The Note: Republicans stuck on uneasy defense on health care

The TAKE with Rick Klein

In Washington, Democrats are less focused on blocking Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination than they are making the case about what that could mean almost immediately after the election. They are arguing that she would likely find Obamacare unconstitutional when the Trump administration’s arguments are heard shortly after the election.

Said Sen. Kamala Harris, doing double duty as vice-presidential candidate and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee: “Republicans finally realized that the Affordable Care Act is too popular to repeal in Congress, so now they are trying to bypass the will of the voters and have the Supreme Court do their dirty work.”

PHOTO: Sen. Kamala Harris speaks virtually during Supreme Court Justice nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice, as Sen. John Kennedy listens, on Capitol Hill, Oct. 12, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Kamala Harris speaks virtually during Supreme Court Justice nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice, as Sen. John Kennedy listens, on Capitol Hill, Oct. 12, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

Back on the campaign trail in Florida Monday, a mask-less but — according to the White House — now virus-free President Donald Trump made a specific pledge to seniors to protect Medicare and promised that all Americans would have access to “the same damn thing” he did to treat COVID-19.

But the Trump campaign is locked in yet another fight with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has made clear he doesn’t approve of how his words have been misconstrued in an ad. In an interview on CNN, Fauci warned the campaign against any further ads quoting him.

“That would be terrible. I mean, that would be outrageous if they do that, in fact, that might actually come back to backfire on them,” he said. “That would be kind of playing a game that we don’t want to play.”

As for Trump’s game, his first rally back featured him dubiously claiming he is “immune” — along with a joke that he may kiss everyone in the audience. He’s back to making his case in person, for all that is worth.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Senate Republicans Monday tried to avoid talking about policy positions that they have advocated for years. They went as far as to act indignant and offended when Democrats asked rhetorically if Judge Amy Coney Barrett would be, through her legal opinions, the very kind of justice that Republicans themselves had promised to find.

PHOTO: Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett speaks during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice on Capitol Hill, Oct. 12, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett speaks during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice on Capitol Hill, Oct. 12, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

“You would think that this was a political discussion, a policy discussion, a legislative discussion. You are not being reviewed for a legislative position or policy making position,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said referring to Democrats’ stated anxieties about the prospects of the Affordable Care Act or long-standing abortion law being overturned.

Republicans, of course, for years have worked to overturn and repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law, and the Supreme Court will hear a case challenging the law again this fall. But still, Republicans argued those questions to Barrett would somehow be unfair.

Trump has said many times too that he planned to only appoint judges who would also overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion.

“Given your track record, you would think that my colleagues would jump at the opportunity to support a successful female legal superstar, who is highly regarded by both her Democratic and Republican colleagues, and who is a working mom,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., defending Barrett before she spoke.

Republicans repeatedly claimed Barrett was under attack for her faith when facing inevitable questions about women’s reproductive health and abortion, though Republicans were the only ones in the room to bring up religion explicitly.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., summed up Democrats’ cornerstone argument, “We’re here because in the middle of an ongoing election, Republicans have found a nominee in Judge Barrett, to do what they couldn’t do, subvert the will of the American people and overturn the (Affordable Care Act) and overturn Roe v. Wade. That’s what this is about.”

The second day of hearings gets underway at 9 a.m. Tuesday, where Barrett will begin to answer direct questions from the committee members. Late Monday, the Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham went ahead and formally scheduled a committee vote this Thursday — the morning of the last day of hearings. That means Barrett’s nomination will likely be brought up for a committee vote in that meeting, but then delayed for one week.

The TIP with Quinn Scanlan

Election officials expected there to be lines at early voting sites in Georgia on Monday, but turnout for first day of the three-week advance voting period was so high that voters across the state, and especially in the most populated metro areas, waited for hours in socially distanced lines to vote.

Critics were quick to point to the long lines as evidence of voter suppression, but the fact that counties expanded early voting opportunities and the sheer number of Georgians who’ve already voted with three weeks until Election Day offers a different explanation: Voter enthusiasm is through the roof.

PHOTO: PPeople wait in line to vote in Decatur, Ga., Oct. 12, 2020.

People wait in line to vote in Decatur, Ga., Oct. 12, 2020.

“This is a fantastic turnout election. I am on the floor,” Jordan Fuchs, deputy secretary of state, told ABC News.

Ahead of the first day of early voting in 2016, about 57,000 people had already voted in the Peach State, but when early voting started Monday, nearly 440,000 Georgians — a 670% increase — had already returned absentee ballots, according to Georgia Votes’ analyses. Nearly 127,000 Georgians voted in person Monday, according to Fuchs, and only 110 out of 159 counties were open for voting, since it was a federal holiday. In 2016, about 90,000 came out on the first day.

The state’s largest metro counties upped both the number of early voting locations and the hours they’re open for the general election this cycle, compared to 2016. In Fulton County, 33 voting locations were open Monday, compared to 26 in 2016, and one of them was a NBA arena that had 300 voting machines. In Dekalb County, all 12 voting sites are open daily the entire three weeks, compared to just three of 10 open daily in 2016. In Gwinnett County, while the wait time reached an estimated eight hours at one location Monday, there were nine early voting locations open, and they’ll also be open daily, unlike 2016, when the main office was the only place voters could go for the first two weeks.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast Tuesday morning’s episode features ABC News Senior Congressional correspondent Mary Bruce and ABC News Senior National correspondent Terry Moran — the two break down Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s opening statement and how both sides will handle the hearings. ABC News’ Steve Osunsami joins us from Atlanta, where the lines were long on the first day of early voting. And ABC News contributor Dr. Todd Ellerin clears up confusion around COVID-19 reinfection and best mask practices. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast After Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016, it was an open question whether Democrats’ path back to the White House would rely on flipping increasingly purple Sun Belt states or winning back old “blue wall” states in the Rust Belt. Based on the current polling, it appears Biden is performing better in the upper Midwest than in the South, but if Democrats are to win control of the Senate they’ll have to perform well in places like Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina as well. https://53eig.ht/2SQarbs

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will appear on ABC’s “The View” and Cindy McCain guest co-hosts.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee will continue to hold hearings on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to be an associate justice on the Supreme Court, beginning at 9 a.m. The hearings will be live-streamed on ABC News Live.
  • The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in three cases beginning at 10 a.m.
  • President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, at 7 p.m.
  • Vice President Mike Pence hosts a campaign event in Waukesha, Wisconsin, at noon CT.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden travels to Broward County, Florida. In the afternoon, he will give remarks on his vision for older Americans in Pembroke Pines and later he will attend an event in Miramar to encourage Floridians to make a plan to vote.
  • Jill Biden travels to Texas for get out the vote rallies in El Paso at 10:30 a.m. MT, in Dallas at 3:15 p.m. CT and in Houston at 6 p.m. CT.
  • Doug Emhoff campaigns in Virginia.
  • Download the ABC News app and select “The Note” as an item of interest to receive the day’s sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day’s top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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