Trump, GOP aim to weaponize Kavanaugh vote ahead of November

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE and congressional Republicans are seeking to weaponize the Supreme Court fight as they head into the final month of campaigning before the November midterm elections.
 
The Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh on Saturday on almost entirely Republican votes, giving the party, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions What if 2020 election is disputed? Immigration bills move forward amid political upheaval MORE (R-Ky.), a significant victory less than a month out from the midterms.
 
Though Republicans hold a favorable Senate map, they are fighting historical headwinds as they try to keep control of Congress. They hope Kavanaugh’s confirmation and the deeply partisan fight over his nomination will help their party and give their base a shot in the arm.
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Taking a media victory lap Saturday after the confirmation fight, the normally tight-lipped McConnell pledged to tout the fight over Kavanaugh — and the win for Republicans — in the final four weeks of campaigning before the Nov. 6 elections.
 
"It certainly had a good impact for us. Our base is fired up. We finally discovered the one that would fire up the Republican base that we didn't think of it, and the other side did it,” McConnell told reporters during Kavanaugh’s vote.
 
McConnell told The Hill in an interview Saturday that he was thrilled that his GOP colleagues weren’t “intimidated by the mob that descended on the Capitol and harassed our members at their homes and in the halls,” predicting the all-out brawl over Kavanaugh would ultimately help unify Republicans and electrify GOP voters.
 
“I’m doubly upbeat after this Supreme Court fight, which has been like a shot of adrenaline in our campaigns,” he added in the interview.
 
The pieces for Kavanaugh's confirmation, which had seemed to be a lock for most of the summer before falling into question amid sexual misconduct allegations last month, didn't fall into place until Friday, the day before the final vote.
 
McConnell said he wasn’t sure if they had the votes to get Kavanaugh through a key Friday vote to advance his nomination until the 10:30 a.m. vote began — an out-of-character decision for a leadership team that generally doesn’t bring things to the floor without knowing the expected outcome.
 
Kavanaugh’s nomination was all but derailed after several women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct. The allegations, which Kavanaugh denied, raised fresh questions about whether he would ultimately withdraw, a possibility that the president played down amid the firestorm.
 
Instead, McConnell shot down talk of Kavanaugh withdrawing and GOP leadership stayed in continuous contact with the group of senators that they knew would ultimately decide if he was confirmed: GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Biden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights MORE (Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMurkowski celebrates birthday with electric scooter ride Overnight Energy: Park Service plans to pay full-time staff through entrance fees | Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax | Interior chief takes heat for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change Democrats grill Trump Interior chief for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change MORE (Alaska) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSen. Coons examines Amazon's privacy and data security practices for Alexa devices Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax The Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget MORE (Ariz.).
 
Senate Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority that they are hoping to expand in November. But McConnell acknowledges they’re locked in a “knife fight” in several states that will make or break their hold on the chamber: Arizona, Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, Tennessee, West Virginia and Florida.
 
In most of those races Democrats are trying to hold on to seats in red and purple states that Trump won in the 2016 election. But in Tennessee and Arizona, seats are being vacated by retiring GOP Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerJeff Daniels blasts 'cowardice' of Senate Republicans against Trump Corker: 'I just don't' see path to challenge Trump in 2020 Ex-GOP Sen. Corker: Trump primary would be 'good thing for our country' MORE (Tenn.) and Flake, and Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE (R-Nev.) is the only Republican incumbent running for reelection in a state won by Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding Hillary Clinton slams Trump for spreading 'sexist trash' about Pelosi Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign MORE.
 
McConnell argued Saturday that the GOP base is “on fire,” recalling that he was recently talking to his political advisers about “the advantage these guys, by their tactics, have given to us.”
 
The boost in confidence by GOP leadership comes after Trump leaned in hard for Kavanaugh this week during political rallies and on social media.
 
Trump went to the mat for Kavanaugh during a rally in Mississippi, saying Democrats were trying to “destroy” the nominee and "obstruct, resist, demolish, destroy and delay.”
 
“How did you get home? 'I don't remember.' How did you get there? 'I don't remember.' Where is the place? 'I don't remember.' How many years ago was it? 'I don't know,’ ” Trump said, mocking Christine Blasey Ford but drawing cheers and applause. Ford told the Senate Judiciary Committee last month that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her and tried to remove her clothes during a party while the two were in high school.
 
Following the FBI report that followed the Judiciary Committee hearing, Trump blasted Senate Democrats on Twitter, saying even 100 reports “would still not be good enough for the Obstructionist Democrats.”
 
Trump’s rhetoric is already having a trickle-down effect in key Senate races. GOP candidates, backed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), are calling opposition to Kavanaugh the latest sign that vulnerable Democrats are caving to the left and out of touch with home-state voters.
 
Indiana GOP Senate nominee Mike Braun and the NRSC are seizing on reports that Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSan Francisco police chief apologizes for raid on journalist's home Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign Senate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk MORE (D-Calif.) sent an email raising money for Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Obama honors 'American statesman' Richard Lugar Former GOP senator Richard Lugar dies at 87 MORE’s (D-Ind.) campaign over his opposition to Kavanaugh. Josh Kelley, a spokesman for Braun, called Donnelly and Harris “media circus Democrats” that are trying to “smear” Kavanaugh, and accused Donnelly of “cashing in” on his opposition “to advance his political career.”
 
The North Dakota Republicans accused Democratic Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOn The Money: Stocks sink on Trump tariff threat | GOP caught off guard by new trade turmoil | Federal deficit grew 38 percent this fiscal year | Banks avoid taking position in Trump, Dem subpoena fight Fight over Trump's new NAFTA hits key stretch Former senators launching effort to help Dems win rural votes MORE (N.D.) of opposing Kavanaugh and taking an “anti-life, anti-Second Amendment, and anti-North Dakota vote” to “appease her liberal Democratic base.” Heitkamp touted her work on behalf of women when she announced her opposition, noting that if she was making a “political decision” she would have supported Kavanaugh.
 
 
“A real profile in courage. ... Waited until [Kavanaugh] had enough votes secured before he announced his support. I bet he had another press release ready to go if Collins went the other way,” Trump Jr. wrote.
 
Manchin said on Saturday that the White House was aware that he was leaning "yes" on Kavanaugh before he announced his position.
 
Kavanaugh has been plagued for months by lukewarm polling numbers and Democrats believe the months-long fight will help drive turnout in an effort to unseat Republicans who supported him.
 
But an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released earlier this week, at the height of the Kavanaugh fight, found that Democrats' 10-point enthusiasm advantage had shrunk to 2 points.
 
Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTrump goes scorched earth against impeachment talk The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Bipartisan House bill calls for strategy to protect 5G networks from foreign threats MORE (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said the midterms would be “hotly contested” and that he believes tactics by Democrats would backfire on them.
 
“Some of these places where we have incumbent Democrats running like North Dakota, President Trump is still popular and a vote against Kavanaugh is unpopular,” Cornyn told a Texas radio station. “I think the way this Kavanaugh hearing and the way we he’s been treated have really energized folks on behalf of Republicans.”