This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," November 2, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito (search) is making courtesy calls on Capitol Hill.
Joining me now is one of the senators who met with Alito Wednesday, not Chuck Hagel (search), but Republican senator from Kentucky and majority whip, Mitch McConnell.
So, Senator, you talked with Alito. What did you learn?
SEN MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY.: I learned I think what I already knew.
He's just an extraordinarily well-qualified candidate. He achieved a unanimous "well qualified" from the ABA when he was nominated for the Circuit Court back in 1990. Very engaging, very intelligent. Judicial demeanor, very calm.
GIBSON: You know, the standard seems to have been set by Judge Roberts in the way he charmed, cajoled, bantered and debated senators who many times think they should be on the Supreme Court.
How does Mr. Alito seem to be? Is he a nimble fellow?
MCCONNELL: I think he's every bit as good as John Roberts (search) and will be a spectacular witness before the Judiciary Committee.
GIBSON: I mean, how is this going to go through as easily as it did for Roberts? Or is it going to be the cataclysmic war that some people have been talking about?
MCCONNELL: Well, you know, it's interesting. Before the Roberts hearings, we weren't at all clear that that wasn't going to be a cliffhanger. It was only after Chief Justice Roberts appeared before the Judiciary Committee — such a virtuoso performance by everybody's account - - did it become a landslide.
So I think that a lot of senators are going to sign up for Judge Alito early, but then a great many more are going to be very much inclined to do that after they study his spectacular resume and watch his performance before the Judiciary Committee.
GIBSON: Senator, as you well know, the Democrats are working up for '06. They're already sharpening their knives for what they hope is a better argument about the war was wrong, Bush lied, appear to be getting ready to blame it all on Cheney.
The Alito thing is also a big issue with them. Do you expect them to go to the mat here?
MCCONNELL: Look, I think the person that got it right was his colleague on the 3rd Circuit — a liberal, African-American judge, Leon Higginbotham (search) — who said that Judge Alito was his favorite judge to sit with.
This nomination doesn't have anything to do with any of these other issues. It has to do with whether or not he is a well-qualified person to serve on the Supreme Court.
And I think that the vast majority of our Senate colleagues are going to judge him on that basis, and he will not get caught up in all of these other collateral issues that we're always debating around here.
GIBSON: Senator, we have been warned to expect a big fight, that the Democrats have nothing to lose. So what's the argument that there won't be?
MCCONNELL: Well, it's very hard to demonize this guy. I mean, in what way can they demonize such an outstanding nominee? His credentials are every bit as outstanding as Chief Justice Roberts. He is probably going to get — almost certainly going to get — a unanimous "well qualified" from the American Bar Association (search), which is the highest rating they can give. That's what they gave him 15 years ago.
This is a guy who's not going to be easily demonized. He's an extraordinarily well-qualified candidate.
GIBSON: All right. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell. Senator, thanks very much.
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