UPDATE #2: Sen. Cory Gardner’s comms director Alex Siciliano responds:
Apparently they missed this statement as you can see below. But to the larger point, we think we’ve figured out the trouble here, folks, and it’s pretty simple: Gardner’s “statement” means absolutely nothing. If the President sends the Senate an acceptable nominee, says Gardner, that nominee will be confirmed. As you know, that is how stuff already works per the Constitution. This could be a problem for Gardner’s friend Marco Rubio, who is on the presidential campaign trial right now assuring primary voters that Obama won’t get to pick Antonin Scalia’s replacement.
Then again, there is this whole other part in Gardner’s statement about waiting until the next President to replace Scalia because of what a bad guy Obama is–in fact that’s most of the statement. Might that be superceded by the brief aside about how the President could send them a nominee and that would be okay too? It seems like the answer could be a function of who Sen. Gardner is talking to at any given moment.
A series of statements from senior Republicans contradicted their own previously expressed views and seemed to question whether rank-and-file Republicans were completely on board with the plan from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to do nothing on a Supreme Court nominee this year and let the next president make the nomination.
If Mr. Siciliano or anyone ranking him would like to sort out exactly where Gardner stands as of this moment, it would be pretty easy to do! It’s worth noting that the GOP’s wall of opposition appears to be cracking all over, with lots of unsteady messaging as it does–so whatever you hear will most likely be subject to change.
It’s not easy being “Con Man Cory.”
UPDATE: Colorado Public Radio summarizes Sen. Cory Gardner’s latest statement sent to them:
President can either propose nominee who can win over Senate or defer to the voters.
If you’re wondering what the problem is in that case, since that’s always the case, so are we.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R).
We’re beginning to detect what may be a softening in the Republican Party’s initial hard line after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last weekend against any nomination of a replacement under President Barack Obama, based on the simple tautological fact that Obama is the worst Kenyan President in American history. You’ll recall that Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s first response on the matter was not in any way in favor of compromise:
“Our country is at a crossroads, and whomever the Senate confirms to occupy the vacancy will have a significant impact on the direction of our country for years to come,” Gardner said.
He then highlighted the position of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said immediately after Scalia’s death that his seat “should not be filled until we have a new President.”
Said Gardner: “I join Leader McConnell and several of my colleagues in allowing for the American people to play a role in the selection process when they cast their ballots in November.”
The response to the GOP’s apparent stonewalling of President Obama with almost a year left in his term in the last few days has not been positive, with editorial boards around the country angrily calling for Republicans to give Obama’s forthcoming nominee a fair hearing. Outside a radicalized Republican base that is always ready to go to engage in scorched-earth partisan war with Obama on any subject, the GOP’s pre-emptive rejection of any nominee just plain looks bad. It looks like a petty disregard of the process spelled out by the Constitution to deal with these situations out of partisan spite.
And a presidential election is just months away.
With that in mind, we do find this update from Colorado Public Radio today to be more than a little curious:
So what gives? Where’s cocky Cory from the weekend? Behind the scenes, Republicans may be realizing that they’ve overplayed their hand. Washington Post:
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) told Iowa radio reporters that he had not determined whether to have hearings before the Judiciary Committee, which he chairs. “I would wait until the nominee is made before I would make any decision,” Grassley, the committee chairman, said.
Another member of the Judiciary panel, freshman Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), noted that Republicans could not expect to have President Obama choose a nominee in the mold of Scalia, who for almost 30 years has been the ideological leader of the court’s conservative bloc, and must worry about being seen as merely obstructing the president… [Pols emphasis]
Needless to say, this is not the hard line you hard from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell–and it’s not what you heard from Gardner last weekend, either. Negotiations in Washington between the White House and the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate by all accounts continue, but they’re not happening in a vacuum. Voters are paying attention–and with Republicans defending some two dozen Senate seats this year, what voters think of this latest round of intransigence could count for a great deal on Election Day.
Whatever happens, Cory Gardner’s zigs and zags are an excellent canary in this coal mine.