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President Bush Defends Nominee

October 4, 2005 at 12:00 AM EDT

TOM RAUM, Associated Press: Mr. President, of all of the people in the United States you had to choose from, is Harriet Miers the most qualified to serve on the Supreme Court?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes, otherwise I wouldn’t have put her on. I have known Harriet for over a decade. I’ve worked with Harriet. She’s a woman of principle and character. She’s highly intelligent. She knows the kind of judge I’m looking for. After all, she was a part of the process that selected John Roberts. I don’t want somebody to go on the bench to try to supplant the legislative process. I’m interested in people that will be strict constructionists. Harriet Miers shares that philosophy. Adam.

ADAM ENTOUS, Reuters: Thank you, Mr. President, some conservatives have said that you did not pick someone like Scalia and Thomas because you shied away from a battle with the Democrats. Is there any truth to that? And are you worried about charges of cronyism?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I just described to you why I picked Harriet. I would be glad to go over it with you if you like, she is imminently qualified. She shares my judicial philosophy. She is a pioneer when it comes to the law. She is an extraordinary woman. The decision as to whether or not there will be a fight is up to the Democrats. They can decide whether or not the special interests will decide the tone of the debate. I’m upbeat about the tone of the hearings, but — except I’m mindful of the fact that someone as imminently qualified as John Roberts did have half the Democrat caucus voted against him.

I picked the best person I could find. People are going to be amazed at her strength of character, and her intellect. People know we’re close. But you’ve got to understand, because of our closeness, I know the character of the person. It’s one thing to say a person can read the law. And that’s important — to understand the law. But what also matters, Adam, is the intangibles. To me a person’s strength of character counts a lot. And as a result of my friendship with Harriet, I know her strength of character.

KELLY O’DONNELL, NBC News: Have you ever discussed with Harriet Miers abortion? Or have you gleaned from her comments her views on that subject?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I have no litmus test. It is also something I have consistently said. There is no litmus test. What matters to me is her judicial philosophy; what does she believe the proper role of the judiciary is relative to the legislative and executive branch — and she will be asked all kinds of questions up there. But the most important thing for me is: What kind of judge will she be?

KELLY O’DONNELL: But she is not someone you interviewed for the job that you didn’t know. You have known her a long time. Have you never discussed abortion with her?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: In my interviews with any judge I never ask their personal opinion on the subject of abortion.

KELLY O’DONNELL: In your friendship with her you never discussed it with her?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Not to my recollection have I ever sat down with her. What I have done is understand the type of person she is, and the type of judge she will be.

ANN COMPTON, ABC News: Following up on that, for ten years you’ve been on the receiving end of paperwork from Harriet Miers but the rest of the American people haven’t seen either her command of constitutional issues or her philosophy. Will you release some of her or the bulk of her White House legal work and not claim executive privilege?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Listen, there is a — there is a lot of — first of all, this is a part of the Roberts debate. People talked about executive privilege and documents. And secondly, it is important that we maintain executive privilege in the White House. That’s part of the deliberative process, that’s how I’m able to get good, sound opinions from people.

And so, you know, I’m sure they are going to try to bring this up. I happen to view it as a distraction from whether or not Harriet Miers is capable of answering the questions she is asked. She can be asked all the questions they want. It’s a distraction from whether or not she will be a good judge.

And what I believe, and what I know is important, is that she doesn’t change over the course of time. And had I thought she would change, I wouldn’t put her on there.