WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Anthony M. Kennedy, so far arousing none of the friction that befell President Reagan's two earlier court candidates, began a round of courtesy calls today on the senators who will pass judgment on his confirmation.
"I like this; it's been wonderful," the 51-year-old appeals court judge from Sacramento said at a meeting with Senate Republican Leader Bob Dole and other GOP senators.
Kennedy's first stop was at the office of Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Thurmond predicted that the nominee would bring together "different elements" of the Senate and avoid the bitterness of the failed nominations of Robert H. Bork and Douglas H. Ginsburg.
Meeting With Reagan
Meanwhile, Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) and Thurmond arranged to meet this afternoon with Reagan after first seeing White House Chief of Staff Howard H. Baker Jr. to discuss the confirmation process. Biden said the White House wanted to "bury the hatchet."
Reagan also scheduled a meeting with Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), who two weeks ago said there was "no way" he could support Kennedy but who commented Wednesday that he hopes he can support the nominee. Helms also scheduled a meeting with Kennedy.
Kennedy was also to meet with Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) and other Republican leaders--assistant minority leader Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming, John H. Chafee of Rhode Island, chairman of the Republican Conference, and Thad Cochran of Mississippi, secretary of the GOP Conference.
'Ready to Move'
Dole said: "The Senate's ready to move ahead. I don't see any partisanship."
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said Kennedy planned to fly home to California tonight and return to Washington early next week.
Kennedy appears to be off to a far better start than his two predecessors. Senators from both parties say they like what they know about him so far. Reagan, in announcing his intention to nominate Kennedy, praised him Wednesday as a "courageous, tough but fair jurist." (Stories, Page 16.)
Thurmond, after seeing the Senate defeat one court nominee and then watching another withdraw from consideration, said there was "a little more thoughtfulness and not as much partisanship" this time.
"If anyone has a chance to be confirmed, he does," Thurmond said.
Early Vote Urged
Thurmond urged a confirmation vote by Christmas--an unlikely possibility.
He said he is unaware of anything in Kennedy's background that would surprise senators, but he added, "You never can tell."