WASHINGTON -- President Bush on Wednesday called to
congratulate Barry Bonds, the new home run king, but didn't weigh
in on the steroids controversy surrounding the slugger's smashing
of the major league record.
On Tuesday night in San Francisco, the Giants' outfielder hit
his 756th career home run, breaking Hank Aaron's record of 755.
"You've always been a great hitter and you broke a great
record," Bush told Bonds on the phone, according to White House
spokesman Tony Fratto.
In a Fox News interview later, Bush noted the speculation about
whether steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs tainted the
title. Bonds has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing
"There is a lot of speculation about Barry Bonds, and my only
advice for people is to just let history be the judge," Bush said
during the interview. "Let's find out the facts, and then
everybody's opinion -- one way or the other -- will be verified or
If it's later proven that a lot of Bonds' strength came from
drug use, Bush said, there will be a lot of disappointed people.
"Baseball and the baseball writers will have to make the
determination as to whether or not he would receive the highest
accolade of all, which would be to be admitted into the baseball
Hall of Fame," Bush said.
Would Bonds' record have an asterisk beside it?
"It really depends on what the facts are, and it's going to be
up to them to make the determination as to asterisk, but more
importantly, it will be the Hall of Fame," Bush said. "That'll be
the ultimate decision point for the baseball writers. In the
meantime, anybody who knows the game will tell you, Barry Bonds is
a great hitter."
Bush said he loved baseball, but was "dead set" against
steroids. "I think it's bad for the game," he said.
In his State of the Union address in 2004, Bush called for a
crackdown on steroids.
"I put it in there, because it's part of a larger context, and
that is, how we behave as adults will influence how children
behave," Bush said. "And I was very concerned that it would be
viewed as OK to use steroids if you are a high school kid or a
junior high kid. And it's not. It'll hurt your body."