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Lott on Miers fall out

GOP senator gives reaction to nomination withdrawal, Bush's mood
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The president‘s Supreme Court pick, Harriet Miers, withdrew her nomination from the land‘s highest court yesterday.  This withdrawal comes less than a month since Miers was chosen to replace Sandra Day O‘Connor on the bench. 

MSNBC-TV's Joe Scarborough sat down with Mississippi Senator Trent Lott, who was a critic of Harriet Miers from the beginning.  Find out the senator's reaction to news.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: I believe it‘s a great opportunity, because we were not pleased, a lot of us, with that selection. 

At the same time, we respect the president and his prerogatives.  We want this president to succeed and to get his choices on the federal judiciary.  But we were uncomfortable with this.  We were dreading the process.  You know, realizing that some of us may have eventually voted for us or maybe just said, I just can‘t do it in this case, Mr. President. 

So, it was putting a cloud over the institution.  So we are, frankly, a little relieved. 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: Senator Warner from Virginia said today that Harriet Miers was denied her due process, because right-wing conservatives didn‘t give her a shot to be heard before the Senate.  What do you think about that? 

LOTT: That‘s not true. 

Actually, in the Senate itself, Republicans were for the most part saying we want to wait and see.  We don‘t know her that well.  We don‘t know that much about her record.  We don‘t know that much about her abilities, but we are going to wait and see how she does when she meets with senators and how she does in the hearings. 

Look, I am a conservative, but I wasn‘t being influenced by conservative groups.  I did have concerns.  From the very beginning, I said I had concerns. 

SCARBOROUGH: You have crossed conservative groups before on judicial nominees before, when you talked about qualifications. 

LOTT: Absolutely.  I do think the number-one requirement is to get somebody that is qualified, that really is ready for the job.  This is an important job. 

Then, also, I am looking for a strict constructionist and a conservative, but I think you can be.  John Roberts was both.  You can‘t tell me that there‘s not some more out there like John Roberts.  I believe this is, frankly, an opportunity.  I think, in a few days, people will look back and say, you know, that issue was dealt with.  We got us a better nominee.  I think the president will come up with something really God, and we will be able to get that person confirmed, and we will move on. 

We have got three years in this presidency.  I want him to be successful, because, if he is, our country will be. 


LOTT: And I hope that he will seize the moment. 

SCARBOROUGH: Will there be a possibility of the so-called nuclear option being trotted out again if the president picks a conservative jurist along the lines of the ones he promised to pick, a Thomas or a Scalia? 

LOTT: Oh, yes, the nuclear option is still out there, and I don‘t think we should be afraid to use it. 

My preference would have been to have invoked it back in March or April of this year.  But I believe the president can come up with a highly qualified, man, woman, or minority, that is a strict constructionist, and a conservative, that the Democrats will not be able to filibuster. 

SCARBOROUGH: You just returned from the White House earlier. 

LOTT: Right. 

SCARBOROUGH: What kind of spirit is the president in right now?  Is he beaten up? 

LOTT: I‘m sure he is feeling, you know, a little disappointed right now.

But I believe this president does have an indomitable spirit.  I believe his visceral instincts are good.  I think he will not be happy, but, by tomorrow, he will be moving on.