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The bloggers have been assisted by the RNC to bring newsmakers by Bloggers Corner in order to answer questions, and earlier in the day we spoke with former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer. The bloggers here have defaulted to an understanding that the guests which all of us want to interview participate in a blogger press conference, where we all toss out questions and we transcribe the answers. This is why you're not seeing ID on the questions; at CQ, I'm treating everyone (including myself) as a generic interviewer. You can hear the audio of these interviews on Blogs For Bush, as Matt Margolis posts them.
Q: Is it a relief to be out of the spokesman job?
A: There are times I miss it. Times like this, when you get the big moments like when the president went to Baghdad, I would have really loved to go to that. But by and large, I'm really happy just raising a family and making my choice in the private sector. Working in the White House is the most wonderful job you can imagine, but it also wears you out.
Q: Can you give us what you see in the difference between how the press is handling John Kerry's Viet Nam narrative, as opposed to the Bush AWOL that buried us in the early spring and late winter?
A: Well ... I think that the press likes nothing more than a big controversy, and I think that some things are inherently more controversial when they affect Republicans than when they affect Democrats. Having said that, the press was very tough on Bill Clinton on a different public issue. They can be tough on both parties, no dount about it, but I think there are some differences that have emerged.
Q: Are you back in the saddle again? Are you here to help out the campaign?
A: I'm here because I believe in President Bush. I'm here in no formal capacity, and I'm proud to be here.
Q: What are you doing now?
A: I'm writing a book, which will come out early next year, about the White House, the press, and my time in Washington, called Taking Heat. [Laughter] And, you know, I work with a couple of clients on public-relations issues and making speeches.
Q: What's President Bush like to work for?
A: I thought President Bush was the most uplifting, warm boss that you can ever imagine having. His pat on the back is as hard as his kick in the butt. You don't ever want to let him down, because he treats his staff so well, he is so good to be around. He has the greatest sense of humor, good nature, and when you're the President, you really want to work hard on someone's behalf because there's nothing more important. He's a wonderful man who works well.
I think that's why you see such longetivity among his top staff, which is unusual for the White House staff to work as long as they have. [unintelligible] You don't find that in a modern presidency any more. Karl Rove, Jan Bartlett, Scott McClelland, Judge Gonzalez, Harriet Myers, Josh Bolton. You don't find this much anymore in a presidency. It's a tribute to the person at the top. It doesn't matter what party you are, it's human nature. He's a wonderful boss and a wonderful man.
Q: I see three options for the Swiftboat Vet controversy.
Q: One, to come out and say something mildly positive about them. Obviously, they don't want to put any [unintelligible]. Two, to stay with the current dodge, you know, we deplore all 527s. Everyone knows what that really means ... Three, agree with McCain.
A: I thing Scott's been saying it exactly right. Scott and the President have been saying the same thing. The President condemns all these kind of ads. You can look "all" up in the book. It's all-inclusive.
Q: Well, people are saying they're untrue, not just that they're 527s. When you condemn all 527 ads, people say "liars" or worse. Is there a difference, or --
A: Well, you know how many ads attacked the President. I don't know about the 2004 election, but in the 2000 election they had a lot of things that crossed the line. And I don't remember a lot of outrage about that.
Q: How do you think the President's been handling himself on this campaign?
A: I think great. The main job is still to lead the country as the President, and part of that obviously is to get a feel for the voters. They want to re-elect him, that's what he's doing. Things start to feel good, now that there's a little momentum coming into the convention.
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