- The Washington Times - Friday, August 5, 2005

PITTSBURGH — Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman yesterday said Supreme Court nominee Judge John G. Roberts Jr. will make a “superb” justice, and urged liberals not to turn the confirmation process into a political campaign.

Mr. Mehlman, during an address at the RNC’s annual summer meeting, called on Democrats to provide the same courtesy Republicans gave Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who declined to answer several specific questions at her 1993 confirmation hearing.

“But the process was orderly and dignified nevertheless, thanks to Republicans who understood that she was fair-minded and qualified,” Mr. Mehlman said. “I believe Judge Roberts has the right to expect the same treatment, and the same swift confirmation.”

Mr. Mehlman dedicated much of the three-day meeting to showing state party chairmen and national committee members how to take advantage of technology, including the Internet, for party building and how to reach out to black, Hispanic and other voters.

The event also showcased hometown Sen. Rick Santorum, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate whose expected challenger in next year’s election is popular pro-life Democrat Bob Casey Jr., the state’s treasurer. Some early polls have Mr. Casey ahead.

Yesterday, in a luncheon address Mr. Santorum, a Catholic and social conservative, emphasized the importance of “American values,” such as the importance of strong traditional families — with a man and woman at the helm — for all communities.

“I get a lot of ‘amens’ and ‘preach, brother, preach,’ when I go to speak at black churches,” Mr. Santorum said in the speech that also focused on the importance of pursuing support in places and among people not normally congenial to Republicans.

Many state party chairmen and Republican National Committee members afterward said they thought the speech was of “presidential quality.”

“Did you hear him? That was better than even his best,” a beaming Mr. Mehlman told Bob Asher, a Republican National Committee member from Pennsylvania.

“It was a thoughtful speech about the philosophy of governing a people and making that governing better,” said Oklahoma RNC member Lynn Windel, a conservative and veteran RNC member. “It was presidential, not a ‘come join me in my election campaign’ speech.”

Mr. Mehlman and Republican National Committee co-Chairman Jo Ann Davidson also used the meeting to showcase ABC sports broadcaster and former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann, who has said he will seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2006.

Mrs. Davidson and other party officials mentioned Mr. Swann’s name several times from the podium during sessions yesterday and Thursday, and RNC members rode buses to a Northside restaurant Thursday night for a dinner in his honor. It was not sponsored by the RNC.

The attention the RNC paid to Mr. Swann is unusual and noteworthy, several veteran members said, because he is likely to face primary opponents and the RNC normally does not endorse in primaries. One probable primary opponent is former Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. William W. Scranton III, the son of the former state governor. The winner would face incumbent Democratic Gov. Edward G. Rendell.

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