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STORY BY BY RYAN LIZZA AND DANIEL LIPPMAN

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Published on October 5, 2020 7:05 AM

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Republicans gripped by dread as multiple crises swirl
On Sunday evening Sen. Lindsey Graham, like many Republicans in Washington, was simultaneously monitoring three political crises, all of which were made worse by the spread of coronavirus infections through the upper echelons of the Republican Party.

First there was the president. His real condition was as much of a mystery to Graham as to everyone else. Graham said he hadn't talked to Trump since Friday after the president's positive Covid-19 test came back — "he was in good spirits" — but that he had just checked in with Jared Kushner earlier in the day to get an update.

Then there was the Supreme Court. The virus has forced six Republican senators — three who have tested positive for covid — into quarantine for at least two weeks. Two of them, Thom Tillis and Mike Lee, are on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Graham chairs. His plans to push through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett were now uncertain. Mitch McConnell said over the weekend that "our biggest enemy" in confirming Barrett before the election, and cementing a conservative 6-3 high court majority, is "the coronavirus, keeping everybody healthy and well and in place to do our job."

Trump had immediately recognized how the "enemy" could derail the plan. On Friday Graham said that Trump asked him about Barrett and the senator assured him "we're moving on."

inally, Graham was dealing with his own reelection. The South Carolina senator who famously declared in 2015 that Trump was a "complete idiot," became a Trump loyalist over the last two years in part to fend off GOP primary challengers. It worked. He easily secured his party's nomination only to be thrust into a competitive general election against a well-financed and gifted Democratic candidate, Jaime Harrison, who has made the race competitive. The two men had debated on Saturday night and Graham was still trying to...