President Bush has spoken out for the first time about Vice President Cheney's hunting accident and the controversy surrounding the delay in disclosing the incident and other details. Mr. Bush says he is satisfied with the vice president's explanation.
President Bush says the vice president handled the matter just fine, adding Cheney has offered a sound explanation.
The incident occurred Saturday, when Cheney accidentally shot his friend Harry Whittington while they were hunting quail in Texas. But it was not made public until Sunday. And it was Wednesday afternoon before the vice president offered a public explanation in a one-on-one television interview with the Fox News Channel.
Speaking to reporters at the end of a meeting with the President of Colombia, Mr. Bush broke his silence about the incident and left no doubt the vice president has his support. "It was a deeply traumatic moment for him and obviously a tragic moment for Harry Whittington. And so I thought his explanation yesterday was a very strong and powerful explanation. and I am satisfied with the explanation he gave," he said.
In the interview, the vice president said he was responsible for the hunting accident, calling it one of worst days of his life. But at the same time, he expressed no regret about waiting to reveal the incident to the public.
Some Democrats have suggested the delay was due to Cheney's penchant for secrecy. Mr.Bush said they are drawing the wrong conclusion. "The vice president was involved in a terrible accident and it profoundly affected him. Yesterday, when he was here in the Oval Office I saw the deep concern he had for a person he had wounded," he said.
Harry Whittington is 78 years old and is said to be recovering well, according to his doctors at a Texas hospital. He has been prominent in Texas politics for years, and President Bush, who previously served as Texas governor, said he too considers him a friend.