“THE KAVANAUGH EFFECT”

We explore the potential fallout from the historic and breaking political case and its effect on both Republicans and Democrats alike. Axios Executive Editor, Mike Allen, is here with his perspective.

Aired on September 27, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

I CATEGORICALLY AND UNEQUIVOCALLY DENY THE ALLEGATION BY DR. FORD.

I NEVER HAD ANY SEXUAL OR PHYSICAL ENCOUNTER OF ANY KIND WITH DR. FORD.

I NEVER ATTENDED A GATHERING LIKE THE ONE DR. FORD DESCRIBES IN HER ALLEGATION.

I'VE NEVER SEXUALLY ASSAULTED DR. FORD OR ANYONE.

OVER THE YEARS, I TOLD VERY, VERY FEW FRIENDS THAT I HAD THIS TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE.

I TOLD MY HUSBAND BEFORE WE WERE MARRIED THAT I HAD EXPERIENCED A SEXUAL ASSAULT.

I HAD NEVER TOLD THE DETAILS TO ANYONE, THE SPECIFIC DETAILS, UNTIL MAY OF 2012, DURING A COUPLE'S COUNSELING SESSION.

DR. FORD, WITH WHAT DEGREE OF CERTAINTY DO YOU BELIEVE BRETT KAVANAUGH ASSAULTED YOU?

100%.

THE KAVANAUGH CONTROVERSY UNDERSCORES A WEEK OF HISTORIC EVENT AND THE UPCOMING MIDTERM ELECTIONS ARE LOOMING JUST 40 DAYS AWAY.

FROM INSIDE THE BELTWAY TO THE ENTIRE COUNTRY, EVERYTHING GOING ON, ON CAPITOL HILL AND INSIDE THE WEST WING, WILL AFFECT THE BALANCE OF POWER ON THE HILL AND THE TONE IN THE COUNTRY.

FOR A SWEEPING OVERVIEW, I'M PLEASED TO WELCOME ONE OF THE BELTWAY'S BEST REPORTERS, MIKE ALAN, CO-FOUNDER OF AXIOS.

NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME ON THIS HISTORIC DAY.

LET ME START WITH THE NOTION OF THE MIDTERM ELECTIONS, BECAUSE SO MUCH OF THE FOCUS HAS BEEN ON THE IDEA OF WHO WILL BE THE NEXT SUPREME COURT JUSTICE.

I THINK IN SOME WAYS WE'RE JUST STARTING TO REALIZE THAT THE ENTIRE CONTROVERSY THAT'S TAKING PLACE IN WASHINGTON MAY HAVE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON THE MIDTERMS.

SO LET'S TALK FIRST FROM THE REPUBLICAN PERSPECTIVE.

LOOKING DOWN THE ROAD, WHAT DO YOU THINK EITHER THE PLUSES OR MINUSES OF WHAT'S HAPPENING HERE MIGHT BE?

AND WE DON'T KNOW WHAT ULTIMATELY THE SUCCESS OR NONSUCCESS OF THIS NOMINATION, BUT JUST WHAT'S PLAYED OUT SO FAR, HOW DO YOU SEE IT PLAYING OUT IN TERMS OF THE REPUBLICAN PERSPECTIVE IN THE MIDTERM?

JUST PAST NOAH'S ARK DAY TO THE MIDTERMS.

SO 40 DAYS, 40 NIGHTS UNTIL WE VOTE FOR HOUSE AND FAT.

IN ALL THE TIME WE'VE BEEN COVERING THESE MIDTERMS, THEY'VE BEEN STATE AND LOCAL ELECTIONS.

THIS YEAR, THIS IS ESSENTIALLY A NATIONAL MIDTERM.

AND A BIG PART OF THE REASON FOR THAT IS THE SUPREME COURT BATTLE.

