A Pro-Trump non-profit group has launched its first in a series of digital advertisements urging the three “red state” Democrats who supported Neil Gorsuch’s nomination for the Supreme Court to now back the President’s latest nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.
The group, America First Policies, is launching the ads Wednesday in the home states of North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, and Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly. President Trump won all of their states by double digits in 2016, and all three lawmakers are up for reelection this year.
The 30-second ads feature Trump introducing Kavanaugh in the White House Monday, followed by Kavanaugh’s remarks accepting the nomination in which he discusses the need to preserve the U.S. Constitution. “Tell [Senator Heitkamp, Manchin, Donnelly] to confirm Kavanaugh,” the ad concludes while displaying each of their office’s phone numbers.
The ads, which cost approximately $150,000 each, are the initial step in America First Policy’s seven-figure campaign to support Kavanaugh. It is yet another indication of how costly the fight will be over his confirmation will be, given the partisan divisions in the Senate. While Republicans currently have a 51-49 majority — one more then they need to confirm Kavanaugh — it is unlikely that Sen. John McCain, who has been absent from the floor while he battles brain cancer, will return for a vote. If Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is able to hold the Democrats together to form a unified opposition, Republicans will need every member of their caucus to vote for the nominee (that includes Vice President Mike Pence, who would serve as a tiebreaker.)
With such little room for defection, groups on both sides of the aisle have targeted different Senators who might make or break the nomination. Liberals have honed in on Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and Maine Senator Susan Collins on the hopes that their support for abortion can persuade them to vote against Kavanaugh, who is seen as an opponent of abortion rights. Republicans, meanwhile, have largely targeted Manchin, Donnelly, and Heitkamp, betting that their electoral prospects could coerce them into bucking party loyalty. (Other Senators facing similar predicaments, like Montana’s Jon Tester and Florida’s Bill Nelson, have also been added to this list).
Right now, all three lawmakers targeted in the ad have been mum on which way they will vote, despite Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer vowing to oppose Kavanaugh “with everything I have.”
“I don’t have a lean. I think he seems to be a very fine person of high moral standards,” Manchin said on a West Virginia radio show Wednesday. “We have to just look at making sure that the rule of law and the Constitution is going to be followed, and that’s going to basically preempt anything else he does.”
Correction July 11
The original version of this story misstated America First Policies’ organizational status. It is a 501(c)(4), not a Super PAC.