WASHINGTON -- Just what did George Bush say about women U.S. Senate candidates during the presidential debate Thursday night?
He said he hoped a lot of them lose -- an understandable partisan shot since 10 of the 11 women running are Democrats.
But despite transcripts and tapes that captured the aside by Mr. Bush, a White House spokeswoman insisted yesterday that what the president really said was:
"I hope a lot of them win."
But later, another White House spokeswoman, Judy Smith, acknowledged that Mr. Bush had said "I hope a lot of them lose."
"He knew almost all of them were Democrats," Ms. Smith explained.
Moderator Carole Simpson of ABC-TV was talking when Mr. Bush made the remark under his breath, during a discussion on women and minorities running for political office.
Mr. Bush clearly said "lose," although some viewers may have missed the comment altogether when it came late in the debate.