Bush Calls Matt Lauer Out On His Democratic Spin

Yesterday Matt Lauer treated Hillary Clinton with kid gloves but on this morning's Today, Bush, once again, got the hostile treatment from Lauer. However in this morning's portion of Lauer's long interview with the President, Bush stepped up, even calling Matt out for trying to "justify" the Democratic position.

Lauer: "Do you know of any Democrats, that in your opinion, are trying to or would like to appease terrorists?"

George W. Bush: "I know Democrats who want to leave Iraq before the job is done and that would be a terrible mistake."

Lauer: "But those Democrats don't see the war in Iraq as inseparable from the overall war on terror."

Bush: "You can justify what they say I'm just telling you that if this country leaves Iraq before the job is done, if we abandon those 15 million people who said we want to live freely we will have given the enemy a tremendous victory."

The following is a complete transcript of this morning's interview:

Matt Lauer: "Now to the political battle over the war on terror. There are only eight weeks to go until the midterm elections and while the White House insists last night's presidential address was not a political speech the Democrats are crying foul. Recently I asked President Bush about the widening divide between Republicans and Democrats. In recent speeches you and Vice President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld have, have seemed to indicate that people who are critics of your policy in Iraq are in some ways trying to appease terrorists. Do you know of any Democrats, that in your opinion, are trying to or would like to appease terrorists?"

George W. Bush: "I know Democrats who want to leave Iraq before the job is done and that would be a terrible mistake."

Lauer: "But those Democrats don't see the war in Iraq as inseparable from the overall war on terror."

Bush: "You can justify what they say I'm just telling you that if this country leaves Iraq before the job is done, if we abandon those 15 million people who said we want to live freely we will have given the enemy a tremendous victory. I never questioned anybody's patriotism but I do question their judgment if they say, 'Let's have a timetable for withdrawal,' or 'Let's get out.' Now there are some who believe we shouldn't have been there in the first place and that's fine, I understand that but my job is to make sure people understand the stakes, Matt. I understand it's politics but this war is too important to let politics get in the way."

Lauer: "But if you agree with their premise, for a second, and you're loath to do this, that the war in Iraq and the war on terror, the overall war on terror are separate..."

Bush: "I don't agree with that premise."

Lauer: "I'm just saying, I know you're loath to do that but if you look..."

Bush: "I'm not loath to do it, I just don't do it because it's not true."

Lauer: "If you look at it from their point of view, though, the people who don't think they're the same thing do you know any Democrats who want to cut funding from the war on terror?"

Bush: "I know people who want to cut funding for Iraq and that in itself will weaken our capacity to win the war on terror in my judgment. And that's the debate. Now look, I understand people saying, 'Well Saddam Hussein didn't order the attacks on America. I understand that but one of the lessons of 9/11 is that we have got to deal with threats before they come to hurt us. All of us saw a threat in Saddam Hussein. Not everybody but a lot of people including, including the United Nations Security Council, Matt. And the threat was this. He was a state sponsor of terror, he had used weapons of mass destruction, he had the capacity to make weapons of mass destruction, he had attacked his neighbors. He killed thousands of his people. He was a threat. He was given the choice and he chose not to and so we enforce the demands of the world. And now the question..."

Lauer: "Put some of those same standards though..."

Bush: "Now the question is will we have the will to succeed in Iraq, now that Saddam's gone?"

Lauer: "Put some of those same standards onto Iran, then."

Bush: "Sure I'd love to."

Lauer: "President Ahmadinejad, how is he different from Saddam? Saddam Hussein, you say, was trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction, the United States believes that Iran is trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein sponsored suicide bombers in Israel. We know that Iran has an army, Hezbollah to..."

Bush: "You mean it, they might, he might, Iran might have been part of an Axis of Evil?"

Lauer: "Okay, exactly."

Bush: "And so therefore they're, they're both threats..."

Lauer: "Okay but why are we talking diplomacy with Iran and why did we attack Iraq?"

Bush: "No let me, that's a good question. Not every threat as you deal with militarily. As a matter of fact military option is the last option for a president. There's a difference between 17 UN res-, or 16 or however many UN resolutions that there were in Iraq and we're just beginning the diplomatic process here. I certainly hope we never have to use our military again. On the other hand if diplomacy fails the United States is, you know, have to leave all options on the table. I'm confident diplomacy can work particularly if the Europeans and Russia and China continue to send a clear message to the Iranians."

Lauer: "I said the Iranians want to acquire weapons of mass destruction, which is really repeating what your administration has said and given the, the sensitivity..."

Bush: "Yeah we believe that."

Lauer: "...to the accuracy of intelligence, especially after Iraq, do you have a smoking gun? Do you have a firm piece of evidence that proves to you and could prove to the American people that the Iranians, indeed, are enriching uranium for weapons purposes, not for peaceful purposes?"

Bush: "Well I think the most compelling evidence was that which is found by the IAEA, which is international inspection body that there was evidence of an enrichment program going on outside the protocol that the Iranians agreed to."

Lauer: "And so you think that..."

Bush: "So we're worried about the, they'll be developing a bomb and it's very important for the world to take this threat very seriously and we are."

Lauer: "President George W. Bush."

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.