side won't do that, because they're awash in big drug company money. No, we're not perfect, Chuck. We've got all kinds of things we can do better. But we are responsible adults who believe in this democracy and who are fighting for a better future.

CHUCK TODD:

Sean Patrick Maloney, Chair of the DCC, he's on the ballot himself. Be safe on the campaign trail, sir. Appreciate you coming on in these closing days to share your perspective. Thank you. And now I want to bring in Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida, he's in charge of getting Republicans elected to the Senate. He chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and he joins me now. Senator Scott, welcome back to Meet the Press, sir.

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

Well, congratulations on 75 years.

CHUCK TODD:

I appreciate that, 3,600 episodes and then some. Let me start with this –

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

That's right.

CHUCK TODD:

You have not been shy about saying you believe Republicans are going to get 52 seats. Can you get 52 Senate seats without Pennsylvania?

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

Oh, I think we're going to have a great night.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah. Can you do it without Pennsylvania?

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

We're going to get 52-plus. We're going to win Pennsylvania.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand you believe you are.

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

We're going to win Wisconsin.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you believe you're going to get to 52? Can you get it without it?

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

Oh, absolutely. I mean, look, here's where we are right now. We're going to win – we’re going to Wisconsin, Ron Johnson's run a great race. First off, just stop and think about it. We have great candidates. People are showing up to vote. There's no energy on the Democrat side. This election is about the Biden agenda. People don't like high inflation, high crime, open borders, fentanyl. That's what we're talking about. So Mehmet Oz is going to win, Ted Budd's going to win, Herschel Walker's going to win, Adam Laxalt is going to win. I think we have a really good shot in Arizona, I think we have a shot – a real good shot in New Hampshire. I think we have a shot in Washington and Colorado. We maybe even have a shot — depends on the voters — in Connecticut. Think about it: half of the Democrats' seats, we are in the hunt to win. So we're going to get 52-plus.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you – Yeah. Let me ask you about Arizona and New Hampshire. You didn't put them in your win category yet. You put them in the “you think you have a shot there.” Coincidentally or not, those are the two seats that Senator McConnell's super PAC chose to pull out of, and not invest in. In hindsight, was that a mistake?

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

Well, we've invested. We've invested all along. I've always believed Blake Masters has every reason to believe he can win. He's run a great race. We've defined Kelly as somebody that has voted against the border in Arizona three times, he's always voted with Schumer and Biden. And then we've got Hassan who has a very difficult time up there because she's voted basically 100% with the Democrats. And so I think – I think Don Bolduc's got a really good chance of winning. Actually, if I was predicting now, I believe we're going to win both Arizona, I believe we're going to win New Hampshire.

CHUCK TODD:

If you come up short in the Senate and Arizona and New Hampshire are the reason, whose fault is that?

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

Well, I don't believe we're going to come up short. I believe we've got great candidates. I think the issues are on our side. We did our job at NRSC, we explained exactly who the Democrats were, we did the first day I started in this job, and we've done it all along. So I don't think we have that risk, I think we're going to win.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Let's assume you've got the majority. I'm going to take you at your word. You're going to get the House, you're going to get the Senate. What's the first bill a Republican Congress sends to the president's desk that you actually think he would sign?

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

I think the issue is we've got to deal with inflation, so we've got to figure out how to spend our money wisely so we don't continue this inflation. I think we've got to do whatever we can to get this crime rate down. So I think we have to look at that. We've got to secure the border. I think we've got to get rid of the 87 IRS agents – 87,000 new IRS agents. So I think we have to address the issues that people are worried about right now, and they're worried about those issues, the fentanyl. So I think that's what we need to focus on. So we've got to make sure our military is focused on being lethal, not woke. So I think those are the things that we have to focus on.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let me ask you, inflation, you saw that's the biggest – that’s the number one issue people are dissatisfied with this economy. What's the first bill you guys can pass that you think can impact inflation?

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

I think the thing we have to work on – on inflation, it's all tied to reckless government spending. We've got to get our budget in control, we've got to figure out how we're going to balance the budget. So that's the first thing we have to do. We have to get –

CHUCK TODD:

It doesn't really sound like — I don't mean to –

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

We have to get our spending under control.

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

I did as governor, I balanced the budget for eight years, we’ve got to keep doing it.

