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. R baker

    Trouble when politicians start saying "history will decide".
    Hey George Bush, in 5, 10, 20, 100 years you will be viewed as incompetent, deceitful, treasonous, disingenuous, delusional, unlawful, unscrupulous, disingenuous, contemptible, putrid, lying, corrupt, hypocritical, insidious person you are.

    July 16, 2007 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  2. R. Fornal Columbus OH

    This is absolutely hilarious. If you buy G. Voinivich trying to be helpful to the Bush administration, let me show you a few bridges that are for sale. This man is a Democrat who could not get elected as such, so he cloaked himself as a Republican after reading poll results. Legacies aren't written about people who worry about them – like Voinivich.

    July 16, 2007 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  3. P. Hogue Brooklyn, New York

    I vote for sending George W., Dick Cheney and Laura Bush to Irag to join the rest of the US cannon fodder they have placed in the Middle East for the benefit of their own moneyed interests.

    July 16, 2007 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  4. John

    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.”

    The GOP is in such denial that Bush and Cheney took post 9/11 America and carried out a vendetta against Saddam's Iraq for Oil and Defense profits instead of fighting the enemy where they were and still are in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    The GOP by blindly following Bush and Cheney have squandered our treasury and our Military with a total failure in this personal blunder called the Iraq war.

    July 16, 2007 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  5. Marjorie Loring Gauley, Newbury Pk. CA

    I think the president and his inner circle are quite mad; they are irrational and in denial.

    They behave as though human beings are no more significant than pieces on a board game. They will not be moved by feelings of compassion; they have none.

    So the idea of appealing to him with a plan addressing his legacy is the way you'd talk to a lunatic...figure out what might motivate him. Clearly it won't be for humanitarian reasons that they'll agree to stop the bloodshed. If he thinks that he may save his place in history by pulling out (Oh that his father had done as much...and I'm not talking about the gulf war here)wunderbar!

    Whatever it takes. After all, he has already created his legacy; people on every part of our planet know and understand what that legacy will be.

    July 16, 2007 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  6. Christian Alain, Silver Spring, MD

    I do believe that people make a serious mistake in thinking Dubya stands for Dumb. I do believe the light bulb is not too bright and the knife is not too sharp. However, who is the bigger dummy GWB or the American sheeple who either voted for him, have kept his poll numbers from falling in the teens or who are not willing to open their mouths and stand against these thugs? He's so dumb he keeps advancing his agenda despite all opposition and failure. That's amazing.

    This regime is nothing more than a criminal cartel which has raped America just like they have raped and killed Iraq. The degree to which these people hate America, hate us and those who are not on their team defies the imagination. They will destroy us all and this country before they leave if given the chance. I'd even say the military would be justified in arresting Bush-Cheney for their malfeasance, criminal misconduct and violation of their Constitutional oaths (can you say 9/11).

    We have met the enemy and he or they are on the throne. Bush-Cheney is the duo from hell and we are afflicted by a plague of treachery. They are our very own Caligua and Nero. Rome is burning and the sheeple continue to watch theeir dumb tv shops. It's time to turn off your tvs friends and roll up your sleeves while their is still time. If these two and their collaborators like Lieberman don't crash the ship of state on the shores of the Persian Gulf soon, they'll sink it under a weight of red ink IOLs to China Inc.

    Plus let's not forget those Halliburton Camps. Who are they building those camps for?

    July 16, 2007 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  7. Ricardo, Bainbridge Island, WA

    From what I have read, it sounds as though y'all are in agreement that this Republican administration 'stinks'. Hey CNN, read your own blog and realize it is time to interperet news events from an American perspective (as opposed to the corperate/conservative/Republican perspective).

    July 16, 2007 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  8. Ron Hull

    It is too late to worry about legacy. GOP legislators should ask Bush and Cheney to resign. If they don't, the Congress should begin impeachment proceedings. Bush and Cheney will then have a legacy as the first President and VP to be impeached and removed from office.

    July 16, 2007 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  9. Kamidiotique, Houston TX

    A good way to convince a person to get something done is to remind him of his, "legacy." That's why people are talking to Bush this way. It brings foolish pride into play, to one's advantage.

    July 16, 2007 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  10. R. Gilfert, Saddle Brook, New Jersey

    George Voinovich will talk tough until it comes time to break with Bush on a REAL vote to withdrawal from Iraq and then he will cave in to Bush.
    He is ALL TALK and NO action.

    July 16, 2007 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  11. Oboy Taos NM

    Now what if W were to stumble onto this? Why, you would turn that man from a dry drunk to just a regular one. And who wants that?

    July 16, 2007 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  12. anyone anywhere

    "What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?"
    Mahatma Gandhi

    July 16, 2007 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  13. qo, San Jose, CA

    The Bush family has been in the White House, in one capacity or another for all but 8 of the last 26 years. I can only hope that the fantastic misdeeds of Papa Bush's foolish son will pull the whole family's legacy down the drain.

    Because, remember, Jeb is waiting in the wings... And, by all accounts, he's more ruthless (and, unfortunately, smarter) than GW.

