Bush ducks question on Ground Zero mosque, saying he doesn’t want to step on Obama’s toes
On NBC’s Today Show this morning, former President George W. Bush talked Kanye and tax cuts, but ducked a question on the proposed Park51 Ground Zero mosque and Islamic community center.
“There’s a lot of events, and a lot of opportunities for me to speak out over the next years and I have chosen not to,” Bush said in response to a question about Park51 from Matt Lauer. “And the reason I’ve chosen not to is I don’t want to intrude upon my successor’s ability to get the job done. Inevitably if you were able to get me to answer this question they would then compare that answer to what President Obama or what other presidents might say on the issue.”
While he was unwilling to address the mosque, Bush did defend the general principle of religious freedom in this country. “I think most Americans welcome freedom of religion and honor religions. I truly do,” he said. “The problem with the arena today is a few loud voices can dominate the discussion, and I don’t intend to be one of the voices in the discussion.”
He opened up more on economic policy, offering a strong defense of the tax cuts he passed early in his administration and arguing that they should be extended in order to support job creation. “If you raise the top rate, you’re taxing job creators,” Bush said.
He defended the economic record during his tenure as president, arguing that although he entered office during the burst of the dot-com bubble, there was still positive job growth, including a nearly 53-month period of job increases. (In the interview, Bush was unintentionally modest, saying weeks instead of months.)
Still, he acknowledged that his economic legacy wasn’t viewed completely positively. “It’s too bad they call them the Bush tax cuts,” he joked to Lauer. “They might have a better chance of being extended if they were the Lauer tax cuts.”
Watch the full interview below: