WASHINGTON -- None of the Republican presidential candidates in Saturday night's debate said they think President Barack Obama should be allowed to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by Justice Antonin Scalia, who had been found dead earlier in the day.
"I think it's up to [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell and everybody else to stop it. It's called delay, delay, delay," Donald Trump, the party's front-runner, said to cheers.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he hoped Obama would think about "not nominating somebody," and that he would be putting the country first by letting the next president pick Scalia's replacement in 2017.
"The people will understand what is at stake in that election," Kasich said.
Ben Carson agreed that Obama shouldn't get a Supreme Court pick because "we're not going to get healing" with whoever he nominates.
Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Texas), who will get to vote on whoever Obama nominates, both argued that it's been more than 80 years since a lame duck president picked a Supreme Court justice, so it shouldn't be any different this time. That's not true, though. The Senate confirmed Justice Anthony Kennedy in 1988, during President Ronald Reagan's final year in office. Every single Republican voted to confirm him, too.
Cruz stumbled when pressed on that point.
"But Kennedy was confirmed in '88," said debate moderator John Dickerson.
"No, Kennedy was confirmed in '87," Cruz replied, as Dickerson pointed out Kennedy was appointed in 1987 but confirmed in 1988. He asked Cruz if he was basing his statistic on when Kennedy was appointed or confirmed.
"In this case, it's both," Cruz finally said to more cheers.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at least conceded that the president has "every right" to nominate a Supreme Court justice. But he said Obama should have to put up a consensus nominee.
"There's no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama will not have a consensus pick when he submits that person to the Senate," Bush said.
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