Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) dared members of his own Conference to vote against the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court during a meeting Thursday with Latino leaders.
During a brief press conference after the session, Reid reaffirmed his support for Sotomayors nomination and issued his challenge to Democratic lawmakers: I dare any one of them to say theyre not supporting Sotomayor.
Reids statement comes on the heels of comments by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) a moderate Member with a strong independent streak in which he questioned some of Sotomayors statements on race and the role of the judiciary.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, Nelson called Sotomayors comments troubling and would like her to provide an explanation.
What I want to do is have her explain to me what she meant by that and give her an opportunity to satisfy me that she doesnt intend to take an agenda to the bench, Nelson said.
Meanwhile, Reids decision to meet with leaders from top national civil rights organizations including the National Council of La Raza, the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund, and the Hispanic National Bar Association sent a clear signal to Republicans of the power the Sotomayor nomination has with Hispanics.
Over the last two election cycles Republicans have seen support from Hispanics drop off, and GOP leaders are looking to rebuild their appeal with the critical voting bloc.
But the Sotomayor nomination has proven to be a particular challenge to Republicans, who are hoping to use the confirmation to fire up their base while not alienating the Hispanic vote.