Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 18, 2004
POLITICS: Latest on Rathergate
*ABC has decided to go for CBS' jugular, and comes up with the man who actually got Bush into the Texas Air National Guard:
"I never pressured anybody about George Bush because I had no reason to," Staudt told ABC News in his first interview since the documents were made public.
Staudt insisted Bush did not use connections to avoid being sent to Vietnam.
"He didn't use political influence to get into the Air National Guard," Staudt said, adding, "I don't know how they would know that, because I was the one who did it and I was the one who was there and I didn't talk to any of them."
During his time in charge of the unit, Staudt decided whether to accept those who applied for pilot training. He recalled Bush as a standout candidate.
"He was highly qualified," he said. "He passed all the scrutiny and tests he was given."
Staudt said he never tried to influence Killian or other Guardsmen, and added that he never came under any pressure himself to accept Bush. "No one called me about taking George Bush into the Air National Guard," he said. "It was my decision. I swore him in. I never heard anything from anybody."
He added that Bush more than met the requirements for pilot training. "He presented himself well. I'd say he was in the upper 10 percent or 5 percent or whatever we ever talked to about going to pilot training. We were pretty particular because when he came back [from training], we had to fly with him."
"There was no contact between me and George Bush ... he certainly never asked for help," Staudt said. "He didn't need any help as far as I knew."
He added that after retiring he was not involved in Air National Guard affairs. "I didn't check in with anybody - I had no reason to," he said. "I was busy with my civilian endeavors, and they were busy with their military options. I had no reason to talk to them, and I didn't."
Staudt said he continues to support Bush now that he is president. "My politics now are that I'm an American, and that's about all I can tell you," he said. "And I'm going to vote for George Bush."
Link via Allah.
UPDATE: Allah has some pointed comments about Burkett's phone call to Max Cleland; he's right on the money in his point about Josh Marshall. And Mickey thinks Staudt could sue CBS, although the bigger question is why they never talked to him in the first place.