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Kantor Lauds Sotomayor: She Speaks to Cafeteria Workers, in Spanish!

Jodi Kantor: "What was so powerful in Adam Nagourney's story was the visual of having this bank of white male senators grill in a possibly antagonistic way the first Latina woman nominated to serve on this bench, and, you know, when you think about the role that TV plays in these hearings, I thought that could be very powerful....What they say is that she has kind of a common touch, you know, she's the kind of person who goes out of her way to talk to the janitors, you know, in the cafeteria, she'll not only speak to the cafeteria workers but she'll speak to them in Spanish, if they're Spanish speakers."

Thursday's "Political Points" podcast, hosted by Sam Roberts, featured Times reporters David Kirkpatrick, Adam Liptak, and Jodi Kantor talking aboutthe Sonia Sotomayor nomination. Kirkpatrick accused Newt Gingrich of "ad hominem attacks" against Sotomayor, while Kantor pondered the Republican dilemma: of possibly seeing "this bank of white male senators grill in a possibly antagonistic way the first Latina woman nominated to serve on this bench." Plus: Sotomayor will "not only speak to the cafeteria workers but she'll speak to them in Spanish."



Some excerpts, from about seven minutes into the podcast:



David Kirkpatrick: "There's a debate going on within the Republican Party right now over how to play this. There are some, including I think former speaker Newt Gingrich, who think it's appropriate at this time to begin ad hominem attacks, calling her a racist, attacking her sensibility, calling her manifestly unqualified. And there's another school of thought that says, We're gonna lose. They've got the numbers. We might as well have a high-minded debate about how we would approach the law versus how they would approach the law, rather than get dragged down into the mud.'"



Host Sam Roberts: "And also doesn't the Republican Party risk, among other things, alienating Hispanic voters whom they've been trying to hard to woo?"



Jodi Kantor: "What was so powerful in Adam Nagourney's story was the visual of having this bank of white male senators grill in a possibly antagonistic way the first Latina woman nominated to serve on this bench, and, you know, when you think about the role that TV plays in these hearings, I thought that could be very powerful."



Sam Roberts: "One of the things, Jodi, that has been pointed out is that she believes that her upbringing as a Hispanic woman influences her role professionally. Is that going to be used against her in any way, that she has said that publicly?"



Jodi Kantor: "Well, everybody wants to know exactly what she means. And, you know, in a way she's the only one who can speak to it. You know, we've been talking to colleagues friends, etc., all week. What they say is that she has kind of a common touch, you know, she's the kind of person who goes out of her way to talk to the janitors, you know, in the cafeteria, she'll not only speak to the cafeteria workers but she'll speak to them in Spanish, if they're Spanish speakers."