WASHINGTON: PR plans were put on hold while advocacy groups delved into the background of John Roberts, nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Roberts' legal career lacks the clear paper trail of some previous nominees. Many of the Bush administration's critics spent last week scrambling to research Roberts' political philosophy.
"It's not surprising that it's taking a while to figure out where he's coming from," said Michael Adams, director of education and public affairs for the Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, which hasn't taken a position on Roberts.
The White House has assembled an impressive apparatus to support the confirmation.
Ed Gillespie, former Republican National Committee chairman and co-chairman of Quinn Gillespie & Associates, is among the communications consultants. Gillespie declined to be interviewed.
Some political observers categorized the choice of Roberts as very smart PR.
"Here's a guy with very, very strong conservative credentials. So you appease your conservative-extremist base and [he comes] off to the mainstream press as somebody who is more of a blank slate than some of the other candidates who really do have paper trails and have made their views very clearly known in the public domain," said Leonard Steinhorn, professor in the School of Communication at American University.
But Craig Shirley, a longtime GOP consultant and president and CEO of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, cautioned, "You must be careful. You don't want people thinking these things are too orchestrated."