Phoenix Residents Respond To Flake And Kavanaugh

Sep 29, 2018
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Jeff Flake and Rachel Mitchell, of course, are two of the featured players in this week's emotional and contentious back-and-forth over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. They both happened to be from Arizona. Will Stone of member station KJZZ took to the streets of Phoenix and Tempe to find out what Arizonans are thinking.

WILL STONE, BYLINE: Lorraine Pellegrino had no qualms with how Republicans handled Judge Kavanaugh's contentious hearing with his accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

LORRAINE PELLEGRINO: We as a party have been extremely accommodating and sensitive.

STONE: Pellegrino was not the only one at the fall meeting of her organization, the Arizona Federation of Republican Women, who felt that way. She is proud of how the GOP has handled the confirmation hearings.

PELLEGRINO: Including what the special...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: The prosecutor...

PELLEGRINO: ...Prosecutor...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: ...Did a phenomenal job.

PELLEGRINO: Yeah, did a great job.

STONE: Pellegrino is talking about Rachel Mitchell, a longtime Arizona sex crimes prosecutor who was brought to D.C. to question Ford. In fact, Nancy Cottle, sitting next to Pellegrino, only has harsh words for one member of her party, Senator Flake, who at the last moment called for an FBI investigation into the allegations.

NANCY COTTLE: I don't know what another week of questioning is going to turn up. What - that people like to drink beer?

STONE: Cottle sees Flake's decision as just one more poke in the eye of President Trump.

COTTLE: I think it was uncalled for. It's embarrassing. I apologize to people all over the country for Senator Flake.

STONE: Across town, protesters were descending on Flake's office in Phoenix. And some, like Lori Marion (ph), were making some last-minute tweaks.

LORI MARION: So this morning, my sign said no investigation equals Jeff Flake's abdication. And then an hour before I got here, I changed it to GOP abdication because...

STONE: Marion calls Thursday's hearing a sham. And she hopes Flake keeps the pressure on GOP senators to uncover any hidden wrongdoings in Kavanaugh's past.

MARION: They didn't even seem to ask him any pertinent questions about her allegations at all. They just had their minds made up already.

STONE: Next to Marion on the jampacked sidewalk, Willie Crawford says she tried to keep an open mind when Kavanaugh began his testimony.

WILLIE CRAWFORD: But his demeanor and his posturing just did not reflect someone suitable for the federal court, much less the Supreme Court. So I'm just shocked that he's a serious consideration.

STONE: Crawford was a registered Republican until six years ago. She didn't protest when the last conservative judge was picked for the Supreme Court.

CRAWFORD: It's this guy. It is this guy and the charges against him...

STONE: For those not on the street waving signs or not party loyalists, there was some frustration and confusion.

JOANIE OLIVER: The whole thing was handled wrong. So now it turned into a circus.

STONE: That's Joanie Oliver, who runs the barbershop Electric Haven in Tempe.

OLIVER: I believe that something happened to her, OK? It's so long ago. Was it truthfully him?

STONE: Oliver says there's no way to know until there's a full investigation.

OLIVER: You hate to really accuse somebody if they didn't do it because that would be awful, as well.

STONE: As he gives a client a trim, Nathaniel Tappy says there's too much attention on undermining Dr. Ford, not understanding her experience as a survivor.

NATHANIEL TAPPY: Instead of focusing on why didn't you come out sooner about it, we should focus on how long you've been living with this pain inside of you and how it has affected you.

STONE: But to most, as George Bartlett says, the entire process seemed like a joke.

GEORGE BARTLETT: Let's make this really dramatic and draw it out.

STONE: Then the guy getting his haircut, Mike Halliday, interjects.

MIKE HALLIDAY: But this is also stuff people should know.

BARTLETT: Oh, absolutely. But I don't think this way. I think...

STONE: All agreed, there is a way to get to the truth behind the allegations. But they're just skeptical that senators in Washington will really want to go there. For NPR News, I'm Will Stone in Phoenix. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.