President Bush vowed not to “cut and run” in Iraq and said he deserves to be re-elected because he has demonstrated his capacity for “handling tough times,” The Washington Times reported Monday.
The comments came in a series of interviews with the newspaper, which published excerpts.
“Freedom will prevail, so long as the United States and allies don’t give the people of Iraq mixed signals, so long as we don’t cower in the face of suiciders, or do what many Iraqis still suspect might happen, and that is cut and run early, like what happened in ’91,” Bush was quoted as saying.
Bush was referring to a decision by his father, who waged the first Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, to stop short of toppling the Iraqi leader when the war ended in 1991.
Bush was resolved to avoid repeating what he believes were the two fundamental mistakes of his father’s one-term presidency: abandoning Iraq and not defeating the Democrats, The Washington Times said.
Bush also said that Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, would “regret” disparaging the U.S.-led military coalition that overthrew Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein last year, the newspaper said.
According to the report, Bush bristled when reminded that Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, referred to the coalition as “some trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted.”
“Yes, well, sometimes people say some things they regret,” Bush was quoted as saying. “In the course of a campaign, there will be great scrutiny of people’s words.”
“I’m sure that is the kind of quote that will eventually be in the public arena. We’ll let the American people decide whether or not it has any merit,” Bush said, according to the article.
The Washington Times said it was the first of a series of reports based on a new book “Misunderestimated: The President Battles Terrorism, John Kerry and Bush Haters,” written by its White House correspondent, Bill Sammon.
The title is based, in part, on a remark Bush made on Nov. 6, 2000, the final day of his first presidential campaign.
“They misunderestimated me,” Bush said at the time, of his detractors.
“I’d like to keep expectations low,” Bush was quoted as saying during one of several interviews with the The Washington Times in the Oval Office. “It’s better for people to be surprised rather than disappointed.”
Bush also explained why he thought he should be reelected, the newspaper said.
“I deserve a second term because, first, I’ve showed the American people I’m capable of handling tough times,” Bush was quoted as saying.
“The thing about the presidency is you never know what’s going to be around the corner, and you’d better have a president who is capable of making decisions when times do get tough.”