Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony angrily denying sexual assault allegations galvanized many in the Republican party, who rallied to his defense.
Many women around the country, meanwhile, were riveted by the words of his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, some recalling their own traumas or the history of powerful men getting away with mistreating women.
The fate of the nominee may rest with two female Republican senators, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who had both remained undecided on Friday. However they indicated that they supported Senator Jeff Flake’s call for a one-week delay on a floor vote, after the judiciary committee moved the nomination forward.
Reaction to Thursday’s momentous hearing was starkly divided along partisan lines, and many right-leaning women echoed the views of the rest of their party.
“Brett Kavanaugh is a hero. I implore our Republican congressmen to confirm him, NOW,” Candace Owens, communications director for Turning Point USA, a conservative student organization, said on Twitter, also adding: “Kavanaugh has me on the brink of tears.”
Radio host and National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch said that to torpedo Kavanaugh would usher in a “new standard of not being judged by your competency as an adult, but by your fart jokes and beer drinking as a teenager (as no evidence has materialized to prove true any of these claims).”
Kavanaugh’s angry demeanor, she said, was justified. “People get mad when you lie about them, smear their character, threaten their families, and they have every right to feel that way … Kavanaugh is deservedly and righteously hurt and angry. He’s fighting,” she tweeted. “How should a man sound after his name and reputation have been wholly trashed, his wife and daughters threatened, due to still unsubstantiated accusations?”
“What we have witnessed in these last couple of weeks is just a travesty,” Mollie Hemingway, a senior editor at the conservative online magazine The Federalist, said on Fox News. “We did not have any additional supporting evidence today. Any at all.”
For some, the hearing inspired a more nuanced reaction. Nancy French, a conservative Christian writer, said the testimony brought her to tears.
“As a sex abuse survivor, you feel marginalized your whole life – like no one is listening to you,” she told Time. “But as the senators interrupted her testimony to grandstand every five minutes, it slowly dawned on me that the culture holds sex abuse survivors in less esteem than I thought. They perceive us to be less than nothing … We are political pawns, elevated when we fit the narrative, ignored when we don’t.”
And Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger and MSNBC contributor, said Kavanaugh came off as a “deeply, deeply partisan man”.
“By all means, keep screaming and pounding the table. But men shouldn’t be in public office if they’re going to get hysterical,” she tweeted, adding his demeanor added credibility to the sexual assault allegations. “With him screaming and interrupting senators I could imagine him putting his hand over someone’s mouth.”
Commentator and columnist S.E. Cupp said that after watching Ford testify, she thought: “This is over – this is devastating.”
That changed after Kavanaugh took his turn. “The anger that he showed … the frustration, the anxiety, indeed the tears, the raw emotion, was what a lot of voters – I think a silent majority – wanted to see,” she said Thursday on CNN. “Their anger was reflected by Brett Kavanaugh.”
Fox News contributor Sara Carter also saw Kavanaugh’s performance swaying people to his side.
“I think the American people saw for the first time, really saw what was happening to this man, what was happening to Judge Kavanaugh and his family,” she said on the network. “When we hear this man cry out and say, look at what you have done to my family. Look at what you’ve done to our nation. Is this what we’re going to do to each other? I think at that point the country took a step back and people were swayed by Kavanaugh.”