Vice President George Bush said today that within the Administration he had privately "expressed certain reservations on certain aspects" of President Reagan's decision to sell arms to Iran.
While he provided no details, Bush's statement marked the first time he has indicated any disagreement with the policy that has caused himself and the President political difficulties.
Bush had previously defended the arms sale approved by Reagan as an attempt to establish ties with moderates inside the Tehran regime.
"The key players around there (in the Administration) know that I expressed certain reservations on certain aspects," Bush said.
Fallout Damaging Campaign
Before flying to Illinois on the second day of a Midwestern trip, Bush also conceded that the fallout from the Iran- contra scandal is damaging his unannounced campaign for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination.
Speaking at a news conference, Bush said: "I think probably it's hurt some because when it's there, you don't run for cover. You take the flak. You take the good with the bad."
Bush declined to say what action, if any, he took after a meeting last summer in Jerusalem at which Israeli Amiram Nir told him that Americans were dealing with radical elements in Iran, rather than moderates, as Reagan has claimed.
Bush also conceded that there is "a perception of swapping arms for hostages," and added if that perception proves accurate, such a swap "certainly would be wrong." But he said he's not prepared to say whether that occurred. "I know the President feels in his heart he didn't authorize it," Bush said.
Praise for McFarlane
Bush also praised former national security adviser Robert C. McFarlane, who is hospitalized after what police say was an attempted suicide by Valium overdose. McFarlane accompanied one planeload of weapons to Iran last May. "I'd love to be the beneficiary of his advice in the future," Bush said.
Bush is on a two-day trip to the Midwest, and while in a political speech on Wednesday night he did not discuss the Iran scandal, it dominated today's news conference.
"If I'm going to take the credit for the good things . . . then I've got to be man enough to take the associational guilt" that has come with the controversy, he said.