Alaskans Make Long Trip To D.C. To Lobby Against Kavanaugh
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski is one of the undecided Republicans whose vote could determine whether Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court. The senator says her office is swamped by an unprecedented deluge of phone calls. And as Alaska Public Media's Liz Ruskin reports, some of her constituents are even making the long trip to Washington, D.C., to make their case in person.
LIZ RUSKIN, BYLINE: Sarra Khlifi of Anchorage says she and every sexual assault survivor she knows has churned with emotion since Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of attempted rape and he angrily denied it.
SARRA KHLIFI: We had this unspoken understanding of, like, this week has been terrible. So when the opportunity came up to do something about it and come talk to Senator Murkowski, I didn't hesitate, and...
RUSKIN: Khlifi heard the American Civil Liberties Union would pay to fly Alaska women to D.C. Barely a day after she got the OK, she boarded a red eye to Washington. Now she's bunking with acquaintances, four Alaskan women in one hotel room.
(SOUNDBITE OF ELEVATOR DOOR CLOSING)
RUSKIN: They're getting support from strangers even in the elevator.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Alaska.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Alaska.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Alaska.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Come to visit our senator, Lisa Murkowski.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: She needs to hear from you.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Yeah, she...
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: (Laughter).
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: There's 150 of us.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Yeah. Really?
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Good luck.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Please, good luck.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Yeah. Save the country.
RUSKIN: They call their state's senior senator just Lisa. All four know her, even Khlifi, who's 27 and by far the youngest. She says Murkowski seems receptive to her constituents.
KHLIFI: When you sit at a table with her, you know she's this very important person, but she still, like, looks you in the eye and is very warm in my experience that I've had with her.
RUSKIN: Other groups are also sending Alaskans to meet with Murkowski. Molly Haigh helped organized Capitol Hill visits for sexual assault survivors on behalf of the Alaska Grassroots Alliance. She says Murkowski's willingness to listen is the reason so many want to make their case to her.
MOLLY HAIGH: I think that Senator Murkowski throughout the years has shown a lot of interest in women's issues. And we're really hopeful - we're hopeful that we can love her to the right side of this one.
RUSKIN: The limiting factors now are the senator's appointment schedule and airline seats. There's only so many flights out of Alaska before the Senate's final vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation. For NPR News, I'm Liz Ruskin.
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