- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

The White House yesterday blamed "the re-emergence of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party" for the fight over Miguel Estrada, President Bush's federal appeals court nominee.
"Some Democrats view the lesson of the last election is to go out and to run as far to the left as possible," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said.
"The re-emergence of the liberal wing of the Democrat Party is in full swing, which is making many of the moderates in the Democratic Party increasingly uncomfortable."
He added: "It remains to be seen whether or not the obstructionist Democratic tactics, which are exceedingly rare and never before been successful, will be continued. I think this is a decision that some Democrats have to make."
Senate Democrats have blocked Republicans from setting a floor vote on Mr. Estrada, who has been nominated for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The blocking has the effect of a filibuster because Republicans have vowed not to move onto other business until Mr. Estrada receives a vote by the full Senate.
The nomination was approved earlier by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote.
Yesterday, the White House said it had no plans to withdraw Mr. Estrada's name from consideration.
"The nomination is alive and kicking," Mr. Fleischer said. "The president remains fully, 100 percent dedicated to the confirmation of Miguel Estrada."
Mr. Fleischer's strong words were aimed at pressuring Democrats during this week's congressional recess to reconsider their opposition. Republicans are hoping Democrats will be persuaded by constituents to allow a vote on Mr. Estrada.
All 51 Senate Republicans support Mr. Estrada, as do three Democrats enough to win a majority vote, but shy of the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster.
"That is my goal, to have an up-or-down vote," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, earlier in the week. "And I'll persist, I'll persist, I'll persist until I have an up-or-down vote on this well-qualified judge."
In addition to lambasting Democrats over the Estrada nomination, the White House also tweaked presidential hopefuls who have ignored an NAACP economic boycott of South Carolina. The civil rights group wants hotels and other businesses boycotted until the Confederate flag is removed from a memorial in front of the Statehouse.
"Democrat presidential contenders, their staffs, for example, continue to travel into and stay overnight in South Carolina," Mr. Fleischer said. "I think you have to look far and wide to find out how effective the boycott really is."
Mr. Fleischer would not say whether the president plans to campaign for re-election in South Carolina. The state's chapter of the NAACP has said boycott guidelines allow groups to conduct essential business in the state.
"There is a compromise that was agreed to by all parties in South Carolina that has resolved this," Mr. Fleischer said. "Others may want to continue to dispute the compromise agreement that was reached."
He added: "The president thinks that this matter is a matter for the people of South Carolina to resolve."


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