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Bush Admits Reservations on Iran Arms Sale Aspects

February 13, 1987|From a Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Vice President George Bush, in a rare admission that he has differed with a policy followed by President Reagan, said Thursday that in private he had "expressed certain reservations on certain aspects" of the Iran arms sales affair.

The vice president's remarks, which served to put some distance between himself and the President, were made at a news conference in Michigan, where the state Republican Party's convention is scheduled next week.

Bush acknowledged, according to wire service accounts, that his unannounced campaign for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination has been damaged by the Iran- contra affair.

"I think probably it's hurt some," the vice president said in Lansing. But, he added, "if I'm going to take the credit for the good things" accomplished by the Reagan presidency, "then I've got to be man enough to take the associational guilt."

Won't Highlight Differences

"I will not separate myself from the President," Bush said, adding that he is "certainly not going to be highlighting any differences" with Reagan.

In the past, the vice president has taken pains not to differ publicly with the President or to disclose details of the weekly private lunches of the two men at the White House. He refused to specify the reservations he expressed when Reagan approved the sale of arms, but he said that the "key players" in the Administration were aware of his objections.

However, Craig L. Fuller, Bush's chief of staff, said that the vice president had discussed his feelings about the Iran operation with the special presidential review board studying the operations of the National Security Council staff.

"He did have some reservations about the Iran initiative as it was carried out," Fuller said. He said he was not certain whether Bush made his feelings known personally to Reagan.

Gave Support in Past

In the past, Bush has declared his support for Reagan's decision to sell the armaments, as part of an effort to create ties with Iranian "moderates."

At the news conference, Bush indicated that he would formally declare his presidential candidacy next fall.

While saying that he would not try to distance himself from Reagan in campaigning, Bush said he expects some people to view his own policy proposals as "a deviation from the Administration's policy."

"I can see places where there might be a little bit of friction, might be a little contradiction," he said. "But I think the President would understand."

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