July 16th, 2007
12:33 PM ET
12 years ago

GOP senator to Rove: Bush legacy on the line in Iraq

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

Filed under: Iraq • President Bush
soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. MAC2, Clinton, Wa.

    Who gives a damn about this idiot, bushman will go to jail along with that old thieve cheney. Once the ability to issue free hall pass stops. We will get our pound of skin for killing our kids. It shall come to pass after 2008. I still see the London Times headlines the day after the last Pres. election "HOW CAN 57 MILLION PEOPLE BE SO WRONG" if we learned anything we as U.S. citizens ain't to smart............

    July 17, 2007 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. LoooseyGoosey

    The education system in the US is so bad no one under 30 will even know his name in a few years.. Bush can thank the Dems for not having to worry about his legacy.

    July 17, 2007 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  3. JM; Muscatine, IA

    Save his LEGACY?! What legacy? The only positive thing this administration has ever done is the "Do Not Call Registry." The rest has been nothing but one horrible misstep after another. Lies, scandals, corruption, and a never-ending river of blood is his legacy. Who is protecting the legacy of all the innocent lives lost, sacrificed purely to save his ego? What about the legacy of American values he has forever stained? We could salvage our reputation in the eyes of the world by proving what we all know about both Bush elections: they were won by illegal means and not by the vote of the American people.

    I am so ashamed of this administration and blame Congress for not protecting this country from a dictatorship. Excuse me, the new terminology is "Decider-ship." Everyone involved should be facing Nuremburg-style trials.

    And -NO- I am not a lefty.

    July 17, 2007 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  4. Jane, Falls church, VA

    A synonym for "legacy" is "gift." What do you suppose the families of dead soldiers think their gift is from Geo. Bush? He wants this war. He needs this war. And, he could not handle the truth about how vulgar and vile are his motives about this war. A 5,000-person embassy in Baghdad? A vice president that outed a CIA agent in order to quell questions about data? Next time you see George on TV, take a good look. This guy CANNOT wait until the end of January, 2009. Neither can we.

    July 17, 2007 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |


    July 17, 2007 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  6. D. Swensen, SC

    A Dem leaning, cursing, bitter Repub has no credibility. Mr. V shows his colors by focusing on a legacy for Bush. Bush does not need to manufacture or shape a legacy to fulfill Mr. V's wishes. Mr. V should go home and wait for the extremists Emams to move in next door to his house if he thinks we can run and hide.

    July 17, 2007 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Rick from Chicago for Tool in '08!

    July 17, 2007 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  8. D Liles, Arlington, Texas

    No one from the Bush administration will ever be impeached or convicted. The records from his father's government service have all been sealed, the records from his term as governor have all been sealed, and have fun wrangling in the courts over "executive privelege" and the protections of signing statements. We have been waiting for seven and a half years to find out who made the energy policy for this country. The true legacy that Bush leaves behind is the number of competent, committed, and dare I say, moral public leaders forced into early retirement or irrelevance for making the mistake of doing their jobs.
    Truly upset about George W. Bush? Then make sure the next president calls upon his unique talents and devotion to duty abd names him Ambassador to Iraq. Saves the trouble of the legal system and seems like justice is still served.

    July 17, 2007 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  9. Mike Wagner, Portland Oregon

    Anyone who supports this idiot in the White House is not playing with a full deck.

    July 17, 2007 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  10. Mike Watson, Austin Texas

    Worrying about legacies may be something politicians do (Clinton), but not true leaders. Voinovich is a typical politician. I want presidents that do what they feel is right rather than trying to make decisions based on how it might affect their "legacy". This country was founded on a republican form of government. I pray we can keep it that way.

    July 17, 2007 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  11. Fort Lauderdale, Fl

    The damage caused to this country by the Bush/Cheney click will take at least fifty to sixty years to be repaired. I feel sorry for whoever will inherit this mess. I say thank you to the Neocons.

    July 17, 2007 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  12. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Anonymous .."Rick from Chicago for Tool in ‘08!"

    Does this mean you wont be seeking another term?

    July 17, 2007 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  13. M Randois, Los Angeles, CA

    A) I think Voinovich is a complete moron to think there's anything to salvage from this Bush debacle.

    B) I think Joe S. from Lowell MA makes an excellent point. The only legacy that really matters to this buffoon is the increase in his and his family's personal wealth and that of his co-conspirators. I bet from his point of view, things he could do to "improve" his legacy would be:
    * get rid of the inheritance tax
    * Get rid of capital gains taxes
    * Privatize Social Security

    July 19, 2007 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
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