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Snow: McCain distancing himself from Bush

  • Story Highlights
  • Tony Snow: McCain doesn't know what went on behind the scenes of Katrina
  • On topics like the war, McCain has agreed with the president, Snow says
  • Democrats relying on "the fact they're not George Bush," he said
  • Having Cheney's support will help McCain in some ways, Snow says
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(CNN) -- Tony Snow, former White House press secretary for President Bush, joins CNN as a political contributor. Snow talked with Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room" to discuss Sen. John McCain's relationship with Bush.

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Tony Snow, former White House press secretary, says Sen. John McCain also agrees with Bush on some topics.

Wolf Blitzer: What do you think about McCain's decision yesterday? He was very forceful in making it clear he did not like the Bush administration's handling of Katrina.

Tony Snow: Of course he also doesn't know a lot about what went on behind the scenes, but you would expect that. You've got somebody who's running for a nomination. The president's popularity ratings are low. He's going to put a distance between himself and the president. Everybody hates what happened in Katrina, including the president. It's an easy critique to make.

Wolf Blitzer: Do you think he'll be doing more distancing of himself on other issues?

Tony Snow: I think he'll do it when it's easy. But on the other hand, there are things, like the war, where he's agreed with the president. I suppose in some sense it would be easy to disagree with the president, but McCain has been pretty firm on that. You look at any person who's getting the nomination and trying to run when you've got an incumbent president, whether it's Al Gore saying I want to be my own man, George Herbert Walker Bush talking about a kinder, gentler America after the Reagan years, you're going to look for a way to distance you're from your predecessor so that you have an independent identity. Right now, Democrats have made it clear they don't have any issue other than the fact they're not George Bush. What McCain wants to be able to do is say, 'neither am I.'

Wolf Blitzer: The Democrats are also trying to make it clear, if you vote for John McCain, that's a third term for George W. Bush.

Tony Snow: It's kind of a stretch if you look at the relationship over the years between the two guys.

Wolf Blitzer: They had a rough relationship back in 2000. Dick Cheney is going to be going to a fundraiser in North Carolina for John McCain, for other Republicans. Is that going to be smart for McCain to be associated with Dick Cheney?

Tony Snow: Yeah. I think so. Look, it's not going to be smart if you are trying to get Nancy Pelosi's vote. But if you're trying to make sure you've got the Republican base on your side, absolutely. Dick Cheney is somebody who still really has earned the respect and admiration of a lot of Republicans. You'll see a lot of people out making speeches. ... The fact is, you've got a lot of Republicans out there who now have a vested interest in getting a Republican president. McCain will have to sort through the folks who he wants to have speaking on his behalf. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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