SPONSORED:

Trump, GOP aim to weaponize Kavanaugh vote ahead of November

 
The Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh on Saturday on almost entirely Republican votes, giving the party, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHarris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight 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.
ADVERTISEMENT
 
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 CollinsTwo more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers Trump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism The Memo: Trump election loss roils right MORE (Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump administration denies permit for controversial Pebble Mine Trump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism The Memo: Trump election loss roils right MORE (Alaska) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeProfiles in cowardice: Trump's Senate enablers McSally concedes Arizona Senate race The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare front and center; transition standoff continues 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 CorkerGOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics Former GOP senator: Republicans cannot let Trump's 'reckless' post-election claims stand Cornyn: Relationships with Trump like 'women who get married and think they're going to change their spouse' MORE (Tenn.) and Flake, and Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Nev.) is the only Republican incumbent running for reelection in a state won by Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFederal workers stuck it out with Trump — now, we're ready to get back to work Biden soars as leader of the free world Intercept DC bureau chief says Biden picks are 'same people' from Obama years 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 HarrisHarris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Mexican president breaks with other world leaders, refusing to acknowledge Biden win until election is finalized MORE (D-Calif.) sent an email raising money for Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyBiden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big Harris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by JobsOhio - Showdown: Trump-Biden debate likely to be nasty 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 HeitkampMajor unions back Fudge for Agriculture secretary Five House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' in new administration 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 CornynCornyn says election outcome 'becoming increasingly clear': report Top GOP senator: Biden should be getting intel briefings GOP senator congratulates Biden, says Trump should accept results 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.”