From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
As Hotline reports, Sen. Kit Bond
, who was previously undeclared, announced during the second hour of floor debate today that he would be supporting Sonia Sotomayor for the U.S. Supreme Court.
The retiring Bond becomes seventh Republican to come out in favor of Sotomayor. The others: Mel Martinez (FL, also retiring), Lamar Alexander (TN), Susan Collins (ME), Olympia Snowe (ME), Lindsey Graham (SC), and Richard Lugar (IN).
Hotline notes that the others to watch as possible GOP crossovers: Murkowski, Voinovich, Gregg. Murkowski is set to speak tonight at 7:30.
Sotomayor, at this point, seems on track for 65 votes, subtracting out Kennedy and Byrd, who will likely not vote.
Bond, Hotline notes, said "he will support Sotomayor because he 'rejects' Pres. Obama's standard when he was in the Senate and opposed CJ John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito."
*** UPDATE *** Per NBC's Ken Strickland, Bond said at the end of his speech:
"The Senate has reviewed her nomination and has asked her its questions. There's been no significant finding against her. There's been no public uprising against her. I do not believe that the constitution tells me that I should refuse to support her merely because I disagree with her on some cases. I will support her; i'll be proud for her, the community she represents, and the American Dream she shows is possible. I will cast my vote in favor of the nomination of Judge Sotomayor, and I urge my colleagues to do the same."