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Posted by Tony from ? ( on Thursday, October 03, 2002 at 12:09PM :

White House Shrugs Off Gore, Clinton Criticism


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A White House spokesman on Thursday shrugged off
criticism from former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore about
President Bush's policy on Iraq and the U.S. economy.

In Blackpool, England, Clinton warned Bush on Wednesday that a preemptive strike
against Iraq would bring "unwelcome consequences" in the future and urged Bush to
seek U.N. Security Council approval before sending in U.S. forces.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Clinton had taken a statesmanlike attitude
befitting a former president during an appearance last week on NBC's "Today" show
program. He carefully avoided comment on Clinton's Blackpool remarks.

"I think former President Clinton in those remarks (on the "Today" show) kept to the
traditions of former presidents engaging in a lofty manner and serving the country,
not serving politics," Fleischer said.

What about his comments in Blackpool?

"I've addressed the issue to the degree I intend to address the issue," Fleischer said.

Gore, in a speech on Wednesday, said Bush should put the same priority on healing
the U.S. economy as he has on a possible war with Iraq -- and do it before the Nov. 5

The Democratic presidential candidate, who narrowly lost the White House to Bush in
2000, said the faltering economy had created a global "crisis of confidence" in U.S.
economic leadership and Bush was trying to duck responsibility on the issue.

"How can it be essential that we go to war prior to the election but absolutely fine to
wait until after the election before we take any action to deal with the economy?"
Gore said.

Fleischer shrugged his shoulders when asked about Gore's comments at a morning
exchange with reporters.

"I don't know that any answer is necessary or any rebuttal is necessary. Nobody paid
a lot of attention to what the former vice president said. The president is focused on
the economic policies that will help create jobs," Fleischer said.

Bush, speaking to Hispanic leaders gathered at the Old Executive Office Building next
door to the White House, said the economy could be better but he was optimistic.

"The economy is not like it should be. There are some encouraging signs," Bush said,
citing low interest rates and inflation. "The foundation for growth is there."

-- Tony
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