Bolton Vote Set For Thursday

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President Bush's embattled nominee for U.N. ambassador, John R. Bolton, has gained momentum despite weeks of intense investigation, with at least one wavering Republican now falling into line with the White House.

Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., told The Associated Press on Tuesday he reluctantly would support Bolton when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee votes Thursday on whether to recommend Bolton's confirmation by the full Senate.

Democrats were looking ahead to a close committee vote and said they had not yet decided whether they would filibuster the nomination if it got to the Senate.

Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said Tuesday that Democrats wouldn't stall the committee vote, but said he would push the panel's chairman, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., to hold off until Democrats received information they'd requested from the State Department and the National Security Agency.

Another committee Democrat, Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said, "We've got another couple of days. I'm optimistic that we'll get a good committee vote.

"If we don't, then we'll decide" about a filibuster, said Dodd, who commented after committee Democrats met for more than an hour Tuesday afternoon.

Chafee, one of four committee Republicans who have been on the fence about the nominee, said he reviewed the reports that Bolton mistreated subordinates and abused his authority while a State Department official.

Chafee said that despite his apprehensions, he decided to support the nominee because he believes Mr. Bush, or any chief executive, should be able to choose his own team.

"I won't deny a lot of the information certainly brings great pause, but I fight the administration on so many issues; this is one of those that I've been with them on — to appoint their team," Chafee said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Three other GOP members of the committee also said they were leaning toward supporting Bolton or at least unwilling to write him off. And other Republicans predicted unified GOP support for Bolton when the committee votes.

"I think our team will be together," Sen. George Allen, R-Va., said Tuesday.

A 10-8 party-line vote on the GOP-led panel would send Bolton's nomination to the full Senate and probable confirmation.

Committee Democrats oppose Bolton on various grounds, including that he allegedly may have tried to bend government intelligence to suit ideological ends.

Democrats also sought information about whether Bolton tried to snoop on other government officials.