Days before the election, President Bush told reporters that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney would “remain with him until the end of his presidency, extending a job guarantee to two of the most-vilified members of his administration.”
The day after the election, Bush announced that Rumsfeld was being replaced. Bush admitted that he had talked to Rumsfeld about resigning and was actively searching for his replacement when he promised Rumsfeld would stay on.
Yesterday, NBC’s David Gregory acknowledged that Bush “deliberately misled those reporters.” Russert asked whether that “hurt his credibility with you and the press corps.” Gregory expressed doubt, saying that Bush “laid out his case for why he did it…so I think people see it different ways.” Watch it:
Full transcript below:
MR. GREGORY: Right, well, he deliberately misled those reporters, and he said he did it because he didn’t want to inject politics in the campaign. You have to wonder why — how he could — was there a way to, to get around that question in some fashion so he didn’t have to give that ammunition to people who thought the policy was a failure. And that’s what he did right at the end.
Look, Republicans were worried that the president was talking about the war at all within the last couple weeks of the campaign. He’s saying that he was frustrated, that, you know, that we have to adapt. A lot of people thought, A, that that was too late to realize that, and B, he shouldn’t have been injecting that in the last couple of weeks.
MR. RUSSERT: Does that hurt his credibility with you and the press corps?
MR. GREGORY: Well, I — look, you know, you like to get a straight answer out of the president. He laid out his case for, for why he did it, and there’s no question that would’ve injected politics. So I think people see it different ways.