Ads, protests pressure Collins, other key senators on Kavanaugh

CNN/ Newswire | 9/24/2018, 3:44 p.m.
Protests at the US Capitol and ads on TV in her home state have surrounded Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, ...
Protesters gather outside the offices of Senators who are in control of the vote to approve potential Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanuagh. A group of them raise their fists in solidarity to Brett Kavanaugh's victims.

By Sunlen Serfaty, Clare Foran and Eric Bradner, CNN

(CNN) -- Protests at the US Capitol and ads on TV in her home state have surrounded Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, pushing her to oppose embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the high court.

Republicans can confirm Kavanaugh without Democratic votes, but they can only afford to lose one GOP senator and still advance his nomination. His nomination is expected to hinge on several senators viewed as potential swing votes such as Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Two different women -- Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez -- have now publicly come forward with allegations against Kavanaugh that have upended the Senate vetting process for the nomination and thrown into question whether he will be confirmed. Kavanaugh has denied both allegations and the White House has continued to stand by him, with President Donald Trump on Monday calling the allegations "totally political."

Collins declined to comment on the latest allegation Monday from The New Yorker, telling reporters, "I'm not going to make statements right now. I will later."

Protests in the Capitol

Protesters sought to put pressure on Collins on Monday morning, showing up at her Senate office.

An aide from Collins' office came out into the hallway at one point to listen to the protesters.

The protesters implored the senator to take a stand sooner rather than later, saying: "Collins needs to make a decision now when it matters and stand up for us."

Another protester indicated that she was still holding out hope that Collins would be a "no" vote on Kavanaugh's nomination, saying, "We believe that Senator Collins can be a hero."

Capitol Hill police worked to make sure that people had room to move throughout the hallways, and police later arrested protesters occupying the hallway outside of Collins' office. An exact number of arrests was not immediately known.

On Monday morning, a large group of people, including Yale students, made their way through the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building, saying that they were headed to various Senate offices.

Several organizations, including NARAL Pro-Choice America and the National Women's Law Center, posted messages on Twitter promoting a national walkout and moment of solidarity in support of Ford and Ramierz set for 1 p.m. ET on Monday afternoon. A Facebook page for the event said demonstrators will gather in the Hart atrium at 12:30 p.m. ET and then march to the Supreme Court.

TV ad war

Collins is also facing a barrage of television, digital and newspaper advertisements in her home state urging her to oppose Kavanaugh's nomination.

Demand Justice, a progressive group leading the anti-Kavanaugh fight, last week announced a $700,000 ad buy targeting four Republicans: Collins and Murkowski, whose states are seeing it air on TV, and Nevada Sen. Dean Heller and Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who are in states where the ads are online.

The ads highlight Ford's allegation that Kavanaugh physically and sexually assaulted her as a 17-year-old -- including her claim that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand when she tried to scream -- and asks: "Will Susan Collins listen to her now?"