BECAUSE ON A DEMOCRATIC SIDE, WHERE YOU ALREADY HAVE SKY HIGH ENTHUSIASM, WE SAW THAT TIME AFTER TIME DURING THE PRIMARIES, THAT'S BEEN HEIGHTENED WITH THE SUPREME COURT FIGHT.

ON THE RIGHT, REPUBLICANS, BASED ON WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN HERE, EITHER THEY'RE GOING TO SEE WHAT THEY GET FOR THEIR VOTE FOR REPUBLICANS BY HAVING ANOTHER LIFETIME SEAT ON THE SUPREME COURT, OR THEY'RE GOING THE SEE THE INCREDIBLE RISK AND A FORESHADOWING OF WHAT COULD HAPPEN IF DEMOCRATS GET MORE POWER IN WASHINGTON.

SOME OF THE REPUBLICAN PERSPECTIVES, AND TELL ME IF YOU THINK THIS MIGHT PLAY OUT THIS WAY, IF, IN FACT, THIS -- THE JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH NOMINATION IS NOT SUCCESSFUL, COULD YOU SEE THE ARGUMENT BEING MADE, STARTING IN WASHINGTON AND BEING DIRECTED OUT TO ALL THOSE LOCAL ELECTIONS, BASICALLY SAYING, LOOK, THIS IS WHAT THEY'RE DOING TO US UP HERE, THEY BEING THE DEMOCRATS.

AND EVEN THOUGH WE LOST THIS BATTLE, WE NEED YOU NOW TO RALLY THE TROOPS.

SO COULD THIS BE A SITUATION WHERE A LOSS IN WASHINGTON IN TERMS OF -- AND WE DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN WITH THIS, AND I'M NOT SUGGESTING WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN WITH THIS NOMINATION.

BUT IF IT IS NOT SUCCESSFUL, WOULD THIS BE A SPRINGBOARD FOR RALLYING THE TROOPS?

SURE.

AND I THINK THAT'S A GREAT POINT, JACK.

THE COUNTERPOINT TO THAT MIGHT BE, AND THE REASON THAT I THINK REPUBLICANS PLUNGED AHEAD WITH THIS HEARING, EVEN THOUGH THE OPTICS OF IT AREN'T GREAT, REPUBLICANS WILL BE THE FIRST TO TELL YOU THAT.

BUT OFFICIALS TOLD ME THAT THE REASON THEY WERE GOING AHEAD WITH THE HEARING, EVEN THOUGH BRETT KAVANAUGH OBVIOUSLY IS DAMAGED NO MATTER THE OUTCOME, THAT THEY NEED TO SHOW REPUBLICAN VOTERS, SHOW THE BASE THAT THEY HAVE SOME SEMBLANCE OF CONTROL.

IF THIS HEARING WERE TO NOT HAPPEN, IF BRETT KAVANAUGH HAD GONE DOWN, IF THERE WERE SOME OTHER UNEXPECTED OUTCOME, IT WOULD LOOK LIKE REPUBLICANS HAVE LOST CONTROL OF THE POLITICS, AND OF THE PROCESS.

SO WHAT ONE REPUBLICAN SAID TO ME, IF WE DON'T HAVE THIS HEARING, DEMOCRATS HAVE AUTOMATICALLY WON.

SO REPUBLICANS HAVE BASICALLY PLAYED FOR TIME HERE, BUT YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT IN THE LONG RUN.

THAT COULD BE THE DYNAMIC.

ONE OF THE AREAS THAT WE ALWAYS HEAR OR MOST RECENTLY WE'RE HEARING ABOUT, IS THE BATTLE OVER SUBURBAN WOMEN.

AND WE'VE SEEN A NUMBER OF TIMES FOLKS SUGGESTING THAT THIS FIGHT OVER JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH COULD END UP MOVING THAT BLOC.

NOW, LOOK, THIS IS -- I THINK IT'S ALWAYS A FALLACY, AND WE'VE LEARNED THAT, TRYING TO SAY ONE GROUP IS ALWAYS GOING TO VOTE SOME WAY.

