Friday, December 22, 2006

"'NYT' Sunday Preview: Sen. Jim Webb Says Story on Rift With Bush 'Emanated from the White House' "

In an interview with Deborah Solomon that will appear in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine, the newly-elected U.S. senator from Virginia, Jim Webb, discusses his recent widely-publicized exchange with President Bush over an Iraq pullout.

At a recent White House reception the president had asked about Webb's son, who is serving in Iraq. Webb suggested that troops should start coming home from Iraq, and Bush snapped back, "I didn't ask you that."

Webb calls the coverage of that "vastly overblown" but adds: "I think what I said was appropriate." He also stated, "This was something that emanated from the White House. I did not say anything about this for two weeks. I said nothing publicly at all."

So why did the White House push the issue? "Probably as an attempt to try to define me between the election and the beginning of the Congress," Webb replied "And that's all I am going to say."

Webb, a novelist and Reagan appointee, said he had left the GOP when the Democrats took a "stronger position on foreign policy" -- he had always felt more comfortable with them on "social issues or issues of economic fairness."

He called for greater diplomacy leading to troop cuts in Iraq. He also revealed that he plans to "always write" while in office, with his model being the late senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

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