The Hill, 7/17/7

Conservatives are sure Specter told them last week that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) broke a promise to move Leslie Southwick, President Bush’s controversial pick for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, to the Senate floor. Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) is one of those prepared to say directly that Leahy did not do what he said he would.

But as ranking Republican on the panel and mindful of his need to work with Leahy, Specter is taking pains in public to finesse the blunt words he used in private to a gathering of steamed-up conservatives.

Sitting next to Leahy at a panel meeting a few days after his comments were reported by The Hill, Specter demurred, saying, “Commitments were not broken, and had commitments by members been broken, I wouldn’t talk to the newspapers about it, I would talk to the members about it.”