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. Daniel Kolb, Grapevine, TX

    It is good to see GOP senators and representatives starting to speak their minds about the mess Bush has created in Iraq which has been mishandled from the start.

    July 16, 2007 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Dudes already lost the battle with the history books. I'm just curious to see how he'll differ from the rest of the world dictators.

    Secret service protection stopped with Clinton, so he'll probably be put down with all the crazy people running around. I'll keep him in my prayers.

    July 16, 2007 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. Doug


    So, Voinovich doesn't want to give the "surge" enough time to work, huh? Cut-and-runner? Where exactly was the Senator when the president was promoting this latest of bandaids for Iraq? He and his colleagues could have stopped it in its tracks back in January. Instead they wait until it gets dangerously close to the elections to speak out. Forgive me George V., for seeing through your self-serving rhetoric, but it's just too easy.

    This has much more to do with saving the Republican party in '08, then saving Bush's irreparable "legacy" and the Senator knows it.

    July 16, 2007 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. Duncan, Silver Spring, MD

    W stands for WORST EVER

    July 16, 2007 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. Garba Maigor, Kano, Kano

    I am confused. So Bush would be willing to exit Iraq to save his legacy but not to save lives?

    Despite the strange times we are living in, there is no legacy to save.

    July 16, 2007 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. Carolyn, Simi Valley, CA

    Amen, Pete. I can't imagine how he lives with himself. He and himself...fill in the blank: Cheney, Rove, Bush (Sr. or Jr., etc., etc.,etc.

    July 16, 2007 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  7. CR Ohio

    Does Voinivich think that Americans have the memories the length of ants? Are we supposed to just"forget" all of Bush's failures over the last 6 1/2 years?

    Bush's "legacy" is that of the WORST President in American History, no amount of Iraq salvaging is going to change that.

    July 16, 2007 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  8. Paula Glenpool, OK

    That will not be his legacy. Why do you talk about all the people that are killed in the US everyday by gunman in school, on the streets it is a lot more than Iraq and no one does anything about it. It has been happening longer than that President has been in office for both terms, and longer than we have been in Iraq. I wish everyone would stop wheening about Iraq, look at how we can fix the problem not only in Iraq and in the US. Because even after we get out of Iraq we will still have killings in the US. Getting out of Iraq is still not going to stop the killing in the US. We will still be at war in the US with all of the killings and crimes here.

    July 16, 2007 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  9. tom hunter las vegas nevada

    Senator V. is deluding himself. He will be used as a puppet in the oncoming mideast war.

    July 16, 2007 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  10. D. Tepe, Maineville, OH

    Voinovich is my Senator and I'd like to see his votes start reflecting his talk. He's as guilty as any in the current minority of obstructing legislation regarding Iraq and all other topics by defacto filibuster.

    He's also got the gall to try and appeal to Rove about Bush's legacy? Stunning. American men and women are dying, but he thinks Bush should consider a "workable plan to withdraw" to salvage his legacy? If it weren't so offensive, it might be funny.

    Senator Voinovich, I have a suggestion for you and your GOP allies – work with the majority and use the power of Congress to force this President to end our involvement in Iraq. Do it not to salvage the legacy of a man who has imperilled our military and damaged our country's reputation, but do it because IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO!

    Also, Senator, I am ashamed you felt the need to chat with Karl Rove before fulfilling your obligations to your constituents and our country.

    July 16, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  11. Lyn, Utah

    Like I care about GWB's legacy. This jerk should care about the lives lost. His legacy is already written. He is the worst President in history. Get a clue George.

    July 16, 2007 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. Lisa, Deridder, Louisiana

    Pace just said they may raise troop level...

    July 16, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. anabella coachella

    umm ya - but what no ones saying in this country is that legacy will taint each and everyone of us – we will each live bush's history – welcome to the benefits of democracy – for in a democracy we all share the blame, and the shame.

    July 16, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. diane, Cleve, OH

    Bush's legacy is that he (and Bush will be blamed no matter who is running the country) has - in 6 years - destroyed everything our country has stood for. He has attempted to take us back to the Stone Age by dismissing science. He has put total incompetents in important positions. He has let his personal insecurities consume him. He needs some serious counselling. He will have a legacy but it won't be one he will have an easy time living with. Let's just hope that after 2009 we will never hear from him (or any other Bush) again.

    July 16, 2007 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  15. windrider

    Bush is as delusional about his "legacy" as he is about the true conditions on the ground in Iraq. But one thing is certain: when the tipping point comes and enough Republicans abandon the sinking USS Bush, Congress is going to come out with legislation that is veto-proof and Bush will have lost any influence in crafting some kind of post-surge "strategy". When that day comes, he should't be able to say he wasn't warned, loud and clear...but he will. He will be "Shocked! Shocked, I say" to find himself stripped of any say-so at all.

    July 16, 2007 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  16. R. Mulligan

    Senator Voinovich has stepped up and shown some of the courage that true leaders in this great country have been lacking for a long, long time. Maybe we chose the wrong George to be president.

    July 16, 2007 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  17. M Va

    You never know what/who to believe in these articles.

    July 16, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  18. Norman Weinstein, New York, NY

    To speak of a Bush legacy, at least a legacy in the positive sense of the word, is to create a major oxymoron. If what this man’s administration has achieved weren’t so utterly damaging and tragic, one could almost manage a laugh – powerful, malevolent bumpkins, at best clever, in command. We the people and the people’s children and their children will long pay the penalty imposed on us and them by this arrogant, criminal regime.

    July 16, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  19. nofltwlt, state college, pa

    "Voinovich added that other Republicans are close to speaking out against the President’s current strategy"; Karl already knew this from the illegal wiretaps.

    July 16, 2007 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  20. J. Hahn, Santa Rosa, California

    President Boob will be known as the worst president this country has EVER known. The lies, the arrogance, the secrecy, the abuse of trust of the American people will all come to the top of what has been a very ugly administrative soup.

    July 16, 2007 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  21. patriotforpeace

    Relief from the facist arm of this administration which has had its stronghold on our liberty and the liberty of others can not come soon enough.
    People will see what the Emperor has been wearing all along!!


    July 16, 2007 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  22. Leonard Lewis Anderson, IN.

    They have had 6 years. September is too long. Surge is nothing more than another silly term like stay the course. It is not about the legacy of George, but about this country. It should not be that George is given more time to try and make himself look better.

    July 16, 2007 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  23. A. Douglas Providence RI

    This president has no remorse and has psychological and psychiatric issues, he needs some intervention and assessment in a closed facility and not to take his "defiant attitude" issues on us and other innocent people. Let him and his father "have it out" in Kennebunkport, and keep him away from the American people.

    July 16, 2007 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  24. John C Marietta, GA

    The thousands of dead and wounded won't even slow them down. This is what they react to and all that matters to this administration, Politics! When their power is in jepardy, then they will act until them none of us even matter to them!

    July 16, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  25. Barbara, Eagan MN

    Truthfully? It is too late for George Bush to salvage his "legacy." And therein lies the truly frightening part of this six year reign of terror. Bush is a man with nothing to lose. Surely he gets that his place in history is number 43 - the worst president of the United States by every definition. Then again, maybe he doesn't.

    July 16, 2007 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
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