Most Texas newspapers, in Saturday editorials, urged former Sen. John Tower to ask that his nomination as defense secretary be withdrawn to save President Bush from an embarrassing defeat in the Senate.
Editorials appearing in The Dallas Times Herald and The Fort Worth Star-Telegram criticized the nomination of the former Texas senator, who has come under fire for alleged womanizing and excessive drinking."The Tower nomination has turned into a monumental mistake - Tower had more marks against him and more enemies lying in wait than anyone imagined - that should not be allowed to hobble the administration," The Star-Telegram said.
"Tower would serve the president best by asking that his name be withdrawn and freeing Bush to offer a nominee whose competence, intellect, demeanor and integrity will be beyond suspicion and thus allay the concerns already raised by his selection of Dan Quayle as his vice president about the president's own judgment and misguided sense of loyalty," the paper said.
President Bush continued to defend the former Republican senator Saturday, telling reporters in Tokyo, "There's no pulling back at this point. I'm going to fight it through right to the end."
Presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said Bush would meet Tuesday with senators to lobby for Tower's confirmation. The Senate Armed Services Committee voted Thursday 11-9, strictly along party lines, against Tower. The full Senate is to begin debate Wednesday on his nomination. Democrats hold a 55-45 majority.
The Dallas Times Herald called on the Senate to reject Tower's nomination, saying: "Even if Mr. Tower were to win confirmation in the Senate, where he served for 24 years, he may have been wounded so severely by the extended investigation into his conduct that he could not function effectively as secretary of defense. President Bush needs to look for someone else."
Tower, a native of Wichita Falls, has made Dallas his home since retiring from the Senate in 1985.
The Dallas Morning News defended Tower, calling him "a vivid example of the dark side of partisan politics" but said if his defeat becomes certain, he should step aside.
The Houston Chronicle, Texas' largest daily, also defended Tower and called the Senate committee's vote against him suspect. "So far as the public is concerned, this unfortunate affair has been character assassination by vague innuendo," the paper said. "It is even more unfortunate that the public can now with good reason suspect that character is not the real issue, but politics-as-usual is."