March 22, 2006 in Nation/World

Thomas gets rare opportunity

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review

WASHINGTON – Journalist Helen Thomas has questioned every president since John Kennedy. On Tuesday she got what has become a rare chance to question the current commander in chief.

“You’re going to be sorry,” Thomas warned President Bush when he called on her in his news conference at the White House.

“Well, then, let me take it back,” Bush joked to laughter from the press corps.

Thomas, a columnist for Hearst Newspapers, is an outspoken critic of Bush’s war policies and is known around the White House for her daily haggling with press secretary Scott McClellan. Bush rarely calls on her even though she always raises her hand, and once she got her chance she pointedly challenged his reason for wanting to go to war “from the moment you stepped into the White House.”

“To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect,” Bush responded. He repeated, “Excuse me, excuse me,” as Thomas tried to interrupt him five times during his answer.

“No president wants war,” he said. “Everything you may have heard is that, but it’s just simply not true.”

As he finished, Thomas kidded him about their debate and thanked him for taking her question.

“You’re welcome,” he said. “I didn’t really regret it. I kind of semi-regretted it.”

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