March 20th, 2016
01:09 PM ET

McConnell rules out confirming SCOTUS nominee “I can't imagine that a Republican majority Congress in a lame-duck session..would want to confirm a nominee..."

SOTU

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) , joined CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash, to discuss the Supreme Court nominee, Donald Trump and more.

For more information, see http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/. Also, text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.

MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”

Contacts: Lauren Pratapas — Lauren.Pratapas@turner.com; 202.465.6666; Brooke Lorenz- Brooke.Lorenz@turner.com


VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: McConnell: Senate won't confirm Garland if Clinton wins

CNN STORY: McConnell: No lame duck confirmation

 

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

 

McConnell on the Supreme Court nominee: “Who ought to make the decision, a lame-duck president on the way out the door, or the president we're in the process of electing right now?  What is the tradition?  It's been 80 years, 80, since a vacancy created in a presidential election year was filled…. I can't imagine that a Republican majority Congress in a lame-duck session, after the American people have spoken, would want to confirm a nominee opposed by the NRA, the NFIB, and "The New York Times" says would move the court dramatically to the left….This - this nomination ought to be made by the next president. [BASH]  So, just to - just to put a button on this, are you ruling it out 100 percent?  [MCCONNELL]  Yes.”

 

McConnell senate support for Trump: “Yes, what I have said is, we are going to run individual races no matter who the presidential nominee is. We have spirited contests in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania and Ohio and Wisconsin, Illinois, Nevada, Colorado, and Florida.  And all of those races will be run by candidates seeking to appeal to the voters in those states. Senate races are statewide races.  You can craft your own message for your own people.  And that's exactly what we intend to do this fall, no matter who the nominee is.”

McConnell on who he would vote for in an open convention: I have no idea.  I am going to be a delegate from Kentucky.  I'm bound on the first ballot to the outcome of our caucuses.  If there's a second ballot, I'll let you know.  But I haven't thought that far ahead. [BASH]  Well, just real quick, it is kind of an open question whether or not anybody running will get the votes to have the nomination wrapped up in or around the convention. Do you think it should be somebody running for president, or could it be anybody? [MCCONNELL]  Well, at some point, somebody's going to get - I think it's 1,237 votes.  And, at that point, they're the nominee.  I have no earthly idea how it will unfold between now and then.  But the nominee will have to have that many votes to be chosen by our party.”


FULL TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

 

DANA BASH CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: …Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is standing firm on his pledge to not hold hearings on the new nominee.

And he joins me live.

Senator, thank you very much for joining me.

Let's start with the...

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER:  Good morning.

BASH:  ... fact - good morning - the fact that the Senate is in recess for two weeks now.

Vulnerable - vulnerable Republicans are going to be bombarded with protests and attack ads for refusing to even give the president's Supreme Court pick a hearing.

What if Democrats are right and this costs several Republicans in your caucus their seats and maybe even you the majority?  Would it be worth it to keep a Democrat appointee off the Supreme Court?

MCCONNELL:  Well, look, there's a lot of activity on this issue out in the country on both sides.  And a lot of people who think this appointment ought to be made by the next president will be weighing in as well.

And, look, that's the principle.  Who ought to make the decision, a lame-duck president on the way out the door, or the president we're in the process of electing right now?  What is the tradition?  It's been 80 years, 80, since a vacancy created in a presidential election year was filled.

You have to go back to 1888, Grover Cleveland in the White House, to find the last time a vacancy created in a presidential year was filled by a Senate of a different party from the president.

BASH:  But...

MCCONNELL:  So, we know what the tradition is, Dana.

It's the Biden rule.  When Joe Biden was chairman of the Judiciary Committee in '92, he said, if a vacancy occurred, it would not be filled because of the pending election.  Harry Reid said back in 2005 that, even though the president nominates, that doesn't guarantee a vote.

And Chuck Schumer, who's going to be the Democratic leader next year, said 18 months before the end of President Bush 43's term that, if a vacancy occurred in the Supreme Court, they wouldn't fill it.  So, we know what their tradition is.

This nomination ought to be made by the president we're in the process of electing this year.

BASH:  And you are convinced - briefly, you are convinced that your Republican senators who are in tough races in November won't pay a political price for it, regardless of the history?

MCCONNELL:  There's a lot of interest on both sides of this issue.

