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Sunday Morning News
How Is President Bush Faring After One Month in Office?Aired February 25, 2001 - 9:23 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: President Bush has completed his first month in office, plus a few days. He's been on a trip to Mexico, authorized a bombing in Iraq and had a diplomatic crisis. So, how is he doing?
Well, we've got two people who keep their fingers on the pulse of the nation to help us out today. Armstrong Williams hosts a syndicated radio talk show from Washington. He also is a widely published columnist. Nancy Skinner is a talk show host in Chicago. She's worked in corporate finance and economic development and continues her work as an environmental consultant.
Hello to you two.
NANCY SKINNER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Good morning, Kyra.
ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Good morning.
PHILLIPS: This is you favorite subject, isn't it guys?
PHILLIPS: Well, why don't we begin with Mexico? All right, he seems pretty confident with President Vicente Fox. What do you think, Nancy?
SKINNER: Yes, he's starting with what he knows best, obviously, Mexico, Kyra, although he was asked about Africa and he said one country at a time. I want to go to Mexico first. So, apparently he thinks that Africa is a country, as opposed to a continent.
But, he's starting with what he's comfortable with and hopefully he'll expand. I'm more concerned about what he did in Iraq, actually, because I was in Israel when they started bombing in Iraq and I don't think the timing was very good on that at all. It's a tinderbox over there. I'm not quite sure that helped.
WILLIAMS: Well, obviously President Bush has reached out to the president of Mexico, and talked about how they can help each other, particularly given the situation in Mexico in the area of the rich versus the poor and the high unemployment there and also the issues of NAFTA that is always debated. Let us not forget that he did meet with Prime Minister John Major recently, prime minister of Britain, and they talked...
SKINNER: You mean Tony Blair?
WILLIAMS: Tony Blair, right.
SKINNER: Bush has the same problem. He doesn't know world leaders, Armstrong. It's OK. It's the new model.
WILLIAMS: Hey look, I'm still in the conservative era of Reagan. But anyway, he met with Tony Blair because, you know, they were together in bombing Iraq because they realized that Saddam Hussein is still building weapons of mass destruction and they talked about how they want to send him a message early on that it would not be tolerated, especially given the fact that he's continuously ignored the no-fly zone.
In terms of -- I think it's a little unfair for Nancy to try to make something out of what President Bush said about Africa. I mean, Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State General Colin Powell has made it clear that Africa will become a priority and that Mr. Bush will (UNINTELLIGIBLE) not just through rhetoric and symbolism, but through real substantive programs and money to that continent.
PHILLIPS: What do you think, Nancy? Substantive programs?
SKINNER: Well, in terms of Africa, I think during the debates one time he was asked about it and his statement was we're going to deal with what's in our national interests, and I don't think that President Bush perceives Africa to be in our national interests.
He went straight to Iraq, to the Middle East, and as I said, I was there for nine days looking at the whole Middle East situation, and it was a very unstable time for those bombing attacks to begin. I mean, a tinderbox. The negotiations have broken down. Violence is escalating.
The last thing you really want to do is throw a match in the region, and that's really what he did and it wasn't a very effective match, I must say, because some of the bombing -- now we have found out that it wasn't effective in taking out some of these sites that needed to be taken out. So now we have a bigger problem on out hands.
PHILLIPS: All right, well -- go ahead.
WILLIAMS: I don't necessarily agree with that. I do think that the bombing in Iraq was inconsequential, but I do think it sends Saddam Hussein a message that do not take us lightly, we're serious. You cannot continue to build these nuclear weapons as you've done over the last several years and the United States is serving notice to you, and I think it's necessary given how unstable the Middle East is. Only time will tell whether or not Mr. Bush's actions will be a plus or minus for him in the months and years to come.
PHILLIPS: All right, let's talk about his first White House new conference. Did he come out on fire, bold, what did you guys think? All right, Nancy's laughing. Go ahead, Nancy.
SKINNER: Well, you know, what I didn't realize is that we were so concerned about cocoa leaves and that we have a war on Ovaltine. I was thinking it had to do with cocaine but I was wrong.
No, you know what, his press conference, he had to do it because there were some articles came out and they questioned whether he really has the depth and a firm grasp on these details. He came out and muddled his way through with Card, but the problem for me about his press conference is that here we are, and we're talking about a president and his grammar.
I mean, who would ever have thought that that would be an issue for the president of the United States, whether he can speak. I mean, that says something in and of itself.
WILLIAMS: Here's the problem, we have been so accustomed to slickness and shrewd language and manipulative language for the last eight years, so when we get someone in the White House who's sincere, who's not trying to use fancy words, he just communicates like an everyday American and everyday Americans can relate to him.
Bush is himself. Bush is no phony. He's very real. He's very sincere. He's very down to earth, and I don't know why we criticize and hammer him for that. That's one of the things that enamored him to the American people during the presidential debates and one of the reasons why he's president of the United States today.
PHILLIPS: All right, final before I let you guys go -- by the way, we can all relate to the bad grammar, we all make our boo-boos, don't we? I know I do. Moving...
SKINNER: How many times a day, though, Kyra? You don't do it that often.
WILLIAMS: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: Oh, I love you both. I guess we've got to let you go. We're going to definitely do this again, though, all right. You guys will come back on and we'll talk more Bush.
SKINNER: Sounds great, I'm ready.
WILLIAMS: America's safe again. Morally, that is.
PHILLIPS: Oh, boy. You two. All right, thank you both. Have a great Sunday.
WILLIAMS: All right.
SKINNER: Thanks, Kyra.
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