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Harriet Miers: '06 Senators React

With the nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court just 24 hours old, I thought it would be worthwhile to see how senators being targeted for defeat in 2006 are handling the news of her nomination.

I polled 10 incumbents -- five Democrats, five Republicans -- to see whether they had put out any statement with their first reactions to the Miers nomination.  Neither Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) nor West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd (D) had released anything official. What follows is a sampling from eight senators who did reply.

The Democrats

Perhaps in keeping with the fact that he sits in the reddest state held by a Democrat up for reelection in 2006, Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson was the most ebullient in his praise of Miers, calling her a "sound choice" and adding: "From every indication it seems that she has the qualifications and experience to serve on the Supreme Court."

Sens. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Bill Nelson (Fla.) were more circumspect, adopting a wait-and-see approach on Miers. Stabenow said, "I am hopeful that Ms. Miers will be forthcoming in her disclosure and responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee," a veiled jibe at Roberts's unwillingness to answer a number of questions posed by Senate Democrats during his confirmation hearings.

The Republicans

The most intriguing statement came from the office of Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who was decidedly noncommittal about Miers -- perhaps reflecting concerns voiced yesterday about the nominee by the conservative community.

"I intend to carefully review the nominee's credentials and assess her qualifications and commitment to the rule of law," Santorum said.

That sentiment was echoed by Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who has a considerably more moderate voting record than Santorum but is similarly endangered in 2006. "The President has made his selection and now we must let the Senate process take its course," said Chafee.

Montana Sen. Conrad Burns, Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine and Missouri Sen. Jim Talent were more effusive in their praise. Burns called Miers an "outstanding woman"; DeWine referred to her as a "trailblazer for women in the legal profession." Talent said, "Harriett Miers appears to be another outstanding nominee."

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 4, 2005; 10:29 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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