Bush: Obama's High Profile Is No 'Intrusion'
By Dan Eggen
President Bush says Barack Obama is not overstepping any boundaries by assuming a high profile before taking office, and the current president vowed to continue briefing his successor about major economic and national-security developments over the next seven weeks.
"I don't feel any intrusion whatsoever, because he knows what I know," Bush said in an interview with ABC News conducted late last week at Camp David. "Our administration still will be making the decisions necessary until he becomes the president."
Bush added that the transition to an Obama presidency comes at a "unique period" in U.S. history with two ongoing wars and a global financial crisis. "The more we can work together, the better our country will be," Bush said.
The interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson came at the end of a remarkable week in which Obama held three Chicago news conferences in as many days to discuss his economic plans and make early staffing announcements. Obama held another news conference this morning announcing his nomination of an eclectic national-security team, including Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) as secretary of state and Bush's defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, to continue as Pentagon chief.
The interview also included some notable admissions of error by a president who was once unable to supply an answer when asked about his biggest mistake at a news conference. Bush told Gibson he was "unprepared" for war and said faulty intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq marked the "biggest regret" of his presidency.
"I think I was unprepared for war," Bush said. "In other words, I didn't campaign and say, 'Please vote for me, I'll be able to handle an attack.' In other words, I didn't anticipate war. Presidents -- one of the things about the modern presidency is that the unexpected will happen."
Bush sidestepped a question from Gibson about whether Obama's strong election victory marked a personal repudiation. "I think it was a repudiation of Republicans," he said. "And I'm sure some people voted for Barack Obama because of me. I think most people voted for Barack Obama because they decided they wanted him to be in their living room for the next four years explaining policy."
But Bush also dismissed a suggestion that Obama staffers could be allowed to work alongside current administration officials prior to the Jan. 20 inauguration. "I don't think so, and I don't think he would want that," Bush said of Obama. "I think he's going to want to be able to come in fresh. On the other hand, he does want, and I think his team will want, to be fully briefed on any further difficulties until he's sworn in."
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