WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump and his Republican Senate allies are racing to choose and confirm a new justice in time for the next Supreme Court session Oct. 1 — an accelerated pace that could stymie opposition researchers and further pressure vulnerable Democrats up for re-election.

Trump, moving with unusual speed after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement Wednesday, said Friday that he is considering five to seven candidates, including two women. He will interview one or two potential nominees at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club this weekend, he added, and announce his choice July 9.

Even before he selects anyone, Trump also quickly sought to court Senate support for what is certain to be a hard-fought confirmation battle, hosting six mostly moderate senators from both parties at the White House on Thursday evening. Senior aides called more than a dozen others to discuss the impending vacancy.

The president’s fast clip is possible in large part because he is sticking with a previously compiled list of 25 potential nominees, most of whom he named during his campaign. It is a list that has been vetted by conservative groups and thus those included are considered unlikely to surprise senators with some scandal or variance from party ideology, including on abortion rights.

All but one of the individuals on the list — GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah — are currently judges on state or federal courts.

“He’s an outstanding talent,” Trump said of Lee, leaving unclear whether the senator is among the finalists. “I actually saw him on television last night, where he said he would love the job. You know, usually, they don’t say that.”

The reliance on the pre-vetted list increases the likelihood that the nominee will oppose abortion rights, the most critical issue for both parties. Trump, who as a candidate said he would only name justices opposed to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that created a constitutional right to abortion, told reporters on his flight to New Jersey and in a separate television interview that he would not ask candidates about that ruling.

“They’re all saying, ‘Don’t do that, you don’t do that, you shouldn’t do that,’ ” Trump said in a taped interview set to air on Fox News on Sunday. “But I’m putting conservative people on, and I’m very proud of Neil Gorsuch. He has been outstanding. His opinions are so well-written and so brilliant. I’m going to try and do something like that.”

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News on Thursday that the Senate “should be able to work our way through the confirmation process sometime before early fall — hopefully in time for the new justice to begin the fall term of the Supreme Court.”