CBS’s Dickerson Starts GOP Debate by Parroting Obama, Reid Arguments on Replacing Scalia

CBS News Republican Debate moderator John Dickerson appropriately began Saturday’s proceedings with a large block devoted to the sudden passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. However, he chose to approach it from a liberal direction by arguing to Donald Trump that conservatives should kowtow to President Obama’s nominee because they would if he were a Republican. 

Later, he parroted Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s statement whining about the impending fight over a likely liberal nominee and the Republican opposition. 

A moment of silence was held for Scalia, but the candidates received no time to offer opening statements on Scalia before Dickerson jumped into to fire this question off to Trump about a Republican being in the position that the President is now in: 

First, the death of Justice Scalia and the vacancy that leaves on the Supreme Court. Mr. Trump, I want to start with you. You've said that the President shouldn't nominate anyone in the rest of his term to replace Justice Scalia. If you were president and had a chance with 11 months left to go in your term, wouldn't it be an abdication to conservatives in particular not to name a conservative justice for the rest of your term? 

Tell the Truth 2016

Trump offered an arguably vague and meandering answer before Dickerson followed up: 

DICKERSON: So just to be clear on this, Mr. Trump, you're okay with the President nominating somebody? 

TRUMP: I think he is going to do it whether I'm okay with it or not. It's up to Mitch McConnell and everybody else to stop it. It's called delay, delay, delay.

Going to Republican Governor John Kasich (Ohio), Dickerson touted the words of the divisive and liberal Reid about how Republicans should pass whomever the President nominates to succeed the late conservative Justice:

Governor Kasich, I want to get your thoughts on this. Justice Scalia was a real believer, obviously, in the strict word of the Constitution. Now, Harry Reid says that a failure to fill his vacancy would be, quote, “shameful abdication of one of the Senate's most essential constitutional responsibilities.” Where do you come down on this? 

The relevant portions of the transcript from CBS’s Republican Debate on February 13 can be found below.

CBS’s Republican Debate
February 13, 2016
9:06 p.m. Eastern

JOHN DICKERSON: First, the death of Justice Scalia and the vacancy that leaves on the Supreme Court. Mr. Trump, I want to start with you. You've said that the President shouldn't nominate anyone in the rest of his term to replace Justice Scalia. If you were president and had a chance with 11 months left to go in your term, wouldn't it be an abdication to conservatives in particular not to name a conservative justice for the rest of your term? 

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I can say this — if the President — and if I were president now,  I would certainly want to try and nominate a justice and I'm sure that, frankly, I'm absolutely sure that President Obama will try and do it. I hope that our Senate is going to be able — Mitch and the entire group — is going to be able to do something about it in times of delay. We could have a Diane Sykes or you could have a Bill Pryor. We have some fantastic people, but this is a tremendous blow to conservatism. It's a tremendous blow, frankly, to our country. 

DICKERSON: So just to be clear on this, Mr. Trump, you're okay with the President nominating somebody? 

TRUMP: I think he is going to do it whether I'm okay with it or not. It's up to Mitch McConnell and everybody else to stop it. It's called delay, delay, delay.

DICKERSON: Governor Kasich, I want to get your thoughts on this. Justice Scalia was a real believer, obviously, in the strict word of the Constitution. Now, Harry Reid says that a failure to fill his vacancy would be, quote, “shameful abdication of one of the Senate's most essential constitutional responsibilities.” Where do you come down on this? 

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center