President Bush said Tuesday he now regrets having broken his "no new taxes" pledge but can only wonder how much it will hurt him in his bid for re-election.
Bush said he flip-flopped on taxes in 1990 as a "one-time compromise" to obtain a deficit-cutting budget with the Democratic-controlled Congress and wouldn't do it again.Noting the "political flak" he has received as well as new efforts in Congress to impose a tax increase on the rich, Bush told reporters, "My whole view is that that one compromise probably wasn't worth it."
Bush made the comments on the White House driveway before going to Chicago for an address to Evangelical leaders and as voters in seven states, including Utah, were choosing among the presidential candidates.
Patrick Buchanan, Bush's rebellious Republican challenger, has made the president's broken 1988 campaign promise - "Read my lips: No new taxes" - a centerpiece of his candidacy.
The president first conceded he made a mistake in a telephone interview Monday with Dick Williams, a columnist for the Atlanta Journal.
Williams asked Bush if he agreed with Reagan that his greatest mistake was agreeing to the tax increase.
"Exactly," Bush replied, concurring with Reagan's assessment. "I'd be glad to say the same thing."
The White House issued a partial transcript of the interview Tuesday.
In it, the president said, "Listen, if I had it to do over, I wouldn't do what I did then - for a lot of reasons, including political reasons."
He said, "Look at all the flak it's taking. It's political grief."