Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton blasted Republicans for trying to pretend that Barack Obama is not president to obstruct his Supreme Court nominee.
Transcript via MSNBC:
RACHEL MADDOW: If you are nominated by the Democratic party, and you are elected president in November, would you ask President Obama to withdraw that nomination in the lame duck so that you could put forward your own nominee? Or, would you be okay with that nomination going forward in the lame duck, if that’s what the Republican Senate wanted to do?
HILLARY CLINTON: You know, I– I really find– this whole– line of questioning one that I’m not comfortable with, because I– we have one President at a time. And I think part of the problem right now is the Republicans are trying to act like he’s not really still president.(Continued Below)
I was one of the 65 million people who voted to reelect President Obama. So, my voice is being shut out because the Republican Senate won’t actually process– Judge Garland’s nomination. So, I don’t want to– I don’t want any daylight between me and President Obama.
I want to support his Constitutional right and obligation. I want to keep the pressure, as I did in the speech that I gave at– the University of Wisconsin-Madison, talking about what’s at stake in the Supreme Court. So, let’s stay focused on what this court has before it. Because there are some very consequential decisions that are pending. And, you know, let’s keep the pressure, which you can see is beginning to affect some of the Republican incumbents who have tough races– for reelection.
I want them to feel as much heat as possible. I don’t want to give them any way out. So, I’m stickin’ with the President. The President’s prerogative, his Constitutional responsibility. And– that’s what I’m going to stand up for.
RACHEL MADDOW: You know, but there is this– I mean, there is the issue of the radicalism of what’s happening right now in the Senate. I mean, to hold a Supreme Court vacancy open for a year-plus.
HILLARY CLINTON: Right.
RACHEL MADDOW: Because, as you say, you know, they may be deciding that they’d prefer that President Obama wasn’t President anymore, and so they’re going to pretend as if he isn’t. I look at that, and I see that as so unprecedented and so radical. It makes me wonder that, whether or not you are the nominee or Senator Sanders is the nominee, if there is a Democratic president elected in November, it makes me wonder why they wouldn’t just continue to hold that seat open.
I mean, are we– have we so broken the norms, have we so– so broken with precedent that they may decide that Democratic presidents in general are not allowed to fill Supreme Court vacancies?
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, we need to elect a Democratic Senate. And that’s why this– Supreme Court fight has real– consequences for this election. Because it’s hard to make the Supreme Court a voting issue. I’ve tried in the past, and, you know, I think people see it as sort of theoretical.
But this is so in front of everybody’s eyes, front of mind. About this Senate behaving in such a radical, extreme, partisan way. I actually think it can help us take back the Senate. And I would love to see that.
And if we then have a Democratic Senate– and we have somebody as creative and vigorous as Chuck Schumer leading it, I think we’ll be back on a path of, you know, progress, and problem-solving. Now, if that doesn’t happen but we narrow the margin, even that will give us leverage we don’t have right now.
Clinton was right. Republicans don’t have a leg to stand on with their obstruction of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. The Republican argument does boil down to the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency doesn’t count. Republicans have gone beyond petty partisanship to flat out ignoring the Constitution.
It would be inappropriate for Clinton to announce that she will not put forward Merrick Garland as her choice to replace Justice Scalia. If Clinton did make such an announcement, she would be undercutting President Obama’s power to get his own nominee confirmed.
Former Sec. of State Clinton’s answer also revealed the potential potency of the Republican obstruction as a tool to motivate Democratic voters. McConnell’s obstruction could cost incumbent Republican senators their seats in several blue and purple states.
The best way to end Republican obstruction is to send a wave of newly elected Democrats to the Senate in 2017.