No casualties? White House disputes Robertson comment
'The president never made such a comment'
October 21, 2004
EAU CLAIRE, Wisconsin (CNN) -- A White House spokesman denied Wednesday that President Bush told Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson that he did not expect casualties from the invasion of Iraq. "The president never made such a comment," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.
Senior Bush campaign adviser Karen Hughes, a longtime confidant of
the president, said she was "certain" Bush would not have said
anything like that to Robertson.
More than 1,100 American troops have been killed in Iraq since the
invasion, most of them battling an insurgency that followed the
overthrow of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Sen. John Kerry, Bush's Democratic challenger, quickly seized on
"We believe President Bush should get the benefit of the doubt
here," Kerry spokesman Mike McCurry said in a news release.
"But he needs to come forward and answer a very simple question: Is
Pat Robertson telling the truth when he said you didn't think
there'd be any casualties, or is Pat Robertson lying?"
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Robertson restated his
"100 percent" support for Bush's re-election and said he began and
ended his CNN interview "with my warm endorsement and praise of
President Bush." But he did not back away from his comments.
"You remember Mark Twain said, 'He looks like a contented Christian with four aces.' I mean he was just sitting there like, 'I'm on top of the world,' " Robertson said on CNN's "Paula Zahn Now." "And I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, 'Mr. President, you had better prepare the American people for casualties.' " He said that's when the president told him he did not expect casualties from the invasion.
In the interview, Robertson also said he wishes Bush would admit to mistakes made. "I mean, the Lord told me it was going to be A, a disaster, and B, messy," Robertson said. "I warned him about casualties." Asked why he thought Bush has refused to admit to mistakes on Iraq, Robertson said, "I don't know this politics game. You know, you can never say you were wrong because the opposition grabs onto it: 'See, he admitted he screwed up.' "
Even as Robertson criticized Bush for downplaying the potential dangers of the Iraq war, he heaped praise on Bush, saying he believes the president will win the election. "Even if he stumbles and messes up -- and he's had his share of stumbles and gaffes -- I just think God's blessing is on him," Robertson said.
CNN's John King contributed to this report.
© 2004 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
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