Bush ac­cepts his role in Repub­li­can losses

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Joseph Curl

A con­trite Pres­i­dent Bush said on Nov. 8 that he shares “a large part” of the re­spon­si­bil­ity for the “thump­ing” suf­fered by Repub­li­cans on Elec­tion Day, but called on his party’s law­mak­ers to work with the new Demo­cratic lead­er­ship in Congress to ad­vance his agenda.

In a press con­fer­ence just hours af­ter Democrats took con­trol of the House­forthe­first­timein12years— an­dap­peared­poised­to­seizetheSe­nateaswell—thep­res­i­dentseeme­dat times glum, at other times pug­na­cious,ash­e­saidtheAmer­i­can­peo­ple had spo­ken.

“Yes­ter­day, the peo­ple went to the polls,andth­ey­cast­their­vote­foranew di­rec­tion in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. And while the bal­lots are still be­ing­counte­dintheSe­nate,itis­clear theDemocratPar­ty­hada­good­night last night,” he said in the White House’s East Room.

“I’m ob­vi­ously dis­ap­pointed with the­out­come­ofthe­elec­tion,an­das­the head­oftheRepub­li­canParty,Ishare alargepartofthere­spon­si­bil­ity.Itold my party’s lead­ers that it is now our du­ty­top­ut­the­elec­tions­be­hin­du­sand work to­gether with the Democrats andin­de­pen­dentson­the­greatis­sues fac­ing this coun­try,” he said.

Al­though he spent the past few week­strav­elin­gacross­the­coun­tryto ex­co­ri­ate Democrats as weak on na­tional se­cu­rity and bent on rais­ing taxes,Mr.Bush­saidi­tis­time­to­move past par­ti­san pol­i­tics and work hard for the Amer­i­can peo­ple.

“I be­lieve that the lead­ers of both po­lit­i­cal par­ties must try to work throughour­dif­fer­ences,andI­be­lieve we will be able to work through dif­fer­ences. I’ve re­as­sured the House and Se­nate lead­ers that I in­tend to work with the new Congress in a bi­par­ti­san way to ad­dress is­sues con­fronting this coun­try. I in­vited them to come to the White House in the com­ing­daystodis­cuss­theim­por­tant workre­main­ingth­isyearand­to­be­gin con­ver­sa­tions about the agenda for next year,” he said.

Asked about his abil­ity to work with House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, the Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat ex­pected to be­come House speaker in the next Congress, Mr. Bush said, “If you hold grudges in this line of work, you’re never go­ing to get any­thing done.”And­heac­knowl­edgedthatthe vic­tory by Mrs. Pelosi’s party would have pol­icy con­se­quences.

“Look, this was a close elec­tion. If youlookati­trace­byrace,it­was­close. The cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect, how­ever, was not too close. It was a thump­ing,” Mr. Bush said. “But, nev­er­the­less, the peo­ple ex­pect us to work to­gether. That’s what they ex­pect.”

The pres­i­dent im­me­di­ately granted a key de­mand of Democrats by an­nounc­ing the res­ig­na­tion of De­fense Sec­re­tary Don­ald H. Rums­feld.

Mr. Bush praised Democrats for a“dis­ci­plined­cam­paign”anda“su­perb job of turn­ing out their votes,” but he lobbed a barb at his chief White House po­lit­i­cal strate­gist, Karl Rove, who failed for the first time in three elec­tions to de­liver a win for the pres­i­dent.

For months, Mr. Bush has pub­licly joked about an in­for­mal con­test be­tween him­self and Mr. Rove as to who could read the most books. When asked on Nov. 8 about who was win­ning the con­test, Mr. Bush said: “I’m los­ing. I ob­vi­ously was work­ing harder on the cam­paign than he was.”

The re­mark drew a tight smile fromMr.Roveatthe­p­ress­con­fer­ence — and a col­lec­tive “oooh” from the White House press corps.

Mr. Rove, who or­ches­trated a his­toric Repub­li­can gain of con­gres­sion­alseats­dur­ingth­e2002midterm elec­tions, had told The Wash­ing­ton Times late last month that he was “con­fi­dent we’re go­ing to keep the Se­nate; I’m con­fi­dent we’re go­ing to keeptheHouse.”In­stead,Democrats gained at least 29 House seats and at least four Se­nate seats, pend­ing de­layedresults,re­countsan­dany­court chal­lenges.

Mr.Bushal­so­had­madeop­ti­mistic pre­dic­tions dur­ing the cam­paign’s fi­nal weeks. He said those mis­taken fore­casts did not show that he was “out of touch.”

“I’m an op­ti­mistic per­son, is what I am. I knew we were go­ing to lose seats, I just didn’t know how many,” he­said.“But­thep­eo­ple­havespo­ken, and now it’s time for us to move on.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.