WASHINGTON — The White House might as well install a red-telephone hot line in Senator Jon Kyl’s house.
President Obama called last week. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. phoned this week. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates have been on the line. Other officials dispensed with the phone to fly to Arizona to talk in person.
Suffice it to say, Mr. Kyl has the attention of the Oval Office these days. More than any other Republican in Congress, Mr. Kyl has become the target of administration energy as it seeks to persuade him to support a new arms control treaty with Russia — or figure out how to circumvent him if he does not. “They are much more focused now,” Mr. Kyl said in an interview.
Rarely has a single member of the minority party become so crucial to a president’s top foreign policy priority. By most accounts, Mr. Kyl, a burly, sober-minded lawyer and frustrated would-be scientist who has made himself into a nuclear expert, holds the key to whether the so-called New Start treaty will be approved this year as the president has demanded. More at: