‘Top Line’: Obama’s ‘Masterstroke’ — How Hard Will GOP Push Against Sotomayor?

By Caitlin Taylor

May 26, 2009 3:14pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: With conservative voices and interest groups putting together an immediate message frame that seeks to portray Judge Sonia Sotomayor as an “activist” liberal, Republican senators will face a quick choice in the coming confirmation battle: How hard, and how far, to push their case opposing her.

On ABCNews.com’s “Top Line” today, Republican strategist Phil Musser talked about the political difficulties of opposing someone with Sotomayor’s background. “I think this is a bold and fairly masterful political stroke by President Obama,” Musser told us. “This is not a pick that necessarily can be good politics for Republican senators. I mean, having older white senators up there grilling the first Hispanic – up-from-the-boot-straps, Hispanic Supreme Court nominee — that’s a tough one for us okay, let’s just be honest about that.”
Given that, Musser said, the best GOP strategy is to hold back a bit and see what comes out about Sotomayor’s record on the federal bench. “To answer your specific question, time unearths a lot of different things. No research has really been done on Sotomayor’s record.” With conservative groups gearing up for a battle, “Whether those kind of labels will work and the level of volume of the confrontation will be likely predicated  on what comes out of the vetting and research process in the next couple weeks. But good start for Obama today.” “Sotomayor probably goes to the court,” Musser added. “She’s not, clearly, the[Elena] Kagan pick that would have  really inflamed the passion on the left. . . . The bottom line with this one is that Republicans will . . . have the chance to look at this nomination over the next little bit. But my gut is that she’s probably on a good launch path.” Click HERE to see the interview with Phil Musser. Also on today’s program, we spoke with Doug Kendall, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, about the president’s choice for the Supreme Court. “She is someone who can do what Barack Obama did to a lot of political issues across the campaign trail and since being president, which is diffuse a hot-button political issue and reach a broad section of Americans,” Kendall said. “I don’t think this is a nominee that is likely to provoke a filibuster,” Kendall said. Click HERE to see the full interview with Doug Kendall.

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