RNC Rallies the Base for Alito
Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman sent out an e-mail to more than 10 million activists this morning, asking them to sign an online petition in favor of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s nomination to the Supreme Court. The RNC organized a similar petition drive for former nominee Harriet Miers and the new Chief Justice John Roberts.
Mehlman urged recipients to call their senators to voice support for Alito and write letters to the editors of local newspapers to back the president's choice.
"Don't let the spin from media pundits or attacks from Democrats distort Judge Alito's distinguished record as a judge," Mehlman wrote.
The RNC has also organized a series of phone calls with social conservatives, state party leaders and the conservative blogging community.
The goal of all this activity is to rebut the idea that Alito is simply a tool of the Republican right, making sure examples of his judicial independence are made known, said one GOP strategist close to the positioning process.
Republicans considering the 2008 presidential race seem to be on board with that strategy. Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, one of the most outspoken opponents of the Miers nomination, quickly issued a statement praising Alito's "impressive legal credentials" and "broad legal experience." Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) at a press conference with Alito this morning was a bit more measured, focusing on the timing of Alito's confirmation hearings. But he did pledge to avoid "a lot of positioning from the political standpoint."
Even renegade Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had kind words for Alito during an appearance this morning on Don Imus's radio show. "He has a very good temperament," said McCain.
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