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Lincoln Chafee changes to 'not decided' on Bolton

RAW STORY
Published: Friday July 28, 2006

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A Republican senator who signaled his intent to vote to confirm John Bolton's appointment as US Ambassador to the UN last year has now come out as 'not decided' on the controversial Bush pick, RAW STORY has learned.

A report in today's Congressional Quarterly quoted the spokesperson of Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island as stating that "has not decided how he would vote in committee" on whether to release John Bolton's nomination to the whole Senate for confirmation. Last year, Chafee voted with Republicans in the Committee, and also in favor of invoking cloture on a Democratic filibuster of the nomination.

During Thursday's confirmation hearing, Chafee brought some tough questions to Bolton, at one point declaring of a statement the ambassador made about the conflict in the Middle East "you're a brilliant man. That statement doesn't make any sense. Terrorism is a device. There's got to be something deeper for the root case."

Chafee is struggling in his campaign for re-election for this November. A recent poll showed him just behind his Democratic contender with many voters undecided, and his fundraising during the second quarter lagging. Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh also called for Chafee to be "out of the senate."

An excerpt of the subscribers-only story is available below.

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The only Republican on the committee to take a tough approach toward Bolton was Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, who faces a Republican primary challenge from his right and a general election challenge from his left. Chafee objected to Bolton’s statement to the committee that the root cause of the Middle East crisis was terrorism.

“You’re a brilliant man,” Chafee said. “That statement doesn’t make any sense. Terrorism is a device.” Later he added:“It’s difficult to get an idea of what the administration has in mind” for the Middle East.

Chafee’s spokesman said the senator has not decided how he would vote in committee. Last year, Chafee voted with the rest of the panel’s Republicans to send Bolton’s nomination to the floor without a recommendation. On the floor, he voted to end a Democratic filibuster against Bolton.

Unless Chafee decides to oppose Bolton in committee, Foreign Relations should be able to report his nomination favorably this year. George V. Voinovich, R-Ohio, the lone Republican to publicly oppose Bolton last year, announced last week that he had changed his mind and would support his confirmation.