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Red-state Democrats facing tough re-election battles remain mum on Kavanaugh vote

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) is facing a tough re-election race in and recent accusations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh have added pressure to his upcoming vote on the Supreme Court nominee. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The red-state Democrats who may well hold the key to Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court are keeping their cards close to the vest when it comes to declaring how they'll vote on the controversial nomination.

At least three Republicans — Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — have not committed to vote "yes" on Kavanaugh, which means that Kavanaugh may need Democratic votes to be confirmed in the closely divided Senate.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) is among one of several red-state Democrats whose vote may be key for Kavanaugh.

Manchin told reporters on Monday that he would wait for more information from all parties involved in the sexual misconduct accusations lobbed against Kavanaugh following the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings two weeks ago, The Washington Examiner reported.

“I want everybody to be able to tell their side of the story if it’s validated and I want him to have a chance to clear his name," Manchin said. "Period, period, period, period."

Two women, Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, have accused Kavanaugh of inappropriate sexual behavior toward them. Neither of the women's stories has been corroborated by witnesses.

Kavanaugh has adamantly denied the accusations and admitted in an interview that he was a virgin until many years after college.

Manchin is in a race against Patrick Morrisey (R) to keep his seat in a state with strong support for President Donald Trump.

Who are the key Democrats?

Joe Donnelly (Ind.) is also facing a tough re-election in November, but he said he would keep an open mind until all the facts are laid out.

"I just want to hear all the facts, hear what everybody has to say," Donnelly told reporters on Monday, The Examiner reported.

Donnelly who's up against Republican Mike Braun went on to say that he isn't feeling pressure from either side on his vote.

"No. I'll just do what's right, no matter what," he said.

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said she believes the accusations need to be "looked into," but she made no further comment, according to CNN.

What about Senate Democrats who oppose Kavanaugh's nomination?

Some Senate Democrats believe Kavanaugh should be disqualified over the unconfirmed allegations, claiming that the women's accusations should be proof enough.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has said she believes the accusations and that the FBI should conduct a full investigation.

"A Fox News interview is not the same as an FBI interview. If Brett Kavanaugh really wants a “fair process,” we need the FBI to conduct a full investigation to establish the facts, including interviews with corroborating witnesses," Gillibrand tweeted Monday night.

In an earlier tweet on Tuesday, Gillibrand said it's time for a new nominee.

"Enough is enough. One credible sexual assault claim should have been too many to get a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court and make decisions that will affect millions of women’s lives for generations. Two is an embarrassment. It’s time for a new nominee." Gillibrand tweeted.

Sen. Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) said she believes the women and characterized the allegations as "attempted rape" in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday.

On Monday, Hirono stood alongside activists at the Capitol where she vowed support for Ford.

What do Republicans say?

Many Republicans stand ready to fight back against the accusations, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Ky.), who on Monday called the allegations a "shameful, shameful smear campaign" while speaking on Senate floor.

McConnell blasted Democrats and their allies for "trying to destroy a man's personal and professional life."

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina urged the party to push forward with Kavanaugh's confirmation vote.

"What we are witnessing is the total collapse of the traditional confirmation process for a Supreme Court nominee. It is being replaced by a game of delay, deception, and wholesale character assassination," he wrote in another tweet.

What else?

Ford and Kavanaugh, along with his wife, are scheduled to testify separately before the committee on Thursday.


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