House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Monday said he believed the Republican base had been “activated” and “animated” by the national debate surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
“The Republican base is very much activated. I think the Democratic base was already there,” Ryan told the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
“I’ve seen it traveling around the country in the last few days, traveling around Wisconsin,” he said. “The Republican base is definitely animated after this.”
Republicans are defending more than 20 House seats in the midterm elections, just under a month away.
Kavanaugh was sworn in as an associate justice of the Supreme Court on Monday. His Senate confirmation on Saturday followed weeks of public outcry and debate after three women accused him of sexual assault or misconduct in the 1980s.
The allegations threatened to derail the nomination as one of the accusers, California research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford, delivered powerful testimony about the alleged assault before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 27.
Ford accused Kavanaugh of pinning her down, groping her and attempting to remove her clothing at a high school gathering in 1982.
“The details about that night that bring me here today are ones I will never forget,” Ford said in her statement before the committee. “They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me episodically as an adult.”
An angry and belligerent Kavanaugh also testified before the committee, prompting the ACLU, along with hundreds of law professors around the country, to publicly oppose his nomination over concerns about his “fitness” and “judicial temperament.”
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), the swing vote on the committee, voted with his Republican colleagues to move Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate but said he could only go forward with the process if Republican leaders agreed to authorize an FBI investigation into Ford’s allegation.
Following a limited, five-day investigation, Kavanaugh’s nomination moved to the Senate floor, where he was confirmed, 50-48. Every Republican but one, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), voted for him. Every Democrat but one, Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), voted against him.
Ryan on Monday praised Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who was also considered a swing vote before voting to confirm Kavanaugh and who said in a speech on Friday that she didn’t believe Ford’s allegation should keep the judge from serving on the country’s highest court.
“I think she showed the right analysis, right tone,” Ryan said of Collins’ speech.