CLEVELAND – As the old saying goes, it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire.
If the deadliest pandemic in a century, the worst economic downturn in decades, and a summer of nationwide protests over racial inequity weren’t enough for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Trump to battle over on Tuesday at the first of three presidential debates, another combustible topic’s been tossed into the toxic political mix.
That issue – the most bitterly partisan of all political battles – is a Supreme Court nomination fight, and it’s coming with just five weeks to go until Election Day.
Preparations take place for the first presidential debate in the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion, Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, in Cleveland. The first debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to take place Tuesday, Sept. 29. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The former vice president’s urging the GOP controlled Senate to hold off on any vote on the president’s nominee – conservative federal appeals court judge Amy Coney Barrett – until the winner of the presidential election’s determined.
"The Senate has to stand strong for our democracy," Biden emphasized Sunday. And he urged senators to "take a step back from the brink," and that now “is a time to de-escalate."
The president is barreling forward, telling "Fox & Friends" co-host Pete Hegseth in an interview on Sunday that he thinks Barrett could be confirmed ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3. Trump argued there’s "tremendous amount of time” from the kick off of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings on Oct. 12 until the election.
"I think we could have it done easily before the election," Trump predicted.
The Supreme Court confirmation showdown’s one of the 6 topics chosen for the first debate by the moderator, “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace.
Since the death of liberal leaning Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg a week and a half ago, the former vice president’s spotlighted the threat to the survival of the Affordable Care Act – the nation’s health care law best known as Obamacare – warning that Barrett would likely vote to eliminate the landmark measure in a case coming to the high court a week after the November election.
“Absolutely. It’s health care,” stressed veteran Democratic consultant and Fox News contributor Donna Brazile. “The Republicans have tried to gut and destroy the ACA for over nine and a half years and this is their first real shot at doing that with Judge Barrett. Biden has to carefully explain to the American people why now, and why Judge Barrett is a threat to the Affordable Care Act.”
“The vice president has to talk about what’s at stake. Everything is at stake, from voting rights to gay rights to workers’ rights to abortion rights,” spotlighted Brazile, who managed Vice President Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign and who twice served as interim chair of the Democratic National Committee over the past decade.
Longtime GOP strategist and Fox News contributor Karl Rove noted that if Biden targets the president for pushing forward with the nomination so close to the election, Trump “needs to defend … because the president of the United States has a constitutional authority to nominate and the Senate has the right to give its advise and consent or not. There’s no time limit on that. We have one president at a time.”
Brazile acknowledged, “Yes, we know the president has a right to appoint and the Senate has a right to verify. We understand the constitutional issues.” But she emphasized that the question for Biden to spotlight “is why rush this through so close to the election?”
Rove, the mastermind behind both of President George W. Bush’s presidential election victories, said that Trump “wants to do two things. He wants to say ‘I picked somebody who will strictly interpret the constitution and the laws of the United States as written and will not be a legislator in robes.’ It’s a very popular theme and it cuts across party lines. And second of all, he can extoll her background, which is exemplary.”
And if Trump has the time, Rove suggested that the president attack Biden for not releasing his own list of potential high court nominees, as Trump did in the 2016 election and again this month. Rove offered that the president should look at Biden and argue that "the reason you haven’t given us a list is because the American people would figure out they’re all judicial activists on the left of American politics who will use the position on the court to legislate from the bench rather than strictly apply the law.”