BRAC - Threat to Base Sends Senator Thune on Maneuvers.
At home in South Dakota, he is feeling the heat from his constituents, who are furious over the Pentagon's plans to close Ellsworth Air Force Base, the state's second-largest employer. But in the Senate there are only so many options available to a freshman - even if that freshman is Mr. Thune, who became a Republican celebrity by unseating the Democratic leader, Tom Daschle, last November.
One of those options is sending subtle messages to the White House that the base-closing recommendations are more important than party loyalty, which is exactly what Mr. Thune is doing.
"I'm undecided on Bolton," Mr. Thune said, "and I guess that's where I would leave it."
Just what President Bush can do for Mr. Thune is unclear. As Mr. Thune said, "Their general posture has been, throughout this entire process, that these are military decisions based on military value." But people "in the hinterlands," he said, do not really believe that.
During the race, Mr. Daschle argued that, as minority leader of the Senate, he would have a seat on the base closing commission and could help spare Ellsworth, as he did 10 years ago when Bill Clinton was president. Mr. Thune countered that as a Republican, he would have the president's ear.
(5-26-05, The Washington Post.)