Conservative ad blitz for Supreme Court nominee

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Leonard Leo, a vice president at the Federalist Society who is on leave to assist Mr. Trump, said the chance to nominate a second jurist in two years is the president's prize for making the Supreme Court a major selling point in the 2016 presidential race.

The four names on the shortlist are reportedly Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Thomas Hardiman of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and Judge Raymond Kethledge of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Kavanaugh, 53, began his career as a clerk to Kennedy.

"An exceptional person will be chosen!"

At stake is nothing less than a paradigm shift on the court, with the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy handing Trump an opportunity to place a decidedly conservative stamp on the bench.

All the major broadcast and cable news networks will air the announcement live.

Trump's selection will set up a confirmation showdown in the U.S. Senate, where his fellow Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority, though with ailing Senator John McCain battling cancer in his home state of Arizona they now can muster only 50 votes.

Kavanaugh, 53, is a former Kennedy law clerk who was appointed to the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals by former President George W. Bush after serving five years in the White House counsel's office during the Bush administration. They need only 50 votes to confirm Mr. Trump's nominee because Vice President Mike Pence would cast the deciding vote in the event of a tie. But he says with his final four options "you can't go wrong".

One Democrat up for re-election, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, announced Monday he would oppose any nominee from Trump's list of 25 possible candidates, drafted by conservative groups.

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In the coming year the court might have to consider Trump's powers and rights in the investigation into links between his presidential campaign and Russian Federation, and whether he sought to obstruct that investigation.

He served with Judge Maryanne Barry, President Trump's sister.

By installing Gorsuch and another, similar candidate on the court, Trump can tell conservative voters that he kept his promises and give them a reason to solidify his electoral coalition. In recent days, he expressed renewed interest in Hardiman, the runner-up when Trump nominated Gorsuch, said two people with knowledge of his thinking.

The New York Times is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has weighed in and is trying to urge Trump to pick either Kethledge or Hardiman for ease of confirmation.

Trump spoke to reporters Sunday afternoon before returning to Washington from a weekend at his private golf club in New Jersey, where he deliberated his decision amid furious lobbying and frenzied speculation.

The White House invited a number of senators to attend the Monday night announcement, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and committee member Kennedy.

Every Republican voted a year ago to confirm Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who filled the vacancy left on the court by the late Antonin Scalia.

Barrett was appointed by Trump to the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals past year.

Barrett - a longtime Notre Dame Law School professor who became a federal judge last fall - excited social conservatives since she was questioned about her Roman Catholic faith in her nomination hearings past year, but her brief time on the bench has raised questions about her experience.

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