WASHINGTON - Former President George W. Bush did not mislead the nation about weapons of mass destruction as a way to "lie us" into war, his former top political aide, Karl Rove, asserts in a new memoir, "Courage and Consequence."
Rove writes that some who leveled the charge, including former Vice President Al Gore, had made claims earlier similar to those for which they later criticized Bush.
While defending the administration's handling of Iraq, Rove concedes that the failure to find weapons of mass destruction damaged the administration's credibility. And he blames himself for failing to set the record straight.
"When the pattern of the Democratic attacks became apparent in July 2003, we should have countered in a forceful and overwhelming way," he writes. "We should have seen this for what it was: a poison-tipped dagger aimed at the heart of the Bush presidency."
Rove's full-throated defense of his former boss comes as little surprise. The strategist who engineered Bush's two victories and served as a senior White House adviser has offered similar defenses in a Wall Street Journal column and as a Fox News contributor.
But the book, which has been much anticipated, takes Rove's defense of the Bush legacy to a new and more detailed level.
Rove admits in the book that during the early days of Hurricane Katrina, the White House was "too passive for too long. Louisiana's failures became our failures anyway."
But he also blames much of those failures on the Democratic leadership in Louisiana and New Orleans, not on the administration or the president.
Rove describes the first hours after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the rapid departure on Air Force One with Bush. "The 747 shot down the runway with a force I had never experienced," he says.
As he has frequently done in his columns, Rove takes aim at President Barack Obama, describing him as a person whose claims on health care are "simply at odds with reality," he writes.