November 29, 1995 in Nation/World

Dole Becomes Clinton’s Ally


A determined President Clinton went to Congress Tuesday to convince skeptical members of Congress that sending 20,000 U.S. troops in Bosnia is in the national interest.

But even as the White House conceded “a great deal of skepticism” among the public, Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole, R-Kan., said he is looking for a way to support Clinton.

Dole, front-runner for the Republican nomination to oppose Clinton in next year’s White House election, declared, “I want to support the president if I can … even though the American people may not agree.”

While Dole was offering his tentative support, several other Republican senators signaled they may refuse to back the president’s Bosnia initiative.

Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas, Dole’s principal Senate opponent for the GOP presidential nomination, made it clear he will remain totally against any U.S. troop deployment to Bosnia.

But other Republicans held open the possibility they may support Clinton if he sells them and the country on the idea that going into Bosnia is necessary to national security, and particularly that there is an “exit strategy” to bring the troops home within a year.

Sen. William Cohen, R-Maine, said the president must lay out a position on what the United States will do if the fighting resumes in Bosnia and “we become mired in the mud and the blood.”

While withholding support, Republicans stopped short of saying they would try to stop the deployment by denying the administration the money needed to place an army in the former Yugoslavia.

Emerging as the president’s sharpest Senate opponent, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., predicted that Clinton will withdraw the troops next fall “for the wrong reason” - to reap credit from voters in the presidential election.

That brought a retort from Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who said he was upset that McCain was “so glib” in finding a link between deployment of troops and politics.

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