WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday night that Democrats opposed to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are "trying to burn down our future."
"This is election is a choice between a Republican Party that is building our future, and a Democrat Party that is trying to burn our future down," he told the crowd at a campaign rally in Johnson City, Tenn. "The Democrats only know how to obstruct, demolish and destroy, as we've seen in recent weeks — Democrats are willing to do anything and hurt anyone to get their way, like they're doing with Judge Kavanaugh."
"They've been trying to destroy him since the very first second he was announced because they know that Judge Kavanaugh will follow the Constitution as written," he added.
Earlier Monday, Trump said at a Rose Garden press conference that Democrats had treated Kavanaugh "so viciously and so violently." He also stated that he had seen an unnamed Senate Democrat in a "compromising" situation involving alcohol abuse.
At the Rose Garden event, Trump said his administration would not limit the scope of the FBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh. "The F.B.I. should interview anybody that they want within reason, but you have to say 'within reason,'" Trump said.
Officials briefed on the issue confirmed to NBC News that the White House — which had initially placed restrictions on the investigation — has authorized the FBI to interview witnesses they deem necessary, as long as their review is completed by the end of the week.
Speaking to the crowd in Johnson City, Trump took familiar shots at potential 2020 rivals, calling Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., "Pocahontas," saying again he could defeat former Vice President Joe Biden in a fistfight, and urging the crowd to look at what Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., "wrote when he was young about women! Take a look, okay?"
Flanked on stage by supporters carrying signs that read "Finish the Wall," the president boasted that he "could build that thing in one year." Morristown, Tennessee, just 60 miles west of where Trump spoke in Johnson City, has been home to some of the largest ICE raids of the Trump administration.
Trump also paid homage to President Andrew Jackson, a Tennessean, calling him a "great president." Particularly after the Obama administration agreed to replace the controversial former president on the $20 bill with abolitionist Harriet Tubman, Trump and his advisers have notably given direct nods to the 19th century populist.
Trump was in Johnson City to campaign for Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., locked in a competitive race with Democrat Phil Bredesen to fill retiring Sen. Bob Corker's Senate seat. A recent NBC/Marist poll suggested Bredesen, a former governor, led Blackburn 48 to 44 among registered voters — within the poll's margin of error. The Cook Political Report rates the Tennessee Senate seat as a "toss-up."
Both Blackburn, the first woman in the state's history to win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, and Bredesen, a Democrat in a Trump state, have a fine line to walk when it comes to Kavanaugh. Blackburn does not want to risk alienating women voters, while Bredesen does not want to risk losing crossover voters in a state that backed Trump in 2016.
"On the one hand, Kavanaugh makes national politics more at the forefront of people's minds, which is better for Blackburn, as Bredesen is trying to keep focus off the national divisions," said Josh Clinton, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University. "On the other hand, Democrats at the state level could get fired up about the confirmation. But in a red state like Tennessee, it's not clear if it will help."
Trump's Tennessee rally was his second campaign stop in three days. He plans to headline at least three more rallies in the next five days, appearing with GOP candidates in Mississippi, Minnesota and Kansas.