Top Republican Strategists On Kavanaugh Hearing: ‘What A Mess’

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27:  Christine Blasey Ford (C) is sworn in before testifying the Senate Judiciary Committee with her attorneys Debra Katz (L) and Michael Bromwich (R) in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. A professor at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her during a party in 1982 when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. In prepared remarks, Ford said, ?I don?t have all the answers, and I don?t remember as much as I would like to. But the details about that night that bring me here today are ones I will never forget. They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me episodically as an adult.?  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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It’s still early, but top Republicans are wincing at how the blockbuster hearing with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and judge Brett Kavanaugh is going.

“There’s no question that this morning’s testimony was bad for Kavanaugh and Republicans,” said one former Senate leadership aide, who fretted that Republicans aren’t handling a tough situation well.

The all-male membership of the committee has mostly ceded its questioning to prosecutor Rachel Mitchell. That staffer said that wasn’t working, saying Republicans “may have overcorrected” in worrying about pushing harder on Ford.

“They were worried about the visuals of male senators interviewing Ford but they’ve ceded all the political ground to the Democrats. Mitchell’s questioning at least this far hasn’t done anything and then Senate Democrats have had free rein-in to score political points unchallenged,” said the aide.

Another saw nothing good coming from the hearings.

“She’s very believable and you can’t help but feel sympathetic to her experience. What a mess,” one former Senate GOP leadership aide texted TPM late Thursday morning. after Ford’s opening statements and the first round of questioning.

Neither would speculate whether they thought Kavanaugh would survive, and both argued that Democrats were playing politics while defending how Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was handling the process. But for top Republicans who went into Thursday already worried about whether Kavanaugh would survive the day, they weren’t feeling any better by lunchtime.

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