This is the attitude that grew the federal government, increased federal spending, pissed off the entire base of the Republican Party and lost the elections in 2006 and 2008.
Bush Advises Republican Party to Be 'Compassionate'
By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 11, 2009; 3:40 PM
President Bush called for a "compassionate" Republican Party and warned against the GOP becoming "anti-immigrant" in one of his last interviews as president, defending his vision of the party that has become unpopular among some Republicans.
"It's very important for our party not to narrow its focus, not to become so inward looking that we drive people away from a philosophy that is compassionate and decent," the president said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday" that was aired today. "We shouldn't have litmus tests as to whether or not you can be a Republican. And we should be open-minded about big issues like immigration reform, because if we're viewed as anti-somebody -- in other words, if the party is viewed as anti-immigrant -- then another fellow may say, well, if they're against the immigrant, they may be against me."
Bush, asked about how the GOP could avoid future elections like 2008 when it lost the presidency and even more seats in the House and Senate, said "I think that we shouldn't change our philosophy." But he added, "We may want to change our message. We definitely want to change messengers. We need a new group of leaders."
He declined to name any of the leaders except for his brother Jeb, who recently decided against running for the Senate in Florida in 2010 despite encouragement from the president.
Some of the Bush administrations policies, such as expanding the federal government's role in education through the No Child Left Behind Act and making it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens, have come under fire from some Republicans. But the president repeatedly used the phrase that marked his 2000 campaign in saying "we've got to be compassionate conservatives."
Joined for part of the interview by his father, former President George H.W. Bush, the president said he would take up to four years to write a book about his presidency, which he said would explore his decision-making on some of the key issues of his eight-year tenure.
The two men, who have almost never been interviewed together during the younger Bush's time in the White House, defended each other's presidencies. The current president said his father was "almost too humble to be president."
"He's going to be judged great, too," the current president said of his father. "When history finally gets objective, they will be able to say a lot of positive things about George Bush."
George H.W. Bush says he viewed his son's tenure "very positively."
While President-elect Barack Obama spoke out in an ABC interview that aired today against an interrogation technique known as water-boarding, President Bush defended his administration's policies as legal and necessary. He said he would be concerned if Obama abandoned the techniques used by his administration.
"Obviously, I feel like it would be a problem," Bush said, "because these are tools that we have in place. I do want to -- you know, I firmly reject the word torture."