Despite a strong statement of support from the President for United Nations Ambassador-designate John Bolton this morning, many conservatives are upset that the White House never weighed in with wavering Republican Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before its surprise postponement of a vote on the embattled nominee April 19th. Asked at the morning (April 20) briefing by HUMAN EVENTS whether the President had called Senators George Voinovich (R.-Oh.) and Lincoln Chafee (R.-R.I.) or other possible recalcitrant Republican senators before Tuesday’s postponement vote, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan replied that “the White House has been in contact with various Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including the two you mentioned.” However, McClellan indicated that the Administration had not been in touch with lawmakers on the panel before the surprise vote to postpone. Chafee and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R.-Neb.), while both voicing doubts about whether outspoken UN critic Bolton, had earlier signaled they would nonetheless vote to send his nomination as ambassador to the full Senate. By all accounts, Voinovich’s announcement caught the White House and his fellow Senate Republicans completely off guard. “[W]e will,” McClellan told us, “continue to stay in contact with committee members who have additional questions and make sure those questions are addressed.” He added that what is happening to Bolton is “the ugly side of Washington.” But many fear that the lack of groundwork on senators before the postponement vote may spell more stormy waters for the Bolton nomination. In addition, there is a growing concern among conservatives that if the President’s congressional liaison team could not forecast the mood on Capitol Hill on Bolton, they may not be ready for what is sure to be a far greater assault from Senate Democrats when and if Mr. Bush names his first Supreme Court nominee.
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