LAS VEGAS — Vice President George Bush eliminated any perception that he is a "wimp" by giving a strong performance in a heated interview with CBS anchorman Dan Rather last month, former President Gerald R. Ford said Monday.
"George Bush once and for all ended any credibility as far as the wimp factor is concerned," Ford said. "He wiped out once and for all the allegation of wimp."
Ford said Rather had a right to pursue questions about Bush's involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, but he contended that the anchorman had been "too aggressive" in conducting the nationally televised interview.
"The way he pursued the interrogation was not the most effective way to get answers to the questions he was asking," Ford said.
Defends Bush Silence
In addition, he defended Bush's decision not to disclose what advice he had given to President Reagan about the arms deal with Iran.
"I don't think people should exploit the advice they give the President," he said. "Recommendations to the President, I've always thought, should be confidential."
Ford, speaking at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, said he plans to remain neutral in the Republican fight for the presidential nomination until the party's national convention.
However, he criticized the current system of state primaries, saying early caucuses and votes distort the political process.
"I think some of the early state activities get a disproportionate emphasis," he said. "I'd hope in 1992 that we could move to five regional primaries."