Voinovich Yet to Meet Bolton, Air Concerns; Senator Shuns Efforts by White House

Article excerpt

Byline: James G. Lakely, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Sen. George V. Voinovich, who two weeks ago shocked the Bush administration by suddenly delaying a vote on the nomination of John R. Bolton to United Nations ambassador, has not heeded White House calls to privately question the nominee about his concerns.

"We have offered to have John Bolton sit down with Senator Voinovich," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "[Mr. Bolton] would look forward to having the opportunity to sit down with the senator."

The Ohio Republican is currently visiting Slovenia until tomorrow, and with the Senate in recess until next week, that limits the senator's availability to meet with Mr. Bolton before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's May 12 vote on the nominee.

Voinovich spokeswoman Marcie Ridgway said the senator took a notebook with information on Mr. Bolton with him to Slovenia, but in conversations with Mr. Voinovich, "the Bolton nomination has not come up while he's been there."

Mr. Voinovich single-handedly stopped what was expected to be a tight but decisive vote in favor of Mr. Bolton on April 20 when Democratic criticisms about the nominee's alleged abusive management style surfaced.

At the time he delayed the vote, Mr. Voinovich said he didn't "feel comfortable" supporting Mr. Bolton, apologized for missing parts of the hearing where complaints about the nominee were aired and requested more information.

Mr. Voinovich is "very thankful" that the White House offered to set up a face-to-face meeting, but the senator "had a full schedule" last week, Miss Ridgway said. The spokeswoman would neither confirm nor deny that the two men have met.

"If the senator had sat down with him, he wouldn't tell you anyway," she said.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Tuesday, however, that he was "not aware of such a meeting" between the two men. "I think a week or so ago there were rumors that [Mr. Bolton] had been on the Hill seeing Senator Voinovich, but it turned out he was seeing somebody else," Mr. Boucher said.

Since Mr. Voinovich's surprise move, White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. …