July 16th, 2007
12:33 PM ET
11 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. Pete, T.S. FL

    Voinovich told CNN he has warned Karl Rove that the president needs to salvage his legacy.

    His legacy will be lies, deceit, abuse of power, and the blood of thousands of dead and wounded Americans on his hands!

    “WE THE PEOPLE”

    July 16, 2007 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  2. RODGER, PORTSMOUTH, OHIO.

    I'M NOT A REPUBLICAN BY ANY MEANS, I AM GLAD THAT SEN. VOINOVICH IS BEING BLUNT REGARDING AN IRRESPONSIBLE ADMINISTRATION AND ITS MISTAKES. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE CAN APPRECIATE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT FROM ITS LEADERS WHEN MISTAKES HAVE BEEN MADE.

    July 16, 2007 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  3. Pixie, Murfreesboro, TN

    Who gives a flying **** about this criminal's legacy? How about we fix Iraq for the sake of FIXING IRAQ?

    July 16, 2007 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  4. Ryan, New York, NY

    Because the country, its citizens' safety, the soldiers' well being, our diplomatic relations and financial responsibility aren't important enough, now they're finally trying to hit him with something that directly affects him – HIS LEGACY?? What is wrong with these selfish morons?

    You could make a documentary of this administration and people in the future would just think it was a black comedy along the lines of Dr. Strangelove.

    July 16, 2007 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  5. Joe S. Lowell MA

    Throughout the Bush administration's run, be it foreign policy, the war in Iraq, domestic spending cuts, or whatever, there has been an arrogant tone, a blatant "my way or nothing" attitude. The lop-sided tax cuts, the secrecy, the supreme court appointments, all of it brings me to belive that there is no "legacy" mentality here. The entire Bush run is nothing more than a sacrifice fly. No matter what, the rich will get richer, the war will generate billions in war profit, as well as attempt to establish an Americal-oil-intrest freindly regime in Iraq, and hang the fallout. I don't believe that bush, or the powers behind him care one bit about any "legacy". Its all money and power, legacy be hanged.

    July 16, 2007 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. Jeff, Quogue New York

    This shows exactly where the GOPs' heads are ( up their asses ) . They are only concerned with their own re-election and Bush's "legacy". What about all the troops that have been killed whose
    "legacy" will never have a chance. Pathetic politicians, as usual.

    July 16, 2007 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  7. Garry Lemons, Benton, Arkansas

    I reallky don't think at this time Bush cares what his so called "Legacy" will be.
    I will say he is and will continue to be the worst President this country has EVER seen/had and becoming quite fast the most HATED!
    And I agree with both synopsis on him! I despise the ground he and Cheney walk on.
    He should have been impeached for TREASON a long time ago!

    July 16, 2007 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  8. Rex, Toledo, Ohio

    I think it might be a bit too late for any salvageable legacy in Bush's regard.
    Perhaps if he had listened years ago instead of pursuing his own administrations greed and power agenda, allowing himself to be a puppet for Cheney, Rove and countless others. Perhaps if he had not jeopardized the very Constitution that we as Americans hold so close. Perhaps in his 8 years in office, if for one moment he had dealt with real issues that affect 2/3rds of all Americans, like health care,disaster response, poverty etc.
    Like so many Americans I was behind Bush in the beginning. Shouting the war cry after 9/11. I'm now ashamed of my position then, and can only hope that justice will be served against a Government that duped so many citizens into believing his agenda was just, when all along, "they" had a different plan.
    Perhaps.......

    July 16, 2007 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  9. P. Anderson, Seattle, WA

    I shudder to think what the Rove machine has planned to take down these brave GOP Congressmen who have dared to disagree with the President.
    Thank God the Republicans are finally finding their back bones.
    Will they too be accused of being un-patriotic, mis-guided, cut-and-run weaklings?

    July 16, 2007 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  10. Jeff, Elida, Ohio

    Does anything matter anymore. It's obvious that Bush is going to do what he wants anyway. The people don't matter, just his misguided band of halfwits that he calls advisers. Even they don't count, it's what he wants to do, anyway he can make it work.

    July 16, 2007 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  11. Concerned citizen, Boston, MA

    I'm less worried about President Bush's legacy than I am about the Soldiers currently serving in Iraq. Bring them home, then we can focus efforts elsewhere.

