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In the Crossfire

Mixed reviews of Bush's European trip

(CNN) -- President Bush has returned from his European trip and the reviews are still pouring in. Did the president win friends abroad or call into question his leadership on the international stage? Democratic political consultant Peter Fenn and former Republican National Committee spokesman Clifford May step into the "Crossfire" with hosts James Carville and Robert Novak.

NOVAK: Mr. Fenn, I'd like you to listen to something the president said, because it's very hard to find all these terrible things he fouled up on, but I want you to listen to something. And I want to ask you as an American if you weren't proud of him for this. And let's listen to him.


PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Today marks a historic achievement for a great alliance and a great European nation. Two former foes are now joined as partners, overcoming 50 years of division and a decade of uncertainty. And this partnership takes us closer to an even larger goal, a Europe that is whole, free and at peace for the first time in history.

(Videotape clip ends)

NOVAK: Europe is peaceful. Isn't that thrilling, doesn't that thrill you?

FENN: You know, I'm very happy to have this treaty signed. [Editor's note: Bush signed a nuclear weapons treaty with Russian President Vladimir Putin.] But you know, I think he should have signed it and come home, because the rest of his trip, he tells us he's not going to bring up the issue of the sexual improprieties with the pope. He brings it up. He goes out and he criticizes a journalist for using a couple of French words.

NOVAK: Oh, come on.

FENN: Not, but the trouble with Bush is...

NOVAK: Do you know how petty you sound?

FENN: I don't mean to be petty, because...

NOVAK: You are petty though.

FENN: No, no.


FENN: OK, let me just read you what the president -- this was not written about John Kennedy when he went to Berlin. And this was not written about Jimmy Carter. And this was not written about Ronald Reagan. This is from the BBC lead correspondent.


FENN: Right, well I'm telling you, they're supposed to be our best buddies. I think they think he's not very intelligent. I think they think he finds it very hard to articulate his opinions. And he's the kind of rigid conviction. I don't think he really dissuaded a lot of his critics. That wasn't the case on this trip. He did himself more harm, I'm afraid, than good. And I'm not happy about it.

NOVAK: That's what they said about -- oh, yes, you are.

FENN: No, I'm not happy about it.

NOVAK: You're a political activist.

FENN: Hey, I was in Spain. Let me just tell you, I was in Spain. Let me just show you this. I defended our president.

NOVAK: I bet you did.

CARVILLE: And I'm glad you did, because I feel compelled to defend him over that. Just it's kind of embarrassing when he goes. But -- this is something that cracks me up.

MAY: We don't want you to be embarrassed, James.

CARVILLE: The president of the United States went over. And he said "Gee, I wasn't myself because I suffered from jet lag." If you can't go to Europe ... what are you president for? Why don't you stay in Texas if you can't fly to Europe and represent the interests of the United States?




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