Bush Says Saddam Even Worse Than Hitler
MASHPEE, Mass. (AP) _ President Bush suggested today that Saddam Hussein is more barbaric than Adolf Hitler and said he was ″more determined than ever″ to drive the Iraqi leader out of Kuwait.
The White House said Bush’s combative remarks were designed to prepare Americans for ″any eventuality″ in the three-month Persian Gulf standoff. ″We will not rule out the military option,″ spokesman Marlin Fitzwater told reporters.
Bush continued his tough rhetoric against Iraq in campaign appearances here and in the Boston suburb of Burlington, Mass., at the start of a six-day cross-country campaign blitz for endangered Republican candidates.
Bush, speaking to a GOP rally in an elementary school in this Cape Cod village, said Saddam’s detention of some 300 Americans in Iraq and occupied Kuwait is ″in direct contravention of international law.″
″They have committed outrageous acts of barbarism″ Bush said of Saddam’s forces.
He said Americans ″are held in direct contravention of international law. Many of them reportedly staked out as human shields near possible military targets, brutality that I don’t believe Adolf Hitler ever participated in anything of that nature.″
Fitzwater said Bush was deliberately trying to give a high profile to the confrontation with Iraq ″to prepare the American people for any eventuality.″ Fitzwater did not elaborate.
″If we do have to take dramatic action, we want them (the American people) to know why,″ Fitzwater said.
Bush said he wanted to make it, ″very, very clear, there will be no compromise″ on the United Nation’s demands for a complete withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait.
″Today I am more determined than ever: this aggression will not stand,″ he said. ″The brutality against innocent citizens will not be tolerated and will not stand.″
Bush said he still intended to give economic sanctions time to work.
″No one wants a peaceful end to this crisis more than I do, but no one is more determined to see this aggression turned back. And I will not change on that fundamental point of morality,″ he said.
Bush said that the United States and the rest of the world remain ″united in anger and outrage″ at the treatment of hostages by ″Iraq’s brutal dictator.″
The president asked his audience to join him in setting aside partisan politics when it came to his administration’s Persian Gulf policy.
″I am not a cynic. I have no apologies, only pride at being at a partisan event,″ he said. ″But for the moment ... set partisan politics aside.″
Fitzwater also said there would soon be ″a turning point″ in the status of the U.S. diplomats remaining in the embassy in Kuwait City.
″At some point, they’ve either got to leave or be re-provisioned,″ he said. He declined to say how many days longer the group could hold out. He said he did not want to tip off Saddam.
In Bush’s campaign speeches today, the president appeared to tone down his harsh criticism of congressional Democrats on budget issues. Instead, Bush devoted nearly half of his first speech to discussing the gulf situation.
Fitzwater said Bush was being urged to continue his caustic attack on Democrats ″in certain quarters ... but he surveyed the whole matter and decided this was the best approach.″ Thus, Fitzwater said, the president has decided to spend more time highlighting the gulf standoff.
While realizing he might be subject to attacks for politicizing the gulf situation, Fitzwater said, ″because he is president, we didn’t see how he could duck it.″
″We want a public debate″ over new developments in the Persian Gulf. ″We want public knowledge of this,″ Fitzwater said.
Responding to reports that Saddam had invited hostage families to visit their relatives in captivity in Iraq and Kuwait over the Christmas holidays, Fitzwater said: ″Why doesn’t he let the hostages come home? That would be the best way - or better yet, Thanksgiving.″
Bush campaigned here for Republican gubernatorial candidate William Weld, who is seeking to succeed retiring Gov. Michael Dukakis, Bush’s 1988 Democratic presidential opponent.
While the president says he is keeping the two subjects - the Iraqi confrontation and politics - separate, Bush was expected to make repeated references to the Persian Gulf standoff as he travels.
In a trip scheduled to keep him on the road until Election Day, Bush is campaigning for GOP gubernatorial and congressional candidates in close races in Massachusetts, Florida, Ohio, Minnesota, Iowa, California, New Mexico and Texas.
Later today, he planned to campaign in Orlando, Fla., before spending the night in Cincinnati.
Bush’s political journey will end Election Day in Houston, when he votes at his ″home″ precinct. His legal residence is a suite at the Houstonian Hotel.
The president was focusing on a handful of tight races in the closing days of the midterm elections.
In Orlando, he was seeking to rally last-minute support for Republican Gov. Bob Martinez, who is facing a spirited challenge from former Democratic Sen. Lawton Chiles.
With the president’s popularity in the polls slumping and Republicans seeing their hopes for big midterm gains evaporating, some candidates in tight races have been keeping Bush at arm’s length.
A stop planned for this week in Illinois was canceled after GOP Secretary of State Jim Edgar, who is running for governor, and Rep. Lynn Martin, R-Ill., who is running for the Senate, expressed displeasure with Bush’s support for new taxes.
Campaign stops planned for Oregon, Nebraska and Arizona also were scrubbed.