New Tapes Say Bush May Have
Published February 20, 2005
“Marijuana? Cocaine? I’m not going to talk about what I did
as a child.”
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush indicated in interviews secretly
taped by a friend before he became president that he had used marijuana
but would not admit it for fear of setting a bad example for children.
Portions of the tapes, recorded from 1998 to 2000 by author Doug Wead
without Bush's knowledge, were aired on ABC News on Sunday and published
by The New York Times. Their authenticity was verified by the media outlets
but has not been independently checked by Reuters.
"I wouldn't answer the marijuana question. You know why? Because
I don't want some little kid doing what I tried," Bush purportedly
says on the tape.
He added: "But you got to understand, I want to be president. I want
to lead. I want to set -- Do you want your little kid say, 'Hey, Daddy,
President Bush tried marijuana, I think I will?"'
In the tape, Bush mocks former Vice President Al Gore -- who fought him
for the presidency in 2000 -- for admitting he smoked marijuana.
White House officials did not dispute the tapes' veracity and indicated
the president was disappointed by their release.
"These were casual conversations that then Gov. Bush was having with
someone he thought was a friend, and that's what they are," White
House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters traveling with Bush to Europe
aboard Air Force One.
McClellan said Bush, who was governor of Texas when the tapes were made,
was not aware he was being recorded and the White House found out only
when contacted by the New York Times for comment.
"Look, I think that, one, the comments in the tapes speak for themselves.
And two, I think that what I just said pretty much speaks for itself," McClellan
said when pressed about the details.
"Those were issues that were addressed ad nauseam four years ago
and they were conversations that took place more than four years ago," he
said, adding that Bush had not been in contact with Wead for several years.
Wead, a former aide to Bush's father President George H.W. Bush, released
portions of the tapes to coincide with the publication of his new book
and told ABC he made the tapes because he believed the president was an
"If I'd had a chance to tape record Gandhi or had conversations with
Churchill, I probably would have recorded them too," he said.
He also insisted his goal was not to hurt the president's credibility
and said if this were the case he would have released the tapes during
the 2004 election campaign.
Asked about the tapes in an interview with CNN, the president's father
said he was not aware of them and declined comment.
Sitting next to Bush was ex-President Bill Clinton, who admitted to smoking
marijuana when he campaigned for the White House but said he never inhaled
the illegal drug.
The two former presidents are touring areas affected by the Dec. 26 Indian
By Sue Pleming