Good morning, NBC News readers.
President Donald Trump appears to have secured enough Senate support to push a vote on his Supreme Court nominee. “Zombie” storm Paulette has come back to life and Covid-19 claims another victim: Halloween.
Here’s what we’re watching this Wednesday morning.
White House gets behind idea of pushing Supreme Court nominee vote before the election
A consensus has formed within the West Wing to push for a vote on President Donald Trump’s coming Supreme Court nominee before the election, with aides and advisers saying they are increasingly optimistic that they will be able to pull off the speedy confirmation, three NBC News White House correspondents report.
Some outside advisers had initially argued that waiting to hold a vote until after Election Day could be the most politically advantageous strategy, said a person familiar with the thinking. Having the seat vacant could motivate conservatives to turn out for Trump to ensure that it got filled and save senators in tight races from having to make a controversial vote so close to the election.
But the momentum in the past 48 hours has swung toward getting a vote done as soon as possible, with those inside and outside the White House arguing that the quicker the process, the more likely they are to fill the seat, senior administration officials said.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, added to GOP confidence Tuesday when he threw his support behind Trump’s push to fill the seat vacated by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg quickly.
All eyes had been on Romney, often a Trump critic who voted to convict the president during the Senate impeachment trial earlier this year, as someone who could join Democrats to block the confirmation vote.
Trump even expressed appreciation toward his frequent foe during a rally in Pennsylvania Tuesday, saying: “Thank you, Mitt.”
To date, only two Republican senators have said it is too close to the presidential election to consider a court nomination, not enough to block it.
The president promised to “reveal” his nominee at the White House at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
Meantime, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden punted on the hypothetical question of how Democrats should retaliate if Republicans manage to secure their nominee. Asked if he’d be open to expanding on the number of Supreme Court seats if given the opportunity, he demurred.
“It’s a legitimate question. But let me tell you why I’m not going to answer that question. Because it will shift the focus,” Biden said.
The former vice president also won an interesting endorsement Tuesday: Cindy McCain threw her support behind Biden in a stinging rebuke of Trump by the widow of the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee.
Trump has had a fraught relationship with members of John McCain’s family since he disparaged the Arizona senator during his 2016 campaign. But the McCains have stopped short of endorsing Trump’s rivals until now.
Cindy McCain’s backing could help Biden appeal to Republicans disaffected with Trump and give him a boost the crucial swing state