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Who will be nominated and how the nomination fight is developing is a Washington parlor game, but in the past few days several myths have developed, apparently targeted at undercutting the influence of the Senate Majority Leader and his staff.
For example, one rumor has it the White House drew in former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson as a slap at Frist’s authority overseeing the confirmation process. Yet according to knowledgeable White House and Senate staff, Thompson’s role in the confirmation fight had been discussed by both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue at least three weeks before Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her intention to retire.
“We would not do anything to undercut Senator Frist’s leadership role in the confirmation process…that is Senate business. We have our role, they have theirs,” says a White House legislative adviser. “There is a process here. The process is working, and the Senate leadership and the White House are on the same page.”
Another rumor is that the White House has pushed Texas Sen. John Cornyn into the limelight to burnish his leadership abilities in the face of a Frist retirement. But again, according to White House and Senate sources, Cornyn, who is well thought of by both the White House and his Senate colleagues, was tabbed by Senate leadership to help in the initial media onslaught over the confirmation fight.
“When everything was said and done, it was Frist on the floor of the Senate opening up the fight before the July recess,” says a former White House staffer with knowledge of the confirmation process. “There are a lot of people in this town who want to think they are part of the process of selecting and confirming a Supreme Court nominee. People ought to focus on what we’re trying to achieve, and work not to make it any more difficult than it already is. That’s just playing into the Democrats’ hands.”p> USEFUL TOOLS br> Democratic Senators like Chuck Schumer and
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