BUT THERE HAS BEEN A SUGGESTION THAT THIS MIGHT MOVE SOME PEOPLE WITHINHABLOC.

REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE RESULT IS.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT?

FOR SURE THAT'S TRUE.

THIS IS A HUGE PROBLEM FOR THE TRUMP RE-ELECTION IN 2020, LET ALONE IN THESE MIDTERMS, BECAUSE IF YOU LOOK BACK AT HOW PRESIDENT TRUMP BECAME PRESIDENT TRUMP INSTEAD OF DONALD TRUMP, SUBURBAN WOMEN WHO DIDN'T WANT TO VOTE FOR HILLARY CLINTON WERE AN IMPORTANT PART OF THAT.

BUT THOSE ARE THE EXACT VOTERS WHO COULD WELL HAVE BEEN LOST OVER ISSUES LIKE THE CHILDREN AT THE BORDER.

SO THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION HAS DONE VERY LITTLE TO KEEP THAT GROUP OF VOTERS IN THE FOLD, AS MY GRANDMOTHER WOULD SAY.

AND THEY'RE VERY MUCH AT RISK IN THIS DEBATE.

AND JACK, THIS WILL HOW DOWN REPUBLICANS ARE ON THIS PROBLEM, HOW COGNIZANT THEY ARE OF THIS PROBLEM.

ONE REPUBLICAN SAID TO ME, THE ONLY REASSURANCE TO THEM, THE ONLY REASON TO PLUNGE AHEAD THIS WAY ON THE BRETT KAVANAUGH PICK, IS THEY'VE ALREADY LOST THOSE VOTERS, AND WE CAN'T LOSE THEM TWICE.

THAT'S AN INTERESTING OBSERVATION.

FROM THE DEMOCRAT'S PERSPECTIVE COMING INTO THE MIDTERM, I HEARD SOME FOLKS SAY THEY'RE IN A WIN-WIN SITUATION HERE.

IF JUDGE KAVANAUGH GETS ON THE BENCH, THEY'RE ABLE TO ARGUE, AS THEY HAD BEFORE, HE'S FAR TOO CONSERVATIVE FOR WHAT THE DEMOCRATS SEE AS THE FUTURE OF THIS COUNTRY, THE JUDICIAL FUTURE.

IF HE IS BLOCKED AS A CONSEQUENCE OF THEIR EFFORTS, THEY CAN SAY LOOK, WE HAVEPOWE . YOU HAVE TO HELP US.

AND THOSE ARE OBVIOUS UPSIDES.

ARE THERE DOWNSIDES DO YOU THINK FOR THE DEMOCRATS GIVEN WHAT'S PLAYING OUT ON THE HILL IN WASHINGTON?

FUNNY THING YOU SHOULD ASK THAT, BECAUSE A PRETTY GOOD DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST THAT'S BEEN AROUND THE TRACK OR TWO, WHOSE NAME IS BILL CLINTON, WAS IN NEW YORK YESTERDAY.

HE WAS SAYING DEMOCRATS SHOU SHOULDN'T OVERPLAY THEIR HAND.

THAT GIVES YOU A SENSE OF CONFIDENCE GOING INTO THE KAVANAUGH HEARING AND THE MIDTERMS.

ANY TIME YOU'RE WORRIED ABOUT OVERPLAYING YOUR HAND, YOU KNOW YOU'RE FEELING GOOD.

BUT DEMOCRATS FEEL VERY GOOD ABOUT THIS.

WHAT SOMEONE SAID TO ME IS, CHUCK SCHUMER WILL GO TO BED PRAYING THAT THIS HEARING WILL HAPPEN.

WHAT DO YOU THINK -- AND I'M ASKING YOU TO SORT OF PROJECT WHAT FORMER PRESIDENT CLINTON MET WHEN HE SAID DEMOCRATS SHOULD BE AWARE OF OVERPLAYING THEIR HAND.

