ELKO, Nev. (AP) — Hillary Clinton predicted Monday that President Barack Obama will nominate someone who's already been confirmed by the Senate to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
The Democratic candidate for president said that would potentially increase pressure on resistant Republicans to consider Obama's choice for the high court.
"I'm hoping that we will get somebody nominated that will get people saying, 'Hey, the only reason you're blocking this is pure partisanship, so do your duty,'" Clinton said in response to a question at a campaign stop in the remote northeastern Nevada mining town of Elko.
She added that some judges now serving on the federal appeals courts "were confirmed 99-0" by the Senate. At a later forum on health care in Reno, Clinton said the longest confirmation process ever was for Justice Clarence Thomas. "That took 100 days," Clinton said. "We have 340 days."
"I don't care whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, or you're a citizen or an elected official, we can't get into the pattern, my friends, of picking sides and distorting the Constitution in a way to try to garner partisan advantage," she said.
In the wake of Scalia's death on Saturday, Republican senators and several GOP presidential candidates have said Obama should not seek to replace the revered conservative jurist during the final 11 months of his term in office. Instead, they argue, that choice should be left to the winner of this fall's presidential election.
Obama has said he will make a nomination, and Clinton and her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, have both expressed outrage at the potential of a GOP-led Senate refusing to consider it.
"You talk about the Constitution a whole lot. Well, how about obeying the Constitution and start holding hearings when President Obama nominates the next Supreme Court justice," Sanders said Monday at a rally in Ypsilanti, Michigan. "Talk about cowardice, talk about obstructionism."
Clinton also said Monday that Democrats could recapture the Senate in November by winning seats in states such as New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, where she argued a Republican refusal to consider an Obama nominee wouldn't play well with voters.
"But we also have to make it a voting issue," she said.
Clinton visited Elko as she battles to win Nevada's Democratic caucuses on Feb. 20, a race viewed as tightening as Sanders battles to expand his support among Nevada's multiethnic communities.
Clinton headed from Elko to Reno for other campaign events, while Sanders campaigned Monday in Michigan. There, he met privately with families dealing with the water crisis in Flint — which he called one of the more difficult meetings he ever had.
"It is beyond my comprehension in the year 2016 in the United States of America we are poisoning our children," he said.
Flint's water became tainted when the city began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money. State regulators failed to ensure that the water was properly treated, and lead from aging pipes leached into the water supply. Clinton visited the city earlier this month and touted on Monday the endorsement of several faith leaders from the city.
Lucey reported from Ypsilanti, Michigan.
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