President Bush is quietly advising Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, recommending that she tone down her rhetoric so she can effectively prosecute the war in Iraq if she becomes president.
According to The Examiner newspaper of Washington, D.C., in an interview for the new book “The Evangelical President,” White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten said Bush has “been urging candidates: ‘Don’t get yourself too locked in where you stand right now. If you end up sitting where I sit, things could change dramatically.’ ”
Bolten said Bush wants to ensure that “even a Democratic president would be in a position to sustain a legitimate presence there [in Iraq].”
“Especially if it’s a Democrat,” the chief of staff told The Examiner. “He wants to create the conditions where a Democrat not only will have the leeway, but the obligation to see it out.”
As a result, Bush has been sending advice, usually via aides, aimed at preventing an abrupt withdrawal from Iraq in the event of a Democratic victory in November 2008.
“It’s different being a candidate and being the president,” Bush said in an Oval Office interview. “No matter who the president is, no matter what party, when they sit here in the Oval Office and seriously consider the effect of a vacuum being created in the Middle East, particularly one trying to be created by al-Qaida, they will then begin to understand the need to continue to support the young democracy.”
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