"I think the next president should make the pick. And I think they shouldn't go forward. And I believe I'm pretty much in line with what the Republicans are saying," GOP front-runner Donald Trump told CNN's Chris Cuomo Wednesday on "New Day," just hours before Obama nominated D.C. Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland.
But Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, said that the Senate Republicans should take up Garland's nomination and noted the Senate had never taken more than 125 days to vote on a nominee.
"Evaluating and confirming a Justice to sit on this nation's highest court should not be an exercise in political brinkmanship and partisan posturing," Clinton said in a statement Wednesday. "It is a serious obligation, performed on behalf of the American people, to ensure a highly qualified candidate fills a vacancy on the Court. That obligation does not depend on the party affiliation of a sitting president, nor does the Constitution make an exception to that duty in an election year."
Obama announced Wednesday he was nominating Garland to fill the vacancy created by Scalia's death last month. Obama pressed his case that his pick should at least be given a hearing during his speech announcing his pick.
"To suggest that someone as qualified and respected as Merrick Garland doesn't even deserve a hearing, let alone an up or down vote, to join an institution as important as our Supreme Court, when two- thirds of Americans believe otherwise, that would be unprecedented. To suggest that someone who has served his country with honor and dignity, with a distinguished track record of delivering justice for the American people might be treated, as one Republican leader stated, as a political pinata. That can't be right," Obama said.
Two senators left in the race, who will be directly involved in the debate, split on their opinions of Garland. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, got in a shot at Trump in the process.
He blasted Garland as a "so-called 'moderate' Democrat nominee (that) is precisely the kind of deal that Donald Trump has told us he would make -- someone who would rule along with other liberals on the bench like Justices (Ruth Bader) Ginsburg and (Sonia) Sotomayor. Make no mistake, if Garland were confirmed, he would side predictably with President Obama on critical issues such as undermining the Second Amendment, legalizing partial-birth abortion, and propping up overreaching bureaucratic agencies like the EPA and the IRS."
Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, called on Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley to hold nomination hearings for Garland.
"Refusing to hold hearings on the president's nominee would be unprecedented," Sanders said Wednesday, in a statement from his Senate office. "President Obama has done his job. It's time for Republicans to do theirs. I call on Sen. Grassley to hold confirmation hearings immediately and for Leader McConnell to bring the nomination to floor of the Senate if Judge Garland is approved by the Judiciary Committee."
Before Obama's pick was known -- indeed, nearly as soon as Scalia had died -- Republicans expressed staunch refusal to consider Obama's nominee, insisting that his replacement make a determination on who would fill the vacant seat.
"I think that the next president should make the pick. We don't have a very long distance to wait. Certainly they could wait it out very easily," Trump said Wednesday. "I would be not in favor of going forward."
"No matter what? What if he picks your sister," Cuomo asked, referring to Maryanne Trump Barry, a senior judge the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
"Then I would say the same thing," Trump said. "My sister's very happy where she is. She's doing a great job. She's considered a brilliant person and she is."