Voinovich told CNN he has warned Karl Rove that the president needs to salvage his legacy.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Republican senator says he warned top White House aide Karl Rove that President Bush quickly needs to craft a workable plan to withdraw U.S. troops fom Iraq in order to salvage his legacy.
White House spokesman Tony Snow insisted last week that Bush's GOP allies in Congress are not breaking with Bush over the war. But Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, told CNN that he warned Rove last week that "The president is a young man and should think about his legacy."
He should know history will not be kind unless he can come up with a plan that protects the troops and stabilizes the region," Voinovich said he told Karl Rove, whom Bush dubbed "the architect" of his 2004 re-election.
Voinovich added that other Republicans are close to speaking out against the President's current strategy.
"I won't mention anyone's name. But I have every reason to believe that the fur is going to start to fly, perhaps sooner than what they may have wanted."
In private, Voinovich is more blunt, using a profanity to describe the White House's handling of Iraq by charging the administration "f-ed up" the war.
Voinovich stressed he expressed his views to Rove as a positive "opportunity" for the president to come together with Democrats and Republicans on an exit strategy that will be good for the country.
A White House spokeswoman confirmed to CNN that Rove, who speaks with Voinovich frequently, had the phone conversation with the senator last week and they did discuss the President's legacy. But the spokeswoman declined to provide further details, citing Rove's desire to keep phone conversations with senators private.
"I got into this to get them to move, and they're moving," said Voinovich, who is pushing for the president to put together a workable plan for withdrawing U.S. troops that will be ready in time for a September progress report on the military surge from Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq.
"I really think that they understand," said Voinovich. "We'll see by September what they put together. But the main thing is were running out of time - we should take advantage of this time."
And while Voinovich is giving the White House some breathing space until September to receive the progress report from Gen. Petraeus, the senator is privately warning if there's not a dramatic new strategy ready to be unveiled in the fall, he will endorse a Democratic plan mandating a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq within 120 days.
In June, Voinovich urged Bush to take a new tack in Iraq - one he dubbed "Plan E," for exit. Voinovich called for a decrease in U.S. military engagement, coupled with a "surge" in diplomatic engagement.
His break with the White House came one day after another senior Republican, Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, delivered a dramatic Senate floor speech declaring the president's current strategy was not working.
Since then, Voinovich said he has spoken to both Rove and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and is expressing some satisfaction that in the short term, the White House has heard his concerns.
- CNN's Ed Henry and Dana Bash