CHUCK TODD:

All the experts – Yeah, all the experts say legal immigration's the number one thing we need to deal with in Congress in order to deal with inflation. Everything else is on the Fed, but that's the number one issue. Are you guys going to deal with that?

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

Yeah. I hope we deal with first securing the border, figure out how we have legal immigration where people who want to live our dream can come in here. But I think, let's go back: We have got to figure out how to spend our money better. We've got to figure out, how do we get to a balanced budget and preserve the programs we care about? That's what we have to do. If we don't, we'll never get inflation under control.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you, you've been asked a million different ways about Social Security, you know the Democrats want to bring this issue up. Sunsetting the program every five years for renewal, why do that? Why put Social Security into, sort of, the political arena every five years? Why put seniors through that? Why do you think that's a good idea?

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

I have no interest in changing the Medicare program. I want to make sure we preserve the benefits of Medicare and Social Security, and I don't know one Republican that wants to change that. In my plan, I said we have got to start being honest with the public that, “What's our plan?” Medicare is going bankrupt, Social Security is going bankrupt. Here's what the Democrats did: they just cut $280 billion, every Democrat that's running right now in the Senate, okay? And those in the House. They all voted to cut $280 billion out of Medicare, which is going to cut life-saving drugs. They did this. Joe Biden proposed doing this in the Senate, and –

CHUCK TODD:

You know, you're playing a math game.

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

And, on top of that, he didn’t pay his taxes. Say it again?

CHUCK TODD:

You are playing a math game there, Senator. Senator, you're playing a math game here. You're playing a math game. They didn't cut anything on Medicare. It's cost savings having to do with the prescription drug benefit. Look, I understand that you want to call it something else. But they didn’t cut Medicare.

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

Chuck, if you cut spending in Medicare, it's probably going to impact the ability for somebody to provide things. When you cut out $280 billion –

CHUCK TODD:

I will remember that, when you guys argue that a Medicare cut –

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

–there's a lifesaving drug that your mom will not get. That’s what’s going to happen.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I will remember this when you guys claim a Medicare cut isn’t a cut.

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

Chuck, it’s $280 billion of spending – $280 billion out of the Medicare reduction is going to cut life-saving drugs. That's bad for citizens, it's real simple.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, I want to ask you something that Marjorie Taylor Greene said at a Trump rally four days ago, take a listen.

[START TAPE]

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE:

Under Republicans, not another penny will go to Ukraine.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Senator, is she right?

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

I think we have to continue to do everything we can to support Ukraine, who wants to defend their freedom and stop Russia from continuing to expand. I don't want to end up in a war with Russia. If we don't stop – if we don’t continue to help Ukraine the right way, we can't waste our dollars, then they're going to be in Poland, or some other country where we will be at war because they're part of our NATO alliance. So I want to figure out, how do we make sure that Ukraine can defend their freedom and we stop Russia?

CHUCK TODD:

A couple of quick questions about your future. If Republicans gain the Senate majority do you plan to run for leader?

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

I'm not focused on anything except getting a majority Tuesday night. Everybody wants to ask me about a bunch of things that are going to happen after Tuesday night.

CHUCK TODD:

That's a non-answer. That's a non-answer.

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

My whole focus is Tuesday night.

CHUCK TODD:

So leave it out there, it’s a possibility?

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

I'm going to focus on Tuesday night.

CHUCK TODD:

It's a possibility. All right.

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

I'm focused on what I get done Tuesday night.

CHUCK TODD:

Former President Trump has hinted he may announce in eight days. If he's an active candidate for president, are you supporting him?

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

There's going to be a lot of people who will probably announce. We'll watch what happens. I'm focused on getting a majority in the Senate.

CHUCK TODD:

And before I let you go, are you going to accept the results of all the Senate elections on Tuesday night?

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

Absolutely. But what we're also going to do is do everything we can to make sure to everybody they're free and fair, and if there's any shenanigans, we are ready to make sure – we make sure we support our candidates to make sure that these elections are fair and every ballot is counted the right way.

CHUCK TODD:

But it sounds like you're pretty confident that everything is going to be on the up-and-up, doesn't it?

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

We’re going to try – we're going to try our best. I’m so disappointed the Democrats don't want to have voter ID, you have it for everything else. We shouldn't have ballot harvesting, but I'm going to do everything I can to make sure this election is free and fair, and we've got to keep improving our election laws every year that we can.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Rick Scott, Republican from Florida, head of the NRSC.

