WASHINGTON – A senator who temporarily blocked U.N. Ambassador John Bolton's nomination last year said Thursday he would not stand in the way this year because of an urgent need to ease tensions in the Middle East.
"I realized we're at war ... and I said I think we need to accelerate this decision-making," said Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio. "For the betterment of our country we need to clarify our position regarding John Bolton."
Voinovich frustrated his GOP colleagues last year when he opposed Bolton's nomination in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. That led President Bush to install Bolton through a temporary appointment that expires in January.
Now, Voinovich said, pressing diplomatic issues with Iran, North Korea and in the Middle East require a smooth approval process for the man he once called a bully.
"My observations are that while Bolton is not perfect, he has demonstrated his ability, especially in recent months, to work with others and follow the president's lead by working multilaterally," Voinovich said.
The senator told reporters he was not pressured by the Bush administration.
White House spokesman Alex Conant said, "We very much appreciate Senator Voinovich's willingness to take a new look at the nomination and his decision to support it."
Bush has resubmitted Bolton's nomination, but the Senate hasn't taken up the issue.
Voinovich said he informed Bolton and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of his decision Wednesday night and both expressed their satisfaction.