In an interview airing on tomorrow's "D.L Hughley Breaks The News," former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer tells the host, "We were wrong,'" regarding Saddam Hussein's alleged WMDs; how he believes President Bush changed after that; and what it takes to be a good White House press secretary.
Hughley: "Did you get the sense that some of the things [Bush] was saying, the American people weren't going to buy? Did you think any of that at anytime?
Fleischer: I always thought there were things that he was doing that were tough and the American people might not go along. I was there at the beginning of the administration, it was a different era for George Bush and as time went on it got a lot harder for him.
Fleischer: Because of Iraq. We were wrong about weapons of mass destruction being in Iraq. If he had been right and we had found the stockpiles, as bad as the war turned out to be, much worse than we all thought it would be, I think most Americans would have said, 'well, I don't like going to war but thank god we stopped Saddam from using them." We were wrong.
Fleischer said the lack of WMDs "chastened" President Bush:
Hughley: "Did you sense a change in him after that? After we knew that there were no weapons? Did you sense that he was a little gun-shy?
Fleischer: "I think that as his administration went on he became unpopular, he became increasingly chastened. He became increasingly less, in his rhetoric, where he used to talk about 'wanted dead or alive' tough guy talk, he started toning that down and out substantially. It was too late by then and it was because of the facts on the ground not because of the rhetoric he was using."
On What It Takes To Be A Good White House Press Secretary:
Hughley: "I always thought that he never wanted to be responsible. Like you want to win, but when you lose you don't want to say, 'I'm responsible for losing'. And you always seemed to be so earnest that you didn't seem like you could stand for that. It just seemed like at a certain point you didn't want to be there.
Fleischer: You can't do the press secretary job if your heart isn't in it. If you don't believe in your boss and I can't believe in a 100% of what he does, or did. I've worked for 3 congressmen, 1 senator, and 1 president, you can't agree with everybody, but I never wanted to run for office myself, my job was to be a staffer, supporting the person I worked for. I believed in George Bush, I still believe in George Bush, but if you don't, don't stand at that podium. Don't take the job."
Watch a preview:
The full interview airs Saturday night at 10 PM.