Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bush says rarely talks policy with dad

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
President George W. Bush facing growing public discontent over the Iraq war, admitted on Monday his parents are worried about him but insisted he rarely talks policy with his father.

Bush acknowledged, however, he did consult with the 41st president before nominating Robert Gates, CIA director under his father, to replace Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary. But he said the elder Bush had no advance knowledge of the appointment.

In a rare glimpse of his relationship with the former president after recent signs of possible strains between the two men, Bush said he calls his parents every two weeks.

"I love to talk to my dad about things between a father and a son, not policy," he said.

"Washington can be a tough town at times and there is nothing better than hearing a loving voice on the end of the phone call occasionally and so I check in with Mother and Dad," Bush said.

"Of course, they're worried about their son ... they're paying too much attention to the newspapers, I guess."

His comments follow the release of a book, "State of Denial," by journalist Bob Woodward, that said the 82-year-old George H.W. Bush was "anguished" over how the Iraq war had played out, although he quickly dismissed that account.

Bush gently admonished his father before the November 7 midterm elections for saying he hated to think what life would be like for his son if the Democrats won control of Congress. Bush's Republicans lost their majorities in both houses.

Asked whether he consults constantly with his father, Bush said: "No ... He understands what I know, that the level of information I have relative to the level of information most other people have, including himself, is significant and that he trusts me to make decisions."

Despite that, Bush has reached back to his father's administration for advice on a possible course shift in Iraq.

Besides nominating Gates, he is awaiting recommendations on Wednesday from a bipartisan panel co-chaired by James Baker, his father's former secretary of state.

Asked to comment on widespread view that his father's influence was coming to bear on his administration, Bush insisted: "I am the commander-in-chief."


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