SEN. RICK SCOTT:

Happy birthday.

CHUCK TODD:

As you travel around the country please stay safe on the trail, sir, and thanks for that. And thanks for your perspective. When we come back, we're going to the battleground states that will determine who controls the Senate. Our correspondents are on the ground with the candidates as they make their closing arguments before E-Day.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. We have correspondents on the ground in the four most important battleground states for the Senate: Georgia, to Arizona, to Nevada. But of course we're going to begin in the state of Pennsylvania, because frankly, that is where all the presidents seem to want to be. Both parties see the Pennsylvania Senate race between Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz as essentially, probably the most critical state to decide control of the Senate. It's certainly one of the closest contests out there. Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Donald Trump, all of them were in the Keystone State Saturday making their closing arguments.

[BEGIN TAPE]

PRES. JOE BIDEN:

Your right to vote is on the ballot. Social security and Medicare's on the ballot. There's something else on the ballot: character. Character's on the ballot.

FMR. PRES. BARACK OBAMA:

Reason and basic decency are on the ballot. Democracy itself is on the ballot. The stakes are high.

FMR. PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

2024, most importantly, we are going to take back our magnificent, oh it's so beautiful, White House. We're going to take it back. And you're going to be hearing about it very soon. Very, very, very soon.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Well, my colleague, Dasha Burns, is in Philadelphia, perhaps the most important county to Democratic hopes of holding the Senate. Dasha?

DASHA BURNS:

Yeah, Chuck, you said it. Not one, not two, but three presidents all in this state, all on the same day, underscoring the outsized importance of this state. President Biden and former President Obama on the campaign trail together for the first time in this midterm election. And their joint effort was here in Philadelphia. You said it there too, Chuck. This city and its surrounding suburbs, the turnout here could make or break it for Democrats. And the suburban voters we’ve been talking to in this area, Chuck, consistently list inflation and crime as their top issues. And Oz has tried to make a play for those voters, focusing on that issue of public safety, and trying to paint himself as a moderate candidate, which is a pivot from his MAGA approach in the primary that won him the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. And the question is: Will that rally he had with Trump last night, will that help or hurt him, especially in his effort to win over these purple suburbs? It's going to matter, because every single vote won this weekend will be critical in a race that's become a dead heat in the home stretch here, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

No doubt, if Oz comes up short, that attendance with Mastriano and Trump, that rally is going to get questioned. All right, let's go across the country. Let's go to the state of Arizona. That is where Phoenix's Maricopa County, two years ago, broke a 72-year streak of voting Republican for president when Biden won that key county two years ago. Now, Arizona is the center of election denialism, and the cycle's biggest test of Donald Trump after Arizona Republicans picked Trump-liked nominees up and down the ticket from governor, to Senate, to secretary of state. Vaughn Hillyard is on the ground for us in Phoenix. Vaughn, how is get out the vote, which --

VAUGHN HILLYARD:

Chuck --

CHUCK TODD:

-- going in Arizona with, what, weeks per county?

VAUGHN HILLYARD:

Right, it's a matter of turnout here at this point. And, Chuck, I think it's important to note that this is ground zero for election denialism. In that quartet of GOP candidates, they are traveling around this state together, Kari Lake leading the charge. Each of these four individuals would be responsible for certifying Arizona's election results in 2024. But when you are looking at this, Katie Hobbs said that if she were to win on Tuesday night and beat Kari Lake for governor, the top reason would be because Arizonans rejected the election conspiracy theories. Now, in order to do that, the Republicans have a 4 percentage-point voter registration advantage over Democrats here. Meaning, that these Democratic candidates will need to win over major swaths of independents, like Kyrsten Sinema did in 2018 and Mark Kelly did in 2020, as well as winning over some of those more reticent conservatives, those individuals who are reticent to Trumpism. For Mark Kelly and these other Democrats, though, they are pressing that this is more than about the threat to democracy, but also about the threat to women's reproductive rights, as well as the threat to Social Security. Chuck?

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Vaughn Hillyard on the ground for us in Phoenix. Vaughn, thank you. Now let's go just northwest of Arizona to the state of Nevada. When the country gets the cold economically, Nevada usually gets the flu. And it's in Nevada where Democrats are fighting to hold onto office up and down the ballot. Governor Steve Sisolak, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, and all three House Democratic incumbents are in some tough reelection challenges. My colleague, Jacob Soboroff, is in Las Vegas. Jacob, another one where it's all about partisan turnout.

