Obama: Republicans are 'worried and scared' over the looming Supreme Court battle

Showdown Over the Supreme Court Nominee

President Barack Obama told NPR that Republicans are "worried and scared" that their base will "punish them" should they decide to hold hearings and vote on his nominee for the vacant Supreme Court seat.

"And, you know, one of the most puzzling arguments that I've heard from Mitch McConnell and some other Republicans is this notion that the American people should decide — we should let the American people decide, as part of this election, who gets to fill this seat," Obama said in the interview published Friday, referring to the Senate's majority leader.

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He added that, by winning a national election in 2012, the people "already weighed in" by reelecting him to fulfill the duties of the position for the entirety of another four-year term.

"The bottom line is that there has not been a coherent argument presented" by Republicans, Obama said.

He continued: "The real argument is the one that you made, Nina, which is that they don't want a Democrat filling the seat, and they are worried and scared about their political base punishing them if they allow a Democrat to fill the seat."

RELATED: Obama nominates new Supreme Court justice Merrick Garland

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Obama: Republicans are 'worried and scared' over the looming Supreme Court battle
FILE PHOTO -- U.S. President Barack Obama annnounces Judge Merrick Garland (R) of the United States Court of Appeals as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, meets with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, meets with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (unseen) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: U.S. President Barack Obama and Judge Merrick Garland, the president's nominee to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, walk into the Rose Garden at the White House, March 16, 2016 in Washington, DC. Merrick currently serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and if confirmed by the US Senate, would replace Antonin Scalia who died suddenly last month. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: Judge Merrick Garland speaks after being introduced by U.S. President Barack Obama as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House, March 16, 2016 in Washington, DC. Garland currently serves as the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and if confirmed by the US Senate, would replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who died suddenly last month. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, shakes hands with Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, following the announcement of his nomination for the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The nomination escalates a battle that will dominate the final 10 months of Obama's presidency, as the White House is locked in an unprecedented dispute with Senate Republican leaders who have pledged to ignore the president's choice. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Barack Obama, center, announces his nominee for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, right, as Vice President Joseph 'Joe' Biden looks on in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The nomination escalates a battle that will dominate the final 10 months of Obama's presidency, as the White House is locked in an unprecedented dispute with Senate Republican leaders who have pledged to ignore the president's choice. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Barack Obama joins his Supreme Court nominee, federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland (L), during the nomination announcement the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, March 16, 2016. Garland, 63, is currently Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The nomination sets the stage for an election-year showdown with Republicans who have made it clear they have no intention of holding hearings to vet any Supreme Court nominee put forward by the president. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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Obama on Wednesday announced the nomination of US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill the seat left vacant by the late Antonin Scalia.

After Obama's announcement, McConnell was quick to say he would not even meet with the judge, let alone bend on the suggestion that Republicans would not hold confirmation hearings on the nominee. He said this was based on "principle" and not because of "the person."

"The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration," McConnell said. "The next president may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy."

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But other members of his party, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, have stated they either would be or would be open to meeting with Garland. Others have suggested that, should former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton win in the November election, they might think of confirming Obama's nominee during the so-called lame-duck session of Congress.

Garland is seen by court watchers as a centrist or center-left judge, and he has also been known to swing to the right on criminal-justice issues. But some Republicans have rushed to label him a "liberal."

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