President Bush is increasingly confident that John McCain, as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, will be an effective defender of the major Bush policies such as cutting taxes, fighting terrorism, and winning the Iraq war, according to White House aides. Bush came close to endorsing McCain over a week ago in an interview with Fox News Sunday, calling him a "true conservative." But he held off, explaining that he wants to wait until the nomination is totally locked up. Bush also admitted that McCain has "got some convincing to do" in persuading other conservatives that he is one of them—but he is confident that McCain can do it.
White House officials say Bush is eager to get into the fray. He sees his role as raising money for the Republican Party, uniting the GOP behind the nominee, and framing the debate by arguing that the Democrats are weak on national security and eager to raise taxes. "There's going to be a very stark difference between the two parties' candidates, "says a Bush adviser.