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The fight over the Kavanaugh-Ford testimony remains a stalemate

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Brett Kavanaugh
While this story remains a stalemate, each side has important questions to answer.Win McNamee / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — Democrats and Republicans haven’t budged in the last 24 hours over the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Republicans are demanding that accuser Christine Blasey Ford testify on Monday or they’ll go ahead with a vote, while Ford’s attorneys are calling for the Senate Judiciary Committee to have additional witnesses. And Democrats are supporting that demand.

NBC News: “The lawyer for the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault said Wednesday that the GOP's ‘rush to a hearing is unnecessary, and contrary to the Committee discovering the truth.’ ... The statement calling for additional witnesses, which followed the Tuesday call by Ford's attorneys for an FBI investigation into the allegations, came after Republican lawmakers appeared poised Wednesday to push ahead with a confirmation vote on Kavanaugh if Ford did not agree to participate in a Monday Senate hearing to air the allegation that he assaulted her while both were in high school.”

Importantly, however, Ford’s lawyers have yet to say she WON’T be testifying on Monday.

While this story remains a stalemate, each side has important questions to answer. For Republicans, why do they need to do this by Monday? What is one more week? It’s only September, and the election is just under seven weeks away. In addition, why no other witnesses?

For Ford and Democrats, if Monday isn’t suitable, don’t they need to provide a reasonable day that is? This limbo can’t go on forever.

As for President Donald Trump, he’s keeping his powder dry on this topic — especially if Ford does eventually testify.

“Justice Kavanaugh has been treated very, very tough. And his family, I think it's a very unfair thing what's going on,” Trump said Wednesday (note: Kavanaugh is not yet a Supreme Court justice). “So we'll see. But I do think this. They've given it a lot of time. They will continue to give it a lot of time, and really, it's up to the Senate. And I really rely on them. I think they're going to do a good job.”

McCaskill is a 'no' on Kavanaugh

Meanwhile, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. — who is running in one of the most competitive Senate contests of 2018 — announced her opposition to Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. Her reasoning: campaign finance.

"He has revealed his bias against limits on campaign donations which places him completely out of the mainstream of this nation,” she said in a statement.

Not abortion. Not health care. Not Mueller/executive power. And not Ford’s accusation. But campaign finance.

The timing’s interesting, too: She announced her opposition to Kavanaugh before this Ford matter comes to a conclusion.

How the Russians interfered in the 2016 election

Don't miss the New York Times' in-depth look at the Russian interference campaign in the 2016 election:

Consider 10 days in March. On March 15 of that year, Mr. Trump won five primaries, closing in on his party’s nomination, and crowed that he had become “the biggest political story anywhere in the world.” That same day in Moscow, a veteran hacker named Ivan Yermakov, a Russian military intelligence officer working for a secret outfit called Unit 26165, began probing the computer network of the Democratic National Committee. In St. Petersburg, shift workers posted on Facebook and Twitter at a feverish pace, posing as Americans and following instructions to attack Mrs. Clinton.

On March 21, in Washington, Mr. Trump announced his foreign policy team, a group of fringe figures whose advocacy of warmer relations with Russia ran counter to Republican orthodoxy. Meanwhile, Unit 26165 was poring over the bounty from a separate attack it had just carried out: 50,000 emails stolen from the Clinton campaign’s chairman.

On March 24, one of the members the Trump foreign policy team, George Papadopoulos, sat in the cafe of an upscale London hotel with a Russian woman who introduced herself as Mr. Putin’s niece and offered to help set up a meeting between the Russian president and Mr. Trump. The woman and the adviser exchanged frequent messages in the weeks that followed. Today, Mr. Padadopoulos is unsure that those messages came from the person he met in the cafe.

Trump heads to Vegas

Later this afternoon, Trump departs to Las Vegas, where he holds a rally at 10 pm ET.

Here’s a look at the ad-spending race in the key Senate contests

Now with less than seven weeks before Election Day, here are the ad-spending numbers (TV and radio) in the top Senate battlegrounds, according to data through Sept. 20 from Advertising Analytics. The numbers are for the general election — so spending after the primary concluded in each state — and the information in parenthesis is the largest advertiser in each state.

AZ: GOP $4.3 million, Dem 4.0 million (Majority Forward – D: $1.9 million)

FL: GOP $11.3 million, Dem $8.4 million (Rick Scott camp – R: $7.1 million)

IN: Dem $14.1 million, GOP $12.2 million (Senate Majority PAC – D: $7.6 million)

MO: Dem $13.9 million, GOP $12.6 million (McCaskill camp – D: $5.5 million)

MT: Dem $7.5 million, GOP $5.6 million (Tester camp – D: $2.9 million)

NV: Dem $13.3 million, GOP $12.2 million (One Nation – R: $5.7 million)

NJ: GOP $9.7 million, Dem $4.2 million (Hugin campaign – R: $8.5 million)

ND: Dem $6.0 million, GOP $5.8 million (Heitkamp camp – D: $2.5 million)

TN: GOP $9.0 million, Dem $6.0 million (Majority Forward – D: $3.1 million)

TX: Dem $7.3 million, GOP $2.1 million (O'Rourke camp – D: $7.3 million)

WV: GOP $8.2 million, Dem $8.2 million (Senate Majority PAC – D: $5.0 million)

WI: Dem $3.1 million, GOP $2.0 million (Baldwin campaign – D: $2.4 million)

Some observations:

Out of these 12 races, Democrats are leading in ad spending in seven of them, the GOP is leading in four, and they’re tied in one (West Virginia).

There isn’t a single red-state Democrat — Heitkamp, Manchin, Tester, McCaskill or Donnelly — who’s being outspent right now.

After being outspent over the airwaves by about 50-to-1 back in May, Democrats are now close to parity in Florida.

In New Jersey, Hugin and Republicans are outspending incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez and Democrats by more than 2-to-1.

And in Texas, Beto O’Rourke is outspending Ted Cruz and Republicans by more than 3-to-1.

But let’s also look at the ad spending in some key states that AREN’T competitive this cycle:

MI: Dem $2.8 million, GOP $2,700 (Stabenow camp – D: $2.8 million) 1000-1

OH: Dem $6.2 million, GOP $491,000 (Brown camp – D: $6.2 million) 13-1

PA: Dem $2.7 million, GOP $681,000 (Casey camp – D: $2.7 million) 4-1

So in Pennsylvania, Democrats are outspending Republicans by a 4-to-1 margin; in Ohio, it’s a 13-to-1 margin; and in Michigan, it’s a whopping 1,000-to-1 margin. No wonder those races aren’t competitive.

The Top 10 Senate advertisers

And here’s a look at the top overall advertisers in the Senate contests through Sept. 20:

1. Senate Majority PAC (D): $40.2 million

2. Rick Scott campaign (R): $32.6 million

3. One Nation (R): $26.7 million

4. Majority Forward (D): $25.0 million

5. Americans for Prosperity (R): $12.5 million

6. NRSC (R): $11.5 million

7. Senate Leadership Fund (R): $10.8 million

8. Hugin campaign (R): $10.3 million

9. New Republican PAC (R): $9.4 million

10. McCaskill campaign (D): $8.6 million