Colin Powell is passing out coffin nails with John Bolton written on them.
President Bush on Thursday issued a strong new defense of John R. Bolton, his nominee as ambassador to the United Nations. But associates of Colin L. Powell, the former secretary of state, said he had expressed reservations about Mr. Bolton in conversations with at least two wavering Republican senators.
The associates said Mr. Powell, in private telephone conversations, had made clear his concerns about Mr. Bolton on several fronts, including his harsh treatment of subordinates.
Mr. Powell has not spoken publicly about the Bolton nomination. But his associates said he had told two Republican senators, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, that he had been troubled by the way Mr. Bolton had treated an intelligence analyst and others at the State Department who had disagreed with him.
Accounts were conflicting as to whether Mr. Powell or the senators had initiated the phone calls. A spokeswoman for Mr. Powell said he had only returned calls from others, but one person familiar with one conversation said it had been Mr. Powell who had reached out to Mr. Hagel.