SOUTHAVEN, Miss. — President Donald Trump ignited a crowd at a campaign rally in Mississippi by mocking a woman who has claimed she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh decades ago.
The audience laughed as Trump ran through a list of what he described as holes in Christine Blasey Ford's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She testified that Kavanaugh pinned her on a bed, tried to take off her clothes and covered her mouth in the early 1980s, when the two were teenagers. Kavanaugh has denied Ford's allegations.
“How did you get home? ‘I don't remember,’” Trump said at the rally Tuesday in Southaven. “How did you get there? ‘I don't remember.’ Where is the place? ‘I don't remember.’ How many years ago was it? ‘I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.’”
Imitating Ford, he added, “But I had one beer — that's the only thing I remember.”
It marked the sharpest criticism by Trump of Ford since she came forward publicly with the allegation last month. He had previously called Ford a “very credible witness.”
Ford's lawyer Michael Bromwich called Trump's attack “vicious, vile and soulless.”
“Is it any wonder that she was terrified to come forward, and that other sexual assault survivors are as well?” Bromwich tweeted. “She is a remarkable profile in courage. He is a profile in cowardice.”
The president was in Mississippi on Tuesday looking to use his influence to sway the outcome of a low-profile election that could tip the balance of the Senate.
As Republicans fight headwinds ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm election, Trump sought to rally his supporters behind GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to fill the seat of Republican Thad Cochran, who retired in April. She faces three candidates — Republican Chris McDaniel and Democrats Mike Espy and Tobey Bernard Bartee — in next month's special election for the remainder of the two-year term.
“She's always had my back,” Trump said. “She's always had your back. And a vote for Cindy is a vote for me.”
But Trump spent much of the rally lamenting the treatment of Kavanaugh by Democrats, whose attacks, he said, had taken their toll on the judge's family.
“A man's life is in tatters,” he said. Of Democrats, he added, “These are really evil people.”
He even raised questions about the drinking habits of Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy in an attempt to turn the tables on Democrats who have gone after Kavanaugh's beer drinking. Trump told the crowd they should do an online search for “Patrick Leahy slash drink.” Leahy's office didn't immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday.
Some Republicans and White House allies have suggested the allegations against Kavanaugh can be potent political fodder in the run-up to Nov. 6, animating GOP voters who have so far lacked the same motivation to head to the polls as their Democratic counterparts.
Republican officials and the White House expect Hyde-Smith's race to go to a runoff under the state's jungle election rules that force a showdown between the top two finishers if no candidate wins at least 50 percent of the vote on Election Day. With Republicans defending majorities in the House and Senate next month, officials cast Trump's visit as an attempt to get ahead of a potentially perilous situation.
Officials said Trump is seeking to boost Hyde-Smith as close as possible to the 50 percent threshold and lend momentum for a possible runoff. Depending on how Republicans perform on Nov. 6, the eyes of the nation could fall on a Nov. 27 Mississippi runoff in what could become an expensive and high-profile race to determine control of the Senate.
“Your vote in this election will decide which party controls the United States Senate,” Trump said.
A vocal minority of the crowd Tuesday backed the other conservative in the race, McDaniel, a state senator, and booed Hyde-Smith when Trump introduced her. They launched into occasional chants of “We want Chris.”
Earlier Tuesday, Trump told electrical contractors gathered in Philadelphia that his economic policies would translate into more jobs for their ranks as he highlighted a new trade deal among the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
“We're in the midst of a manufacturing renaissance — something which nobody thought you'd hear,” Trump said in a speech to the National Electrical Contractors Association Convention a day after celebrating the new North American trade deal.
In fact, North America already is a manufacturing powerhouse. The United States ranks No. 2 in the world behind China in manufacturing output. Mexico ranks 11th and Canada 13th, according to United Nations numbers pulled together by the Brookings Institution.
Trump calls the new trade agreement USMCA, for U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. “Like YMCA or U.S. Marine Corps with an A at the end,” he explained.
He said he doesn't want to use the previous name, NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he contends cost American jobs and railed against during his 2016 presidential campaign. The new trade deal still must be approved by Congress.
“We are finally rebuilding our country, and we are doing it with American aluminum, American steel and with our great electrical contractors,” he said.
Trump said the strong economy “means more jobs for our great electrical contractors.”
Before departing the White House, Trump tweeted, “THE ONLY REASON TO VOTE FOR A DEMOCRAT IS IF YOU'RE TIRED OF WINNING!”
- The Latest: White House defends Trump for mocking Ford; senators say they're using police escort
- Senate gets FBI Kavanaugh report, with initial vote Friday
- Key senators undecided as Senate poised to vote on Brett Kavanaugh
- Kavanaugh bump? GOP fights for new energy as vote nears
- Riven Senate advances Kavanaugh nomination toward weekend (UPDATED)
- Brett Kavanaugh to hear first arguments as Supreme Court justice
- Donald Trump tells AP he won't accept blame if GOP loses House
- Brett Kavanaugh's 'revenge' theory spotlights past with Clintons
- Democrats question Brett Kavanaugh's credibility, temperament
- Trump says he supports 'comprehensive' FBI Kavanaugh probe
- Yale classmate recalls Brett Kavanaugh as frequent, heavy drinker
- The Latest: Trump asks FBI for updated Kavanaugh probe (UPDATED)
- ABA, Yale Law School dean call for FBI probe into Kavanaugh allegations, delay in confirmation (VIDEO)
- GOP advances Kavanaugh nomination after Jeff Flake calls for FBI probe (UPDATED)
- Following Christine Blasey Ford's allegations, local victims seeking help at Nord Center
- The Latest: Trump lauds Kavanaugh testimony as 'honest'
- Voices: Americans grapple with emotional, momentous hearing
- Republicans sideline veteran prosecutor who questioned Ford
- Voice shaking, Christine Blasey Ford tells her Brett Kavanaugh assault story (LIVE VIDEO)
- Will the Kavanaugh-Ford hearing be a where-were-you moment? (LIVE VIDEO)
- Make-or-break Senate hearing day for Brett Kavanaugh, accuser
- The Latest: Donald Trump open to changing mind on Brett Kavanaugh
- Third Kavanaugh accuser submits allegation to Senate panel
- Brett Kavanaugh’s 2nd accuser never sought spotlight, friends say
- GOP lines up Brett Kavanaugh vote plan as showdown hearing nears
- Kavanaugh says he won't let 'false accusations' push him out
- Senate Judiciary panel's top Democrat calls for delay in Kavanaugh hearing after new allegation
- New sexual-misconduct accusation rocks Kavanaugh nomination
- Brett Kavanaugh's accuser says she would testify under right terms
- GOP warns time running out for Brett Kavanaugh's accuser to talk
- Women supporting Brett Kavanaugh find themselves in storm's center
- The Latest: Grassley makes new interview offer, says FBI investigation not necessary
- Brett Kavanaugh's accuser wants FBI to investigate before hearing
- Hearing not yet set: Dems, GOP arguing on witnesses (UPDATED)
- Showdown between Brett Kavanaugh, accuser scheduled for next week
- The Latest: Trump says 'little delay' possible on Kavanaugh
- Accuser's story of attack roils plan for Brett Kavanaugh vote