JACOB SOBOROFF:

Partisan turnout and also, you know, if Arizona is ground zero for election denialism, Nevada’s certainly one of the epicenters, Chuck, and the stakes could not be higher on that front as well. I was here almost exactly two years ago and watched with my own eyes as Senator Masto's opponent, Adam Laxalt, held that press conference the day after the election with all those Trump surrogates alleging thousands of illegal ballots here in Las Vegas and in the state of Nevada. Ultimately, that turned out to be completely untrue. But even with President Biden speaking out last week, saying democracy itself could be on the line, as we crisscrossed neighborhoods here in Las Vegas over the weekend with that powerful Culinary Workers Union, the issue we continued to hear over and over again was unaffordability in Las Vegas. Nevada, of course, is a state with one of the worst unemployment rates and the highest inflation rate in the nation. But at the end of the day, it's all going to come down to turnout. And quick story, we were walking the streets here and we met 18-year-old Alberto, he was fixing up his car outside the house he shares with his mom and his dad. And he said, "It is not all the negative attack ads on social media. It's not all negative attack ads he's hearing on his streaming service. Ultimately, it's going to be face-to-face contact with those canvassers that convinced him that ultimately he can make a difference, and that's going to get him out to vote, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, those are the most important undecided voters, those that are undecided about voting. Jacob, thank you. And finally, let's go to the State that could keep us wondering about Senate control for a month: Good old Georgia. That's where we also find Governor Brian Kemp's reelection as a test of whether the Republicans can split from Donald Trump in a reddish state and win. And he may win big. And if Kemp has coattails, can he pull Senate nominee Herschel Walker over the finish line? The early vote in Georgia is shattering records. Blayne Alexander is in Atlanta and has been tracking these races, really, since January 5th, 2021 when these Senate races were first decided. Blayne, what do you got?

BLAYNE ALEXANDER:

Absolutely, Chuck. And you talk about shattering records. Certainly, we have seen that here in Georgia. In fact, more people have voted early during this midterm election than any other midterm in state history. We're talking about some 2.5 million ballots already cast, with two very important races on the ballot. So talking about Georgia's gubernatorial race, Stacey Abrams is once again on the ballot. Of course, she's the one who was widely credited with helping flip the state blue back in 2020 for President Biden. The question this time around is can she do it again, now that she is on the ballot. Now, of course, leading the Republican ticket is Governor Brian Kemp. But last time he faced off against Stacey Abrams was back in 2018. And at the time, he was a Trump-endorsed candidate. But since then, of course, he's had a rather public split from the former president over the results of the 2020 presidential election here in Georgia. But still, the latest polls show that Governor Kemp is leading Stacey Abrams by about six points or so. And that's certainly good news, could be good news, for down-ballot Republicans who are hoping to get some sort of a boost from Governor Kemp. Chuck?

CHUCK TODD:

Well, we can see that everybody's in daylight. Get ready, drink your coffee, guys. Dasha, Vaughn, Jacob, and Blayne, it's going to be a long, long week. Up next, the only thing we know for sure on Tuesday night is that there will be a red moon. But the real question is whether that's going to translate to a red wave. We're not kidding about the red blood moon, by the way. Our panel is here, and they'll be here next.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, it's panel time. NBC News Chief White House correspondent Kristen Welker, also co-anchor of Weekend Today, Amy Walter, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Cook Political Report, she's going to tell us the definition of a wave. Former Republican Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina, and former Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri. Every elected official, Amy, believes a wave is whatever happens when they lose.

AMY WALTER:

"If I win."

CHUCK TODD:

Right. Oh, right, either way. It's always about them, which Sean Patrick Maloney wouldn't engage in. Give me your definition of when you would think this is a wave. What is a wave, and how would you define it?

AMY WALTER:

Right. I mean, we can define it, you're right, any way we would like. But look, I think there are three scenarios that we're looking at. One is what a lot of Republicans feel like is happening right now. The bottom is falling out. Democrats aren't going to show up, not as many as Republicans. Republicans are fired up. Independents break overwhelmingly for Republicans. That's a wave. That's 30-plus seats. I would say that that would be a wave. Plus, the Senate, it's not just they win one seat, but maybe two or three. I think we're somewhere between scenario two and three, which is, as your poll showed, both sides really energized.

