WASHINGTON (AP) - 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 drugs.
``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 not verified.''
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.''
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