Democrats di­vided over re­sponse to Ka­vanaugh pick

Pawtucket Times - - NATION - By SEAN SULLIVAN

WASH­ING­TON – Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s Supreme Court nom­i­nee has am­pli­fied di­vi­sions in the Demo­cratic Party, spurring com­pet­ing views about how, or even whether, to at­tack Judge Brett Ka­vanaugh.

Democrats try­ing to de­feat Ka­vanaugh were still search­ing for a po­tent line of at­tack Thurs­day. Some have fo­cused on por­tray­ing him as a threat to take away health-care pro­tec­tions and abor­tion rights. Oth­ers have em­pha­sized con­cerns about his views on pres­i­den­tial power and how he might ap­ply them to Trump.

So far, their ar­gu­ments have shown no ex­plicit signs of win­ning over the two Repub­li­can sen­a­tors seen as most likely to break ranks and op­pose Ka­vanaugh: Su­san Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Cen­trist Democrats try­ing to sur­vive re-elec­tion in states Trump won, mean­while, have said lit­tle about Ka­vanaugh, seek­ing to avoid the wrath of the pres­i­dent’s loyal sup­port­ers or a back­lash from lib­er­als bent on de­feat­ing Ka­vanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion. “If you’re go­ing to ask me ques­tions about the Supreme Court nom­i­nee, I have ab­so­lutely noth­ing to say,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. told a re­porter Thurs­day. “Noth­ing to say about the Supreme Court nom­i­nee,” she in­ter­jected af­ter a fol­low-up ques­tion. She re­peated her­self a third time.

Demo­cratic lead­ers in the Se­nate are la­bor­ing to demon­strate to ac­tivists that they are do­ing every­thing they can to fight the nom­i­na­tion, though there is noth­ing they can do to stop him with­out Repub­li­can help.

“Some of the peo­ple that have come up to me at pa­rades have said, ‘Shut ‘em down, do this, do that,’ and it re­flects a lim­ited un­der­stand­ing of how the Se­nate op­er­ates,” Dick Durbin of Illi­nois, the sec­ond-rank­ing Demo­crat in the Se­nate, said this week.

The bat­tles un­der­score the chaotic state of a Demo­cratic Party with no clear leader and plenty of am­bi­tious politi­cians with con­trast­ing ide­olo­gies. The party is grap­pling with dual pres­sures to win con­trol of the Se­nate in the midterms, which re­quires bol­ster­ing vul­ner­a­ble cen­trists, and to po­si­tion it­self for the 2020 pres­i­den­tial race, which en­tails fir­ing up the party’s base.

As Ka­vanaugh spent Thurs­day on Capi­tol Hill meet­ing sep­a­rately with four Repub­li­can sen­a­tors, Democrats staged an­other day of protests, this time fo­cus­ing on abor­tion rights in a news con­fer­ence.

“We are out to make sure that peo­ple un­der­stand that with Judge Ka­vanaugh on the bench, five men will most likely vote to over­turn Roe v. Wade,” said Sen. Patty Mur­ray, D-Wash.

She was joined by a group of fe­male Demo­cratic sen­a­tors and ac­tivists.

A day ear­lier, Se­nate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., led a news con­fer­ence at which he warned that Ka­vanaugh could un­der­mine health-care pro­tec­tions for Amer­i­cans. Repub­li­cans have re­jected their ar­gu­ments.

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