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ACLU TV ads compare Kavanaugh to Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby

After announcing over the weekend that it would take the unusual step of opposing Brett Kavanaugh's nominati...

Posted: Oct 1, 2018 10:06 PM
Updated: Oct 1, 2018 10:07 PM

After announcing over the weekend that it would take the unusual step of opposing Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, the American Civil Liberties Union will launch a seven-figure ad blitz across four states urging senators to vote against his confirmation.

The spots will air in West Virginia, Alaska, Nebraska and Colorado, including one in the Denver area during what should be a highly-viewed Monday night NFL game between the hometown Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs.

American Civil Liberties Union

Brett Kavanaugh

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

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Government organizations - US

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Political Figures - US

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US Congress

US Senate

Bill Clinton

Bill Cosby

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In an interview, ACLU national political director Faiz Shakir said the total expenditure will come in at a little more than a million dollars, with a specific focus on persuading moderate and conservative women.

He also hopes the effort will broaden pressure on Republican senators beyond those currently viewed as swing votes.

"I don't think it should rest on Murkowski and Collins to be the conscience of the nation right now," Shakir said, suggesting the pair might be more likely to reject Kavanaugh in the end "if they feel like there's greater atmospherics and environmental pressure surrounding other senators."

In the first five seconds of the Colorado ad, which addresses GOP Sen. Cory Gardner, viewers will see images of mainstream media figures like Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer, who lost their jobs over alleged sexual misconduct, Harvey Weinstein, the film executive facing multiple sexual assault charges and former President Bill Clinton, on camera in 1998, denying "sexual relations" with Monica Lewinsky.

Bill Cosby follows, also denying the accusations against him, before Kavanaugh appears, doing the same on Capitol Hill during last week's hearing.

The ads "walk (viewers) through the people they would've potentially registered disapproval with in the past," Shakir said. "You get to Clinton, you get to Cosby -- by the time you get to Kavanaugh, you will probably have seen 4 or 5 folks who you probably had some concerns with. We're trying to get conservative women to see this outside the partisan and tribal lens."

In addition to Gardner, who is also the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the spots call on fellow GOP Sens. Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who remains uncommitted, is the lone targeted Democrat.

Kavanaugh is only the fourth Supreme Court nominee opposed by the ACLU in its 98-year history. The first came in 1971, when President Richard Nixon initially nominated William Rehnquist to the bench, then again in 1987, when President Ronald Reagan tapped Robert Bork and, most recently, in 2006 when it opposed President George W. Bush nominee Samuel Alito.

All but Bork were eventually confirmed by the Senate. Rehnquist would get Senate approval again, in 1986, when Reagan nominated him to become the the court's chief justice.

Shakir said the ACLU also plans to thank Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, whose last-minute anxieties over the Kavanaugh process resulted in a delay on a full Senate vote and a new, narrow probe into the charges made by Christine Blasey Ford and others, in an ad expected to land on Tuesday in the Arizona Republic newspaper.

The televised ads, which will appear on broadcast and cable, represent the nonpartisan ACLU's latest step in to implicitly partisan warfare. In June, it rolled out a new "nationwide voter education and mobilization program," which will grade members of Congress on their civil liberties records, and has been at the front lines of legal fights with the Trump administration over policies like the travel ban and family separations on the US-Mexico border.

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