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Senate Republican leader: Obama politicizing Supreme Court process

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listens to a question during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday that President Barack Obama has politicized the Supreme Court nomination process by putting forward veteran appellate court judge Merrick Garland during a presidential election.

“It seems clear that President Obama made this nomination not with the intent of seeing the nominee confirmed, but in order to politicize it for purposes of the election,” McConnell said on the floor of the Senate after Obama, a Democrat, announced his choice at the White House.

“Instead of spending more time debating an issue where we can’t agree, let’s keep working to address the issues where we can,” the senator from Kentucky said.

“The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the nominee the next president nominates, whoever that might be,” McConnell said.

Obama’s second four-year term ends in January 2017 and the campaign to choose his successor has been hotly contested. Businessman and former reality TV personality Donald Trump is the Republican front-runner and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leading the Democratic Party race for the nomination to run in the Nov. 8 election.

Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Grant McCool