Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday began her outreach to the Senate, speaking by phone with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and that panels ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs noted that Sotomayor would do much of the preconfirmation Senate outreach herself.
Gibbs also said the White House would not establish a war room for the nomination, saying, I think to have a war room denotes that we think theres some coming war, and we dont believe that.
President Barack Obama announced Sotomayors nomination on Tuesday. She would replaced retiring Justice David Souter, who is leaving the high court next month. Sotomayor, 54, would be the first Hispanic and third woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court.
Responding to an accusation by former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) that Sotomayor is racist, Gibbs warned against what he said was partisanship and the use of snippets from YouTube.
I think it is probably important for anybody involved in this debate to be exceedingly careful with the way in which theyve decided to describe the nomination, Gibbs said.
Gingrich, on his blog said: A white man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw.
Gingrich was referring to a 2001 speech in which Sotomayor said, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasnt lived that life.
Gibbs responded by saying: I think Americans should read all of what she talked about. He suggested that Sotomayors broader point was that she has lived a different life that some people have based on her upbringing.
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.