With Republicans holding just a 51-49 advantage in the Senate, the fate of the nominee will turn on a handful of Senate outliers in both parties - Republicans who support abortion rights and Democrats who don't.
The pressure on Collins and Murkowski is just starting.
This past week Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos* noted that the US Supreme Court has already ruled on the legality of affirmative action, thus making the Obama guidelines "unnecessary".
Collins, one of the few Republicans who supports access to abortion, said that the nominee's record and history with the subject will be a major component of whether or not she supports them.
"Indeed, numerous worst liberal judicial activists, including William Brennan, John Paul Stevens, and Harry Blackmun - the author of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide - were appointed by Republican presidents". Trump needs her vote.
Arguing that "the faithful application of the Constitution is the bedrock of our freedom", the president said his pick will also have "impeccable credentials, great intellect, unbiased judgement and deep reverence for the laws and Constitution of the United States".
The remarks by liberal leaders at Thursday's news conference are aimed at raising pressure on senators, including Republicans Susan Collins of ME and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, who've backed abortion rights. Barrett, a longtime law professor at the University of Notre Dame, also served as a law clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who is beloved by conservatives. But the second time around, Murkowski could prove to be more hard for the White House to get a solid yes. Even as White House counsel Donald McGahn fiercely guarded information about the candidate interviews and Trump's leanings, the president was engaging with the freewheeling loop of boosters, lawmakers and confidants that he has long counted on for political gut checks. Citing a White House official, Axios reported that the person that Trump ultimately picks will be "who he feels most comfortable with in a personal setting".
Three Democratic senators voted for Gorsuch a year ago: Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Democrats can not block Trump's nominee without help.
Donnelly is easily one of the most conservative or moderate Democrats in the Senate. This will be the second nominee Trump will put forward.
Trump says he'll choose from among the 25 candidates on the list on Monday to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Heitkamp is another wildcard on the Democratic side of the aisle. After Democrats won control of the Senate and the White House, they set about trying to fill court vacancies - particularly on the D.C. Circuit - with judges so left-wing they knew they could not meet the 60-vote "standard". "I don't want to say the four". The decision to block such an obviously qualified nominee - praised for his impeccable temperament, character and intellect by legal scholars on both the left and right - freed tradition-bound Republicans to end the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees and confirm him with a simple majority. He's expected to announce his final pick on Monday evening. "We can go through the fact that uh he's made some statements that some have identified correctly as religiously intolerant".
In Missouri, McCaskill's likely Republican opponent, state Attorney General Josh Hawley, has seized on the Supreme Court vacancy, challenging McCaskill to a debate on the issue.