WASHINGTON: Both supporters and opponents of President Bush's nominee for UN ambassador, John Bolton, are reassessing their communications strategies in light of a surprise setback in his confirmation vote.
A delay in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote came April 19 after Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) expressed doubts about Bolton and his leadership style, which critics have characterized as "kiss up, kick down."
Harpinder Athwal, director of strategic planning and communications for Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS), had been opposing the confirmation with TV ads and a special website, stopbolton.org, targeting states with Republican committee members who have expressed reservations about Bolton.
But since the delay, Athwal said CGS has been focusing more on person-to-person, grassroots efforts in those targeted states to encourage people there to call their senators.
On the opposite side, Move America Forward (MAF), a conservative group seeking Bolton's confirmation, quickly launched a series of anti-Voinovich ads in Ohio after the senator sparked the delay. The organization has since suspended those ads after receiving assurances that the senator would take a more fair look at the nomination.
Sal Russo, MAF's chief strategist and founder of the Sacramento PR firm Russo Marsh & Rogers, said the group will soon air ads pressuring Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) to "shed some light" on where he stands on Bolton.
Russo added that he has been working with conservative bloggers and the organization's membership to put pressure on several senators.