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  •   In His Own Words: 'I Made Mistakes'

    The Washington Post
    Sunday, July 25, 1999; Page A20

    The following are excerpts of interviews with George W. Bush conducted by Washington Post reporters. The interviews took place May 11 and June 7, 1999, in Austin.

    Why did you quit drinking?

    A couple of things happened. One, you know, the Billy Graham visit in 1985. I met with Billy, but it's like a mustard seed. You know, he planted a seed in my heart and I began to change. . . . I realized that alcohol was beginning to crowd out my energies and could crowd, eventually, my affections for other people.

    Yes, sometimes I would go to a party and drink too much. No, I would not drink too much on a daily basis. I never drank during the day.

    You quit drinking and you became more spiritual. Talk about that a little bit.

    To put it in spiritual terms, I accepted Christ. What influenced me was the spirituality, sure, which led me to believe that if you change your heart, you can change your behavior. There's a lot of drug rehabilitation programs and some that are based upon exactly what I went through, which is spiritually based – that's what AA is really based upon.

    You never did AA?

    I didn't, but I'm one of those that – I don't think I was clinically an alcoholic; I didn't have the genuine addiction. I don't know why I drank. I liked to drink, I guess.

    We need to ask the cocaine question. We think you believe that a politician should not let stories fester. So why won't you just deny that you've used cocaine?

    I'm not going to talk about what I did years ago. This is a game where they float rumors, force a person to fight off a rumor; then they'll float another rumor. And I'm not going to participate. I saw what happened to my dad with rumors in Washington. I made mistakes. I've asked people to not let the rumors get in the way of the facts. I've told people I've learned from my mistakes – and I have. And I'm going to leave it at that.

    But you addressed the rumors about your [father's infidelity] that you personally believe should be addressed in 1988.

    Well, then others can address the rumors about me. But this is a decision I made during the course of the campaign, and if it's not this, there'll be some other rumor floating. And I'm not going to participate. That's the Washington, D.C., game – how you destroy a good person.

    Do you believe there's a statute of limitations?

    There's never a statute of limitations evidently. Particularly when people are spreading gossip and rumors.

    © 1999 The Washington Post Company

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