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Bredesen backs Senate vote if Kavanaugh accuser won't appear




NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen said Wednesday that the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault "has a very credible story." But he said the Judiciary Committee should consider proceeding with a vote if she does not testify under oath.

"She has put herself out there," Bredesen said of Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of assaulting her while they were both in high school. "If she decided at this point to not do something, I guess the committee has to go ahead and say, 'Well, we were willing to listen, but if she's not willing to talk, we need to go forward.'"

The Senate race in Tennessee, a reliably Republican state, is among the most competitive in the nation. Bredesen, the state's former governor, is running as a centrist against Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and keeping a distance from national Democrats. The seat is opening up with the retirement of Republican Sen. Bob Corker.

Bredesen has avoided saying whether he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh for the high court if he were in the Senate. In an interview with The Associated Press, he said the allegation against Kavanaugh, if true, is "close to being disqualifying, if not disqualifying."

But Bredesen said hearing directly from Ford would have significant sway over his decision.

"Even what she's done so far would impact my thinking, but not nearly as much as if she sat there and I had a chance to question her," Bredesen said.

The Judiciary Committee has invited both Ford and Kavanaugh to testify on Monday, though Ford's attendance is uncertain. She's said she wants the FBI to investigate her allegation before appearing in front of lawmakers — a stance that Democrats support but that President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans say won't happen.

Ford alleges that at a house party in the 1980s, a drunken Kavanaugh tried undressing her on a bed and stifling her cries before she fled — an accusation Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied. Kavanaugh and Ford were both students at elite private schools near Washington.