Key GOP senators react to Kavanaugh accusation

CNN talks to Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to get their reaction to the accusations of alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Posted: Sep 18, 2018 5:04 AM
Updated: Sep 18, 2018 5:17 AM

For Republicans, this was supposed to be a done deal. Now, because of a decades-old allegation of sexual assault, Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination is very much in flux.

But that's not all that's at stake.

The Republican Party is suddenly facing a tough map to retain control not only of the House, but also, increasingly, the Senate.

Women are the reason.

The GOP, led by President Donald Trump, who has faced allegations of sexual misconduct, doesn't speak the language of #MeToo.

Democrats, who tried to shed the Bill Clinton anvil and banished Sen. Al Franken, do. So does the increasingly critical swing-voting bloc of white, college-educated women.

That means the specter of next Monday's public hearing featuring Kavanaugh and his accuser, professor Christine Blasey Ford, answering questions from senators of both parties trying to score political points likely has very little immediate political upside for Republicans.

Women were always important to the nomination

From the beginning of his nomination process, well before Ford's accusation was made public, Kavanaugh knew how important women were to his fate, so he courted them.

He mentioned his wife, the teenage girls he coaches and his mother, who had a trailblazing law career, inspiring her son. The implicit (and simplistic) suggestion by Kavanaugh was that as a man who had a successful mom and two daughters, he would be fair to women from the bench.

The next phase will again revolve around women -- their testimony, their questioning and, ultimately, their votes. All of this will happen against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, which has seen men ousted from Congress, Hollywood studios and anchor chairs. It is a movement that has galvanized women to run in record numbers and move away from the GOP, complicating its favorable Senate map.

In Alabama, Doug Jones won women 57% to 41%, a margin largely powered by African-American women but also bolstered by white female college graduates, who gave him 45% of their votes.

Other polls show a similar dynamic possibly playing out in November: CNN's most recent generic ballot shows Democrats virtually tied among men, tied among white voters and winning women 59% to 36%. In two red states, the numbers reinforce the power of female voters in a way that should make Republicans nervous.

In Arizona, Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema leads Republican Rep. Martha McSally among women, 57% to 35% (Hillary Clinton won women in Arizona 49% to 45%), according to a new CNN poll. And in Tennessee, Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn trails Democrat Phil Bredesen 58% to 37% among women.

Sensing an opportunity, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee blasted out an email with the subject line, "50 days to help these women flip the Senate," a few hours after the Kavanaugh news broke.

The optics

In short, #MeToo isn't a motivating factor for the GOP. It is highly motivating for Democrats, who see a broad coalition of women as part of their party's identity and strength.

Imagine Monday's public hearing, where Ford will be questioned by a panel of all-male GOP senators and a much more diverse panel of Democratic senators.

It won't be a good look. And, at least for GOPers, it will be reminiscent of 1991's Clarence Thomas hearings, where an entirely male panel questioned Anita Hill about her allegations of sexual harassment against Thomas, who won confirmation by a narrow margin. The hearings reverberated politically, angering women and powering them to run.

That dynamic is already at work for the midterms. The hearings will only intensify it.

During his opening statement for his confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh recalled his mother practicing her cases at the dinner table.

"Her trademark line was: 'Use your common sense. What rings true? What rings false?' " he recalled.

These will be the very questions senators will have to ask themselves. And voters -- particularly female voters -- all around the country will be asking as well.

Huntsville/Redstone
Clear
40° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 40°
Muscle Shoals
Clear
44° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 44°
Huntsville/Madison
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 36°
Decatur
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 39°
Fort Payne
Clear
35° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 35°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 494421

Reported Deaths: 9991
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson711451374
Mobile36184735
Madison32457458
Tuscaloosa24213412
Montgomery22636517
Shelby22020214
Baldwin19790284
Lee14980154
Morgan13693251
Calhoun13307287
Etowah13192320
Marshall11269209
Houston10102261
Elmore9408185
Limestone9376134
Cullman8903181
St. Clair8839224
Lauderdale8601212
DeKalb8465175
Talladega7552164
Walker6538258
Jackson6503103
Autauga630391
Blount6106127
Colbert5993119
Coffee5254102
Dale4648107
Russell405233
Franklin399478
Covington3970106
Chilton3883100
Escambia378172
Tallapoosa3596143
Clarke343753
Chambers3421111
Dallas3412141
Pike293372
Lawrence283684
Marion283495
Winston247368
Bibb245460
Geneva240270
Marengo236557
Pickens224555
Barbour212451
Hale210668
Fayette200957
Butler197566
Henry182641
Cherokee177139
Monroe166339
Randolph163840
Washington156635
Crenshaw145254
Clay145054
Macon142343
Cleburne137841
Lamar133133
Lowndes131251
Wilcox122525
Bullock117136
Conecuh106724
Perry105827
Sumter98632
Coosa89224
Greene88232
Choctaw55123
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 776337

Reported Deaths: 11436
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby873161492
Davidson81556869
Knox46018581
Hamilton40396462
Rutherford38385382
Williamson25282203
Sumner21383315
Montgomery17414213
Out of TN1695094
Wilson16423210
Unassigned15587125
Sullivan14346274
Blount14066181
Bradley12918139
Washington12774234
Maury12220163
Sevier12038163
Putnam10603169
Madison10102228
Robertson8962121
Hamblen8023164
Anderson7991157
Greene7294145
Tipton6948103
Coffee6320115
Dickson6228106
Gibson6188141
Cumberland6106121
Carter5974152
McMinn593191
Roane590796
Bedford5797120
Loudon569665
Jefferson5659119
Lawrence556883
Monroe533190
Warren531475
Hawkins525194
Dyer5237101
Franklin473685
Fayette466971
Obion436595
Rhea415173
Lincoln414062
Cocke399093
Cheatham391244
Marshall391156
Campbell380459
Weakley378959
Giles373896
Henderson361973
Carroll348981
Hardeman338564
White338266
Macon336573
Hardin331063
Lauderdale309242
Henry300975
Marion294144
Scott287644
Wayne287130
Overton284857
Claiborne279768
McNairy267853
DeKalb265549
Hickman265141
Haywood264860
Smith256036
Grainger243146
Trousdale239022
Morgan229738
Fentress229344
Johnson216338
Chester201748
Bledsoe200210
Crockett197247
Unicoi180547
Polk176522
Cannon175029
Union172233
Grundy168630
Lake167826
Sequatchie156027
Decatur153937
Humphreys153721
Benton151039
Lewis147025
Meigs126621
Jackson125234
Stewart123624
Clay107130
Perry103327
Houston102932
Moore94416
Van Buren79520
Pickett74623
Hancock49512

Community Events