Stuck in D.C.
Graham announced Saturday that Barrett’s confirmation hearings will begin Oct. 12, meaning that these vulnerable senators may be stuck in the nation’s capital just three weeks before the election.
Sitting in the hearing room instead of on the campaign trail might not be a problem though, with much of the electoral politicking going virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Most of what I’m doing is by Zoom anyway,” Cornyn said last week when asked if he was concerned the hearings would keep him in D.C.
But Democrats could use their roles on the committee against the vulnerable senators who will be questioning Barrett. On Monday, some Democrats already started accusing these Republicans of playing politics.
“The fact that these Senate Republicans have refused to pass a new bipartisan relief package for months but are now rushing to rubber stamp a new Supreme Court justice who will rip away health care protections for people with pre-existing conditions underscores how wrong their priorities are during this crisis,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Stewart Boss said in a statement.
Robert Howard, a spokesman for the North Carolina Democratic Party, made a similar comment Monday, writing in an email that Tillis is prioritizing the Supreme Court fight over “urgently needed COVID relief.” Texas Democratic Party spokesman Billy Begala accused Cornyn of following the will of his “D.C. political bosses” who “want to rush a lifetime appointment onto the court.”
Like other Democratic challengers, Ernst’s opponent, real estate executive Theresa Greenfield, plans to keep the focus squarely on health care even as Ernst may be in the national spotlight as a member of the Judiciary Committee.
“It doesn’t matter where Senator Ernst is,” Greenfield spokeswoman Izzi Levy said in a statement. “She can’t run from her disastrous record of gutting protections for pre-existing conditions and dismantling Medicaid expansion.”
(Ernest pledged at a Monday debate to “do her duty” as a Judiciary member. “We will vet the nominee,” she said.”)
In South Carolina, recent polls have shown Democrat Jaime Harrison and Graham in a neck-and-neck race, but Harrison needs to appeal to independent voters and moderate Republicans to win in the conservative state. That gives him little incentive to make a forceful statement on the nomination.
Graham’s campaign on Monday knocked Harrison’s silence about the Supreme Court as an “unfortunate trend.”
“Watching Lindsey Graham stand up for this impressive conservative woman scares Democrats,” Graham campaign spokesman TW Arrington said in a statement. “It’s been [Harrison’s] playbook all race: hide from hard questions about his liberal views, and run attack ads.”
Later on Monday, Harrison made his first public statement on the high court vacancy, telling Charleston ABC affiliate WCIV that he doesn’t think the appointment should be rushed before the election and, as senator, he would “give every president’s nominee fair and thorough consideration.”