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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 May 2005, 22:37 GMT 23:37 UK
Pundits see Bolton row escalating
By Matthew Davis
BBC News, Washington

If there is one thing US pundits are agreed on it is that the row over John Bolton's nomination as America's man at the UN is only going to get worse as the saga rolls on.

John Bolton testifies at his Senate Foreign Relations committee confirmation hearing
The full US Senate will decide Mr Bolton's future

The decision over President George Bush's nominee was passed to the full Senate on Thursday, but without positive backing and with a key Republican senator adamant Mr Bolton was the wrong man for the job.

"This is going to get very nasty and very poisonous as both sides are very dug into their positions," NBC's Tim Russert asserted, moments after the committee vote.

"His [Sen George Voinovich's] speech is going to be quoted by every Democratic opponent."

CNN's man at the White House, Ed Henry, described the outcome as a "blow to President Bush".

"The White House wanted a positive recommendation," he said. "But it is a blow that Voinovich came out hard against the nomination.

"That was bad enough, but the fact that a Republican-led committee could not get this through with a positive recommendation is not what the White House would have wanted."

'Outraged'

As a dramatic meeting of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee unfolded, political bloggers recorded their observations on the internet.

This is going to be a great fight
Steve Clemons
The Washington Note

Mark Noonan, a senior writer on blogsforbush.com, wrote: "I just watched Ohio Senator Voinovich speak on the John Bolton nomination as US ambassador to the United Nations.

"I have never been so outraged by the actions of a fellow Republican in my life.

"After spending a good deal of time sliming Mr Bolton, Voinovich had the nerve to say that he likes John Bolton, but that he wants the Committee to send Mr Bolton to the Senate without a recommendation."

For Steve Clemons, on the liberal Washington Note: "The tide turned our way today."

"The Committee is ducking here, but that's ok," he observed as the debate continued.

"This is going to be a great fight - lots more room to squeeze the issues out and compel the White House to defend a flawed and damaged Bolton nomination."

White House 'strategy'

There is already speculation that Democrats may seek to filibuster the nomination in the Senate - that is, talk it down.

JOHN BOLTON
Yale Law School graduate
As assistant secretary of state under George Bush senior, helped organise anti-Saddam alliance
Made under-secretary of state for arms control and international security in May 2001
In July 2003, condemned North Korean leader Kim Jong-il for living like royalty while people lived in "hellish nightmare"

But NBC's Bobb Kerr suggested President Bush was prepared to roll up his sleeves in the battle to get the nomination through.

"Even though the White House was hopeful that the committee would reach another outcome today, they were preparing all along for the possibility that this would happen.

"This is a White House that had a strategy some weeks ago to try to win this on the floor - they were already looking ahead at ways to try to do that.

"It's clear that the president was not going to withdraw this nomination, not going to give up, so one must anticipate that he is ready to work hard now.

"Now that it is on the Senate floor the president himself, if he hasn't already will get on the phone and try to work this issue."

'Unenthusiastic yes'

Earlier in the day it appeared that the momentum was with Mr Bolton.

In an editorial, the Washington Post cited objections, but urged senators to give Mr Bolton "an unenthusiastic, deference-to-the-president yes".

"He engages in hand-to-hand bureaucratic combat, and on a couple of occasions he pushed too hard," the paper said.

"Mr Bush... says he wants to put Mr Bolton's bluntness to work at the United Nations. The nominee is intelligent and qualified; we still see no compelling reason to deny the president his nomination."



SEE ALSO
Bush presses Senate on UN nominee
21 Apr 05 |  Americas
Bolton vote delay a blow to Bush
20 Apr 05 |  Americas
Will John Bolton make a good ambassador?
20 Apr 05 |  Have Your Say
New hitch for Bush's UN nominee
13 Apr 05 |  Americas
Official blasts Bush UN nominee
13 Apr 05 |  Americas
Ex-US diplomats round on Bolton
29 Mar 05 |  Americas

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