I WONDER, AND I'M AN INDEPENDENT, HAVE BEEN FOREVER, I'M WONDERING IN THIS CURRENT POLITICAL ERA IF THERE IS ANY SUCH THING AS OVERPLAYING YOUR HAND ANYMORE.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE PRESIDENT MEANT BY THAT?

THAT'S A GREAT POINT, JACK.

IN THIS ENVIRONMENT, TO BREAK THROUGH, AS YOU KNOW, JACK, YOU AND I ARE BOTH ENGAGED IN A CONSTANT WAR FOR ATTENTION.

AND SO THAT SPEAKS TO YOUR POINT ABOUT NOT OVERPLAYING YOUR HAND.

I THINK WHAT THE PRESIDENT WAS REFERRING TO HERE IS THE FACT THAT REPUBLICANS IN THE SUPREME COURT CASE, IN THE VIEW OF DEMOCRATS, ARE DOING THE DEMOCRAT'S WORK FOR THEM BY SETTING UP THESE OBJECTS TO MAKE IT MUCH EASIER FOR THEM TO PICK UP THE SUBURBAN WOMEN.

SO I THINK THAT WAS THE KEY POINT.

THERE IS REPUBLICANS THAT ARE OPEN THING LANE FOR US, LET'S TAKE IT.

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT ANOTHER COUPLE OF EVENTS, AND IMPLICATIONS.

WE SAW THE -- PRESIDENT TRUMP AT THE U.N. AND WE KNOW WE'VE SEEN THAT PICTURE BEFORE, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES SPEAKING BEFORE THE U.N.

AND WE SAW SOMETHING THAT WAS PRETTY EXTRAORDINARY, AND THAT WAS THE PRESIDENT WAS MAKING A CLAIM THAT HE HAS MADE OFTEN, SAYING THAT WITHIN THE FIRST TWO YEARS, NOT EVEN FULLY TWO YEARS, HIS ADMINISTRATION HAS GOTTEN MORE DONE THAN ALMOST, I THINK HE SAID, ALMOST ANY OTHER ADMINISTRATION, AND HE WAS MET BY LAUGHTER AT THE GATHERING THERE IN THE U.N.

WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THAT?

WELL, WHAT I MAKE OF THAT IS THAT IT BECAME INSTANTLY THE BUZZ OF NEW YORK.

I WAS UP THERE YESTERDAY, AND THIS IS CERTAINLY THE FIRST TIME IN THE UNITED STATES HISTORY THAT THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENT HAS BEEN LAUGHED AT.

THE PRESIDENT SAID THEY WERE LAUGHING WITH HIM, THAT THIS WAS AN INTENDED LAUGH LINE.

WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE VIDEO, YOU COULD SEE HE WAS FLUSTERED IN THE MOMENT.

HE RECOVERED PRETTY WELL.

HE SAID, I DIDN'T EXPECT THAT REACTION, BUT IT'S OKAY.

BUT IT DEFINITELY WAS A SURPRISE.

IT WAS NOT PLANNED AS HE LATER TRIED TO CLAIM.

AND THE KEY POINT IS THAT IS A PROXY FOR HOW SO MANY PEOPLE IN THAT ROOM FEEL.

IN FACT, AXIOS REPORTING POINTS OUT THAT EUROPEAN DIPLOMATS HAVE BECOME SO FRUSTRATED WITH THIS PRESIDENT.

AND YOU JUST TAKE THAT SPEECH WHERE HE GAVE SHOUTOUTS TO KIM JONG-UN AND WHEN HE GAVE SHOUTOUTS TO TRADITIONAL AMERICAN ADVERSARIES, BUT HAD NO LOVE FOR THE TRADITIONAL AMERICAN ALLIES.

LAST THING I WANT TO TOUCH BASE WITH YOU IS, AGAIN, IT'S KIND OF UNUSUAL VIEWINGS.

WE KNOW THAT THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES DOES NOT LIKE TO INTERACT WITH THE PRESS, AND BY THE WAY, HE'S NOT ALONE IN THAT.

