RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr is walking back from his promise to block any nominees Democrat Hillary Clinton would make to the U.S. Supreme Court if she's elected president.
Burr told a private gathering of Republican supporters on Saturday that if he's re-elected to a third Senate term he would do everything possible "to make sure that four years from now, we're still going to have an opening on the Supreme Court."
Burr said in a statement Thursday he would "assess the record of any Supreme Court nominee." The statement was previously reported by the News & Record of Greensboro and McClatchy newspapers.
The two-term senator is locked in a too-close-to-call race with Democratic challenger Deborah Ross, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday. National Democrats see Ross as one of their best chances to pick up a seat as they work to retake the Senate.
Burr said Clinton has a long history of backing liberal judges and suggested he doubted she would nominate one he could support, but amended his earlier comments suggesting a blanket rejection.
"I will reject any candidate whose record indicates they will use the court to put in place their personal or political agenda, or who will not rule in accordance with law and the Constitution," Burr said in the statement.
GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and John McCain of Arizona had previously suggested they will oppose any and all Supreme Court nominations Clinton might make. McCain later also walked back his comment, saying any nominee would be considered.