- The Washington Times - Monday, October 31, 2005

President Bush wasted no time finding a replacement when his longtime friend and White House counsel Harriet Miers last week withdrew her nomination to the Supreme Court.

Miss Miers handed the president a letter withdrawing her name at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Later that same day, White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. talked on the phone with 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. in New Jersey in the first of three calls over two days.

At 12:40 p.m. Friday, after returning from a trip to Norfolk, Mr. Bush called the judge, whom he had already interviewed once before — shortly after Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement in July.

“After Harriet Miers withdrew her name from consideration on Thursday, the president very much had in mind Judge Alito as someone that would be a very capable and distinguished person who could fill this vacancy,” Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said.

One White House official said that Judge Alito was the only other candidate Mr. Bush was considering when he picked Miss Miers, who withdrew in a crescendo of criticism from conservatives.

In a strange twist — suitable, perhaps, for the weekend before Halloween — Miss Miers spent Saturday and Sunday with the president and his chief of staff at Camp David, where the three spent some time talking about Supreme Court candidates.

Over the two days, there was a series of conversations with Judge Alito, with final arrangements for yesterday’s morning meeting made Sunday.

Mr. Bush formally offered Judge Alito the job when the two met in the Oval Office at 7 a.m. yesterday — nearly an hour after the news of his choice leaked out. “But he very much had him in mind over the last few days,” Mr. McClellan said.

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