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Democrat Dean says Bush obsessed with re-election

Rolling Stone interview

Dean: "I admire George Bush's father."

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Howard Dean
George W. Bush

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Presidential hopeful Howard Dean admires former President George Bush but thinks the current president is "in some complicated psychological situation" with his father and is obsessed with re-election, according to a Rolling Stone interview released on Tuesday.

"I admire George Bush's father," Dean told the music and current affairs magazine.

"There were some things I strongly disagreed with him on, but he tried to be a good president," said Dean, one of nine prominent Democrats vying for the party's nomination for the November election.

"This president is not interested in being a good president," the former Vermont governor said. "He's interested in some complicated psychological situation that he has with his father. He is obsessed with being re-elected, and his obsession with re-election is hurting the country."

Some opponents have accused Bush of fighting a war in Iraq and ousting President Saddam Hussein to finish the business his father, who lost his bid for a second term in 1992, began with the first Gulf War.

This week, Bush's former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said removing Saddam Hussein was a top priority at Bush's first National Security Council meeting, just days after his inauguration. (Related story)

Asked what he felt the current president's philosophy was, Dean said, "George Bush's philosophy is, 'If you're rich, you deserve it, and if you're poor, you deserve it.' That's not my philosophy."

In a lengthy interview ranging from foreign policy to gay marriage, Dean reserved his most critical comments for Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

"These guys are ... driven by an ideological view of the country, which they believe, literally, it's their God-given right to inflict on everybody else," Dean said.

An interview with Rolling Stone has become something of a rite of passage for candidates hoping to win votes among America's youth and has been known as an arena where candidates loosen up and say unusual things.

Dean bashed Bush over Iraq. "I don't think we should have been there in the first place. It didn't surprise me that the president made a mess of the place, because he didn't know what he was doing getting in."

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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