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Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Republicans at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are edgy about the agreement for Christine Blasey Ford, Judge Brett Kavanaugh's accuser, to testify publicly before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

The big picture: The arrangement isn't really a gamble because Republicans have no choice. They have to let Ford testify if they're going to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, as top GOP sources still (nervously) predict.

  • And in a possible setback for Ford, the N.Y. Times reports, a woman and two men who were said to have attended the party now say they have no recollection of it, seeming to "eliminate any chance of corroboration ... by anyone who attended."

But the risks are blatantly obvious in an election year where women — and especially college-educated women — already loathe Trump and appear motivated to vote out Republicans.

  • Why it matters: Republicans involved in the process worry that the accuser, a college professor, will connect with the voters already most animated against them.
  • And while Republicans involved in Kavanaugh’s confirmation tell Axios that the elderly male Republican senators are approaching this gingerly, there’s nervousness in the sources' voices because there’s so much room for error.

Be smart: A former administration official said Republicans are "walking the tightrope of making sure not to piss off women for the midterms yet not alienating the base by ditching Kavanaugh."

  • And one top Republican texted: "Most Republicans know the party has already lost college women, alienated by Trump’s style and behavior. Cannot lose them twice."
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Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
31 mins ago - World

China's Xi Jinping congratulates Biden on election win

Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to President-elect Biden on Wednesday to congratulate him on his election victory, according to the Xinhua state news agency.

Why it matters: China's foreign ministry offered Biden a belated, and tentative, congratulations on Nov. 13, but Xi had not personally acknowledged Biden's win. The leaders of Brazil, Mexico and Russia are among the very few leaders still declining to congratulate Biden.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
1 hour ago - Sports

College basketball is back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new season of college basketball begins Wednesday, and the goal is clear: March Madness must be played.

Why it matters: On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, depriving teams like Baylor (who won our tournament simulation), Dayton, San Diego State and Florida State of perhaps their best chance to win a national championship.

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Scoop: Israeli military prepares for possibility Trump will strike Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty

The Israel Defense Forces have in recent weeks been instructed to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. will conduct a military strike against Iran before President Trump leaves office, senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government instructed the IDF to undertake the preparations not because of any intelligence or assessment that Trump will order such a strike, but because senior Israeli officials anticipate “a very sensitive period” ahead of Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.