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President Donald Trump said Friday that he has narrowed his list to a handful of potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees and will announce his choice to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on July 9. Two key Republican women, Collins and Sen.

Trump got his first Supreme Court pick after McConnell led a Republican blockade against Merrick Garland, former President Barack Obama's nominee to fill Scalia's seat.

"He's an outstanding talent", Trump said of Lee.

Kennedy, 81, was often seen as the swing vote during his 30-year tenure on the bench. "And I'm going to try and do something like that, but I don't think I'm going to be so specific". You nominate someone who is like-minded. The group has already produced a new TV advertisement calling Trump's list of 25 potential candidates the "best of the best" and warning that his opponents will lie and attack the nominee.

Brett Kavanaugh, a 53-year-old US Circuit judge, is widely reported to be the front-runner. Only one is a woman: Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The person Trump picks for the seat is nearly certainly going to be more conservative than Kennedy. "I would say that he is among the most powerful justices since at least 1937". Mike Lee. Trump said that the GOP lawmaker "said he'd like the job; usually they don't say that".

Among Trump's counselors is Leonard Leo, who is taking a leave of absence as executive vice president of the Federalist Society to serve as an outside adviser in the selection process.

White House aides said other names are in the mix as well.

The Democrats - Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of IN and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota - are running for re-election IN November IN states Trump won IN 2016.

Speaking to reporters on the plane from Washington DC, Trump said he may interview two contenders for the nomination this weekend in New Jersey.

Republicans changed Senate rules a year ago to get Trump's conservative nominee Neil Gorsuch confirmed, lowering the threshold to advance Supreme Court nominations to a simple majority vote.

With Gorsuch, his body of work and his writing were important, but Trump was also impressed by his educational record and his class ranking.

The Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative political campaign organization, has launched a seven-figure ad buy aimed at vulnerable Democrats, said chief counsel and policy director Carrie Severino.

One person on that list of names is Utah Sen. "And because he's going to have the chance to appoint two Supreme Court justices". Gorsuch was the youngest nominee since Clarence Thomas, who was 43 when confirmed in 1991.

With a little over a week before his big announcement, Trump is relishing the moment.