Bush: Rumsfeld, Cheney should stay

Updated: 2006-11-02 08:48

Responding to Bush, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said, "With all due respect, the president just doesn't get it. We need a change in the Iraq strategy, but with Rumsfeld running the show we'll never get it."

Bush opened the interview by saying he was pleased that North Korea was returning to stalled nuclear talks. Although North Korea has a history of walking away from negotiations, Bush did not express doubts about the intentions of Kim Jong Il, North Korea's leader.

"It's his choice," Bush said. "I would hope he is sincere." He said that any deal with North Korea would have to be verifiable.

The president said he did not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state, even though it tested an atomic bomb three weeks ago. "Our objective is to see they're not a nuclear weapons state," the president said.

Bush said Robert Joseph, US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, and R. Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, will travel through the region to talk with allies about how to make progress.

"We're going to talk about making sure that the sanctions passed by the United Nations are effective," the president said. "Implementation of the sanctions will be on the table."

As for Iraq, the president expressed confidence in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki despite apparent strains between Washington and Baghdad.

"I appreciate he's making hard decisions that he thinks are necessary to keep his country united and moving forward," Bush said. "I didn't find many differences of opinion when I talked to him. We both want Iraq to be able to govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself. We both want there to be benchmarks - Iraqi developed and designed benchmarks - that show the Iraqi people and the American people that this young democracy is making progress."

Bush said that "there's no question that October was a tough month. We lost 103 soldiers. It was a tough month because we were on the offense, the enemy was on the offense - the enemy was trying to affect us. And it was a tough month because of Ramadan. ... Our troops and Iraqi troops killed or captured over 1,500 people during this period of time."

Bush refused to comment on Cheney's assertion that a "dunk in water" of terrorist suspects was a "no-brainer" if it would save American lives. "We don't discuss the techniques we use," Bush said.

On other questions, Bush said:

- He will send Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to Capitol Hill after the election to determine what can be achieved in the way of overhauling Social Security and Medicare.

- He understands the anxieties of some Republicans who have distanced themselves from his Iraq policies. "People will run the race they need to run," he said. Bush said Democrats "don't have a plan for victory."

- "It's hard for me to tell" if US troops will still be in Iraq when he leaves office in January 2009.


Top World News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours