Former Bush administration aide Mary Matalin said there was "a very big learning experience" after George W. Bush's pronouncement after the 9/11 attacks that "Islam is peace" – a statement that rankled conservatives.
In an interview Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Matalin said Vice President Dick Cheney would remove the phrase in all subsequent speeches after Bush's Sept. 17, 2001, statement.
"[Chief of Staff Andrew Card]'s office would put it in, and he would take it out every time because whether or not that is generally true, Islamic extremists that we're talking about, this is not a mission of peace," said Matalin, who served as an assistant to Bush and Cheney.
"And there was a lot of crash courses."
Cheney "knew who it was," she said.
"Only a couple of days before that there had been a murder in a cave in Afghanistan," she said. "So there was a familiarity there. But for the rest of us… I dare say an infinitesimal percent of Americans knew what a caliphate was at the time. "
"It was a very big learning experience," she added. "It wasn't that we had an immediate idealogical problem with conservatives or how we think of politics today. It was how do we go after this threat. And we weren't as concerned, we didn't need to be concerned because there wasn't a politicization of identity politics at the time."
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