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Steele: GOP must watch nominee criticism

Steele: GOP must watch nominee criticism
Judge Sonia Sotomayor is pictured with her mother, Celina Sotomayor in this undated family photograph released by the White House in Washington on May 26, 2009. President Barack Obama announced Sotomayor as his Supreme Court Justice nominee to replace retiring Justice David Souter. (UPI Photo/White House Handout) | License Photo

WASHINGTON, May 27 (UPI) -- The Republican Party must be careful when voicing opposition to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor or risk alienating Hispanics more, observers said.

If confirmed by the Senate, Sotomayor, 54, would be the first Hispanic and third female high court jurist. President Barack Obama introduced her as his nominee Tuesday to replace retiring Justice David Souter.

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Conservative radio talk show personality Rush Limbaugh said he wanted Sotomayor to "fail" because "(she'd) be a disaster on the court," CNN reported.

However, many influential Hispanic leaders expressed optimism about Sotomayor's confirmation, warning the Republican Party about rushing to judgment before she goes before the Senate.

"I do think Republicans have to be very careful and not oppose this nomination just for the sake of it," said Brent Wilkes, executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, adding "that's going to have a big backlash in the Hispanic population."

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Republicans "don't want to be seen as a bully in this situation."

Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez said senators should vote for Sotomayor based on her qualifications, not to woo Hispanics, CNN reported.

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"I think many in the Hispanic community are excited about this nomination. ... As a Latina and as someone who was raised by a single mom I get that," Sanchez said. "I think, with all due respect to this confirmation and this process, the fairer we are, the better it is for all people."

Potential 2010 GOP presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney both said Sotomayor's nomination was troubling.

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