Bush Looks Forward To Campaign To Tout Progress On War On Terror
President Bush told US News Bulletin Friday that the agreement reached to end the siege of the holy Shiite city of Najaf is good news on several fronts. For the ending of the siege itself, he lauded both U.S. troops and Iraqi troops, and saw the outcome as evidence of more progress in Iraq. In the interview, Bush praised "the government of Iraq, you know, sending troops into the proximity of these mosques, capable troops, which got the attention of rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his people, coupled with action that had taken place over the previous weeks. In other words," he said, "our troops and Iraqi troops had begun to inflict some damage on their troops, laid the conditions necessary for the government and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to get Sadr to vacate the shrines. That's progress toward elections." He added, in a wide-ranging 40-minute interview conducted in the Oval Office, that he looks forward to the campaign at home as a way of showing that progress is being made in reaching his goals in Iraq and in fighting terrorism."
Bush's interview with US News Bulletin was part of a carefully-orchestrated PR offensive by the President's campaign that will continue through the Republican National Convention. Bush is suddenly more available for media interviews than he's been in years. In addition to US News Bulletin, he granted interviews last week to the New York Times and USA Today. The three newsmagazines all feature Bush interviews in the editions that came out today. Bush will proceed with various other interviews through convention week all designed to portray him as vigorous, accessible, and, in particular, likable. His personality is considered one of his biggest advantages in his race against Democrat John Kerry.
Bush Says He Would Invade Iraq Again; Acknowledges Shortcomings In War Planning. Time interviews President Bush as part of its cover package. Asked if it was a "failure of imagination that everybody thought Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction," Bush said, "No, I don't think so. I don't know if you've traveled with me recently, but I have made it very clear that we thought we would find stockpiles." Asked if he would do the same thing again, Bush said, "Yes." CBS Evening News reported on the interview, saying Bush "now acknowledges he might have done things differently" in Iraq, referring to "shortfalls in planning for the Iraq war, telling Time magazine he would have pursued different tactics had he known 'that an enemy that should have surrendered or been done in escaped and lived to fight another day.'"