The president said his goal was to “speak with one voice” against Saddam Hussein, however he did not offer an apology for earlier comments that sparked a round of finger-pointing as both the administration officials and congressional Democrats accused each other of politicizing the debate over national security.
“We are engaged in a deliberate and civil and thorough discussion. We are moving toward a strong resolution. All of us, and many others in Congress, are united in our determination to confront an urgent threat to America,” Mr. Bush said in a Rose Garden press appearance.
Earlier Thursday, House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) called on the administration to “take security out of politics,” telling reporters that partisan accusations have complicated efforts to find consensus on homeland security and Iraq.
On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) criticized President Bush for comments Daschle said questioned the Democrats’ commitment to national security and suggested the election of Republicans in mid-term elections could bolster the war effort.
During a fund-raiser for Republican Senate candidate Doug Forrester in Trenton, N.J. this week, President Bush said Democrats in the Senate were “more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people.”
Daschle responded by accusing the president of politicizing the discussion of the war on terror and possible military intervention in Iraq and said the president should apologize to “every veteran who fought in every war who is a Democrat in the United States Senate” and to the American people.
In a NewsHour interview, presidential adviser Condoleezza Rice said Mr. Bush’s comments were taken out of context.
“If you actually read those comments, the president said that some senators had had a tendency to put special interests ahead of national security and he went on to praise Democrats and Republicans who were pulling together on the security issues that face the American people,” she said.