Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage

Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage: “WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Bush broke his own rule against being drawn into early political exchanges on Monday when he took his first direct poke at anti-war Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean.
A presidential news conference, hastily arranged to celebrate the capture of Saddam Hussein, allowed Bush to use the White House bully pulpit to send Americans the message that he is in charge and wanting to keep his job next year.
He focused on the positive — Saddam’s capture — and glossed over the negative, saying he doubted Saddam would shed any light on the missing weapons of mass destruction and that the hunt was still on for the still-elusive Osama bin Laden.
Bush broke his own gag rule on campaign 2004 issues only briefly at the news conference, which was held less than two hours before Dean attacked Bush’s Iraq policy in a national security speech in California

Dean has riled Republicans in recent weeks by tossing out a theory that Bush had advance warning from Saudi Arabia of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, suggesting Bush knew what was going to happen and did nothing to stop it.

When asked about the theory, Bush at first stuck to his formulation that “there’s time for politics” later and that he has a job to do first. But then he could not resist rejecting the theory.

“It’s an absurd insinuation,” said Bush, his eyes narrowing.

There is a growing belief among Bush’s political advisers that Dean will emerge as the Democratic nominee and that the campaign should be ready for him when that happens.

But publicly Bush and his aides like to say he has not focused on his re-election campaign. The president jousted with reporters who asked him about politics.”


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