McClellan: I Became What I Wanted to Change

The following is a transcript of ABC News White House Correspondent Martha Raddatz's interview with former White House Press Secretary and George Bush aide Scott McClellan about his explosive book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and What's Wrong with Washington."

Watch part of Martha Raddatz's interview with Scott McClellan tonight on World News at 6:30pmET.

MARTHA RADDATZ: Scott, I, I want to start with these descriptions, for you to describe, first of all, the President. I know you still say you have affection for him, but- you think he's a charming guy, a charismatic man. But some of the things you said in there are brutal, about how he makes decisions, about what he said, during the build-up to the war, during the war. How would you describe him?


SCOTT McCLELLAN: Well, and in the book, uh, one of the things I try to do is look at the key characters, and of course, uh, the most prominent character is the President himself. Uh, I also, in the book, uh, look at myself, and put myself under the microscope, first. And I fell short in many ways, during my time as White House Press Secretary. But in terms of the President, uh, I, I do, I do have great affection for him. I think he's authentic and sincere, in his beliefs. Um, but I think that, uh, instead of changing Washington, as he promised to do, uh, remember, he came to Washington on a promise of bipartisanship, and honesty, and integrity, uh, he too readily embraced the way Washington, the way the Washington game is played today. He got caught up in this permanent campaign mentality, and I think that was what caused him problems later on, um, in terms of, uh, a lack of a high level of openness, and forthrightness, at some defining moments. Um, and, and all of us, to some extent, uh, got caught up in that, people on both sides of the aisle...There are a lot of good and decent people, uh, like the President, who come to Washington for the right reasons. Uh, but they get caught up in this atmosphere, which is very poisonous.

MARTHA RADDATZ: Scott, you use every word short of calling the President and his chief advisors, liars. You say they spin, they exaggerate, self-deceit, self-deceit. You're talking about the President of the United States. That's what you think of the President of the United States.

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Well, uh, all people- all, I think all human begins, uh, have good attributes, and they also have their flaws. And, when you're looking back and trying to give readers a sense of who the key players were, I think you want to take them inside the White House, and talk about both their good attributes, but also, their very human flaws, and why that contributed to things going off-course, like they did. Uh, this was a presidency that veered badly off-course. It was, uh, something that all of us would prefer didn't have happened if it wouldn't, didn't happen. Uh, but it did, and I try to take a very close look at that, from my perspective. Uh, this whole book was really a soul-searching and truth-seeking process for me. Uh, these weren't easy words to write, uh, but I felt they were important, so that other people can have an understanding of what happened, and learn from it,so that we can improve things in the f- in the future.

MARTHA RADDATZ: Describe to me, then, the President, in terms of telling the truth to the public.

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