RUSH: Tony Blair and the president had a joint presser today in the Rose Garden, and Blair was just superb on Iraq and on terrorism. We have three bites. Here’s the first.
BLAIR: Thank you also for the strength of your leadership over the past few years. You have been a strong leader at a time when the world needed strong leadership. You’ve been unyielding and unflinching and determined in the fight that we face together, and I thank you for that. And I also take this opportunity of saying that I believe the relationship between the United States of America and Britain is a relationship that is in the interests of our two countries and the interests of the peace and stability of the wider world, and sometimes it’s a controversial relationship, at least over my country, but I’ve never doubted its importance. I’ve never doubted that it’s based on principle, on shared values, and on a shared purpose, which is to make our world a better, more free, more just place in which people of all nations and all faiths can live.
RUSH: A reporter said, ‘Mr. Prime Minister, will Britain in the coming months and years be as staunch an ally in Iraq for the United States as it has been under your leadership?’ This is a montage of Blair’s response.
BLAIR: Yes. The forces that we are fighting in Iraq — Al-Qaeda on the one hand, Iranian backed elements on the other — are the same forces we’re fighting everywhere. And over these past few weeks, you can see in different parts of the world — Morocco, Algeria, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia — recently, where this extremism is rearing its head, is trying to dislodge the prospects of stability and progress in so many different countries. There is no alternative for us but to fight it wherever it exists, and that is true whether it’s in our own countries, which have both suffered from terrorism, or in Iraq or Afghanistan.
RUSH: A Sky News reporter then said, ‘Mr. Prime Minister, President Bush once said he hoped you would be in office through the duration of his presidency. Do you think he is partly to blame for that?’
BLAIR: I’ve admired him as a president and I regard him as a friend. I have taken the view that Britain should stand shoulder to shoulder with America after September the 11th. I’ve never deviated from that view. I do not regret that view. I’m proud of the relationship we have had. I’m proud of the relationship between our two countries; and I think that sometimes in politics there are all sorts of issues where you’ve gotta negotiate and compromise, but when it comes to the fundamental questions that affect our security and the future of the world, you should do what is right. I have tried to do that, and I believe that is what he has done as well, and I would take the same position of alliance with America again. Yes, I would.
RUSH: And the prime minister spelled out in strong terms just what a dangerous enemy Al-Qaeda is, how serious it is, how important Iraq is and Afghanistan. He’s leaving office. In a way, he’s totally free to say whatever he wants. He’s not going to suffer political consequences for it in terms of future election that he might have. He wants to go into private practice in speech making, be on boards and so forth. But it was really powerful, and parts of it… I almost wish he’d be hired as our spokesman on this stuff, because it was really, really well done.