"Say hello to your boy - special guy", Trump told Kennedy, alluding to Kennedy's son, Justin. It also noted Trump's affinity for Kennedy's past clerks when it comes to judicial nominations.
And Kennedy was not the eldest member of the court - liberal stalwart Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 85, and has indicated she has no intention of retiring.
Trump was asked Friday if he plans to ask potential nominees their views on abortion rights and Roe v. Wade.
Trump said he not will push the candidates to say whether they would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which established a woman's right to abortion.
"I'm not going to ask them that question", Trump said.
But the chief justice might have been playing a long game, as much concerned about the institutional future of the court and his reputation than the fate of one law.
Three women now serve on the bench: Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
Murkowski is only one of 100 senators, but she holds the rare position of a moderate Republican, a vote the president needs to appoint his justice before the midterm elections in November.
"Sounds like they're ready to fight no matter who the nominee", McConnell said, referring to Democrats concerned about the ramifications of a second Trump SCOTUS pick.
Six women are on the list, including Seventh Circuit Judge Amy Barrett, age 46, and 10th Circuit Judge Allison Eid, 53.
"People for a generation have taken it for granted", he said. Even though Republican leader McConnell changed Senate rules past year to allow confirmation by simple majority, if Democrats hold together he can not afford defections. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate passes mammoth farm bill Trump has asked advisers about nominating Mike Lee to Supreme Court: report The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance - Dramatic battle looms after Kennedy's retirement MORE's (R-Utah) public acknowledgment he would not turn down the post.
"He's an outstanding talent", Trump said of Lee, noting that he saw the senator on television Thursday, June 28, saying "he would love the job". He anticipated interviewing "6 or 7" candidates altogether.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said this week "the Senate should follow the rule they set in 2016 not to consider a Supreme Court nominee in an election year", and that failing to follow that principle would be the "height of hypocrisy".
In a tweet Saturday, Trump said that he would make his nomination to replace Kennedy "on the first Monday after the July 4th Holiday, July 9th!"
The native of IN who attended Harvard for college and law school, served as a Supreme Court law clerk, and worked IN the Reagan White House counsel's office, has always been on a trajectory to the highest echelons of the law.
Days after Trump's inauguration, the new president nominated Gorsuch as Scalia's replacement.
But McConnell rejected the demand as absurd, insisting the Senate's confirmation vote would occur "this fall".