The right-of-center world does not want this vacancy filled by this president.  And even though - if you want to discuss the nominee just for a minute, even though Barack Obama calls him a moderate, he's opposed by the NRA.  He's opposed by the National Federation of Independent Business, which has never taken a position on a Supreme Court nominee before.

"The New York Times" said it would move the court dramatically to the left.  But this is not about this particular judge.  This is about who should make the appointment.

We're in the process of picking a president, and that new president ought to make this appointment, which will affect the Supreme Court maybe for the next quarter-of-a-century.

BASH:  Speaking of a new president, if Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders were to win the presidency, is there any chance that Republicans would vote to confirm Merrick Garland during a lame-duck session of Congress?

MCCONNELL:  I can't imagine that a Republican majority Congress in a lame-duck session, after the American people have spoken, would want to confirm a nominee opposed by the NRA, the NFIB, and "The New York Times" says would move the court dramatically to the left.

BASH:  Senator, just to...

(CROSSTALK)

MCCONNELL:  This - this nomination ought to be made by the next president.

BASH:  So, just to - just to put a button on this, are you ruling it out 100 percent?

MCCONNELL:  Yes.

BASH:  OK.  Thank you.

Let's turn to the presidential campaign trail.  You spoke this week with Donald Trump.  You told him that, no matter who may be triggering the violence at his rallies, it might be a good idea for him to discourage it.

Yesterday, I'm sure you have seen even more violence occurring at Trump rallies.  Does he do enough or is he doing enough to lower the temperature?

MCCONNELL:  Well, I think all of the candidates ought to encourage the people who are in - coming out in these crowds to enter into the kind of peaceful discourse that we have practiced for most of our 200 years.

And I think for the candidates to encourage people to have these debates in a respectful way would be a very important addition to the conversation.

BASH:  And, Senator, "The New York Times" did a story recently looking at Republican efforts to stop Donald Trump.  And take a look at what they quoted you as saying.

They said that - of Mr. Trump, Mr. McConnell has said - quote - "We will drop him like a hot rock, according to his colleagues."

Did you say that, and are you encouraging your senators to drop him like a hot rock if they get into trouble?

MCCONNELL:  No, what - no.  Yes, what I have said is, we are going to run individual races no matter who the presidential nominee is.

We have spirited contests in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania and Ohio and Wisconsin, Illinois, Nevada, Colorado, and Florida.  And all of those races will be run by candidates seeking to appeal to the voters in those states.

Senate races are statewide races.  You can craft your own message for your own people.  And that's exactly what we intend to do this fall, no matter who the nominee is.

BASH:  Are you concerned that Donald Trump will hurt your candidates on the ballot?

MCCONNELL:  We're going to be running strong with these incumbents no matter who the nominee ultimately is.

I intend to support the nominee of our party, and we will find out who that is in the coming months.

BASH:  OK.  On that note, for many years, you worked alongside John Boehner when he was speaker of the House.

I want to you look at what he said this week about a potential nominee.  He said: "If we don't have a nominee who can win on the first ballot, I'm for none of the above.  They all had a chance to win.  None of them won.  I'm for Paul Ryan to be our nominee."

Would you vote for, as a member of the Republican Party, a delegate - you are going to have rule - a position at the convention - would you vote for anybody who was not a candidate for president, Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, anybody else?

(LAUGHTER)

MCCONNELL:  I have no idea.  I am going to be a delegate from Kentucky.  I'm bound on the first ballot to the outcome of our caucuses.  If there's a second ballot, I'll let you know.  But I haven't thought that far ahead.

BASH:  Well, just real quick, it is kind of an open question whether or not anybody running will get the votes to have the nomination wrapped up in or around the convention.

Do you think it should be somebody running for president, or could it be anybody?

MCCONNELL:  Well, at some point, somebody's going to get - I think it's 1,237 votes.  And, at that point, they're the nominee.

I have no earthly idea how it will unfold between now and then.  But the nominee will have to have that many votes to be chosen by our party.

BASH:  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, thank you so much for joining me this morning.  I appreciate it.

MCCONNELL:  Thank you.

 

 

###END INTERVIEW###

 

 

 

Brooke Lorenz

Public Relations Coordinator | CNN | Washington, DC

Brooke.Lorenz@Turner.com| O: (202) 515-2918

 


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