WASHINGTON — The final Senate vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is now less than 24 hours away. It appears he has the votes needed for his confirmation, with all but one of 51 Republicans backing him, along with one Democrat.
The final Republican to declare her support was Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
"Mr. President, I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh," she said, ending a 43-minute speech and capping off a tumultuous 88-day nomination process.
Collins said she listened to Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses Kavanaugh of sexual assault, "and found her testimony to be sincere, painful and compelling."
"Nevertheless, the four witnesses she named could not corroborate any of the events of that evening gathering where she says the assault occurred," Collins said.
Moments later, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin -- struggling to be heard over protesters -- revealed he would be the only Democrat to back Kavanaugh.
"I believe Dr. Ford. Something happened to Dr. Ford. I don't believe that the facts show that it was Brett Kavanaugh," he said.
Their announcements all but cemented Kavanaugh's victory. The White House thanked Collins in particular as Republicans rejoiced.
Kavanaugh is a 53-year-old federal appeals court judge, and former White House lawyer for George W. Bush. Nominated to replace swing vote Anthony Kennedy, Kavanaugh would give conservatives a 5-4 court majority.
He fervently denied mistreating Ford and.
The GOP breakthrough caps weeks of tension, as protesters -- most of them anti-Kavanaugh -- occupied Senate buildings. In a tweet, President Barack Obama's ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, signaled she might run against Collins in 2020.
Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski broke with her friend Collins on this issue, saying she believed Kavanaugh "is a good man," but that "he is not the right man for the court at this time."
But Collins argued that at the end of the day, all are innocent until proven guilty.
"I have been disturbed by some who have suggested that unless Kavanaugh is rejected, the Senate is condoning sexual assault. Nothing could be further from the truth," Collins said.