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Bush: Blair Was No Poodle

Tony Blair was no poodle, President Bush said in a newspaper interview published Wednesday.

Mr. Bush said that he and the outgoing British prime minister had worked together to achieve world peace — and told The Sun that the accusations leveled against Blair were nothing more than "background noise."

"I've heard he's been called Bush's poodle," The Sun quoted Mr. Bush as saying. "He's bigger than that. This is just background noise, a distraction from big things."

Mr. Bush said history would be kind to Blair, and that whatever the public perception, the two dealt with each other on an equal footing.

"Somehow our relationship has been seen as Bush saying to Blair 'jump' and Blair saying 'how high?' but that's just not the way it works," Mr. Bush said. "It's a relationship where we say were both going to jump together."

The often tongue-tied U.S. president also expressed admiration for Blair's rhetorical skills, saying he envied the prime minister's eloquence.

"Tony's great skill, and I wish I had it, is that he's very articulate," the president said. "I wish I was a better speaker. This guy can really ... he can talk."

Mr. Bush said he so admired the prime minister he had asked Blair to stay on through 2008 — the end of Bush's term — but added that he got along well with Blair's successor, Gordon Brown.

"Gordon came (to Washington) and he wasn't the image of the dour Scotsman at all," Mr. Bush said. "He was relaxed. It was a good meeting."

The Sun said the interview took place on May 16. It was part of a collection of interviews about Blair published to mark the prime minister's departure from office after 10 years in power.

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