Pence stumps for vulnerable GOP senators resisting Democrat takeover
Vice President Mike Pence is campaigning with four GOP senators this week in an effort to boost their precarious standing in races that will help determine which party controls the upper chamber of Congress.
On Tuesday, Pence visited South Carolina to stump for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who has been stunningly out-fundraised by Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison.
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A large part of the vice president’s pitch to voters in the waning days before the Nov. 3 election has focused on the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, a vote that created a 6-3 conservative majority.
Pence praised Graham, who leads the Judiciary Committee that conducted Barrett’s hearings, for his work in helping to confirm more than 200 judges during President Trump’s first term.
“He topped it off yesterday by leading the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett,” Pence told a crowd in Greenville, S.C. “The rule of law has no greater champion than your senator. So right after you re-elect President Donald Trump, we need South Carolina to re-elect Senator Lindsey Graham for six more years in a landslide.”
Later that day, Pence flew to North Carolina for rallies in Greensboro and on the tarmac of the Wilmington International Airport with Sen.Thom Tillis.
Tillis had been trailing Democratic opponent Cal Cunningham, but The (Raleigh) News & Observer reports the race is tightening, with support for the incumbent rising.
At the beginning of the month, what is now the most expensive Senate race in history was disrupted when Tillis announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus the same day that Cunningham, who is married, was caught exchanging intimate text messages with another woman.
Since then, Cunningham has largely avoided public events.
On Thursday, the vice president is in Iowa. He is scheduled to host a rally at the Des Moines International Airport with Sen. Joni Ernst.
Ernst is locked in a tight battle with Democrat Theresa Greenfield and told Radio Iowa her “gut is saying really good things about this election cycle.”
“It’s been a rough haul, no doubt about it…but I feel good and I’m asking for their support for the next six years,” she said.
Pence is expected to talk about the economy and faith, according to local television station WWAY, affiliated with CBS and ABC.
Lastly, the vice president will return to the battleground state of Arizona, where Sen. Martha McSally is behind former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly by a wide margin.
Notably, Pence’s travel is contingent upon his remaining healthy. Multiple aides on his team tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week.
The Hill reported Thursday that Pence’s tour is meant help the senators make up for time lost as they held hearings in Washington, D.C. to push Barrett’s confirmation through.
Filling the vacant high court seat after the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg became a high priority for the administration, which believed the effort would motivate more traditional conservatives ahead of Election Day.
Democrats were equally invigorated in their opposition, with progressives worried by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judge’s stance on health care as well as abortion rights.
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Barrett’s eventual confirmation also sparked discussions among Senate Democrats about expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court, a tactic famously — albeit unsuccessfully — attempted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Democrats might be able to do so if they keep control of the House and take back the Senate, as they are favored to do, according to a FiveThirtyEight forecast.
As CNN reported Tuesday, Democrats will need a net gain of four seats to control the chamber if Democratic nominee Joe Biden loses. If the former vice president wins, they’d only need a net gain of three seats since Kamala Harris could cast tie-breaking votes as vice president.
Pence did the same during Trump’s first two years in office, when Republicans controlled the Senate by a narrower margin.