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Inside Politics

Bush calls Saddam 'the guy who tried to kill my dad'

From John King (CNN)

"There are fine senators from both parties who care deeply about our country," Bush said.

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HOUSTON, Texas (CNN) -- President Bush leveled harsh criticism Thursday at the Senate on homeland security issues, but he revised his stump speech to make clear "there are fine senators from both parties who care deeply about our country."

And, in discussing the threat posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Bush said: "After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my dad."

The new language in discussing his fight with the Democrat-controlled Senate over homeland security was a reaction from Bush to sharp complaints from Democrats that he was being overly political in his speeches on issues related to the war on terrorism.

Yet Bush did not back down from the thrust of his critique.

He said, in considering his proposal to create a Department of Homeland Security, the Senate wants "to micromanage the process. They want to tell the executive branch ... who you can hire, who you can fire, who can move there. ... I am not going to accept that."

As an example, Bush said that, because of pressure from labor unions, the legislation being considered in the Senate would prohibit the government from requiring port security personnel to wear portable radiation detectors. He also said the language in the Senate bill would require job assignments based on seniority, "not talent."

"The enemy doesn't care about these rules -- the Senate does, and it bothers me," Bush said.

He neither used the word "Democrats" nor noted that Democrats control the Senate. And after listing his criticisms, Bush said:

"Now don't get me wrong, there are fine senators from both parties who care deeply about our country." But he also urged the Senate to "not allow special interests to drive the process."

Bush praised lawmakers in both parties for working with him on the language of a congressional resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq. "This is not a partisan issue," Bush said.

He also said that, if the United Nations fails to adopt a tough resolution, then the "United States will lead a coalition" and confront Iraq and force it to disarm outside of any new U.N. mandate.

Bush was speaking in Houston at a fund-raiser for Texas Attorney General John Cornyn, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Phil Gramm.

Houston is the adopted hometown of the president's father, former President Bush, and in discussing the threat posed by Saddam, the current president offered his staple list of complaints about Iraq's defiance of the United Nations and his contention that Iraq is working aggressively on chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. "This is a man who continually lies," Bush said.

He said the Iraqi leader's "hatred" was largely directed at the United States and added: "After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my dad."

In his speech September 12 to the United Nations on Iraq, Bush mentioned the alleged plot to kill a former U.S. president but did not mention that it was his father. The alleged assassination attempt came when former President Bush visited Kuwait during the Clinton administration. The former president had orchestrated the U.S.-led coalition that pushed the Iraqi army from Kuwait in the Persian Gulf War.

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