President Bush says Tuesday's elections were a series of close races when considered individually. Together, he said, they were "a thumpin'." He explained: "That's a polite way of saying -- well, anyway, go ahead."
Asked whether the election results would cause him to rethink his "managing style," Bush said he really hadn't thought much about it. He said he was surprised by the election results -- surprised that what he considers "good news for the economy" was "overwhelmed by the toughness of the fight, the toughness of the war."
At the same time, Bush tried to downplay the message voters sent about Iraq. He pointed to problems in local races, including the one for Tom DeLay's old seat in Texas, where Republicans had to run a write-in candidate. "Look, I had to go down to Sugar Land and act as the secretary of state: 'Take your pencil into the box and write it in.'"
Although Bush and others in his administration argued repeatedly during the campaign that Democrats simply wanted to "cut and run" from Iraq, he said today that he's not sure how many candidates were really calling for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. And although Vice President Dick Cheney and others argued that a Democratic victory in the midterm elections would send the wrong message to terrorists, Bush said today that no one who seeks to harm the United States should take any comfort from what happened Tuesday.
Speaking of Cheney, a reporter asked Bush if he would be dumping the vice president, whom he'd praised in the same breath he'd praised Donald Rumsfeld less than a week ago. Bush said no. Another reporter asked the president about a book-reading contest he's having with Karl Rove. "I'm losing," he said. "Obviously, I was working harder on the campaign than he was."