CHUCK TODD:

Polarization.

AMY WALTER:

Going to show up. We're totally polarized, so there are not defectors. To me it's also where do those Independent voters go? When you get a wave election, Independents break by double digits--

CHUCK TODD:

And they haven't broken yet.

AMY WALTER:

--for the out party. And they're not breaking yet. So it makes me think either 1) they are still sitting on the fence but are they breaking and just not telling us, or 2) maybe they don't show up. And that is another question. What does that look like, an electorate that's just D and R intensity?

CHUCK TODD:

I do want to remind people only twice this century have we had a national election without party control changing of either the White House, House, or Senate.

AMY WALTER:

That's right.

CHUCK TODD:

So keep that in mind.

KRISTEN WELKER:

Absolutely. Well, Democrats and those who are close to President Biden say, "If we can hold Republicans to 20 seats in the House, that's a pretty good night." Because look at how many seats former President Obama and former President Trump lost. Well, we're talking about 60 and 40 respectively. And so I think that that's part of why you're seeing the president try to focus on this messaging of democracy, that democracy is on the ballot. Some Democrats scratching their heads, "Why is he talking about that and not the economy?" The pushback is because that's what's going to energize the base and try to mitigate those losses that they're trying to stave off. It's a risky strategy, though, Chuck, because as you've been talking about with all of your guests, the main issues are still inflation and the economy.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Claire, I've had Democrats quietly say, "Look, it better be only 20 seats." Because they want to be able to get it back in '24. And if it gets too big, and it becomes hard to get back in '24, that's double for the Senate.

CLAIRE McCASKILL:

Well, here's the deal. Listen, this time of year is exciting for all of us who are so close to it. But it also gives me a giant headache. I mean, it is like, so ridiculous.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, you've been on the ballot. How does it feel when you're on the ballot?

CLAIRE McCASKILL:

I have won when the polls said I couldn't and I have lost when the polls said I would win, so I am not a big believer in all of the horse race stuff. I think a lot of people are motivated to vote. And I think historically, to call it a wave it would have to be the same size as Donald Trump lost after his first two years in the presidency. We would have to lose more than 40 seats, more than 60 seats, for it not to be lining up with what happens historically. And inflation is really hard, but what most Americans don't get, this is global. This is not Joe Biden. We have some of the least inflation in the developed world. But he has not been able to really get that home, because when bread costs that much and when eggs cost that much, that's what people vote about.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's interesting, Republicans start at such a high point, though. They only need 20-25 to hit the number that they've had in the past on this. Pat, are your sources in North Carolina telling you? What are you hearing? Is it a polarized electorate, or do you hear, do you see a break?

PAT McCRORY:

In North Carolina it feels like a wave. But as Claire and I know, I've played this game and I've been played by the game. The last week or two is all about emotion, no content. In fact, most of this election has been about emotion and no content, which is a very sad commentary.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, do you know that 70% of people told us they made up their minds before Labor Day?

VOICES:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

70%.

PAT McCRORY:

If the negative ads haven't worked by now, they're not working, if you try to hit emotionally. They've heard it all. They're sick of TV ads right now. But the Dems are trying to play on the emotion of democracy, abortions, cutting social security, which is an old tried, sometimes very effective effort, and Trump. Although they haven't talked about Trump as much as I thought they would. The Republicans I think still have the winners. Inflation, especially related to energy, which Rick didn't mention. The gas prices, the price of egg, the price of turkey as Thanksgiving's coming up. That is what everyone's reminded of every day. That's why I give advantage to the Republicans. Immigration. Biden and Harris are an issue also. They don't consume a room. They don't have standing when they walk in the room. Some people do. Obama does. Biden and Harris don't.

CHUCK TODD:

In fairness, nobody has standing when their approval ratings are in the low 40s. It's amazing how much your standing gets better when you're in the 50%, in fairness. Joe Biden was a 1% candidate, he had no standing in ‘08.

PAT McCRORY:

Well, I think the issue's going to be--

CHUCK TODD:

You know, right? In fairness.

PAT McCRORY:

Yeah, the issue's going to be, with Trump going to Ohio and Florida - which is a whole other issue. Biden going, are they going to turn off more voters?

