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Top Bush advisers debate former president's legacy

David talks with four top advisers from the Bush White House ahead of the official dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

On the eve of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum's dedication, former chief of staff to the president Josh Bolten insists the new center on the campus of Southern Methodist University is not an “advocacy piece” trying reshape history. Rather, he and other top former aides view it as a display of the difficult decisions their former boss had to make.

“It's very Bush," Bolten said, alluding to the sure-footed “decider” mantra that dominated the 43rd president’s time in office. “Here are the facts that I saw. Here are the principles that I applied. And here’s the decision I made. You make your own decision,” he said, channeling his former boss.

"Presidents don't have the luxury of making easy decisions," said Bolten’s chief of staff predecessor Andy Card. 

Bolten and Card joined former counselor to the president Dan Bartlett and chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush, Anita McBride, in Dallas for a special edition of PRESS Pass from the SMU campus.  

The war in Iraq, the president’s economic record, and the September 11th terror attacks are chief among the critical “decision points” of the Bush presidency being re-visited this week.

Bartlett said, because of terror attacks of September 11th 2001, President Bush will be remembered as a wartime president.

The attacks, Card argued, were so influential that "the mindset of governing had changed" in their aftermath. 

"It wasn't just about reflecting on what had happened," he said. "You actually had to be proactive to prevent the next attack."

September 11th also highlighted the president's responsibility as "the temporary custodian of our safety," McBride believes. "Every president from that point forward... will have that responsibility."

President Bush’s economic record has also come under scrutiny from both Democrats and Republicans alike. Josh Bolten argued that criticisms of the administration’s fiscal policies were “unfair” and Bartlett said the center's opening allowed former Bush team members to provide a word of caution to their fellow party members. 

"I think it would behoove certainly the Republican Party not to continue... with criticism of a record that really wasn't so bad. This occasion provides us an opportunity to say just that."

Watch the entire PRESS Pass interview above to hear more about the Bush legacy including why they believe the rise in technological communications has hurt our public and private institutions.