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Biden Tries To Turn GOP Push To Confirm Barrett Against Them On Campaign Trail

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Topline

Former Vice President Joe Biden integrated an attack on Senate Republicans’ efforts to swiftly confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court into his stump speech on Tuesday during a campaign swing through Florida, highlighting the view among many Democrats that their best recourse for the rushed confirmation is at the ballot box.

Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden Campaigns In Florida

MIRAMAR, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 13: Wearing a face mask to reduce the risk posed by the coronavirus, … [+] Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden points to supporters during a drive-in voter mobilization event at Miramar Regional Park October 13, 2020 in Miramar, Florida. With three weeks until Election Day, Biden is campaigning in Florida. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Key Facts

“In the middle of this pandemic, why do Republicans have time to hold a hearing to pack the court instead of providing significant economic relief for localities,” Biden asked supporters during a drive-in rally in Miramar, Florida amid continued Republican discord over stimulus spending.

Echoing the primary line of attack Senate Democrats have committed to, Biden said the effort to confirm Barrett is “about wiping out the Affordable Care Act,” citing her past scrutiny of Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision upholding the popular health care law.

Biden’s comments are a manifestation of what some Democrats have admitted: that Barrett’s nomination is inevitable and that Democrats’ best-case-scenario is to seize an electoral boost from the hearings.

“We do not have some secret, clever procedural way to stop this sham. Let’s be honest,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) conceded during the hearings on Monday, instead stating that the “people of this country” can “change the trajectory of this nomination” by voting.

As he hammers the hearings from without, Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), scrutinized them from within on Monday, calling the hearings “reckless” from a public health standpoint by bringing “more than 50 people to sit inside a big, closed-door room for hours while our nation is facing a deadly airborne virus.”

The comments come as polls continue to show confirming Barrett before the election, as Republican senators have promised to do, is narrowly unpopular, with 52% of voters saying they oppose it in a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sunday compared to 44% who support it – though that’s down from 57% opposition in September.

Chief Critic

“Biden continues to lie about what ‘court packing’ is. Court packing is expanding the size of the court with favorable justices to achieve pre-determined outcomes,” tweeted Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh, adding that Biden “won’t give a direct answer” on whether he supports calls from some Democratic lawmakers to expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court. Biden said Monday he’s “not a fan” of court-packing, but has often dodged questions on whether he would resist such an effort as president.

Big Number

50%. That’s the share of voters in a New York Times/Siena poll in late September who said they trust Biden to do a better job choosing a Supreme Court justice, compared to 43% who trust Trump. That poll also found overwhelming approval for the Affordable Care Act, with 57% saying they support the health law and just 38% saying they oppose it.

Crucial Quote

“I think it could be a terrible election,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said in a CNBC interview Friday, espousing the view of some Republican lawmakers that the election may already be lost with fewer than three weeks to go as Biden holds a double-digit lead over Trump. “I think we could lose the White House and both houses of Congress, that it could be a bloodbath of Watergate proportions.”

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