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Thu Mar 17, 2016, 01:57 PM

Panic Has A Way Of Softening 2016 Republicans

link; excerpt:

WASHINGTON — ... some GOP senators said they would indeed sit down with Garland — and break with leadership over it. Many of them are up for re-election in 2016.

For those in tight races, now is definitely not the time to come across as partisan obstructionists. They’re in the middle of trying to cast themselves as the best senators ever, avoiding reporters whenever possible, dyeing their hair in the dead of night and trying out sharp new talking points with voters back home.
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Sen. Mark Kirk (Ill.): “I will assess Judge Merrick Garland based on his record and qualifications,” he said in a statement. That’s probably a good thing for voters to hear in the state that sent Obama to the White House to make that court pick in the first place. Analysts see Kirk’s Senate contest as a toss-up, but the only public poll available finds him trailing Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D).

Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.): His office did not respond to a request for comment. But a Wisconsin paper reports him saying his position continues to be “let the American people decide,” suggesting no action until Obama is gone. He hasn’t exactly been rock-solid in that stance, though. Last month he appeared to waffle, saying he never said he wouldn’t vote. “By the time I would actually take the vote, if it comes to that, I’ll take a vote,” he said. Johnson is trailing former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold in most polls.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.): “I feel I would want to explain my position to the nominee. I mean, he does serve on the circuit court of appeals, so I want to give him that courtesy,” she told reporters. This is another toss-up, with incumbent Ayotte holding a single-digit lead on Gov. Maggie Hassan (D).

Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio): “If the nominee requests a meeting, Rob would be happy to sit down with him and explain his position,” said his spokesman, Kevin Smith. He emphasized the senator is still opposed to moving a nominee this year, though. Portman is in a dead heat with former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) in a state where 56 percent of voters want the Senate to consider a nominee.

Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.): Analysts have the state leaning Toomey’s way, but he gave the same answer, verbatim, when asked four times about next steps on Garland’s nomination. “We put out a statement this morning and I’m going to refer you to the statement,” he told reporters, flying down a flight of stairs. But he did want to make clear in a statement on Twitter that it’s nothing personal against Garland — it’s personal against Obama. “Should Merrick Garland be nominated again by the next president, I would be happy to carefully consider his nomination,” Toomey said.

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.): “I’ve issued a written statement. I’ve said everything I’m going to say on it,” he told reporters. His statement doesn’t suggest he’d meet with Garland.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa): He chairs the judiciary committee and has said he won’t give Garland a hearing. But he’s agreed to meet with Garland in early April, after the Senate’s upcoming two-week recess, per White House spokesman Eric Schultz.

Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.): “Why meet with someone who’s not going to have a hearing, or have a vote?” he asked reporters.
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Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.): Democrats, at least, put Blunt’s contest in the sleeper category, but he was standing by the GOP leadership line. “This is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land,” Blunt said in a statement. “The president has every right to nominate someone, and the Senate has the Constitutional responsibility to decide if it’s the right person at the right time. I will not vote for this nominee to the Supreme Court.”

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