President Trump touted Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for the Supreme Court on Friday night at a campaign rally, unaware that news of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death became public while he was on the stage.
“I’m putting Ted Cruz as one of the people for the Supreme Court,” Mr. Trump told supporters in Bemidji, Minnesota. “Ted’s the only man i know who could get 100 votes from the Senate. Every single senator is going to vote for him. He’s a great guy, a brilliant guy.”
Just as the president was speaking, news of Justice Ginsburg’s death was breaking around the nation. The 87-year-old liberal jurist had been battling cancer for years.
The president learned of Justice Ginsburg’s death soon after coming off the stage where he had delivered a more than 90-minute campaign speech.
“She just died? I didn’t know that,” he told reporters before boarding Air Force One at the rally site. “She led an amazing life, what else can you say? Whether you agree or not … she led an amazing life.”
During his speech, Mr. Trump said the Supreme Court is very important to the election in November.
“The next president will get one, two, three or four Supreme Court justices,” he said. “Many presidents have had none. They’ve had none because they’re there for a long time.”
“But the next [president] will have anywhere from one to four, think of that,” Mr. Trump said. “That will totally change when you talk about life, when you talk about Second Amendment, when you talk about things that are so important to you.”
Earlier this month, the president released a list of 20 new possible nominees he would consider for the Supreme Court if he’s elected to a second term. The list includes Mr. Cruz and GOP Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he would push for confirmation of a new justice this year if a vacancy occurred, despite the looming presidential election.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York tweeted after Justice Ginsburg’s death, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows tweeted out a reaction to Justice Ginsburg’s death before the president stopped speaking at the rally.
“Joining the whole nation tonight in mourning the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — a trailblazer, a dedicated public servant, and an inspiration to so many,” Mr. Meadows said on Twitter. “My prayers are with her family and friends.”
Former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway tweeted a tribute to the late justice.
“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg [sic] led a remarkable life of consequence. She worked with passion & conviction, inspired many women, offered hope to other cancer survivors. Prayers to her loved ones. May She Rest In Peace,” Mrs. Conway said.
Republican strategist Ron Bonjean, who worked with the White House on the successful Supreme Court nomination of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, said he expects the president to nominate a replacement soon.
“Nominating a SCOTUS candidate is very different than voting to confirm that person before the November election,” Mr. Bonjean tweeted. “A White House nomination rollout and confirmation campaign is something that will likely happen in short order.”
Mr. Bonjean noted that the average Supreme Court confirmation campaign is between 67 to 71 days. He called it “a big reason why a SCOTUS confirmation vote by the Senate would not take place until after the election.”
“There simply isn’t enough time for nominee visits with Senators, a confirmation hearing and the actual vote,” he tweeted.