WE HAVE SEEN A SERIES OF THE LAST NUMBER OF PRESIDENTS THAT HAVE NOT BEEN COMFORTABLE DOING THAT.

BUT WE SAW HIM IN WHAT SEEMED TO BE AN ALMOST IMPROMPTU GATHERING FOR ALMOST 80 MINUTES, CONVERSATIONS THAT FOCUSED ON THE JUDGE KAVANAUGH FOM NATION.

-- NOMINATION.

AND HE HAD HIS OWN TALKING POINTS.

THERE WAS NOT A SCRIPT THERE.

WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT HE ENGAGED IN THAT TO START WITH, AND WERE YOU SURPRISED AT THE TONE AND APPROACH HE TOOK TO THE ISSUE?

JACK, THIS WAS EPIC.

NO ONE DECIDES PRESIDENT TRUMP WOULD SAY SOME OF THE THINGS HE SAID THERE.

NO ONE BESIDES PRESIDENT TRUMP COULD GET AWAY WITH SAYING THE THINGS HE SAID THERE.

AND I TALKED AFTERWARDS WITH SOMEBODY THAT'S BEEN WITH THE PRESIDENT A LONG TIME.

THEY SAID, LOOK AT THAT.

THAT'S HOW HE BECAME PRESIDENT.

HE DIDN'T FOLLOW THE RULES THAT OTHER PEOPLE HAD.

HE'S HIS OWN BEST COMMUNICATOR AND NOW HE SAID A LOT OF THINGS THAT YOU CAN DISAGREE WITH, PROBABLY MOST NOTABLY THE ONE HE'S GOTTEN THE MOST GUFF FOR IS JONATHAN CARL OF ABC POINTED OUT THAT HE HAS DAUGHTERS, AND ASKED HIM IF HE DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THE FACT THAT SOMEBODY WOULD HAVE AN ASSAULT THAT THEY DIDN'T INSTANTLY REPORT.

THERE WAS ANOTHER QUESTION TO HIM ABOUT WHAT YOUNG MEN SHOULD TAKE AWAY FROM THIS WHOLE BLASEY FORD INCIDENT.

AND THE PRESIDENT SAID, IN THIS COUNTRY, IF YOU'RE A GUY, YOU'RE GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT.

I DON'T THINK THAT'S THE LESSON THAT A SINGLE OTHER PERSON TOOK AWAY FROM THIS.

BUT THE PRESIDENT SAID IT WAS ON HIS MIND.

JACK,KY TELL YOU, HIS BASE LOVES IT.

HIS VOTERS LOVE IT.

THE PROBLEM IS, IT MAKES IT SO HARD TO REACH OUT TO ANY MORE VOTERS.

HE BARELY WON, SO THAT GIVES HIM A MATH PROBLEM.

NO MARGIN FOR ERROR.

MIKE, AS YOU SAID, WHETHER YOU'RE A SUPPORTER OF THE PRESIDENT OR NOT, THE TEMPLATE HAS CHANGED.

THE RULES HAVE CHANGED, AND IT'S A DIFFERENT POLITICAL WORLD WE'RE LIVING IN.

MIKE, ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO TALK WITH YOU BECAUSE YOU HELP US TO UNDERSTAND THAT POLITICAL WORLD.

AS ALWAYS, WE APPRECIATE THE TIME.

LOVE HAVING A CHANCE TO SHARE THOUGHTS WITH YOU.

LOOK FORWARD TO TALKING WITH YOU AGAIN.

MIKE, BE WELT.

JACK, THANKS FOR A GREAT COVERAGE.

OUR THANKS TO MIKE ALAN AND THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU FOR JOINING US ON THIS VERY HISTORIC EVENING.

ON BEHALF OF ALL THE MEN AND WOMEN BEHIND THE SCENES OF 'METROFOCUS,' WE THANK YOU.

HAVE A GOOD NIGHT.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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