U.S. senators should be considered by President Bush to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday. Reid, D-Nev., also said he and Bush have talked privately to ensure that the appointment of the successor for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day OConnor does not reach the level of partisan squabbling that has epitomized the debate over recent judicial nominations. I know that I wont get someone who I will jump up and down and cheer for, Reid told a group of employees at the Reno Gazette-Journal. But there are many fine and conservative jurists out there. I had lunch at the Supreme Court 10 days ago and at my table were (associate justices) Sandra Day OConnor, (Antonin) Scalia and (Stephen) Breyer, Reid said. They said what they would like to see is the president pick someone who has not been a judge. And what I have said to anyone who will listen is what I think he should do is pick one of the senators. Reids suggestions drew tepid responses from some leading Nevada lawyers and judges. I believe that an appellate judge needs to be a trial judge first, Reno appellate lawyer Robert Eisenberg said. The only thing an appellate judge does is review the work of the trial judge to determine if the trial judge has made an error. For an appellate judge to do that, he has to have some experience as a trial judge. Other issues Reid also said in an hourlong interview that: * Bush probably will bypass the Senate and make a recess appointment to John Bolton as the ambassador to the United Nations; * U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is the front-runner to win the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination but may not be the best choice, and; * He is against a timetable for pulling out of the war in Iraq but urged Bush to set some benchmark dates for turning over the defense of Iraq to the Iraqis. It would be very damaging to us to cut and run now, Reid said. But the president has to announce publicly some benchmarks that we could look to. The speech he gave (last week) was to stay the course. American people deserve more than that. We need some benchmarks. What is he looking for with the Iraqi people? Reid cited Justice Hugo Black of Alabama as a former senator who was appointed to the Supreme Court. Black, a member of the Ku Klux Klan in his youth, was appointed to the court by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1937. I think it is a great idea, Reid said about the possibility of appointing a senator to the Supreme Court. Some outstanding people have come from the Senate. The last was an ex-Ku Klux Klansman who turned out to be one of the greatest civil-rights jurists of all time. Experience in a lower court is important for justices on the Nevada Supreme Court and that probably holds true on the U.S. Supreme Court, Nevada Supreme Court Justice Jim Hardesty said. In the short time that I have been on the Nevada Supreme Court, I am very glad that I have had the opportunity to serve as a district court judge, Hardesty said. There are any number of issues that we deal with in front of the Nevada Supreme Court where having experience as a trial court judge is of enormous benefit. Reid said it would be a mistake for Bush to temporarily appoint Bolton as U.N. ambassador. I dont know how well you know this guy but he is a little unusual to say the least, Reid said of Bolton. The situation is that Bolton is just a flawed candidate. But he is the vice presidents man and the vice president has been doing everything he can to get him in that job. That being the case, you will probably see a recess appointment because the vice president is so locked into this man. If he does that, Im not sure it is the right thing for the country to send someone to the United Nations who cant get confirmed by the Senate. Reid is wary of Clintons bid for president, saying there are other Democratic senators and governors who might be better candidates. It is a wide-open field, Reid said. The person who is leading at this stage is Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton, of course, has lots of money. She comes from a state with lots of people in it, but she still has a few ties to Arkansas. I think she is the person to beat, but that doesnt necessarily mean she is the best candidate. Regarding a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, Reid said: Yucca Mountain is not dead, but it is breathing real hard. There have been some significant blows to the program, the court decision being one and then these memos that the science has been doctored also hurts the program a lot. I think there will be efforts to do other things with nuclear waste. The solution is the leave it where it is, in dry-cast storage containment and that is being done at facilities around America. It would save billions of dollars and we would no longer have to worry about transporting these poisonous substances.