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Trump on offense after Kavanaugh confirmation

What's next?Election Day in less than one month, Brett Kavanaugh headed to the Supreme Court and Amer...

Posted: Oct 8, 2018 11:16 PM
Updated: Oct 8, 2018 11:16 PM

What's next?

Election Day in less than one month, Brett Kavanaugh headed to the Supreme Court and American voters -- maybe mobs of them -- will head to the polls.

Brett Kavanaugh

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President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans have a legacy-building conservative to replace swing vote Anthony Kennedy and ensure a rightward tilt for decades to come. Is that worth the House or Senate majority?

Their long-term accomplishment could come with a very bitter pill if voters, particularly women and independents, are turned off by what it took to get Kavanaugh seated.

The wrenching spectacle of hearings in which the now-Justice Kavanaugh was accused of decades-old sexual harassment and the subsequent determination of Senate Republicans and Trump to block for Kavanaugh culminated a political battle that was notable and exhausting even in the Trump era, which is saying something.

Seeking to erase Christine Blasey Ford's allegations against Kavanaugh, Trump on Monday said the charges against him were "made up" and part of a "hoax." He argued Democrats would pay a price at the polls for their opposition to Kavanaugh.

"I think you're going to see a lot of things happen on November 6 that would not have happened before -- the American public has seen this charade, has seen this dishonesty by the Democrats," Trump said at the White House as he went out the door on his way to an event in Florida. He added that he's friends with many Democrats who are going to vote for Republicans.

"The main base of the Democrats have shifted so far left, that we'll end up being Venezuela. This country would end up being Venezuela," Trump said.

Republicans, after a coordinated defense of Kavanaugh before his confirmation, have already pivoted to a coordinated defense of their majorities, seeking to paint those who loudly opposed Kavanaugh as part of a "mob."

Mobs at the gate

Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell both used the term over the weekend, trying to dismiss the opposition to their guy as the feeling of a few, loud protesters.

"In their quest for power, the radical Democrats have turned into an angry mob," Trump said at a rally in Kansas on Saturday.

Whether painting protesters as a subset of unruly partisans is accurate or will be effective is very much up for debate. But the loud protests on Capitol Hill against Kavanaugh were unlike anything seen on Capitol Hill, perhaps, since 2010, when Democrats staked their majorities on passing Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, and the tea party conservatives rose up to make their anger known.

Democrats are hoping something similar happens in the wake of Kavanaugh. A message that was already focused on defending that health care legislation will now also turn very much on the justice who tapped a raw nerve with the #MeToo movement.

There is evidence that the court, which is usually a more motivating issue for Republicans, could drive Democrats to the polls this year. In a late-September Pew Poll completed before Kavanaugh's confirmation, 76% said the Supreme Court was "very important" -- the first time in years the economy did not top the poll.

As CNN's Grace Sparks wrote in September, more Democrats (81%) said it was "an important issue for their vote" than Republicans (72%). The most-referenced important issue for Republicans was the economy, which drew 85% of their registered voters. Eighty-eight percent of Democrats said that health care was the issue most on their minds.

Look for new polling to see if Kavanaugh's confirmation compounds the anger of Democrats.

Now that the court has that conservative majority, will it still be such a key issue for conservatives? This is a question to be answered in one month. But McConnell would love for Trump to get more nominees. He bucked his own standard in 2016 when Republicans unilaterally sat on President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland and said over the weekend there would be nothing to keep Republicans from pushing through another nominee, even in 2020, if a vacancy came open.

Republicans promise pro-Kavanaugh message against Trump-state Democrats

Politics in midterms is a state- and district-based endeavor, not really a national one.

While the House majority seems very much in play for Democrats, the Senate map greatly favors Republicans. Most of the contested seats involve Democrats running for re-election in states won by Trump and so presumably are more open to Kavanaugh. Only one of those senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted for Kavanaugh, saying it was in the best interests of his state and the desire of his constituents. The rest of the Trump-state Democrats -- even seriously endangered incumbents like Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, sided with the party, and Republicans made clear over the weekend they will exploit that vote.

Key Republican votes are either retiring (Jeff Flake of Arizona) or are not up for reelection until 2020 (Susan Collins of Maine) or 2022 (Lisa Murkowski of Alaska).

Not even Manchin, who supported Kavanaugh, will be safe from a Kavanaugh platform by Republicans in this closing month.

"Joe Manchin's still a Democrat and we're trying to hold the majority," McConnell said on "Face the Nation." "We appreciate his vote for Judge Kavanaugh. I think it was the right thing to do. But we're trying to win seats."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who turned into a pro-Kavanaugh attack dog for the GOP during the hearings and after, said he will set aside a longstanding commitment to not campaign against sitting Democratic senators.

"I've never campaigned against a colleague in my life," Graham said on "Fox News Sunday." "That's about to change. I'm going to go throughout this country to let people in these purple states, red states where Trump won know what I thought, know what I think, about this process."

