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IN-Sen: Republican candidate Mike Braun blasts Sen. Joe Donnelly for Kavanaugh vote at first debate

Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly (left) and Republican candidate Mike Braun (right, with President Donald Trump) faced off in a debate Monday night in Westville, Indiana. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images, Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was at the center of Monday night's Indiana Senate race debate between Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun and incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly.

Donnelly voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's first Supreme Court pick, voted against confirming Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh was confirmed in a 50-48 vote Saturday.

What happened at the debate?

Braun, a businessman and former Indiana state representative, tore into Donnelly for voting against Kavanaugh during the debate in Westville, Indiana.

Donnelly defended himself from Braun's attacks by explaining why he felt voting for Kavanaugh would be wrong.

"I voted against Judge Kavanaugh because of concerns about his impartiality and concerns about his judicial temperament," Donnelly said.

Donnelly also suggested that Braun would do anything to stay in Trump's good graces.

"[Braun] was for Judge Kavanaugh on the first day," Donnelly said. "If President Trump put up Bugs Bunny, [Braun] would have said he should go on the court.

"My job," he added, "is to protect the court and to put people on who are qualified."

In response, Braun noted that Donnelly — and other Democrats — would stop at nothing to advance the liberal political agenda.

"Democrats, including Joe Donnelly, will do or say anything when it comes to their political interests," Braun said. "It is a blood sport."

Anything else?

A recent Fox News Poll showed Donnelly with a 2-point lead over Braun (43 percent to 41 percent) in their U.S. Senate race.

The topic of Kavanaugh was also featured in the poll, which noted that should Donnelly vote against Kavanaugh, 30 percent of voters said they would be more likely to vote for Donnelly. Thirty-two percent of voters said they would be less likely to vote for Donnelly in such a case, and 34 percent of voters said Donnelly’s vote on Kavanaugh would make no difference.

A previous Ipsos Public Affairs poll showed Donnelly and Braun locked in a dead heat.

Trump officially endorsed Braun in September during a campaign rally in Evansville, Indiana.

The Senate election in Indiana is one of 10 “most likely to flip in 2018,” CNN reported in January. The Cook Political Report calls the race a toss-up, as does Real Clear Politics.

Donnelly and Braun will face off in a second debate on Oct. 30 at the Toby Theater at Newfields in Indianapolis.

The election is set for Nov. 6.

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