ted cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (Photo: screen capture)

Republican senators are signaling their presidential ambitions with off-topic and headline-grabbing questions during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, according to a new report.

Marsha Blackburn, Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley have all drawn criticism for asking Jackson about topics intensely covered by conservative media, all of which figure to provide culture war issues in the 2024 presidential election -- and their GOP colleagues think at least some of them are using the hearings as a springboard to the White House, Politico reported.

“I’d set the line at two,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), who also serves on the Judiciary Committee, “and bet the over.”

Each of the four would-be 2024 challengers aggressively confronted Jackson over her sentencing of child pornography offenders, "critical race theory" and LGBTQ rights, and other Republicans see what they're up to.

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“People get on that committee knowing that it’s going to be a very high-profile committee for times like this," said GOP whip John Thune (R-SD), "and gives them an audience if they have national… ambitions or aspirations. [They are] are at least thinking about that possibility, and now is the time that the spotlight shines on them.”

Democratic senators Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar used judicial hearings when Donald Trump was president and their party was in the minority to raise their political profiles ahead of their 2020 presidential campaigns -- but Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said his GOP colleagues are doing something else.

“The audience is not so much in the room, and not even the nominee," Whitehouse said. "But [instead] TV sound bites and right-wing network echoes and approval of the Republican dark money apparatus."