Tensions between Republican lawmakers and the White House have reached an all-time high, say Republicans on Capitol Hill.
President Bush's sagging poll numbers, the administration's handling of the Dubai port deal and lingering bad memories of Harriet Miers' failed Supreme Court nomination have left a broad spectrum of Republicans on Capitol Hill with little good will toward the White House.
"I was offended," Sen. Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, said of Mr. Bush's threat last week to veto legislation aimed at stopping the transfer of port operations to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates. He said Mr. Bush "threatened me before I even knew the details of what was involved or whether I was going to vote for the bill or not."
Mr. Lott said his immediate reaction was: "OK, big boy, I'll just vote to override your veto."
He called the White House, he said, to advise administration officials that they'd run afoul of some of their strongest allies in Congress.
"Don't threaten me like that again," said the former majority leader, recounting the conversation with an official he declined to name. "It doesn't make a difference if you're a Republican or a Democrat. Don't put your fist in my face. Where I'm from, we're willing to fight back."
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