(CNN) – Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, who recently called on President Bush to change his Iraq strategy, will not be with the president during a visit to the senator’s hometown Tuesday. But a spokesman for the Ohio Republican denies it’s any kind of snub.
President Bush will visit Cleveland, Ohio, to visit the Cleveland Clinic and a local factory and to deliver a midday speech. Voinovich grew up in an east side neighborhood not far from the president’s appearances, and was mayor of the city before being elected governor and later senator.
A spokesman for Voinovich said the senator was invited by the White House, but the decision not to join the president had nothing to do with call for change in the Iraq plan. The spokesman says Voinovich didn’t want to miss any votes in the Senate Tuesday, especially on amendments to the defense funding bill. He also said Voinovich will attend an 11 a.m. committee hearing.
“There’s really nothing more to it”, he said.
Voinovich has missed other Bush visits to Ohio citing Senate votes, including an April 19 visit to the state.
In a letter to President Bush last month, Voinovich said, “We must begin to develop a comprehensive plan for our country’s gradual military disengagement from Iraq and a corresponding increase in responsibility to the Iraqi government and its regional neighbors.” He was one of a growing number of key Republican Senators to move away from the president’s policy, including Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar and New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici.
- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk