The Hill reports that while Senate Republicans have publicly distanced themselves from the activists attacking Sonia Sotomayor's nomination, the behind-the-scenes message is a different one:
Lanier Swann, an aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
(R-Ky.), told a private meeting of conservative activists Wednesday to
keep up their pressure on Sotomayor.“Swann told us she wanted
to encourage all of us in our talking points and that we’re having
traction among Republicans and unnerving Democrats,” said an attendee
of Wednesday’s weekly meeting hosted by Grover Norquist, the president
of Americans for Tax Reform. “The point was we should keep it up,” said the source. “She told us at this meeting to put our foot on the pedal.”A
second source who attended the meeting confirmed the account. Both
sources requested anonymity because it was a private meeting.
The denials offered by Norquist and McConnell's office are less than persuasive:
Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, said Swann would not encourage the groups to attack the nominee.... Norquist, who spoke to The Hill
late Wednesday at the request of McConnell's office, said that Swann
was encouraging conservatives to keep up their fire on the Guantanamo
Bay prison camp, not Sotomayor. "It was all about how Gitmo is
getting incredible traction and was separate from her conversation about
how pleasant the Supreme Court nominee was when she visited
[McConnell's] office," Norquist said.
But two sources who
attended the meeting said that explanation was absurd and insisted
there was no doubt that Swann was encouraging conservatives to continue
their harsh criticisms of the nominee.