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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

White House aides and Senate Republicans have spent the past week readying binders full of messaging and rebuttals to guide Judge Amy Coney Barrett to a pre-Nov. 3 confirmation. "We knew for days it was going to be Amy," a Senate GOP aide involved in her confirmation process told Axios.

What we're hearing: Beyond the expected questions about her views on religion, abortion and health care, Republicans worry about Democrats painting Barrett as someone who is insensitive and unfair to “the little guy,” one source involved in the talks told Axios.

  • That argument plays right into Democrats' campaign themes about the economy, health care and entitlements. And they can draw from her judicial record for examples.
  • "You saw the 'little guy' theme with Gorsuch and Kavanaugh," the source said. "I think you'll see that in this context as well."

Republicans expect Democrats to bring up Barrett’s support of the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule restricting immigration for those receiving public benefits and a Title IX case in which she argued Purdue University may have discriminated against a male student accused of sexual assault.

  • “Obviously, some of the outside groups will bring up the religious stuff. But I think the way they'll bring that up is by trying to find a way to tie it to insensitivity or bigotry, as opposed to being extremist, because the extremist thing just isn't going to work,” one person involved in the process told me.

What's next: Opening statements at Barrett's confirmation hearings are expected Oct. 12, Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham said on Fox News.

  • The first round of questions will follow on Oct. 13.
  • A second round of questions and a closed session are tentatively set for Oct. 14, we're told.
  • Outside witnesses will present Oct. 15.

What to watch: President Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell are so confident they'll confirm Barrett that they're already thinking about who to tap to replace her on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, based in Chicago.

  • Quickly filling Barrett's role as a judge on the 7th Circuit would be "the cherry on top" of a massive victory for conservatives, a GOP Senate aide said — "one that McConnell won't pass up."

Among the names being floated is Kate Todd, a White House lawyer who was included on Trump's Supreme Court shortlist.

  • Todd, who's also from Indiana, is a favorite of White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

An administration official says no one has been formally considered yet.

Go deeper: U.S. Chamber to launch widespread lobbying effort for Barrett fight

Go deeper

McConnell calls Jan. 6 certification his "most consequential vote"

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

In an extraordinary conference call this morning with fellow Senate Republicans, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said his Jan. 6 vote certifying Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election will be "the most consequential I have ever cast," according to a source on a call and two other sources briefed on the private remarks.

The big picture: The conference call came in the wake of Sen. Josh Hawley defying McConnell's wishes and publicly declaring that he'll object to certifying the electoral votes in Pennsylvania and perhaps in other states as well.

Updated 4 mins ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 6 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker