Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Amy McGrath on Sunday defended her abrupt flip-flop on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, saying her initial response "wasn't the best answer."
McGrath drew sharp criticism from the left when she told the Courier-Journal that she viewed last year's sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford as "credible," but still "probably would have voted for him." Following a backlash, she tweeted hours later she would have voted no upon "further understanding of his record."
The episode drew questions about whether McGrath was the right choice to take on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) in 2020.
"Why did you change your opinion in the course of a day, and how did you not know where you stood previously?" MSNBC's Kasie Hunt asked McGrath.
"I was asked about Justice Kavanaugh, and in that same interview, I talked about my reservations against him, with his rulings," McGrath said. "I talked about the very serious allegations, very credible allegations against him by Dr. Ford, and I said in the moment that I looked at his basic qualifications and I said I would vote for him, probably yes.
"I knew at the time, the moment I left that interview, that ‘probably yes' wasn't an answer, wasn't the best answer. I needed to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, and I did that. And based on his rulings in the past, I knew that I could not vote for Justice Kavanaugh, and I corrected that right away in the most professional manner that I could."
Asked if she believed Ford's allegation against Kavanaugh, McGrath replied she was "very credible." She pivoted to criticizing McConnell for pushing Kavanaugh's confirmation through.
"In the Marine Corps, I've sat on boards," she said. "Whenever there's a serious allegation the way there was in this case, you stop the board. You have an investigation. You look at all the evidence, and that just didn't happen in this case. And it's guys like Mitch McConnell, Mitch McConnell himself, who rammed this through, and that was absolutely wrong."
Kavanaugh wouldn't even be talked about, McGrath argued, if McConnell hadn't held up Merrick Garland's nomination by President Barack Obama in 2016. Senate Republicans held the line on not giving Garland a hearing or vote, and when Donald Trump was elected, he nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia.
"[McConnell]'s the one responsible for this being a partisan mess to begin with, and that's why I'm running against him," she said.
She told the Courier-Journal in her initial response that she was concerned about his "far-right stances" but didn't think there was anything disqualifying in his record.
"The fact is when you have the president and the Senate, this is our system and so I don't think there was anything that would have disqualified him in my mind," she said.
McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot, ran unsuccessfully for Kentucky's Sixth Congressional District in 2018.