WASHINGTON (AP) – Talk-show listeners got an earful Wednesday from President Bush’s top advisers, who chatted on the air from the White House about everything from weapons of mass destruction to whether making speeches gave them butterflies.

“Radio Day” was held in a tent erected outside the North Portico. More than 50 talk show hosts, catering to liberal, conservative, Hispanic, black, religious and all-news audiences, started 15 hours of broadcasting at 5 a.m. EST.

The heated tent was noisy. Broadcasters with deep voices spoke into microphones. Producers called out cues: “OK, 35 seconds” until air time. Cabinet officials and presidential advisers milled inside the tent waiting to sit for interviews.

White House chief of staff Andrew Card said one caller asked him about the search for weapons in Iraq.

“I told them … we’re making great progress and there are lots of holes in Iraq and we’re looking in those holes,” Card said.

“Interesting things are found in some holes,” Card said in an apparent reference to the capture of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in a dirt hole.

That same question was posed to Secretary of State Colin Powell by broadcaster Michael Smerconish of WPHT-AM in Philadelphia.

“We can’t answer that,” Powell replied. “We’re still looking. Is it because they were destroyed, as they knew we were coming, or something else happened to them? I don’t know.”

On a lighter note, Powell was asked whether he still got nervous before making speeches.

“I was on the speaking circuit, as you know, for many years so I get those butterflies the night before, the morning of, but then I kind of look in the mirror and say, “OK, it’s showtime,’ and then the butterflies tend to go away.”

Wrapping up the interview, the broadcaster thanked Powell for the interview.

“Now, where’s my cheese steak?” Powell joked.

Other officials who stopped by the tent or were interviewed at other spots in the White House included Vice President Dick Cheney, Treasury Secretary John Snow, Education Secretary Ron Paige, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi, White House budget director Josh Bolton, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Bush’s top political adviser, Karl Rove, and Alphonso Jackson, acting secretary of the Housing and Urban Development Department.

AP-ES-01-21-04 1700EST



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