CHUCK TODD:

Well, I was just going to say let me bring this up, this was Donald Trump last night. He is clearly focused on an election.

CLAIRE McCASKILL:

Wait, wait.

CHUCK TODD:

Just not this one.

CLAIRE McCASKILL:

He's focused on himself?

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, I know.

CLAIRE McCASKILL:

No. No, he's not.

CHUCK TODD:

And he isn't focused on this election. Here he is, rattling off poll numbers to his rally-goers the other night. Listen to this from last night.

[START TAPE]

FMR. PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

There it is, Trump at 71. Ron DeSanctimonius at 10%. Mike Pence at 7. Oh, Mike's doing better than I thought. Liz Cheney, there's no way she's at 4%. There's no way. There's no way. But we're at 71 to 10 to 7 to 4.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Ron DeSanctimonius. Okay, this idea that we were overhyping a Trump/DeSantis rivalry? No.

KRISTEN WELKER:

No, we're not. I mean, he already has a nickname for a potential rival. Chuck, I had a conversation overnight with a high-level source who's been in constant communication with former President Trump who said he very seriously considered announcing last night or sometime this weekend. His aides, advisors have urged him not to do that. Cooler heads prevailed, I'm told, and he didn't. He all but said that on the record, by the way. He all but walked up to the line of announcing that he was running for president again by saying, "I will very, very, very," he added a fourth "very," "Probably do it." He said, "But I want the focus to be on these candidates." And I am told he is just itching to announce to potentially freeze the field. But the question is, will he?

CHUCK TODD:

I've talked to people that said the smartest thing he could do is hurry up and announce. It would freeze the field. But, Claire, if you could have Donald Trump do one thing in the last 48 hours, is it this?

CLAIRE McCASKILL:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

That's what I thought.

CLAIRE McCASKILL:

Absolutely. Go for it Donald.

PAT McCRORY:

Oh, Claire, come on.

CHUCK TODD:

This is the last thing you want him doing, right.

PAT McCRORY:

If I'm Republican, I don't want Trump to take away from the message that's going to win. And if I'm a Democrat, I don't want Biden out there either. I said that--

KRISTEN WELKER:

Yeah, Democrats are welcoming this.

PAT McCRORY:

--two weeks ago.

KRISTEN WELKER:

No doubt.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, our guide to how to watch election night. With election counts that could take days, we're going to give you some clues about where to look on Tuesday night itself.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, Data Download time. Even though we're all counting down to Tuesday, let's be realistic. It's highly likely we will not know the full results of the midterms on election night. In fact, by 6:00 a.m., the day after Election Day 2020, look at all the battleground states where we were not at 95%, let alone 99%. Right? Look, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. We should at least know where these are trending, we should know if Georgia's in a runoff by 6:00 a.m. But look at the problem here. Pennsylvania, 78%. New Hampshire, just 75% reporting. Arizona, Nevada. The states that are going to decide this majority, we're not going to know the day after the election. But we're going to get some clues about the House very early on. Virginia and Indiana, their polls close by 7:00 p.m., and they're both fast-counting states. So here's what we're going to learn. Elaine Luria, this should be the first district Republicans should be able to pick up. If they're not picking this up, it's suddenly a much better night for Democrats than people thought. VA-07 and IN-01 should be the next two that Republicans flip if they're going to have as good of a night as they think they're going to have. Let me add another district here. If for some reason this turns into a red tsunami, keep an eye on the 10th congressional district in Virginia. That was the one Barbara Comstock held. If that flips, then you know a huge Republican night. Now, did African Americans turn out? Two places to watch: Milwaukee County and Philadelphia County. Democrats need huge margins here. And if the African American vote shows up and it looks like 2018, then they should feel pretty good. But if those numbers are lower, then you know that there was a problem. How about young voters? Dane County's a good place to check in Wisconsin, home of the University of Wisconsin. Centre County's home of Penn State University. Will the Democrats get these margins and the raw vote that they need? That's two places to look for. Now as for Republicans, they want a huge rural turnout. Well, Putnam County in Ohio, look at that. He had a 62-point margin in 2018. Will it get bigger? That's something to watch there. Chattooga County in Georgia, this is Marjorie Taylor Greene's district. How big will the Republican turnout be? That should matter. And then also, if Republicans are going to have a really good night, they've got to improve their numbers in suburban counties. Delaware County's a place to look here. This is a place Democrats have been inching and eroding the Republican gains here. Will that continue or not? Cherokee County, sort of an exurb if you will of Atlanta. Democrats have been making some progress there. Let's see what happens in 2022. So bottom line is this: those are the places to watch. But it's going to be election week, not election night. Up next, we mark a milestone for this program, 75 years as the longest-running show in the history of television.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. We are celebrating our diamond anniversary, 75 years of Meet the Press. It was November 6th, 1947 at 8:00 p.m. when NBC Television debuted this program. Now more than 3,500 episodes later, we've had 12 moderators. Thirteen presidents have answered questions here, including six while in office. Our legacy has evolved with the times, but the goal remains consistent: a fair exchange of views and perspective that gives our viewers important context on the issues of the day. Here's a look at some of our memorable moments.

