Despite a reluctance to discuss details of Administration lobbying efforts behind John Bolton‘s nomination to be United Nations ambassador, the White House Friday confirmed that the President made a special telephone call to Sen. George Voinovich (R.-Oh.) on Wednesday afternoon urging his support for the embattled nominee. Voinovich, whose public doubts about Bolton had led to the postponement of a vote on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced the day after the President’s call that he would vote only to send Bolton’s nomination to the full Senate if it was without recommendation. By a 10-to-8 vote along party lines, the committee did just that–thus setting the stage for a major debate on Bolton on the Senate floor.
Asked by HUMAN EVENTS at the Friday morning (May 13th) press briefing about what the President said to Voinovich, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan replied “I don’t get into the substance of conversations” such as that and refused to say whether Voinovich told Mr. Bush what he would do about Bolton the next day. However, McClellan did confirm that President Bush and the Ohio senator “talked on Wednesday.”
Voinovich was apparently a target of concern by the Administration. Asked by CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux if either Republican Sens. Lincoln Chafee (R.I.) or Chuck Hagel (Neb.)–both Foreign Relations Committee thought to be wavering on Bolton–were recipients of similar calls by the President, McClellan said no, that Voinovich was the lone Republican senator the President sought out regarding the nomination.