NEW YORK (CNN) -- The founder of the U.S. Christian Coalition said Tuesday
he told President George W. Bush before the invasion of Iraq that he should
prepare Americans for the likelihood of casualties, but the president
told him, "We're not going to have any casualties."
Pat Robertson, an ardent Bush supporter, said he had that conversation
with the president in Nashville, Tennessee, before the March 2003 invasion
U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. He described Bush in the meeting as "the
most self-assured man I've ever met in my life."
"You remember Mark Twain said, 'He looks like a contented Christian
with four aces.' I mean he was just sitting there like, 'I'm on top of
the world,' " Robertson said on the CNN show, "Paula Zahn Now."
"And I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this
war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, 'Mr. President, you had
better prepare the American people for casualties.' "
Robertson said the president then told him, "Oh, no, we're not going
to have any casualties."
The White House has made no reaction to Robertson's comments.
Robertson, the televangelist who sought the Republican presidential nomination
in 1988, said he wishes Bush would admit to mistakes made.
"I mean, the Lord told me it was going to be A, a disaster, and
B, messy," Robertson said. "I warned him about casualties."
More than 1,100 U.S. troops have died in Iraq and another 8,000 troops
have been wounded in the ongoing campaign, with the casualty toll significantly
increasing in the last six months as the insurgency there has deepened.
Asked why Bush has refused to admit to mistakes on Iraq, Robertson said,
"I don't know this politics game. You know, you can never say you
were wrong because the opposition grabs onto it: 'See, he admitted he
screwed up.' "
Even as Robertson criticized Bush for downplaying the potential dangers
of the Iraq war, he heaped praise on Bush, saying he believes the president
will win the election and that "the blessing of heaven is on Bush."
"Even if he stumbles and messes up -- and he's had his share of
stumbles and gaffes -- I just think God's blessing is on him," Robertson
As for Bush's Democratic rival, Sen. John Kerry, Robertson said, "I
don't think he's a leader. He's a ponderous debater, a good senator probably."
© Copyright 2004 Cable News Network
CNN SHOW TRANSCRIPT: PAULA ZAHN NOW 8:00 PM EST October 19, 2004 Tuesday
ZAHN: He's been posed repeatedly in debates, what mistakes have you made? He's been asked that on the campaign trail and he hasn't come up with any.
ROBERTSON: I met with him down in Nashville before the Gulf War started. And he was the most self-assured man I ever met in my life.
You remember, Mark Twain said, he looks like a contended Christian with four aces. He was just sitting there, like, I'm on top of the world, and I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, Mr. President, you better prepare the American people for casualties.
Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties. Well, I said, it's the way it's going to be. And so, it was messy. The lord told me it was going to be, A, a disaster and, B, messy. And before that, I had deep, in my spirit, I had deep misgivings about going into Iraq.
ZAHN: You just told me...
ROBERTSON: Yes. Yes.
ZAHN: As I asked you that question that you wished the president had admitted to the American public he's made these mistakes.
ROBERTSON: Well, sure.
ZAHN: Why don't you think he has?
ROBERTSON: I don't know this politics game. You can never say you're wrong, because the opposition grabs on it. And, you see, he admitted he screwed up. And so I don't know. But...
ZAHN: But, as someone who has run for president, you know this game better than just about anybody.
ROBERTSON: Oh, yes.
ZAHN: When you felt that you had the lord telling you that this was going to be a very bad thing to go into Iraq and you warned the president about it, he seemed to be dismissive.
ROBERTSON: Well, I warned him about casualties.
ZAHN: Of the casualties.
Where do you think that came from? Do you think he got bad advice? Do you think he was ignoring some of the advice he had gotten? What is it?
ROBERTSON: I just think he was so sure that this man was a tyrant, he was evil and he needed to be taken out. I mean, he just felt it.
Of course, he had advisers, the so-called neocons, around him that said, Mr. President, go get him, and we will liberate these oppressed people.
ZAHN: There are a lot of neoconservatives...
ZAHN: ... who believe that president hasn't edited a lot of the advice he has been given.