WASHINGTON – President Bush, breaking his rule not to talk about presidential politics, says he believes Hillary Rodham Clinton will defeat Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination. Bush also predicts that Clinton will be defeated in the general election by the Republican nominee.
“I believe our candidate can beat her, but it’s going to be a tough race,” the president said.
It has been difficult for Bush to remain silent about the 2008 president race, despite his promises not to be the “prognosticator in chief.” He has been talking about the race and handicapping candidates during off-the-record chats with visitors to the White House.
He finally went public with his Clinton prediction in an interview for a book by Bill Sammon, a reporter for the Washington Examiner.
“She’s got a great national presence, and this is becoming a national primary,” Bush told Sammon. “And therefore the person with the national presence, who has got the ability to raise enough money to sustain an effort in a multiplicity of sites, has got a good chance to be nominated.”
The White House did not challenge Sammon’s account.
“Frankly, it’s difficult to not talk about the ‘08 election a lot,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said. “There’s a lot of interest in it and it does have consequence.”
She denied the notion that Bush was talking up Clinton’s prospects to energize the Republican base against her candidacy.