Weatherford Democrat

January 27, 2009

Elder Bush: Son held to principles after attacks

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Former President George H.W. Bush says he’s proud of how his son held to his principles during his presidency and kept the U.S. safe after the 2001 terror attacks.

Addressing the National Automobile Dealers Association in New Orleans, Bush also said Monday he believes that if the United States had tried to get Saddam Hussein to surrender during Operation Desert Storm — during his presidency — some of the problems the U.S. has since faced may have been avoided.

The United States invaded Iraq during the presidency of Bush’s son, George W. Bush. The war, and the failed intelligence about Saddam’s weapons, was among the issues that contributed to low approval ratings as the younger Bush left office last week. Saddam was captured in late 2003, months after the invasion, and later executed.

While the elder Bush believes the U.S. military action to eject Saddam’s forces from Kuwait in the first Gulf War was a success, he also said, “I think a cleaner ending would have been perfect.”

He said his experts had told him they didn’t think the then-leader of Iraq would surrender. But he added he has since come to wonder if he might have.

Bush also took a moment to speak about his son’s presidency. He noted that the convention of automobile dealers was not a political event.

“But neither is it political for a very proud father to note how our son served with honor and held fast to his principles and kept our nation safe,” he said to applause Monday.

Former President Bill Clinton, who also addressed the convention, spoke of the efforts he and the elder Bush have worked on together to lead fundraising after disasters such as the southeast Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and last summer’s Hurricane Ike.

He also said he had developed a good working relationship with the younger Bush.

“I told him that if he thought he could just go home to that ranch and fool with the brush around the house, he was wrong, that we intended for him to work just like we did,” Clinton said.