David Gregory Portrays Bush As Out Of Touch, NYT Highlights Voter Repudiation

During President Bush’s news conference Wednesday afternoon, New York Times writer Jim Rutenberg phrased his question to President Bush in terms utilized on the Times editorial page on Wednesday repudiating President Bush’s leadership. Earlier, David Gregory portrayed President Bush as out of touch with Americans and inquired as to whether now that the voters have spoken, is he "listening to the voters or the vice president."

During the press conference Jim Rutenberg questioned:

"But the results are being interpreted as a repudiation of your leadership style in some quarters. I wonder what your reaction is to that, and should we expect a very different White House? Should we expect a very different leadership style from you in these last two years given that you have a whole new set of partners."

However, Rutenberg neglected to mention that when he says "some quarters," he is obviously referring to his own newspaper, the New York Times, editorial page. The first sentence in the Times’ lead editorial read:

"There was only one explanation for the crazy-quilt combination of victories around the country that gave the Democrats control of the House of Representatives last night: an angry shout of repudiation of the Bush White House and the abysmal way the Republican majority has run Congress."

Earlier, NBC’s David Gregory had his opportunity to probe the President on the issue of Iraq. He wondered if President Bush understood the message voters had sent and whether he would listen to the desires of voters or continue to rely on the counsel of Vice President Cheney:

"Mr. President, thank you, you acknowledge that this is a message election on the war in Iraq. And, so the American public today, having voted, will want to know what you mean in terms of course correction on Iraq. And particularly in light of this fact, that last week the vice president pointed out that you and he aren't running for anything any more and that it's quote 'full speed ahead on Iraq.' So which is it? Are you listening to the voters or are you listening to the vice president and what does that mean?"

President Bush, in his reply, assured the American people that adjustments are being made. But moreover, if the only picture voters have of Iraq is what they see on television, it is no wonder the electorate is disheartened.

Transcripts of the exchanges with David Gregory and Jim Rutenberg follow:

David Gregory: "Mr. President, thank you, you acknowledge that this is a message election on the war in Iraq. And, so the American public today, having voted, will want to know what you mean in terms of course correction on Iraq. And particularly in light of this fact, that last week the vice president pointed out that you and he aren't running for anything any more and that it's quote 'full speed ahead on Iraq.' So which is it? Are you listening to the voters or are you listening to the vice president and what does that mean?"

George W. Bush, President of the United States: "David, I -- I believe Iraq had a lot to do with the election. But I believe there's other factors as well. People want their congressmen to be honest and ethical. So some races, that was the primary factor. There were different factors that determined the outcome of different races. But no question, Iraq was on people's minds. And as you have just learned, I am making a change at the Secretary of Defense to bring a fresh perspective as to how to achieve something, I think most americans want, which is a victory. We will work with members of Congress. We will work with the Baker-Hamilton Commission. My point is, is that while we have been adjusting, we will continue to adjust, to achieve the objective. And I believe that's what the American people want. Somehow it seeped in their conscious that, you know, my attitude was just simply 'stay the course.' Stay the course means let's get the job done, but it doesn't mean, you know, staying stuck on a strategy or tactics that may not be working. So perhaps I need to do a better job of explaining that we're constantly adjusting. And so this fresh perspective, what the American people hear today is we're constantly looking for fresh perspective. But what is also important for the American people to understand is that if we were to leave before the job is done, the country becomes more at risk. The vice president saying, he said -- -- complete, al Qaeda will have safe haven from which to launch attacks. These radicals and extremists have made it clear they want to topple moderate governments to spread their ideology. They believe that it's just a matter of time before we leave so they can implement their strategies. We're just not going to let them do that. We're going to help this government become a government that can defend, govern, and sustain itself. And an ally in the War on Terror."

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Jim Rutenberg: "Thank you, Mr. President. You just described the election results as a thumping."

George W. Bush: "Said the cumulative effect-- make sure-- who do you write for?"

Jim Rutenberg: "'The New York Times' Mr. President."

George W. Bush: "Oh yeah, that's right. Let's make sure we get it, the facts. I said that the elections were close. The cumulative effect--"

Jim Rutenberg: "Is a thumping." (Laughter)

George W. Bush: "Thumping."

Jim Rutenberg: "But the results have been interpreted --"

George W. Bush: "It is a polite way of saying, you know -- anyway, go ahead" (laughter)

Jim Rutenberg: "But the results are being interpreted as a repudiation of your leadership style in some quarters. I wonder what your reaction is to that, and should we expect a very different White House? Should we expect a very different leadership style from you in these last two years given that you have a whole new set of partners?"

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