    I'll go out on a limb and predict that the Bush Family Plan is to let the Democrats win in '08 so they inherit the unrepairable mess Bush left behind, and thus be seen as responsible for it. By 2012, Jeb will run, and win. It's at this point that we see a true dictatorship.

    July 16, 2007 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  14. Anthony, Reno NV

    Legacy? LEGACY?!
    As commander in chief of one of the most powerful military forces known to mankind, Bush has allowed a bunch of rag tag religious zeolots with no air force, no navy, no intelligence network, and no industrial military infrastructure to not only attack us, but also to keep us engaged in the worst foreign policy debacle in history for 5+ years, to the tune of $600+Billion, 3600+ US fatalities, and countless civilian casulties.
    There is no leagacy to salvage!!!

    July 17, 2007 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  15. DL, Los Angeles, CA

    Our Soldiers & personnel, as well as Iraqis, are dying or becoming maimed
    on a daily basis.

    So all these GOP pukes
    are concerned with is:
    the Bush/GOP "Legacy"?

    If that isn't the very definition of pure SCORN for our troops, then
    I don't know what is.

    It all just looks like stalling
    to me, at this point.

    July 17, 2007 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  16. Paul

    When will Washington, Bush, his people, and the Republican party get it. There is no "legacy." It's over. Now we just have to salvage what's left of the Republic.

    July 17, 2007 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  17. Spike O'Toole, Savin Hill, MA

    There is one thing that Bush will do to save his legacy. He can follow the advice of Podhoretz and bomb Iran's nuclear and war making facilities. By doing this he will, as Podhoretz noted, prevent a second Holocaust. There is no downside to this for Bush. The Iranians will be set back decades; their people after a time will realize it is folly to oppose the will of America; and Iran’s sinister influence in Iraq will abate. To secure his dream of the democratic, stable, Middle East, Bush know this is his last chance. We have two carrier task forces in the Persian Gulf/Arabian Sea. Another is steaming its way across the Atlantic. A fourth, the USS Truman, the only warship in the US Navy with a Torah on board, is getting ready to go there in the fall, or earlier. Bush is a gambler. He is all in on this one and is waiting for the river card.

    July 17, 2007 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  18. Joan C.Grim Knoxville, TN 37918

    Pathetic. Voinovich and Rove are concerned about the Bush legacy but not the constitutional crisis they have procured and the millions of lives they have ruined? John Dean said it well in his book-the people running the executive branch are conservatives without a conscience. Impeachment is the only means to recover from this monarchical cabal headed by Bush & Cheney our values as a nation of laws.

    July 17, 2007 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  19. Mary, Beaver, PA

    Christian Alain, you are right on! I couldn't add any more to your excellent post, except my profound regrets that Americans will be fooled and fooled again. Vietnam, Watergate, abuse of power, blind obedience, persecution of those who dissent when our leaders are taking us to hell, the death of innocents, of young people, and lost liberty.... When will we learn to approach government with the cynicism of our Founding Fathers? I fear never.

    July 17, 2007 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  20. Skip Mendler, Honesdale PA

    Let us do EVERYTHING WE CAN to ENSURE that history is not kind to the Bush regime and its lackeys. It's a good bet that Bill Kristol and the PNAC neocons are even now working on the rewrites of the history books - but we must make sure that these people are the objects of SCORN and DERISION for generations to come.


    July 17, 2007 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  21. Colin, Dublin, Ireland

    It's funny how everyone here is so against Bush, yet the majority of you voted him in for a second term!
    I am no Bush fan and the Iraq war was a sham from the get-go, but I certainly would have nver voted for Bush the first time and certainly never for a second term, after it was widely known that the whole WMD was one big lie.
    You made your bed, my friendly Americans, now lie in it! Next time, be more more careful about who you elect and maybe the world won't suffer as much for your inability to see through blatent lies. Shame on the majority of Americans who have made the world suffer.

    July 17, 2007 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  22. Allen, Murrieta Ca

    What makes you think we only have 1 1/2 years of Bush to go? He has already demonstrated his total disregard for the constitution. I can see him coming up with something in 08 (TERRORISTS !!!) to keep him and his cronies in power.

    July 17, 2007 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  23. don berry tullahoma tn

    pretty easy to blame it all on Bush now eh? Yet, despite the fact that we do not have one single fact now that we did not have then, still voted for war huh? Happen to read the CIA brief, available to any representative, that said Bush was lying ? Pretty hard to vote against such a profitable venture isn;t it? Yet, despite all, say a few words, act outraged and you will have followers. The sheeple fall in line

    July 17, 2007 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  24. Kathy, Omaha, NE

    Maybe the GOP members of Congress will start proceeding for criminal acts against the Administration, someone has to the Democrats don't seem to have a back bone even when the majoriy of the people want to know the truth.
    We need a real investigation of this illegal works of this Administration.

    July 17, 2007 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  25. Mary Wilson, Missoula, Montana

    I propose a legacy for Pres. Bush , V-Pres Cheney and their administration:
    that will deserve a whole chapter in every American history book written in the future: thesuccessful impeachment and conviction of both a President and Vice-President. For a hundred years thereafter, the names "Bush" and "Cheney" will be on the lips of every schoolchild. That would be a legacy to write about.

    July 17, 2007 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
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