The Note: 2020 pace picks up with Kavanaugh nomination

The buildup to the 2020 election is picking up speed.

October 2, 2018, 6:01 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

President Donald Trump may have revealed a bit more than he wanted to about what’s on his mind these days.

In defending his choice for the Supreme Court, Trump issued what might have been a warning — to an unnamed Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee whom he said was "pretty aggressive" in questioning Brett Kavanaugh.

"I've seen that person in very, very bad situations — somewhat compromising," Trump said.

If 2020 felt far away for a moment, the fight over Kavanaugh took care of that. Trump wouldn't say which Democrat he was referring to, though at least three on the Judiciary Committee — Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar — are possible presidential contenders.

PHOTO: Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at a rally held for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez and congressional Democratic candidate Ayanna Pressley, Sept. 9, 2018, in Cambridge, Mass.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at a rally held for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez and congressional Democratic candidate Ayanna Pressley, Sept. 9, 2018, in Cambridge, Mass.
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Trump also might be hearing footsteps from up in New Hampshire. Republican Sen. Jeff Flake — retiring from the Senate, though maybe not from politics — kept an engagement at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics Monday night.

Then there’s Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who cited what she saw in the Kavanaugh hearing — "powerful men helping a powerful man make it to an even more powerful position" — to say for the first time that she will consider a presidential run after the midterms.

"I watched that, and I thought: Time's up," Warren said.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

With his signature, quiet tone, Sen. Jeff Flake faced raucous protesters on the street and a huge mass of cameras inside the room for a speech in New Hampshire Monday night.

Not only has he been the man of the hour — actually, of the week — but he was in New Hampshire, an early voting state in presidential cycles that always gets attention and raises eyebrows when politicians visit.

While the attention for the visit was not surprising, Flake’s politics still are.

He spent most of his speech lamenting our country's polarized politics and tribal tendencies. He told stories about times when he thought he was doing the right thing and was surprised by the backlash from party die-hards.

PHOTO: Sen. Jeff Flake listens to a question during an appearance at the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit, Oct. 1, 2018, in Boston.
Sen. Jeff Flake listens to a question during an appearance at the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit, Oct. 1, 2018, in Boston.
Mary Schwalm/AP

During an interview over the weekend, Flake said he did not think he could do what he did in the Senate Judiciary Committee — pressing the pause button on the Supreme Court nomination — if he were running for re-election. That line stood out to some people in the room in New Hampshire. They disagreed and wanted him to know that as even Democrats and more-independent-minded folks, they thought there was more of a lane than he realized for someone bucking the Republican Party of today.

The hard part there is that Flake says he is a lifelong GOPer. Still, his vote is crucial and he may have surprises yet in store.

The TIP with Chris Donato and Jordyn Phelps

Sharing the stage with President Donald Trump at a rally in Tennessee Monday night, Republican Senate candidate Rep. Marsha Blackburn predicted that "when that blue wave gets to the state line, it is going to run smack dab right into the great red wall."

Trump, who won the state by 26 points in 2016, sought to project confidence and rally the Republican base on Blackburn's behalf a month ahead of the midterms. The party hopes to keep the Senate seat left open by GOP Sen. Bob Corker's retirement.

A loss in solidly-red Tennessee could impact the GOP's narrow Senate majority.

Trump and his politics are popular in the state and Blackburn touted his record on foreign policy, vowed to support a southern wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and pledged to take care of the nation's veterans.

The president also attacked Blackburn's opponent, former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen, over his lack of support for the border wall.

"So stand with me," Blackburn implored the Johnson City crowd. Trump, in asking his supporters to get out and vote for Blackburn, assured the crowd that Blackburn is "a vote for me and everything we stand for."


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Tuesday morning’s episode features the latest on the FBI investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh – we hear from ABC News Senior Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas on who agents have talked to. ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent says President Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell are among those looking for the investigation to wrap up soon. And, ABC News contributor and former homeland security adviser to President Trump, Tom Bossert, on why he thinks the new trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada will benefit auto manufacturers and workers.

FiveThirtyEight's "Politics Podcast." ABC News partner FiveThirtyEight's Politics Podcast crew discusses how the public is reacting in the wake of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony last Thursday. The crew also looks at how faith in the court has evolved in recent decades and debate whether a Kavanaugh confirmation would affect that evolution.


  • President Trump delivers remarks at the National Electrical Contractors Association Convention in Philadelphia at 2:30 p.m. He then heads to Southaven, Miss., to hold a Make America Great Again rally at 7:40 p.m., part of his Southern swing through the region ahead of the midterms.
  • Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and 2016 presidential candidate, sits for an interview with The Atlantic at 2 p.m. for the first day of The Atlantic Festival in Washington, D.C. At 4 p.m., White House adviser Kellyanne Conway also sits for an interview with The Atlantic. Clinton's appearance comes days after embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said in his hearing that Democratic efforts to block his confirmation were due to "revenge on behalf of the Clintons." Conway, who recently revealed she is a sexual assault survivor, said on CNN Kavanaugh's nomination shouldn't become a "meeting of the #MeToo movement."
  • Also kicking off day one of the Atlantic Festival: At 10:30 a.m., Democratic Sen. Chris Coons and Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, the two senators who led the charge to force an FBI investigation into allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, speak with Jeffrey Rosen, president of the National Constitution Center, as part of The Atlantic Festival.
  • Tuesday evening, Republican Jim Lee and Democrat Karl Dean face off in the first of three debates for the Tennessee governor's seat. It's an open seat race to succeed Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who is term limited.
  • Candidates also debate in two Senate races Tuesday; Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott face off in their first debate for Florida's Senate seat, and Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine faces Republican challenger Corey Stewart for their third debate in the race for Virginia's Senate seat.
  • Stormy Daniels' new book, "Full Disclosure," is out Tuesday. In it, the adult film star describes her alleged relationship with Trump, whose former personal attorney Michael Cohen admitted to approving a $130,000 payment in return for her silence. Trump denies any relationship with Daniels.
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