The Washington Times - June 7, 2008, 04:59PM

The nomination of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, the first black presidential candidate in U.S. history, is “good for our democracy,” President Bush said in an interview with an Italian TV station on Friday.

“Well, look, I’m for McCain, and everybody knows that,” Mr. Bush told an interviewer for Italy’s RAI TV.

“On the other hand, I thought it was a really good statement, powerful moment when a major political party nominates a African American man to be their standard bearer.  And it’s good for our democracy that that happened,” the president said.

“We also had a major contender being a woman.  Obviously Hillary Clinton was a major contender.  So I think it’s a good sign for American democracy,” Mr. Bush said.

The interview transcript was released Saturday afternoon.

Mr. Bush, a Republican from Texas, has been critical of Mr. Obama’s statements on meeting with hostile foreign leaders, but has for the most part stayed true to his strict vow not to comment on the presidential race. 

Jon Ward, White House correspondent, The Washington Times