[TAPE BEGINS]

MARTHA ROUNTREE:

Sir, are you ready to Meet the Press?

SEN. CLAUDE PEPPER:

I suppose I’m as ready as I will be.

FIDEL CASTRO:

Democracy is my ideal.

REP. SHIRLEY CHISHOLM:

I understand that I have broken the ice.

REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.:

We confront the fact that the Negro is still a victim.

CHUCK TODD:

Were you bitter, ever?

REP. JOHN LEWIS:

I was not bitter then. I'm not bitter now.

PRES. JIMMY CARTER:

Neither I nor the American people would support the sending of an American team to Moscow.

JOHN KERRY:

This war can be ended, and it should be ended now.

TIM RUSSERT:

Full wrath. That’s a very strong statement to the Afghans this morning.

VICE PRES. DICK CHENEY:

It is, indeed.

FMR. PRES. RICHARD NIXON :

The Watergate matter should have been handled properly.

GOV. RONALD REAGAN:

Some people, when you say that word conservative, automatically think you are talking about a monster who eats his young.

TIM RUSSERT:

So you want to be president.

GOV. BILL CLINTON:

I do.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN:

Do Sarah Palin and I disagree on a specific issue? Yeah, because we're both mavericks.

COLIN POWELL:

He is a new generation and for that reason I'll be voting for Senator Barack Obama.

PRES. BARACK OBAMA:

We are going to be able to not just blunt the momentum of ISIL. Ultimately we're going to defeat 'em.

VICE PRES. JOE BIDEN:

Men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one other are entitled to the same exact rights.

DONALD TRUMP:

In four years, you're going to be interviewing me, and you're going to say, "What a great job you've done, President Trump."

TOM BROKAW:

Because if it is Sunday,

TIM RUSSERT:

If it's Sunday,

DAVID GREGORY:

If it’s Sunday,

CHUCK TODD:

If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press.

[TAPE ENDS]

CHUCK TODD:

Well, look. I'm going to make you guys toast. You're not toasting me. We're toasting --

KRISTEN WELKER:

Cheers. We're toasting --

CHUCK TODD:

– everybody.

KRISTEN WELKER:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

And you've all picked your favorite race that you're following on election night. We don't have a lot of time. So, Pat, what is yours?

PAT McCRORY:

My race, my House seat, North Carolina, where I live. Jeff Jackson, Pat Harrigan.

CHUCK TODD:

All right.

PAT McCRORY:

There – sadly, there's been violence. And how the public will respond to violence, possibly due to a commercial.

CHUCK TODD:

Oh wow. Claire?

CLAIRE McCASKILL:

Nevada.

CHUCK TODD:

The whole state?

CLAIRE McCASKILL:

It's going to tell us about the state of –

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

CLAIRE McCASKILL:

– election deniers, Hispanic voters, and whether or not a really good incumbent can hold on.

CHUCK TODD:

Very quick --

KRISTEN WELKER:

Georgia Senate race. Will it go to a runoff?

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah. Ruin our Thanksgiving.

AMY WALTER:

You took mine. Of course, Virginia 7. This is a seat that went for Biden –

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

AMY WALTER:

– in 2020, went for the Republican governor in 2021.

CHUCK TODD:

It's as swingy as it gets.

AMY WALTER:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Before we go, a quick programming note. However you join us on Tuesday for complete election coverage of election night beginning at 6:00 Eastern on NBC News Now and at 8:00 p.m. on NBC and simulcast on NBC News Now. That's all for today and for 75 years of todays. Thanks for watching. We'll be back next week because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.