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Ex-Bush aide: Critics rooting for war failure

McLEAN, Va. – Congressional critics of President Bush’s Iraq policy “seem to be rooting for failure,” former White House chief of staff Andrew Card said Tuesday.

In an interview, Card said lawmakers’ efforts to order withdrawal timelines and threats to cut funding go beyond the scope of their duties.

He blamed critics in both parties for putting a negative slant on the war.

“We should be rooting for success,” Card said. “I’m very upset that I see many of his critics, who are partisans, Republicans or Democrats, who seem to be rooting for failure. You know, they don’t like his plan, therefore they want it to fail.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he would try to eliminate money for the war if Bush rejects Congress’ proposal to set a deadline to end combat.

Besides Reid, Card said, “there are several of them who are getting in the way of the president’s plans being implemented.”

“Their job is to fund it, provide policy guidance through laws, but they’re not supposed to be the tacticians,” Card said. “I find that far too many members of Congress are trying to be tacticians.”

Card rejected talk that Bush is too secluded as a leader and rarely hears opposing viewpoints.

“It is unfair, during my experience with the president, to tag him as being in a bubble or isolated,” Card said. “And he certainly did not receive monolithic counsel and advice during my tenure as chief of staff.”

Card was responding to former Bush pollster and strategist Matthew Dowd’s criticism in Sunday’s New York Times that Bush’s “my way or the highway” leadership style and his like-minded inner circle have made him more “secluded and bubbled in” as president.

“I don’t see him as Matthew Dowd described him,” Card said. “I think there is a myth around the president that allows that definition to have more traction than it should. But I think it’s a myth. It’s not the George Bush that I know.”

Card, who was chief of staff from January 2001 through April 2006, said Bush was eager to hear divergent views before he made a decision.

“There was always a healthy debate,” Card said. “The president encouraged a healthy debate. In fact, he used to tell us regularly, ‘If you present me one option, you’re presenting me with a decision. And I want several options, so that I can make a decision.’ ”

Card downplayed prospects he would run for office in his home state, Massachusetts. Some Republicans want him to challenge Sen. John Kerry, who is up for re-election in 2008.

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