Tony Snow ‘Defensive’ On Iraq Anniversary, Tells CNN’s Ed Henry To ‘Zip It’

President Bush will address the fourth anniversary of the Iraq invasion in a speech today at the White House.

During this morning’s press gaggle, Tony Snow told reporters that Bush will use the speech to attack the House plan for Iraq as a “recipe for defeat” that would “provide a victory for the enemy.”

CNN’s Ed Henry told Snow that since he was attacking the House plan, he should explain the Bush administration’s “recipe for success.” According to Henry, Snow “tried to turn it around on me,” asking Henry what his recipe for success was. When Henry objected to Snow’s question, Snow told him to “zip it.” Watch it:


Henry reported, “Snow later apologized. He said he felt that was inappropriate for him to say that to me. But I point it out because I think it shows the White House a little bit on the defensive this morning about this anniversary.”

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CNN: But right now let’s go live to White House correspondent Ed Henry. Ed, for much of the morning, there didn’t seem to be anything planned for the President to speak about this anniversary and then something changed.

HENRY: That’s right, Tony. The President’s schedule basically blank heading into this morning, in terms of — basically not marking this fourth anniversary of the invasion of Baghdad. That changed mid-morning when we found out the President was having a National Security Council meeting privately in the White House to get an update on the situation on the ground. And then this hour right now as we speak the President behind closed doors, a secure video conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki, again, trying to assess the situation on the ground. Then the President will go public, 11:30 Eastern time, that’ll be live from the Roosevelt Room here at the White House. What is he expected to say?

White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters off camera a short time ago the President will be talking about the sacrifice of U.S. servicemen and women, more than 3,200 of whom who have died, but also that the President will talk about what the White House is terming a recipe for defeat, the Democratic effort on Capitol Hill to attach restrictions to some of that funding for the war in Iraq, basically calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, at least the beginning of that withdrawal. Tony Snow calling it — he said it would “provide victory for the enemy.” When I pressed Tony Snow, and since he’s calling flatly the Democratic plan a recipe for defeat, I asked him, four years later, what is the recipe for success? Tony Snow tried to turn it around on me in this off-camera briefing. He said, well what’s your recipe for success? How do you define it?

And when I pointed out to him that that was inappropriate for me to answer that — it’s not up for me about what the recipe for success is, what is the President’s recipe for success? — Tony felt I was interrupting him and said, “Zip it.” He later apologized. He said he felt that was inappropriate for him to say that to me. But I point it out because I think it shows the White House a little bit on the defensive this morning about this anniversary. When he finally got around to his answer, Tony Snow was saying, well, we hope obviously four years later to start turning this situation over to Iraqi forces on the ground, but he admitted, “You don’t know how things will play out.”

Well, we’ve heard that for four years now. Every time that there’s been progress, there have also been setbacks and there has also been talk about turning this over to the Iraqi army and it still has not quite happened. So, obviously, a lot of the predictions at the beginning of this war — about the length of the war, about the cost of the war, both in human sacrifice but also financial sacrifice for the American taxpayer — underestimated by this White House at the beginning of the war, Tony.

CNN: Ed, if it weren’t such a solemn day we could do about five minutes on that whole zip it exchange, but because of the the anniversary, we will let it go at that.