    July 16, 2007 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. Jason Smith, Wichita, Kansas

    The President should NOT worry about his legacy. He SHOULD worry about impeachment, war crimes prosecution and convictions for said war crimes.
    Stop the lies and face the issues.

    July 16, 2007 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. Ed, Arlington, VA

    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.

    That's a bit like trying to salvage what's left of the Titanic.

    Not. Gonna. Happen.

    July 16, 2007 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  14. an angry and heartbroken Mrs. America

    Quote: "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."

    The White House has "heard" his concerns, but has it "listened"? Has it ever listened?

    Sounds like they're all thinking legacy with their heads in the clouds. Maybe they should be thinking reality: the carnage Bush is leaving in his trail. That's done; it cannot be reversed. That's George W. Bush's legacy.

    July 16, 2007 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  15. Sherry Weathers, Cincinnati OH

    George Bush's legacy will read "worst president in the country's history." And I don't believe there will be a reversal on that even 100 years down the road.

    July 16, 2007 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  16. Bennett providence ri

    pull the troops to areas where iraq oil production can be protected and built up. That keeps US troops in protected areas where hi tech weapons can be more effective. Pump oil. give iraq the $$$. drive down world prices and simultaneously push alternatives here at home. Weaken our enemies and strengthen us.

    July 16, 2007 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. Charles Fulton, S. Yarmouth, MA

    The arrogance and onesideism of the present occupant of the White House indicates he needs a good exam by the best shrink you can find!

    July 16, 2007 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  18. Rick, St. Louis, MO.

    It's too bad the Republicans continued their support for Bush... blind loyalty to a incompetent leader has cost our nation precious lives, our international respect, and treasury. Bush and his "go alone" attitude now finds himself ALONE... let him bear the consequences now and forever in history.

    July 16, 2007 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  19. Susan Prock, Fort Pierce, Florida

    Bush's "legacy" is in the toilet already. He's the worst president in my lifetime and I am sixty two. I hope Bush and company don't do too much more damage before January 20, 2009. God knows who they will destroy next.

    July 16, 2007 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    This says it all, acknowledging the Iraq campaign has been a foreign policy failure and has been the main focus of the Bush administration...even BEFORE 9/11.

    The only way he can "salvage" his legacy among the worst U.S. Presidents in history is to work with Tony Blair to form a new Israeli/Palestinian peace agreement. However I doubt Bush is interested in diplomacy or peace of any kind.

    The Bush legacy will be that of the pre-emptive war with Iraq based on lies and manipulation of intelligence – to justify their bogus reasons for going to war.

    July 16, 2007 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. Glenn Grymes, Melbourne, FL.

    This President's legacy is sealed, he will go down in history as one of the most incompetent leaders that this country has had to endure. We will be reeling from his reactionary leadership long after he goes to Crawford to live on the largesse his corporate buddies will provide for his retirement! His reign has been a sad period for this great republic!

    July 16, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    It's sad that the GOP is just starting to realize what they bought when they put the Bush/Cheney regime in power. The actions of the President and Vice President make clear one thing, they have allegiance to the big money from energy and defense and not the American people.

    I do not doubt that history will be unkind to Bush. The problem may be finding out anything that he has done. The secrecy surrounding the White House will make writing any history a speculative activity at best.

    My hope is that members of the GOP will join with the Democrats in Congress to stop this mad rush toward a generational war. If they cannot, the real history of Bush Cheney will be written in more blood of our troops and the citizens of other countries around the world.

    July 16, 2007 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. ReadBtwthlins

    Bush is listening to the Generals on the ground in Iraq. The very same Generals that were unanimously appointed by Congress just last year. Stable minded people understand this..
    This post is just more anti-war/anti-freedom hype being masqueraded as news. Why does CNN attempt to highlight, even to the point of misrepresenting, the negatives in Iraq??

    July 16, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  24. Nan H(ahn)

    The definition of insanity is: Doing the SAME thing over and over, and expecting DIFFERENT results. But then, again, Bush is a dry, not sober, drunk (if he has, indeed, actually stopped drinking!).

    July 16, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  25. Maxbyte, Stoughton, WI

    I commend the Senator for making the effort to communicate with Bush, and for being public about it. There is probably a lot more of that going on at the moment than anyone outside of the White House realizes. So many lives, families, marriages, dreams lost to the arrogance of power. So much hate now directed at the U.S., all for a Bush snit over Saddam. It's utterly unthinkable that America could allow this to happen.

    July 16, 2007 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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