From NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- On a day where public attention is being lavished on the state's Democratic Party, John McCain tried to address forgotten Republicans today at Wake Forest University this morning, explaining why he's the candidate to trust when it comes to nominating federal judges.
Using key confidence-building phrases like "judicial restraint" and "limits to the scope of judicial power," McCain lauded the appointment of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, saying he would nominate justices in their mold -- notably leaving out more polarizing Justices Thomas and Scalia.
Flanked by NC Sen. Richard Burr, former Solicitor General Ted Olson and former TN Sen. (and presidential candidate) Fred Thompson, McCain faced many of his critics head on by commending the actions of the so-called "Gang of 14" -- of which he was a member.
The bipartisan "gang," which is criticized by many partisan conservatives, brokered an agreement not to "filibuster [judicial nominees] unless there were extraordinary circumstances," McCain said.
"This parliamentary truce was brief, but it lasted long enough to allow the confirmation of Justices Roberts, Alito, and many other judges," he continued. "And it showed that serious differences can be handled in a serious way, without allowing Senate business to unravel in a chaos of partisan anger."
McCain went on to criticize his Democratic opponents' for not supporting the bipartisan efforts to get Roberts appointed, even going so far as to quote a speech Obama gave at the time.
"Sen. Obama, in particular, likes to talk up his background as a lecturer on law, and also as someone who can work across the aisle to get things done," McCain began. "But when Judge Roberts was nominated, it seemed to bring out more the lecturer in Sen. Obama than it did the guy who can get things done. … And just where did John Roberts fall short, by the senator's measure?
"Well, a justice of the court, as Sen. Obama explained it -- and I quote -- should share quote 'one's deepest values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one's empathy.' End of quote. These vague words attempt to justify judicial activism -- come to think of it, they sound like an activist judge wrote them."