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By Michelle Malkin  •  May 27, 2005 10:11 AM

Another Republican joins the “maverick” club: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the man who defeated Tom Daschle, has announced he will not vote for Bush U.N. ambassador nominee John Bolton. Thune says his opposition is payback for the Pentagon’s recommendation to close Ellsworth Air Force Base. Thune now claims that Bolton “is not the best man for the job.”

From AP (hat tip: reader Cynthia M.):

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said Thursday that he would vote against the nomination of John Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations, hinting his vote is a protest against the Pentagon’s recommendation to close Ellsworth Air Force Base.

But he did support his party on the vote that mattered most Thursday.

Republicans needed 60 votes to end the Democratic procedural delays and move to an immediate final vote on Bolton’s confirmation. Fifty-six senators – including Thune – voted to end the stalling, four shy of that threshold. Now the final Bolton vote will probably not take place until June.

Thune said Thursday that saving Ellsworth is “inseparable from my work” in the Senate.

“It is part of the fabric of every day of our agenda and the things we are trying to accomplish here,” Thune said Thursday. “It’s something that has become a great preoccupation of mine now.”

Asked whether his opposition to Bolton was because of his qualifications or the base-closing plan, Thune said dryly: “I’m concerned about our diplomatic posture as a nation, and I’m concerned about our defensive posture. These issues are not unrelated.”

Thune otherwise would not say why he would vote against Bolton’s nomination.

“Everyone has to come to their own decision about it, and that’s the decision I have come to,” Thune said. “John Bolton is not the best man for this job.”

Before the base-closure list was released, in April, Thune said on the MSNBC program “Hardball” that Bolton could be good for the United Nations.

Here’s a bit of what Thune said on Hardball on April 19:

THUNE: I think you have to look at issues of conduct as they relate to the level of professionalism that a person brings to the job. If it‘s because that person is demanding and they are making people work hard and that‘s—that‘s probably OK.


MATTHEWS: That is not the charge here. The charge here is, he is forcing people to do things they don‘t want to do.

THUNE: And those are issues that are being reviewed and looked at.

But I think, again, if you look at his record, he has been confirmed previously. And he is a guy who shakes things up. And I think the U.N. needs that.

Hey, have you heard of the Not One Dime protest? Now would be a good time to join.

Update: Reader Mark K. writes in…

John Thune is a loyal Republican who is attempting to take care
of his constituents.

How about if Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio were to be closed instead and all its activity consolodated at Ellsworth AFB? After all, George Voinovich is a weepy, hopeless jerk. It might send a nice message to the Senate.

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