Bush senior admits: I went too far in threat to Clinton

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The Independent US

The former US president George Bush has conceded that he went too far last week when he threatened to say just what he thought of Bill Clinton, "as a human being and a person", if Mr Clinton persisted with personal attacks on his son, George W.

The former US president George Bush has conceded that he went too far last week when he threatened to say just what he thought of Bill Clinton, "as a human being and a person", if Mr Clinton persisted with personal attacks on his son, George W.

In an interview with Time magazine to be published today, Mr Bush said: "I made a mistake. I went too far."

At a fund-raising event in New England last week Mr Clinton mocked Mr Bush Jnr's desire to be president. Mr Clinton said: "How bad can I be? I've been governor of Texas. My Daddy was president. I own a baseball team. Their fraternity had it for eight years, give it to ours for eight years."

The ridicule of George W drew howls of laughter from Democrats and admiration from political pundits, who saw in Mr Clinton's ability to sum up George Bush Jnr's weaknesses so succinctly yet more proof of his political genius. The impact of Mr Clinton's attack was only reinforced when George Bush Snr took it upon himself to respond on his son's behalf.

Asked by a television interview to react to the President's remarks, Mr Bush swallowed the bait and said that he would give Mr Clinton one month and if he had not ceased his attacks, he would tell the same reporter exactly what he thought of Mr Clinton. His son was far more careful, refusing initially to comment, and then remarking: "It's amazing to me that the President of the United States would spend time trying to be a political pundit."

The former president's threat raised eyebrows on two counts. Not only would any attack on Mr Clinton breach the convention that former Presidents do not attack incumbent presidents; it also sent the message that George W Bush was a "Daddy's boy", incapable of fighting his own battles.

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