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Excerpts from Bush interview

Today's New York Times has excerpts from an interview with President Bush. In it, he admits that Kerry did not lie about his war record, admits the administration miscalculated what would happen in Iraq, and — finally — that he made at least one mistake in his first term [via]. What follows is three excerpts from the excerpts.

On Senator Kerry's war record:

Ms. Bumiller: Do you think Senator Kerry lied about his war record?

THE PRESIDENT: I think Senator Kerry should be proud of his record.

Ms. Bumiller: But do you think he lied?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I don't think he lied, and I think that he ought to be proud of his record.

On Iraq:

Mr. Sanger: If you knew at the time the war started that you would be facing 17 months of an insurgency, would you have gone in with the same occupation plan, or do you think you would have committed either more troops or you would have gone after Mr. Sadr more vigorously and earlier?

THE PRESIDENT: We planned for a series of events, some of which happened and some of which didn't happen. And it turns out that as a result of a quick, substantial victory, we faced conditions on the ground that were different than we assumed initially. And that is, we thought that the Baathists would stand and fight and much of the Saddam army would be ready to engage. And instead, because we moved so quickly into the country, they dissipated and spread out into the countryside, and now we're having to face them again. And I think that � that was not a part of our initial calculation; in other words, we thought that they would be more decimated early....

Mr. Sanger: So this� the mistake is specifically what?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it's a � it's a miscalculation of the � what the conditions would be like after a swift victory, because we never dreamt it would be that swift.

On mistakes made in his first term:

Ms. Bumiller: At your last big press conference, you said that you couldn't think of any mistakes you had made. It's been about three or four months. Can you think of any now? It's been a long time.

THE PRESIDENT: You mean other than having this interview?

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