Conservatives still uncertain about Miers, Bush looses ground

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers's reception raised doubts among Senate Republicans on Wednesday despite President George W. Bush's assurances that his counsel is the best person for the job.

"That's the president's, his description. It would not be mine," said Sen. George Allen, a Virginia Republican. "Who knows, maybe a month from now, I'll say 'gosh no wonder he thought that.' At this stage I don't know enough."

Sen. Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican, told MSNBC, "I'm not comfortable with the nomination and so we'll just have to work through the process in due time."

As Republicans normally loyal to the White House expressed concerns about where Miers stands on such hot-button social issues as abortion, the White House continued its push to bolster support for its Supreme Court nominee, who has never been a judge.

"The White House is reaching out to a variety of lawmakers and groups to talk about Harriet's qualifications, conservative judicial philosophy, professional accomplishments, and record of community service," said spokeswoman Dana Perino.

Ed Gillespie, a former Republican Party chairman helping shepherd Miers through the Senate, met privately with Senate Republicans and made the case for the nominee, reports ABC.

According to Bloomberg, Bush may need to do more personal persuading because he nominated “somebody who has a relatively thin record in terms of public activities, writings,” said John Q. Barrett, who teaches law at St. John's University in New York.

Still, "the president's close long-term association with her" and Bush's confidence "that he is appointing what he wants is generally in the end pretty credible," Barrett said. "People who want what he wants, I expect, will grow more and more comfortable with those assurances."

The concern raised by some Republican lawmakers reflected a split in conservative ranks. Some organizations, such as Paul Weyrich's Washington-based Free Congress Foundation, have withheld their support for Miers because her views are unknown.

"There is just a lot of angst out there" among conservatives, freshman Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota told reporters.

"Conservatives see this as having enormous stakes," Thune said. "That's why there is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty as to where she would come down."

Thune said Miers, 60, will "have to give a very good insight into her judicial philosophy" without saying how she will rule on specific cases.

Virginia Republican George Allen, who like Lott is seeking re-election next year, said he doesn't know enough about Miers to say whether he would support her nomination.


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