Some Skeptics Want Miers to Stop Senator Visits
WASHINGTON – Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers (search) will continue meeting with senators next week, the White House said Friday, despite calls from some conservatives who said the courtesy visits aren't helping and she should focus instead on preparing for her confirmation hearing.
"She's done about 25 visits so far, and she's got about a dozen next week," White House spokesman Jim Dyke said Friday. "We get advice on a regular basis from outside groups. It doesn't mean it's going to happen."
In a conference call Thursday, some conservatives suggested Miers should stop calling on senators, saying that the visits, which have included some strategic stumbles on her part, have not been helping the White House counsel's nomination as the replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (search).
The conservatives on the call were airing their views to Leonard Leo, who is on leave as executive vice president of the Federalist Society to help the White House shepherd Miers' nomination through the Senate.
While those discussions were going on, "we were adding congressional visits to her already established schedule for next week," Dyke said.
One of the senators Miers will visit next week is conservative Sen. George Allen (search), R-Va. "I look forward to talking to her, asking her views in a variety of different ways to try and discern her judicial philosophy," Allen told Don Imus, whose radio show is simulcast on cable's MSNBC.
Miers has faced attacks from both sides of the political spectrum — most notably from the president's conservative allies — though none of the Senate's majority Republicans has come out against her. President Bush's claim that she is the most qualified candidate has been roundly criticized by conservatives who wanted him to look to conservative federal judges like Priscilla Owen or Janice Rogers Brown.
Bush said Thursday that Miers' confirmation process will show a "competent, strong, capable woman who shares the same judicial philosophy that I share."
Miers has faced some criticism this week from senators, with some complaining that she has been vague in their private meetings with her and others complaining about her answers to a written questionnaire that the Judiciary Committee sent her.
"I would say that to this point Ms. Miers' efforts to win support have not been successful," said Sen. Dick Durbin (search), D-Ill., a member of the Judiciary Committee, on Thursday.
Dyke said the process is moving forward for Miers. "As far as this week is concerned, you've seen this process move forward and that's important, and you have learned more about her judicial philosophy and her qualifications and her experiences, all important considerations for senators," he said.
Senators have set her confirmation hearing date for Nov. 7.
When it comes to the incomplete answers on her Judiciary Committee questionnaire, "she told Sen. Specter in her first meeting that she had a lot of information back in Texas based on her 30-year career and that she may have to sort of produce that on a rolling basis, so that continues to happen," Dyke said.
Miers also has been promoted this week by her former colleagues from Texas, including the Dallas Bar Association and a group of former Texas state justices, who came up to the White House earlier this week to promote her nomination.
On Friday, members of the Texas Bar Association were to promote Miers' qualifications during a news conference in the Capitol.