Bush Denies He Wanted to Endorse Obama

Financial Times claims president said he wouldn't vote for McCain in 08

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President Bush said he probably wouldn't vote for John McCain--and would have endorsed Obama--during the frenzy of the 2008 presidential campaign, the Financial Times' Alex Barker reports. Bush's spokesman called the story "ridiculous," but, given the animosity between Bush and McCain, some say the anecdote is believable.

"The venue was the Oval Office. A group of British dignitaries, including Gordon Brown, were paying a visit," Barker writes. The Brits offered some diplomatic words for McCain, but Bush didn't share the sentiment. "'I probably won’t even vote for the guy,' Bush told the group, according to two people present. 'I had to endorse him. But I’d have endorsed Obama if they’d asked me.'" Then the Brits got flustered and mentioned the weather.

  • Never Happened, Politico's Andy Barr reports the Bush crew maintains. Spokesman David Sherzer tells Barr that “This is ridiculous and untrue... President Bush proudly supported John McCain in the election and voted for him.” Bush's new book is critical of McCain, and not Obama, but the former president never says how he voted.
  • It Was McCain Who Had Beef with Bush, not vice versa, Ed Morrissey writes at Hot Air. Barker "manages to get the antagonism between the two men correct in his reference to the 2000 primary in South Carolina that got infamously nasty and personal. But it wasn’t Bush that got angry with McCain — it was McCain who got angry with Bush, enough to play a little footsie with John Kerry in 2004 before endorsing and campaigning for Bush in his successful re-election campaign.  McCain also backed Bush on Iraq and especially the surge strategy in 2007 and 2008... 'Ridiculous' is the right word for it; 'absurd' is perhaps a bit better."
  • And Obama Demonized Bush Pirate's Cove William Teach says. "Who are you going to believe, a guy who sat on what would have been a HUGE story during the 2008 Silly Season, or Bush, who knows what he said better? I’m going with Bush. He may have been a Big Government Social Conservative... but, there was no possible way he would have endorsed Obama, who was continuously slamming and slurring him all during the campaign, and certainly Bush could have seen what a disaster an Obama presidency would have been."
  • Dems in Uncomfortable Position of Agreeing with Bush, The War Room's Steve Kornacki observes. "Whatever his intent, it seems clear that McCain still very much irks Bush. After all, Bush took pains in his memoir not to criticize Barack Obama, but he couldn't resist taking a few swipes at his old GOP foe. Oddly enough, this means that there's now some common ground between Bush and many Democrats, who have come to view McCain as a spiteful, unprincipled and bitter old man. It's a development that would have been unfathomable 10 years ago, at the height of the Bush-McCain war, when McCain emerged as every Democrat's favorite Republican. ... Bush's low opinion of him used to make McCain attractive to Democrats. Now, though, they'd probably admit that it's one of the few judgment calls that Bush actually got right."
  • Maybe British People Don't Get American Jokes, Dan Amira writes at Daily Intel. "Now, Bush not voting for McCain and giving him a forced endorsement, sure, we can buy that. ... Bush laments that McCain kept his distance in the 2008 campaign. He also writes that McCain was unimpressive in their meeting during the financial crisis. But endorsing Obama? Come on. That never would have happened, ever, even if Bush secretly wished it could have, which is somewhat more plausible." Amira continues, "Maybe the Brits, with their unique comedic sensibilities, just didn't grasp that Bush was joking. Or, maybe this story has been exaggerated over time. British cocktail-party gossip isn't exactly the most reliable source in the world."
  • Reverse Psychology, The National Review's Jim Geraghty posits. Bush's endorsement of Obama could "have been a brilliant, reverse-psychology strategy to ruin Obama’s credibility with his base? 'Strategery'?"
  • Just Like the Good Ol' Days, Gawker's Jim Newell notes. "Welcome back to the 24-hour news cycle, George W. Bush."
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