Democrat Amy McGrath, who is running to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), walked back comments that she would have voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after swift backlash on Wednesday.
“I was asked earlier today about Judge Brett Kavanaugh and I answered based upon his qualifications to be on the Supreme Court,” McGrath said in a tweet. “But upon further reflection and further understanding of his record, I would have voted no.”
In an interview with the Louisville Courier Journal published earlier on Wednesday, McGrath said that she’d had concerns about Kavanaugh but that she “probably would have voted for him.”
“I was very concerned about Judge Kavanaugh, what I felt like were the far-right stances that he had,” she said. “However, there was nothing in his record that I think would disqualify him in any way.”
McGrath also said she believed the allegation of sexual assault levied against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford were “credible” but that they would not have disqualified the judge.
“I think it’s credible but given the amount of time that lapsed in between and from a judicial standpoint, I don’t think it would really disqualify him,” she said.
McGrath, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and combat pilot, announced her Senate campaign this week after months of speculation that she might run. The Democrat ran an unsuccessful campaign last year to challenge GOP Rep. Andy Barr.
Her initial remarks on Wednesday appeared to be a reversal of previous opposition to Kavanaugh that McGrath expressed during her House campaign last year.
McGrath took heat from Kentucky Republicans at the time for criticizing the then-nominee’s views on women’s reproductive rights.
“I echo so many of the concerns that others have articulated over the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” McGrath wrote in a Facebook post on July 10, 2018. “He has shown himself to be against women’s reproductive rights, workers’ rights, consumer protections, and will be among the most partisan people ever considered for the Court.”
The Republican Party of Kentucky responded to McGrath’s post by calling the Democrat a “far left liberal.
“Despite Ms. McGrath’s attempts to con the voters of Central Kentucky into believing she is a moderate, her attack on the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh shows the real Amy McGrath: a far left liberal who will be another cog in the Pelosi political machine,” a representative of the state GOP told the Lexington Herald Leader at the time.
The Kentucky Republican Party continues to call McGrath an “extreme liberal,” though she’s staked a moderate position on multiple issues for this campaign, including on health care and border security.
The Democrat said she does not support “Medicare for All,” which has become the benchmark for progressive health care reform, with numerous Democratic 2020 presidential candidates getting behind the proposal.
McGrath also walked back previous comments that President Donald Trump’s border wall was a “stupid” idea.
“I think at certain times, at certain parts of the border, a physical barrier is fine,” she told the Courier Journal.