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Bush Strategy On Secret Tapes

Private conversations with George Bush secretly taped by an old friend before he was elected president foreshadow some of his political strategies and appear to reveal that he acknowledged using marijuana, The New York Times reports.

were recorded by Doug Wead, a former aide to George W. Bush's father, beginning in 1998, when Mr. Bush was weighing a presidential bid, until just before the Republican National Convention in 2000, the Times said in a story posted on its Web site.

CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews spoke with Wead, who said he made the tapes because he could tell Mr. Bush would be in a position of power someday.

"His personality is so decisive, I thought if he ever reaches the White House he will be a pivotal figure in history for good or bad," Wead said.

But, as Andrews reports, it's also true that Wead recently published a book on Presidential parenting, through publisher Simon and Schuster, which like CBS, is owned by Viacom.

The tapes show Mr. Bush crafting a strategy for navigating the tricky political waters between Christian conservative and secular voters, repeatedly worrying that evangelicals would be angered by a refusal to bash gays and that secular Americans would be turned off by meetings with evangelical leaders.

On one tape, Mr. Bush explains that he told one prominent evangelical that he would not "kick gays, because I'm a sinner. How can I differentiate sin?" At another point, Wead says a conservative supporter told him Mr. Bush had pledged not to hire homosexuals. "No, what I said was, I wouldn't fire gays," Mr. Bush shot back.

Mr. Bush has some tough words for his Democratic rivals, calling Al Gore "pathologically a liar" and saying President Clinton had "disgraced the nation."

In early tapes, Mr. Bush dismisses the strength of John McCain for the nomination and expresses concern about rival Steve Forbes. He also praises John Ashcroft as a promising candidate for Supreme Court justice, attorney general or vice president.

Mr. Bush also criticizes then-Vice President Gore for admitting marijuana use and explains why he would not do the same.

"I wouldn't answer the marijuana questions," he said, according to the Times. "You know why? Because I don't want some little kid doing what I tried."

At another point, Wead says that Mr. Bush had publicly denied using cocaine. "I haven't denied anything," Mr. Bush replied.

According to the article, Wead played 12 of the tapes to a Times reporter. He said he recorded them because he viewed Mr. Bush as a historic figure. He is the author of a new book on presidential childhoods.

The White House did not deny the authenticity of the tapes.

"The governor was having casual conversations with someone he believed was his friend," White House spokesman Trent Duffy said, referring to Mr. Bush.

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