President Bush

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush admitted Monday that it's possible a Democrat could win the White House this year.

Mind you, he didn't come out and say it like that.

Speaking at a White House celebration of women's history month and international women's day, Bush extolled the value of women occupying high places in an administration.

"My advice to the next president is to surround him — or her — with strong, fearless women," Bush said.

The remark didn't seem planned. As Bush waded into that sentence, he slowed and then stopped briefly after he said "him." Perhaps he realized that in speaking to a roomful of powerful women at an event dedicated to boosting the role of women in society, he couldn't exactly leave out the possibility of a female president of the United States. Whatever went through his mind, the "or her" sounded belatedly tacked on — and landed him rhetorically in political territory he probably would have preferred to avoid.

Since Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton is the only woman in the race, the effect was an acknowledgment from the Republican occupant of the White House and leader of the GOP that she could win this fall.

Bush has endorsed Republican John McCain.