Mike Pence 'very encouraged' by reaction on Capitol Hill to Kavanaugh's nomination

Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News exclusively on Tuesday that he has been "very encouraged" by the initial reaction on Capitol Hill to Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Speaking on "Special Report with Bret Baier," Pence said he predicted Kavanaugh would secure a seat on the high court, despite intense opposition from progressive groups and top Democratic senators.

"The administration's going to work very closely with members of the [Judiciary] Committee and members of the Senate to make Judge Kavanaugh available," Pence said. "We have every confidence that, as members of the Senate come to know and appreciate Judge Brett Kavanaugh ... that we'll see him confirmed."

Pence met with Kavanaugh, 53, earlier in the day on Capitol Hill, along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Pence said he would confer Tuesday night with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to discuss Kavanaugh's nomination.

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The vice president said Kavanaugh's qualifications would be the key to his success.

"He had fully 12 different opinions that were adopted by the United States Supreme Court," Pence said. "He's someone that has the character, the background, the career and the record that gave President Trump the confidence to know that when he appointed Judge Kavanaugh ... he would be another Constitutional conservative."

Potential key swing-votes on Kavanaugh's nomination were publicly noncommittal on Tuesday, although some sounded notes of optimism on the pick.

Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins, who has said she would not vote for a nominee who would overturn Roe v. Wade, praised Kavanaugh's "impressive credentials and extensive experience" on Monday, even as she vowed to carefully vet his nomination.

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And Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, a fierce opponent of government surveillance that some critics say Kavanaugh would vote to legitimize, vowed to keep an "open mind" on his nomination.

But Kavanaugh's nomination has triggered consternation among pro-choice progressives who have viewed him as a threat to abortion rights. In a statement on Monday, the Women's March said ominously: "Trump’s announcement today is a death sentence for thousands of women in the United States." 

Pence himself inadvertently added to those concerns on Tuesday, when asked whether he still supported overturning Roe v. Wade.

"I do, but I haven't been nominated to the Supreme Court," he told CNN, alarming pro-choice advocates who said Kavanaugh was picked to curtail abortion rights.

The vice president also briefly discussed foreign affairs ahead of this week's key NATO summit in Brussels, where President Trump is expected to demand U.S. allies contribute more funding for their own national defense.

"President Trump is a realist about the world," Pence said. He added that despite North Korea's latest hostile rhetoric against the U.S., "We're going to continue to work through that; we're not going to be side-lined or side-tracked."

Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.