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The exercise raised the question as to why the White House had announced the visits, why the Senate had put out a schedule, complete with times, for her nine stops, and even more, why all those reporters kept dutifully traipsing from place to place.

Ah, right, the senators. It soon became clear that this was about them, not her.

“We have the whole package here,” said Mr. Reid, seated beside Judge Sotomayor before the two met in his Capitol office. “America identifies with the underdog, and you’ve been an underdog many times in your life, but always the top dog,” the Nevada Democrat said.

For her part, Judge Sotomayor blinked, nodded, smiled, blinked, smiled broadly, nodded, and, at one point, mouthed a silent “thank you.”

Sitting on the couches in Sen. Jeff Sessions office, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee praised her, but first offered this warning to a huge throng of reporters that had jammed in. “I know she’s probably not going to talk to you now.” She didn’t, she just smiled, blinked, nodded, and smiled some more.

Waiting for the senator to come out and talk some more, a few reporters toddled down the hall to find out why hundreds of schoolchildren were screaming. Walking in on a pack of kids at an “Everybody Wins” reading event, the children yelled: “No more monkeys jumping on the bed!”

But back in the hallway, Mr. Sessions vowed that the judge’s confirmation hearing will be so fair that “I’d like to hear people say, ‘This is the best hearing we’ve ever had.’ ”

Asked if he discussed with her the judge’s statement that as a Hispanic, she “would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male,” the senator caught whatever had muted Judge Sotomayor. “It really was not a detailed discussion,” he said, although he did add that he was impressed by her “energy level.”

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said the judge stopped by because “we wanted to talk about New York.” But he then divulged the most important news scoop of the day: “She’s a bicycle rider; I’m a bicycle rider.”

At her last stop, a visit with Californias Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the nominee offered one comment after the Democratic senator asked if a TV sound man sitting on the floor needed help getting up.

“If I was on the floor, you’d have to offer it to me,” Judge Sotomayor said.

• Joseph Curl can be reached at