11:44 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: One person that likes me at this table, I can tell you that. (Laughter.)
MR. COLLAMORE: More than one.
THE PRESIDENT: I have a lot of them. I have a lot. You’ve been great friends and supporters and appreciated for, number one, the election. And I appreciate all of the help in deciding who to pick for the United States Supreme Court. And, Leonard, you were fantastic. All of you were. And Jim DeMint — I don’t know if Jim is here or not but they were great, Heritage. You really did. You really helped. And the rollout has been fantastic. I don’t know how anybody can oppose him, frankly. I don’t know how anybody can oppose him at all, but it really has been a beautiful thing to see.
So we had a very successful event. He’s a terrific person, by the way. I got to know him reasonably well before we did the announcement, and he is just a spectacular man. I think he will be a spectacular — you know, you tell me, how would they go about — Leonard, how would they go about opposing him? He’s perfect in almost every way. But they’ll look for the “almost,” right? They’ll say, what’s the “almost?”
MR. LEO: He’s got an impeccable record.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Federalist really — they really did a great job. So we’re going to be talking about working with the judge and maybe making this a fast process. And nominating a justice of the Supreme Court is one of the most important things that I can do as President.
I’ve always said this — as I watched Presidents — I’d say the most important thing. And I think I want to refine that a little bit. I think probably defense of our country might be now — you know, it’s — otherwise we don’t need the Supreme Court so badly, right? We’re doing well in that regard, very well. I think we have problems that are a lot bigger than people understood. I think I was left something isn’t — had a lot of problems, but I think we’ll straighten out those problems. I think we’ll straight them out very strongly.
Judge Gorsuch is an exceptionally qualified person from the standpoint of experience and education. Columbia with honors, Harvard Law School with honors, Oxford at the highest level. Great, great student, great intellect. Supreme Court Justices White and Kennedy he clerked. And so I just think it’s really great that we’re having this meeting, because we want to have him go through an elegant process as opposed to a demeaning process. Because they’re very demeaning on the other side and they want to make you look as bad as possible. And, of course, the press can be very demeaning too, but I’m sure the press will be very dignified in this case.
But I really want — that’s the word — I really think he’s a very dignified man. I’d like to see him go through a dignified process. I think he deserves that. And hopefully it will go quickly and we’ll see what happens.
So what we might do is — just before they leave — we might ask for the folks in the room just to give yourself a quick — your name and a little introduction. And, Wayne, I would say they know you. Perhaps they know you better than they know me. (Laughter.)
MR. LAPIERRE: I doubt that. Wayne LaPierre, National Rifle Association.
MS. NANCE: I’m Penny Nance. I’m the CEO and president of Concerned Women for America.
MS. YOEST: I’m Charmaine Yoest. I’m with American Values and thank you, Mr. President, for this nomination.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
MS. DUGGAN: I’m Juanita Duggan with the National Independent Business Association, NFIB. Thank you.
MR. COLLAMORE: Tom Collamore with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Mr. President, congratulations on the fantastic nomination.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you.
MR. NORQUIST: Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform. And thank you for winning the election.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MR. LEO: Leonard Leo, the Federalist Society.
MS. DANNENFELSER: Margorie Dannenfelser, the Susan B. Anthony List.
MR. BLACKWELL: Morton Blackwell, the Leadership Institute.
MR. O’STEEN: David O’Steen, National Right to Life. Thank you for such a quick, expert nomination.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much.
MS. WHITE: Paula White, Chairman of the Evangelical Advisory Council.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Paula. Thank you for the help during the campaign.
So, with that, I’ll ask you to all hit the road. (Laughter.)
Q Mr. President, as you pointed out last night, the judge was confirmed on a unanimous voice. Well, he’s — can I ask a question, Mr. President? You all right? Thank you. As you pointed out last night, Judge Gorsuch was confirmed on a unanimous voice vote in 2006. Now, a number of Democrats say they are going to oppose him. What would you say to those Democrats? And would you encourage Senator McConnell to invoke the nuclear option if he feels he can’t get 60 votes?
THE PRESIDENT: I think there’s a certain dishonesty if they go against their vote from not very long ago. And he did get a unanimous endorsement, and he’s somebody that should get it. I mean, you can’t do better from an educational, from an experience, from any standpoint. A great judge; he’ll be a great justice.
So, no, I feel that it’s very dishonest if they go about doing that. And, yes, if we end up with the same gridlock that they’ve had in Washington for the last — longer than eight years, in all fairness to President Obama, a lot longer than eight years — but if we end up with that gridlock, I would say, if you can, Mitch, go nuclear. Because that would be a absolute shame if a man of this quality was caught up in the web. So I would say it’s up to Mitch, but I would say go for it.
11:50 A.M. EST