Thune's Opposition to Bolton Contradicts His Own Recent Comments on Bush UN Pick

On the same day he was voting to end the Democratic-orchestrated filibuster of John Bolton‘s nomination as ambassador to the United Nations, freshman Sen. John Thune (R.-S.D.) floored conservatives by revealing that when and if there were a full Senate vote on confirmation of Bolton, he would oppose the President’s nominee.

In so doing, the man who unseated Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle last fall became the second Republican senator, after Ohio’s George Voinovich, to publicly declare against the nomination of Bolton. Should Bolton backers in the Senate get four more votes for cloture (terminating the filibuster), the controversial nomination will be voted on by the full Senate this month.

Thune told the Associated Press on May 26th he would oppose Bolton because we should “take our diplomatic posture just as seriously as we take our defense posture”–a statement many suggested was retribution for the recent recommendation by the base-closing commission that Ellsworth Air Force Base be closed in South Dakota.

Thune spokesman Alex Conant told HUMAN EVENTS that the senator believed Bolton was “not the best man for the job” and this had more to do with his opposition than the proposed closing of Ellsworth, the second-largest employer in South Dakota. However, Thune has a long trail of statements indicating that keeping Ellsworth in business would be his top priority in the Senate. During a campaign appearance at the base, for example, Thune contrasted his friendship with Bush to Daschle’s record of clashes with the President, saying Ellsworth would be “in a stronger positon than having someone who’s going to be in the minority and someone who doesn’t have a relationship with the President of the U.S. (Associated Press, April 16, 2004). During a debate on KSFY/KOTA television, Thune also made the claim that a Republican with a relationship with Bush was needed “if we’re going to save Ellsworth.” (October 17, 2004). As recently as last Thursday, the South Dakota senator said saving Ellsworth and its 3,800 jobs was “inseparable from my work.”

Despite his spokesman’s statement regarding Bolton’s qualifications for the UN assignment, Thune had spoken favorably of the President’s nominee before Ellsworth was placed on the to-close-down list. “Folks on our side I don’t think have problems with where [Bolton] is on policy or ideology or the fact that the is taking an approach and a style to the UN that is much needed at the UN,” Thune told “Hardball’s” Chris Matthews in April.

As the President himself was making a strong pitch for Bolton’s confirmation at his Rose Garden press conference Tuesday morning, conservatives throughout the nation who raised considerable funds for Thune’s campaign against Daschle last year are likely to register considerable disappointment with his peculiar position on John Bolton.

To register your feelings about Sen. John Thune’s stand on John Bolton’s nomination as UN ambassador, contact him at

202-224-2321 (Washington DC)

605-225-8823 (Aberdeen, S.D.)

605-348-7551 (Rapid City, S.D.)

605-334-9596 (Sioux Falls, S.D.)