Sen. Kamala Harris during a campaign stop in Philadelphia. Photo: Michael Perez/AP

President Trump's Supreme Court plans have created a major opportunity for Sen. Kamala Harris to go on offense.

Why it matters: A confirmation fight puts Harris back in the spotlight thanks to her role on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

  • Allies still point to her grilling Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 (clips of which have racked up millions of views on YouTube) and they laugh at her "suggested ... hinted ... inferred?" exchange with Attorney General William Barr in May regarding the Mueller report.
  • These exchanges with Harris often go viral and they usually showcase a moment where she's riffing or offering a snap reaction to the person she's questioning. 
  • Those are the electric moments that you can't always learn during debate prep, and allies say they show that Harris is meticulous and skilled at the clapback — arguing both will serve her well in the Oct. 7 debate against VP Mike Pence. 

The big picture: In many ways, some Harris allies say she's more comfortable in the Senate Judiciary seat, grilling Trump nominees like Kavanaugh, Barr and former AG Jeff Sessions.

  • Some close to Harris say that being a good prosecutor doesn't always make you the best debater (though several say they think she'll do well next month). 

Between the lines: Harris has been criticized for reversing herself on big policies central to her career, like criminal justice and health care, and some worry that she's not as good on policy as Pence. "He's got more policy chops than Kamala," says a former Harris campaign aide.  

  • Other former Harris aides tells Axios that during debate prep in the presidential primary, she spent a lot of time going over policy to get to know the issues backwards and forwards. Another former aide tells Axios that she spent eight hours a day of preparation during the week of the debate. 

"She wants to know everything all the time even if she doesn’t need to," one former aide said, "so it can go off into wild tangents sometimes."

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Oct 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

63 million people watched final presidential debate

Photo Illustration: Pavlo Conchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

63 million viewers tuned into the final debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday evening, according to Nielsen ratings. The event drew 13% fewer viewers than the first presidential debate in late September.

Why it matters: The more measured matchup may have proven to be less exciting than the chaotic first debate.

Hunter Biden saga dominates online debate

Data: NewsWhip; Table: Axios Visuals

The mainstream media turned away. But online, President Trump's charges about Hunter Biden were by far the dominant storyline about the final presidential debate, according to exclusive NewsWhip data provided to Axios.

  • Coverage of business dealings by Joe Biden's son — and pre-debate allegations by one of his former business associates, Tony Bobulinski — garnered more than twice as much online activity (likes, comments, shares) as the runner-up.
Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Japan's big new climate goal

Climate protest in Tokyo in November 2019. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

Japan's new prime minister said on Monday the nation will seek to become carbon-neutral by 2050, a move that will require huge changes in its fossil fuel-heavy energy mix in order to succeed.

Why it matters: Japan is the world's fifth-largest largest source of carbon emissions. The new goal announced by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is stronger than the country's previous target of becoming carbon neutral as early as possible in the later half of the century.