Supreme Court meetings fail to sway Republicans
© Greg Nash
Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland was back on Capitol Hill Tuesday trying to win over GOP senators, but there's little proof the administration's charm offensive is working. 
"The judge is without a doubt a very, very smart, very knowledgeable, very pleasant individual, [but] I am more convinced now than I was before that this is a choice that should be made by the next president," Sen. Pat Toomey told reporters after his meeting Tuesday evening. 
The Pennsylvania Republican suggested he specifically had concerns about Garland's ability to check overreach from the executive branch.
Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, reiterated after his breakfast with the president's pick that he's standing behind his party's strategy to block Garland from getting a hearing or a vote. 
During the meeting Grassley "explained why the Senate won’t be moving forward during this hyper-partisan election year," according to a readout from his office. 
Meanwhile, a Murkowski spokeswoman said the Alaska senator "continues to respect the Judiciary Committee’s decision not to hold hearings." 
Asked by reporters if she still supports leaving the court seat temporarily vacant, Murkowski said "my quest today with Judge Garland was to find out what he knows about Alaska issues that are important to me." 
Garland is scheduled to meet with Republican Sens. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteOvernight Defense: NATO expanding troops in Iraq Overnight Defense: New START extended for five years | Austin orders 'stand down' to tackle extremism | Panel recommends Biden delay Afghanistan withdrawal Study group recommends Biden delay Afghanistan withdrawal MORE (N.H.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFormer GOP lawmaker: Republican Party 'engulfed in lies and fear' Grassley to vote against Tanden nomination Klain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' MORE (Ariz.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGrassley to vote against Tanden nomination Murkowski undecided on Tanden as nomination in limbo Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers MORE (Ohio) later this week. The three senators support their party's current strategy, though Flake has suggested he would be open to considering him in the lame-duck session if Republicans lose the election in November.
Approximately 17 GOP senators have said they are open to meeting with Garland. Most, however, are casting any powwow as a "courtesy" where they'll reiterate the current GOP position.
Democrats leadership, however, remains adamant that Garland will get confirmed, it's just a matter of when. They'll need the support of more than a dozen GOP senators to get him over procedural hurdles.
They argue that polling data, as well as the slow uptick of senators meeting with the nominee, helps underscore that momentum in the weeks-long fight is on their side. 
They're also hoping that a constant mountain of pressure — particularly on Grassley and vulnerable incumbents — will force Republicans to cave. 
Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTrumpists' assaults on Republicans who refuse to drink the Kool-Aid will help Democrats The Jan. 6 case for ending the Senate filibuster Manchin flexes muscle in 50-50 Senate MORE (D-Nev.) quickly pounced on Grassley, who evaded reporters around his breakfast meeting Tuesday, suggesting he is under pressure in the court fight. 
"That meeting was held in private, far away from the public eye," he added. "These are not actions of a senator and a chairman who is confident with his decision to block a Supreme Court nominee."
A separate Instagram post from Grassley about his meeting was quickly dogged by overwhelmingly negative comments telling the Judiciary chairman to "do your job" and take up Garland's nomination. 
Republicans, however, are brushing off talk of Democratic gains in the entrenched fight. They point out that there hasn't been an increase in the number of GOP senators who publicly support hearings.
Grassley fired back at Reid later Tuesday, suggesting he was mad because "his side is forced to play by its own rules." 
"I'm not going to dwell on his daily message. Most of us around here have grown used to it and don't pay him much mind, especially given his record," he added.