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Posted: Jul 10, 2018 3:19 PM
Updated: Jul 10, 2018 3:26 PM

Rep. Kevin Cramer, a Republican running for the Senate in North Dakota, said last week he advised President Donald Trump not to be pressured into making his Supreme Court nomination "some sort of affirmative action pick."

The comments by Cramer, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in one of the marquee Senate races of November's midterm elections, came Friday on KTGO-AM's "The Morning Lowdown" with host Dennis Lindahl.

In the interview, Cramer said he was with Trump on June 27, hours after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he was retiring -- a move that gives Trump the opportunity to tip the nine-member court's balance in conservatives' favor for potentially years to come. Trump was in North Dakota that day for a campaign rally for Cramer.

"It was an exciting day to be with the President, and he asked right out front, 'Do you have any preferences?'" Cramer said. "I said my only preference would be, don't succumb to the pressure to make this some sort of an affirmative action pick."

"Make sure you pick a good, solid conservative and cement this 5-4 conservative majority that we have, based on a judge's or a lawyer's judicial demeanor or philosophy," Cramer said.

Trump is set to announce his pick at 9 p.m. ET on Monday.

Cramer particularly praised federal appellate judge Amy Coney Barrett, a long-time Notre Dame Law School professor, saying she would be "an easy one for conservatives to rally around and rally behind" and noting that she "took a lot of heat from Democrats for being too Catholic -- imagine that" in her 2017 confirmation hearing.

Heitkamp's campaign declined to comment. Cramer's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for further explanation about what he meant when he said he didn't want an "affirmative action pick."

There have been two African-American justices on the Supreme Court: Thurgood Marshall, nominated by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967, and Clarence Thomas, nominated by George H.W. Bush to succeed the retiring Marshall in 1991.

The first justice of Latin American descent was Sonia Sotomayor, nominated by Barack Obama in 2009.

The first of four female justices nominated to the Supreme Court was Sandra Day O'Connor, nominated by Ronald Reagan in 1981. The other three -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Elena Kagan -- along with Stephen Breyer make up what's generally considered the Supreme Court's more liberal bloc.

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