GOP says Obama shouldn't get another justice on high court

Republican presidential candidates, from left, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, businessman Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson take the stage before the CBS News Republican presidential debate at the Peace Center, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) Republican White House hopefuls declared that President Barack Obama should step aside and allow his successor to nominate the next Supreme Court justice as they opened a debate jolted by Saturday's death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.

Only Jeb Bush said Obama had "every right" to nominate a justice during his final year in office. The former Florida governor said there should be a consensus behind that choice but added that he didn't expect Obama would pick a candidate in that vain.

The five other candidates on the stage Saturday urged the Republican-led Senate to block any attempts by the president to get his third nominee on the court.

SEE ALSO | President Obama plans to nominate Scalia successor

"It's up to Mitch McConnell and everybody else to stop it," Donald Trump said. "It's called delay, delay, delay."

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz cast the moment in stark terms, saying allowing another Obama nominee to be approved would amount to Republicans giving up control of the Supreme Court for a generation. An uncompromising conservative, Cruz urged voters to consider who among the GOP candidates would nominate the most ideologically pure justices.

"It underscores the stakes of this election," Cruz said.

"We are one Justice away" Cruz scored a series of statements declaring the doom that a liberal appointee would spell to conservative values.

Former Ohio Gov John Kasich said he wanted the President to put the country first in not nominating a successor.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson said the Republicans should not allow Obama to make a new appointment. He later clarified his statement to suggest he knew the President had the right to nominate a new Justice.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio echoed Scalia's famous position suggesting the Constitution "is not a living document," before echoing the statements of his GOP colleagues. Rubio then drew cheers talking about importance of making sure a Republican chooses the balance of Supreme Court.

Scalia died hours before the debate, thrusting the future of the court into the center of an already heated presidential election.


The Sinclair Broadcast Group contributed to this report.

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