The South Carolina senator was referring to allegations from him and other Republicans that Democrats tried to slow-walk Kavanaugh's nomination and that they held allegations against him to pop just before the vote.

Kavanaugh also joined in on this conspiracy theory, saying it was revenge for his work against the Clintons.

Kavanaugh backlash could help Democrats

There's no evidence of a conspiracy, but the allegation of sexual assault against Kavanaugh, which the judge has vehemently denied, did emerge after his initial confirmation hearing, prolonging the process, causing a painful national conversation about who to believe -- Kavanaugh or his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford -- and making him the most tainted new justice since Clarence Thomas in 1991.

A year later, a wave of new women senators took office and their ascension -- now known as the "Year of the Woman" -- is partially credited to backlash against the treatment of Anita Hill when she raised alarms about Clarence Thomas, alleging he sexually harassed her.

Even before Kavanaugh's nomination, there were rumblings of a new "Year of the Woman" as a record number of women are running for office.

'A pox on both houses'

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who has kept Trump at arm's length, was also disgusted by the Kavanaugh process, but for a different reason.

"I think the whole process -- look, it's both sides. A pox on both houses for the way this was conducted," he said.

He's tried to fill the middle ground space heading into 2020, and he told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" Sunday that nobody -- Republican or Democrat -- comes out of the bloody Kavanaugh battle looking good.

"People in the country are appalled," said Kasich. "That's because it's like, I got to win, and you got to lose."

As Democrats and Republicans try to capitalize before November, Kasich said he thinks there will be Democratic pickups and maybe a new House majority, but they're moving too far left for the country. He argued there's something larger at stake.

"Look, sometimes, you can have a short-term win, and the long term, you have to wonder about the soul of our country," he said.

CNN's Allison Malloy contributed to this report.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 603966

Reported Deaths: 7611
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1248011773
Ramsey52461895
Dakota46789470
Anoka42717458
Washington27397290
Stearns22550224
St. Louis18128312
Scott17543134
Wright16403148
Olmsted13388102
Sherburne1200194
Carver1066148
Clay825592
Rice8186110
Blue Earth762343
Crow Wing681594
Kandiyohi667285
Chisago619552
Otter Tail585684
Benton582998
Goodhue483473
Douglas475381
Mower470733
Winona461151
Itasca458963
Isanti439764
McLeod429861
Morrison424462
Nobles407950
Beltrami407360
Steele397616
Polk389072
Becker386555
Lyon363853
Carlton352756
Freeborn346932
Pine335023
Nicollet331045
Mille Lacs311454
Brown307840
Le Sueur297125
Cass285832
Todd285632
Meeker263042
Waseca237823
Martin234932
Roseau211021
Wabasha20783
Hubbard196041
Dodge18773
Renville182446
Redwood176338
Houston174616
Cottonwood167124
Wadena162723
Fillmore157410
Faribault154319
Chippewa153938
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138737
Watonwan13589
Rock128719
Jackson122612
Pipestone116626
Yellow Medicine114920
Pope11296
Murray107010
Swift106918
Koochiching94917
Stevens92411
Clearwater89116
Marshall88717
Wilkin83112
Lake83020
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5938
Lincoln5843
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
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Unassigned48093
Red Lake4017
Traverse3755
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 370754

Reported Deaths: 6042
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58203638
Linn21197339
Scott20297246
Black Hawk16085312
Woodbury15232230
Johnson1461185
Dubuque13502211
Dallas1128999
Pottawattamie11219174
Story1070948
Warren583791
Clinton561493
Cerro Gordo553593
Sioux516974
Webster515294
Muscatine4878106
Marshall486576
Des Moines466970
Wapello4335122
Buena Vista426940
Jasper421072
Plymouth402981
Lee381956
Marion366076
Jones300857
Henry294237
Bremer287860
Carroll286852
Boone268534
Crawford268440
Benton259655
Washington257051
Dickinson249444
Mahaska232351
Jackson225242
Clay216627
Kossuth216166
Tama211771
Delaware210943
Winneshiek198135
Page194522
Buchanan193433
Cedar192123
Hardin187444
Fayette186543
Wright185840
Hamilton181851
Harrison179973
Clayton171057
Butler166035
Madison164619
Mills163324
Floyd163042
Cherokee159438
Lyon158841
Poweshiek157036
Allamakee152552
Hancock150134
Iowa149824
Winnebago144431
Cass139155
Calhoun138913
Grundy137133
Emmet135841
Jefferson133535
Shelby131437
Sac130820
Union129935
Louisa129649
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126643
Chickasaw124617
Franklin123323
Guthrie123132
Humboldt119526
Palo Alto113523
Howard104922
Montgomery103638
Clarke100924
Keokuk96432
Monroe96230
Unassigned9560
Ida91535
Adair87332
Pocahontas85822
Davis85225
Monona82931
Osceola78916
Greene78011
Lucas77923
Worth7598
Taylor66712
Fremont6269
Decatur6159
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