And in a Tuesday afternoon news conference, he called on Republican opponents in the Senate to rise above “venom and rancor” to give his eventual nominee a vote.
“I intend to do my job between now and January 20 of 2017. And I expect them to do their job as well … This will be a test, one more test, of whether or not norms, rules, basic fair play can function at all in Washington these days,” he said.
Obama promised to put forward a nominee “in due course” – with “more than enough time for the Senate to consider in a thoughtful way and make a decision.”
“I am going to present somebody who indisputably is qualified for the seat and any fair-minded person, even somebody who disagreed with my politics, would say would serve with honor and integrity on the court.”
Obama was asked in the news conference in Southern California, where he has been in two days of meetings with Southeast Asian leaders, about the 2016 presidential primaries – and, specifically, about Donald Trump, who continues to poll in first place in the Republican field.
“I continue to believe Mr. Trump will not be president,” Obama said bluntly.
“And the reason is because I have a lot of faith in the American people and I think they recognize that being president is a serious job. It’s not hosting a talk show or a reality show. It’s not promotion. It’s not marketing. It’s hard. And a lot of people count on us getting it right.”
The president said the early primary season is when people “vent” and when some see the race as entertainment. That will change as people get closer to actually voting.
“As you get closer, reality has a way of intruding,” he said, adding that he has faith in the American people ultimately recognizing that the next president will be the one who “has the nuclear codes with him and can order 21-year-olds into a firefight and has to make sure that the banking system doesn’t collapse and is often responsible for not just the United States of America but 20 other countries that are having big problems or are falling apart and are going to be looking to us to do something.”
“The American people are pretty sensible. And I think they’ll make a sensible choice in the end.”
With a laugh, he also said: “I am not unhappy that I am not on the ballot.”