Gillespie Says 'Appeaser' Speech Not Aimed at Obama
By Dan Eggen
Presidential counselor Ed Gillespie said today that President Bush's remarks yesterday in Jerusalem about "appeasement" were not intended as a reference to Barack Obama and suggested that White House aides were surprised by the Democratic reaction.
"We did not anticipate that it would be taken that way, because it's kind of hard to take it that way if you look at the actual words of the president's remarks," Gillespie told reporters aboard Air Force One today as it traveled from Israel to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
He said White House aides did anticipate that some observers might interpret the remarks as "a rebuke" of former president Jimmy Carter, who recently met with Hamas. But Gillespie said the comments were not meant to single out Carter, either.
Bush's remarks were "consistent with what he has said in the past relative to dealing with groups like Hezbollah and Hamas and al-Qaeda, relative to standing by Israel, relative to concerns about Iran developing the prospect of a nuclear weapon," Gillespie said.
He dismissed criticism from Democrats such as Senate Majority Harry Reid (Nev.), who called the remarks "reckless and irresponsible," or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who said Bush had acted "beneath the dignity of the office of president."
"We're happily not in a campaign and out of the political arena," Gillespie said. "...I don't know what sentence they could point to that they would say is reckless or outrageous. The fact is that if you look at the words, they're pretty consistent with what the president has said in the past, and frankly consistent with what many of them have said."
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